How to stay focused in class

We’ve all been there. One minute you’re watching your teacher draw equations on the chalkboard and by the next minute, your mind seems to have somehow left your body and traveled to some faraway land. Maybe you were daydreaming or a text message distracted you. You know that nothing is more important than what’s happening right in front of you, but can’t find a way to stay attentive. Here we’ll discuss a handful of easy strategies for how to stay focused in class.

how to stay focused in class

Get proper sleep

Nothing is more essential than a good night’s sleep. Trying to stay focused without being well-rested would be like trying to cook a chicken soup without a chicken—it’s simply not possible. To be fully alert in class, it’s critical to get a good night’s sleep.

This can be tough especially if you’re a high school student, as studies have shown that teenagers a) need more sleep than adults and b) have naturally later circadian rhythms, making the 8 AM school bell feel particularly brutal. The best way to combat this is to make an effort to go to bed earlier. Unfortunately, there’s no other magic trick option here. Teenagers and young adults are biologically wired to go to sleep around 11 PM. But with a little schedule tweaking, like completing homework before nighttime or moving your morning activities to later in the day, you can give yourself a little extra snooze time. Parents can also assist by having dinner a bit earlier.

Eat a good breakfast

how to stay focused breakfast

On the morning of class, it’s essential that you eat breakfast. Studies have shown that eating in the morning activates our minds and bodies. According to the Kerrington Health Network, “by keeping your blood sugar levels steady, [breakfast] helps improve focus and attention span.” Even just a simple nutrient-rich meal, like a piece of fruit or a bowl of oatmeal, is an excellent way to get off on the right foot. 

Remove distractions

Once in class, in order to focus it’s important to get rid of any distractions. The number one culprit of this? You guessed it! Phones, laptops, and any other electronic devices (unless, of course, your class is reliant on one of these things) should all be put away. In today’s world, we’ve become accustomed to being plugged into the internet at all times. This often leaves us unplugged from the present moment. I remember sitting in the back of the room during my college seminars, looking at the sea of laptop screens lit up with all kinds of different things—shopping sites, Netflix, online newspapers. When it came to the final exams, the laptop-users were the ones scrambling to get copies of other students notes. 

If you’re sitting there thinking, “but I use my laptop to take notes! How do I stay focused in class now,” it’s probably time to make like you’re in the late 19th-century and do things the manual way: with a paper and pen. This is undoubtedly the most effective way to take notes. Stay in the moment by taking notes by hand. It has been shown that writing things down makes them easier to internalize, which will cut down your future study time. Teachers and professors will often share their lectures and presentations online after class has ended, which means you don’t need to worry whether you’ll be able to physically write out every word. If your teacher or professor doesn’t do this already, just ask! They’ll likely be thrilled to see that you’re so engaged with the class. 

Get involved

The final key of how to stay focused in class is to participate and get involved. It’s easy to feel like you’re blending into the wall if you are not actively raising your hand and engaging with your classmates’ ideas. The longer you go through the semester without becoming an active participant, the harder it is to jump in. Even just setting a small participation goal, like raising your hand once per class, is a great place to start. From there, you can gradually increase to more active participation, providing an attainable pathway to increasing your focus.

If focusing in class is still posing a challenge, be sure to reach out to your teacher for extra help. After-hours help is a tool that most students push to the wayside, but it can really make a world of difference—as can tutors! With these tips you’ll be on your way to having laser-focus in no time.

About the Author

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A. is an experienced English tutor at Gooroo, a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers math, English, ESL, Spanish tutoring, and more.