How to Stay Focused in College

There’s a lot going on at college. You’re probably juggling schoolwork, extracurriculars, a social life, a job, and a variety of other things all at once. It can be challenging to stay focused on one thing when there’s so much calling for your attention—especially when you add in noisy roommates, your ever-present social media, and the paper-thin walls in your dorm room!

Focusing at college can certainly be a difficult thing to accomplish, but there are ways to hone in your concentration and get the things done that need to get done. Consider the following ideas about staying focused, and try and implement a few the next time you’re struggling to get your homework done.

1. Ditch your phone

As wonderful as it can feel to tote your phone around with you everywhere and be constantly accessible, it really is a healthy practice to put it away for a period of time now and then. Unless you’re expecting a very important call or text, stash your phone in your backpack or under your pillow, and try to forget about it.

It can be tough to do your schoolwork if your phone is buzzing constantly, you’re social media feeds are calling your name, and other random apps are beckoning for you to open them. You’ll probably find yourself checking your most obscure apps and procrastinating by scrolling through the weather or trying to get the next high score on your favorite game. Before you know it, a half-hour flies by—time where you could have been finishing up your paper. Do yourself a favor and hide your phone for an hour so you can really zone in on what you need to get done.

2. Make a plan

The night before, make a list of the things you need to get done. The more specific you can be about when and what you’re going to do, the better. It can often be a big help to list out what you need to do, along with the day and time you’re going to do it, and then go to sleep knowing you don’t have to do anything right away. You can build up the gumption to get all your tasks done, and it will be less stressful to accomplish each task because you’ll know that you have a plan in place for each and every to-do.

Try to only focus on one task at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed, and celebrate every time you get to cross something off your list!

3. Do the super easy stuff and the really hard stuff

Sometimes, you just need to get the snowball rolling down the hill. Have you been putting off responding to a couple emails? Great! Start there. It will probably take you ten minutes max to type up some quick responses and get those sent off, and you’ll feel like you accomplished a good chunk of your to-do list. Once you get the really easy things done, skip to the hardest thing on your list. You’ve got some traction, so now it’s time to add a big chunk of snow to your snowball and knock something huge out.

Once you accomplish the toughest tasks, then you can turn to those middle-of-the-road to-do’s that aren’t quite as intimidating.

4. Celebrate along the way

Did you mark something off your list? Great! Go take a quick walk around campus with a friend. Marked another thing off the list? Celebrate with a cupcake! Utilize whatever type of prize is inspiring to you so you have something to look forward to after each task. This works even better if you can write out what you get after each task is completed. You could plan small prizes for small tasks and bigger prizes for big tasks.

Try to work some breaks into your prize schedule as well. Taking a break from working hard can actually be beneficial in the long run. You might notice something you hadn’t noticed before as you work on a project, or you might get struck with a stroke of creativity as you finish your paper. Resting your mind will not only give you the energy to carry on with the rest of your work, but it could give you new insights on everything as well.