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How to Stay Focused When Studying Online

24 November 2020

Due to this uncertain time, many universities have had to overcome barriers and move their teaching online. Some have introduced a blended learning approach, a mix of both online and in class lectures for students.

We know this year has been difficult and we understand that it can be hard to focus when studying online. Social media, emails, housemates, family, your own wandering mind – that’s just naming some distractors! To help we wanted to give you some of our top tips for studying online and eliminating some of those distractors.

Looking after your health and wellbeing

An extremely important subject for us at Novel, your wellbeing! If you are studying online you have ultimately gained the time normally spent travelling to and from campus, therefore you have more time to visit the gym, go for a walk, or cook fresh meals! Spend this newfound free time as a study break and take part in activities which will have a positive impact on your well-being.

On the other hand, studying at home can also lead to bad habits. Not changing out your pyjamas? Something I’m sure  we are all guilty of, but this is why a routine is so important – it provides structure and discipline. Try planning your week/day out in advance, have a look at some templates on Canva. Your timetable could include the time you wake up, the time you take breaks and most importantly the time you should spend on studies. There is no hard and fast rule, and you can of course change this around after some trial and error.


I think we can all agree, probably the worse distractors! Try moving it away from your desk, turning it on silent and limiting yourself to time slots to check it. You will notice your average daily spend on your phone will reduce dramatically, which will also mean that you have spent more time focusing!

Busy household or noisy housemates

Research any local cafes or university facilities like libraries which are open and accessible to study in. If this isn’t available, you can speak to housemates and family members to work out a routine or parts of the day in which they may not be around or when they might be having their own focus time.
*you could also invest in some noise cancelling headphones.

Dedicated working space

We know how easy it is to lie in bed and open up your laptop, but it’s not good for you! It’s important that the place where you study is not the same as the place where you sleep. You are less productive, could take an accidental nap, and most importantly it’s not good for your posture.
Set up a desk and comfortable chair, both are a worthwhile investment. It will help you to study comfortably, stay organised, keep your room tidy and also help you avoid unwanted back or other body problems!

At Novel we have a selection of quiet and group study areas which are dedicated quiet zones for our residents to focus and collaborate with others. Although our residents have their own desk space in their apartments it’s good to have a change of scenery and make the most of our amenity spaces.

Reward your accomplishments

Studying without taking a break or not giving yourself a high five, will affect your wellbeing and long-term productivity. Why not treat yourself once you have accomplished a goal, maybe order in your favourite takeaway or buy an item you have been saving up for – this will give you something to look forward too.

Feeling connected

Studying alone can be isolating so it’s important you keep in contact and interact daily with friends, and family. Remember your wellbeing should be a  priority, reach out for help if you need it – we all do at some point!  You will have online lectures which you can attend and chat to other people but why not organise a zoom call with a course friend or meet them outside for a walk in your lunch break? All these small things will make your routine more fun; you can discuss or have focus time on your studies but also have time to talk about everything but studying, a study-life balance!

Stay connected, plan a routine but most importantly enjoy your time outside of studying!

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