How To Stay Motivated & Focused While Distance Learning

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

We find ourselves learning and working from home for the first time and with the freedom to spend our time as we please. Yet, why do we find ourselves unmotivated and lacking focus? Well, before, we would rely on a lot of external sources of motivators like seeing our friends and teachers, mandatory attendance in class, and repercussions for unsatisfactory academic performances. However, now, you must dig deep internally to find your source of motivation. The problem is that many of us haven't been taught how to do that. As a student for the past 23 years and an advocate for self-directed learning, I present to you the following tips and tricks to help boost your motivation and focus while learning at home. I hope it helps!


1) Write your goals – get clarity

Know what you would like to achieve this semester, so you have a clear sense of direction. Take your time to reflect on your goals and write them down. Importantly, make sure they are specific enough and measurable to be achieved.


Good example: I aim to score at least 90% on my final Math grade

Bad example: I want to do better in Math

Good example: I aim to complete all my assignments before their deadlines

Bad example: I will try my best to complete assignments.

Good example: I will engage in five hours of physical activity each week

Bad example: I will engage in physical activity each week

Once you’ve identified what you would like to focus on, proceed to set a plan!


2) Set a plan – achieve your goals


This is your strategy to achieve the goals that you set out for yourself. This includes scheduling time for classes, completing classwork, studying for tests, extra-curricular activities, etc.



Google Calendar (or similar apps) is a powerful tool to help you with scheduling and staying organized so give it a try if you haven't already. Here's what your Google calendar could look like:





Your school may have already provided you with a schedule for online classes. Use that as a starting point and add to your schedule the time you plan to dedicate to completing your classwork, studying for tests, and extra-curricular activities, etc.

If you have a list of things to study, break it down into tasks. Plan to do the hardest ones when you have the most energy. Don’t forget to schedule in time for breaks, extra-curricular activities, and leisure!


** Download out our FREE weekly and daily planner to help you set a plan**


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3) Create your study space - Your environment strongly influences you!


Before you get started, create a comfortable space that has minimal distractions. Find an area in your house, separate to your relaxation space, where you can sit comfortably and focus. Harness your imagination and picture that you're at school and not at home. Lock your phone away or put it on airplane mode if you need to.



4) Do one thing at a time – Stay focused!


It’s quite easy to get distracted or overwhelmed, especially in a new “school” environment. Practice and develop your skill of focusing on the task at hand. The following suggested strategies should help you be more focused, efficient, and feeling less stressed

  • Schedule your day the night before. Write down all the tasks that need to be done.

  • Determine how long you need to spend on each task.

  • Time yourself for each task

  • Eliminate distractions

  • Do your work in blocks to lessen the strain and take breaks in-between. For example, you could work for 25 uninterrupted minutes followed by a 5-minute break (check out “Pomodoro technique”)

  • Only move onto the next task if the task at hand is complete or if time is up

  • Takes notes when listening to class lectures (put your phone away!)

  • Play some music (or wear earplugs) while doing your classwork


5) Drink water and stretch – energize your brain!

Do not underestimate this! Drinking water and stretching regularly (~every hour) will ensure enough blood supply to the brain, keeping it healthy and energized. The brain uses 20% of the body’s main source of energy and needs constant replenishing. Just have a look at the intricate network of blood vessels on the brain's surface! The brain clearly relies on healthy blood flow.



4) Suit yourself – early bird or night owl?


This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do schooling from home and to shape your day in a manner that suits you. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, take advantage of the situation by choosing what to do, how you do it, and when. For instance, you may prefer to study early during the day and get it out of the way or perhaps you like to study once it gets dark out. Recognize what conditions allow you to be at your best and work around those.


5) Keep a routine going – Balance

Your body thrives when all of its gears are in balance – or homeostasis. A general rule of thumb would be to balance your diet, exercise, and sleep to attain a healthy state of homeostasis. Now, depending on who you are, balancing your diet, exercise, and sleep will look different. What’s common, however, is that the consistent actions you take, or your habits, will shape who you are. So keep a healthy routine going, and you will notice a progressive improvement in your personal well-being and development.




6) Be proud of yourself!


This is a new experience and a massive adjustment for everyone. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t meet expectations. However, do keep trying! Be proud of yourself for what you’ve achieved and reward yourself when you meet your goals.


7) Ask for Help!


When things get tough, don't just push through it. Ask your parents, teachers, or friends for help. Also, having a mentor, someone who has gone through similar experiences as yourself, cannot be understated. Reach out to your family and friends to ask for a mentor that’s working or studying in the field you wish to pursue.


At Go2Grad Tutors, our tutor-mentors are practicing experts (masters and PhDs) in their respective fields (STEM and arts) and have spent their lives in academia. If you are a student who is interested in pursuing science, engineering, medicine, or law, our team would be the perfect guide to help you get there.


Get in touch with us, click here!


Don't forget to download the FREE weekly and daily planners! For more organizational tools, get in touch!