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8 Ways to Stay Focused this School Year

School is in session once again and it’s time to get back into the swing of things (please don’t shoot the messenger). With it comes the adjustment of early morning wake-ups, spending all day in classrooms, and staying on top of homework assignments. There are so many distractions in front of us and it can be easy to lose focus.

To help you, here are eight ways to stay focused this school year!

1. Define Your Dreams

Defining what you really want in life if the first step towards getting there. Envision where you want to be by writing down your dreams. Use these idea generators to get started:

  • I wish I could (list more than 20 things & add to it)…

  • The things I like best about my life are…

  • The things I like least about my life are…

  • If I could live my life the way I wanted to, I would…

  • The qualities or values that matter most to me are…

  • I'm happiest when…

  • I’m being true to myself when…

  • If I was living more in tune with my own heart, I would…

  • If there were no obstacles or limits, I would…

Once you have a list, stay focused by creating a dream board, dream book, or stick colorful Post-It Notes on your walls, in your locker, and on your mirrors. Set reminders on your phone of your top three dreams and commit to read them daily.

2. Start Creating Good Habits

You can easily turn your bad habits into positive ones by doing a few small steps each day that add up over time. Once you’ve defined your goals and dreams, you can achieve them by sticking to the plan you've created. No drastic changes, just simple steps that are easy to do… and easy not to do. Each time you choose to make a choice, it either gets you one step closer to your dreams, or keeps you from them. Making good choices leads you down a path that enables you to achieve your goals and become more productive. A great book to help you master this is “Success For Teens: Real Teens Talk About Using The Slight Edge”. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING and there's one for adults, too!

3. Get Organized

With so many classes, it’s easy to let a worksheet or reading assignment slip through the cracks. Keep your backpack, binders, and locker organized to avoid additional distraction. Buy an academic planner to keep track of all assignments, tasks, and due dates. You can even keep track of scheduled for activities, practices and study time.

4. Find a Great Study Space

The best way to retain what you’re learning is to find a space that will make it easy to focus. Find a place where it’s easy to avoid distractions, whether it’s the library, a quiet coffeehouse, or a corner of the house or your bedroom. Create a space that makes you want to do more and be more.

Find out what helps you focus best and create your work space around it. In class, you may need to sit away from your friends to avoid further distraction. Discover the right environment for you and make it happen!

5. Disconnect & Get In The Zone

I know it might feel like you’re dying, but I promise you no one has ever died as a result of disconnecting from their phone and social media for short periods of time. Your phone and the desire to constantly be on it is one of the biggest distractions we face today. Turn it off, put it on airplane mode, or leave it on silent in a drawer until you’ve completed your assignments. This goes for the television and gaming, too. Trust me, you won’t die. You might actually live to see your dreams become your reality!

6. Make a Study Plan

Teachers give deadlines for your homework, but it’s up to you to study what’s been reviewed in class. Test day shouldn’t be considered a deadline! Review your materials throughout the semester so you aren’t scrambling the night before finals, trying to remember what was taught weeks ago. Study with your friends or alone, just don’t put it off.

Taking breaks during study sessions can help you concentrate on your work. Try studying for 30 minutes, then take a 10-15 minute break and come back to your work. The breaks help clear distractions & frustrations from your mind and will make your study sessions more effective.

Throughout the semester, create your own versions of study aids to help you retain the things you’ll need to know. Index cards, Post-It Notes, or a notebook can help capture what’s important. When teachers provide study aids, like practice tests, don’t throw them away. Use them! They contain content you’ll probably need to know at some point in the year.

7. Surround Yourself with Driven People

Your friends have a lot of influence on you. To keep yourself on track and remain accountable, spend more time around students who are driven, who have goals and a vision, and are committed to being more than average. Spend less time with those who are satisfied with just getting by and don’t have a sense of purpose. Once this becomes your new norm, be a leader and influence others to discover their dreams and vision!

8. Get Some Sleep & Eat Right

It’s really important to get a good night's sleep before school. A well-rested body and mind will improve your concentration and prevent snoozing during a boring class. Stick to a reasonable bedtime each night to get your body accustomed to a sleep schedule.

Looks like momma was right; breakfast is the most important meal of the day! According to a study at Ole Miss, students who ate breakfast scored higher on performance tests than students who didn't.

What you eat makes a difference, too. Oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, and whole-grain pancakes are great morning options. Skip the energy drinks and choose eggs, peanut butter, whole-grain toast, and protein bars to boost attentiveness. Fighting a mid-day crash? Add some granola bars, trail mix, or nuts to your backpack to keep you energized.

I hope these help you to have a successful school year. If you have ideas of more ways to stay focused, I'd love to hear them!

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