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“Without the luxury of a teacher, it can be hard to stay focused on your work with no one there to keep you accountable,” writes VOX ATL staff writer Zariah Taylor.

Illustration by Zariah Taylor

VOX 5: How to Stay Focused on Schoolwork During Quarantine

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Many schools across Georgia have closed in response to the growing number of coronavirus cases. However, that hasn’t stopped these schools from assigning work to complete over this extended break. While some students may be on spring break, it’s very possible that we may be doing our work from home for the foreseeable future.

Without the luxury of a teacher, it can be hard to stay focused on your work with no one there to keep you accountable. Not only that, but it can be very easy to be overwhelmed with all the work you may have and want to give up. To help all my fellow students out there, here are five tips to remain focused on your schoolwork through these hard times.

There are many distractions that might prevent you from getting your work done, such as social media, your social life, and Netflix. At school, it’s easy to avoid these distractions because you know that if your teacher sees you watching Netflix, you’ll most likely get in trouble. Without a teacher there to instill fear into you, how do you avoid succumbing to these distractions?

As easy as it is to give in to the urge to be on social media all day, the best way to remain focused is by eliminating all distractions. A pro tip that I have is to put your phone in an entirely different room while doing your work. Being a naturally lazy person, I often don’t feel like getting up to fetch my phone and end up not touching it at all. If you’re really obsessed with your phone and self-discipline doesn’t work for you, try having a family member hide your phone from you all day.

Many of us are only able to focus in school because of the structure that a school schedule gives us. Our life is split into class periods and assigned breaks. Without a schedule to keep you accountable, you might just end up procrastinating all day!

So how do we fix this problem? The best way is to try and emulate your school schedule as much as possible from home. For some, that means going as far as setting an alarm so that you wake up at a certain time, scheduling your breakfast and lunch, and setting aside time for each class period.

A less structured way to make a schedule is to give yourself an assigned amount of time to do work and take a break. For example, I like to work for 25 minutes, take a five-minute break, and repeat this pattern four times until I then give myself a prolonged 60-minute break. The key is to make a schedule that works for you. Providing structure into your life can help keep focused on one task at a time.

When you’re working from home, it’s very easy to feel the comfort of your pajamas and bed and not want to get up to work. If that sounds like you, then you might want to consider making strides to make your home look like a work environment. What that looks like is different for everyone. The good thing about working from home is that you can basically do what you want! If you like listening to music while you work, you can blast lo-fi tunes from your nearest speaker. If you like eating while you work, keep a snack by your table! Here are a few ideas to set up your perfect working environment:

  • Set aside an area to work, whether that be a kitchen table, desk, or counter. Try not to work somewhere too comfortable like your bed because it will increase your desire to lay down. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Don’t lay down or wear pajamas while you work. Laying down will convince your body that it is nap time.
  • Try taking a shower and getting ready in the morning as if it’s a regular day so that you ‘ll feel like life is business as usual. Some studies suggest that certain essential oils can increase your productivity and ability to focus. You can read more here.
  • It’s okay to snack while you study, but try not to eat full-blown meals because eating it will most likely distract you from your work.
  • Try to work in an area that has nothing in it that might distract you and cause you to procrastinate (ex. Board games, toys, etc.)

It can be very stressful to have many assignments without anyone there to help you, and we all know that parents can be very useless when you need help with homework. What better way to combat this than leaning on your other classmates! Not only will communicating with your friends help you escape that lonely feeling one can sometimes get in isolation, but it can also help you complete your work faster. You can create a group chat where you and your friends can bounce answers off of each other and get work done faster.

In life, we operate off of a reward system. We go to school to get a degree. We go to work to make money. When you are at home by yourself, it’s very hard to find the motivation to complete your work when there is no reward attached. Therefore, one technique to remain focused is to reward yourself when you complete your work. For example, sometimes I will mentally tell myself that if I complete 10 questions of my quiz, I’ll give myself a break to go on social media. You can also do something where if you complete all your work for one class, you’ll allow yourself a break to have an extra snack. Little things like these will keep you motivated to complete your work faster.

And again, if you know that you don’t have the discipline to reward yourself, you can also ask family members to withhold items from you such as your phone until you complete your assignments.

BONUS: Even though this is a VOX 5, a bonus tip that should never be forgotten is to always make sure to prioritize your mental health when doing work. Times like these can be rough to those who struggle with anxiety and other mental illnesses, so if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed with any work, be sure to take breaks. On that note, I hope that with these tips, my fellow students will pass your classes with flying colors.

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comments (13)

  1. Emily

    I need help on my school work

    1. Vannessa Ngyuen


  2. Bowen

    This was a good read. I never really considered that using a schedule and rewards system would motivate me lol.

  3. lalal


  4. KawaiiChai

    You have no idea how much work they give us. You might say you have a lot, but you are just flat-out lazy compared to us. Normally for quarantine school I start it at 7:00 am and finish at 6:30 pm. Sometimes I finish later.

    1. person

      almost 12 hours of school!!! thats not okay, that’s bad for your mental health, and will leave you with struggles

  5. Student at Park Academy West London Secondary School

    This was really helpful! Thanks for the tips. I LOVE listening to music while working (it really helps me focus) but my mum thinks it’s distracting. Does anyone have any tips? x

    1. person

      Tell her YOUR perspective, it might help her understand, as different people use different things to focus

  6. kawaii cutie

    Thank you so much this quarantine thing is keeping me from focusing and when i tried this it really worked thanks for the tips

  7. Avani

    But i always get lazy and kinda angry while writing what to do with it ?????? Its pretty boring to work at home specially school work 😅 how can i make it more intresting also i am stufed up at home from 2-3 months cause of quarantine 😔😔😔😔😔 and tell n reply

  8. Anuska lever

    Hi hi … thank you very much I enjoyed reading this and I am going to work hard to be top in class . I usually don’t write comments or give feedbacks but this was truly helpful and just what I was looking for x

  9. Brooklyn


    1. Sparklee