How to Stay Focused and Motivated While Working at Home

Online school comes with distractions, so here are some tips to maximize productivity


Henry Ericson

Try taking a short break after 25 minutes of productive work.

Kate Rekas, Staff Writer

While learning from home these past few weeks, many students have most likely experienced online school’s greatest enemies: lack of accountability, procrastination, and distractions. I have encountered these issues as well, so hopefully, these tips can help you tackle at-home learning.

Tips to reduce distractions:

1. Download the app Forest. You can customize how long you want phone-free time, and once you start working, you start growing a tree in your “garden of focus”. If you leave the app, your focus tree will die! Save some focus trees and your time by downloading Forest.

2. Put your phone away from your workspace so you cannot reach or see it. Out of sight equals out of mind. If it is out of reach, you’ll be less eager to grab it because it’s all the way across the room. This works!

3. Try the Pomodoro Technique! The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system designed for ultimate productivity. Set a timer (that is NOT on your phone) for 25 minutes. Work on the task at hand until the 25 minutes is complete, then set a timer for a five minute break. Repeat this cycle three more times, or as long you need. After four repeats, take a 20 minute break and start over. Voila! You’re a productivity machine.

4. Make or find some great playlists for focus! Either make your own playlists for focused work, or browse Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube for tons of playlists! I personally enjoy “lofi hip hop music – beats to relax/study to” by ChilledCow on Spotify. You can also find a whole “genre library” of focus playlists on Spotify.

5. Close the door to your workspace. This will reduce noise in your home, let people know you are working, and make it less tempting for you to get up and get distracted.

6. Schedule facetime work sessions with your friends. This can be both distracting and helpful; it is important to know how you learn so you can determine if this method would be helpful. I find that if I need help with a new topic or have questions about an assignment I like to facetime people, so we can work through the material together. It can also be good to study for tests on facetime because you can quiz each other.

7. Maintain a clean and non-distracting workspace. Personally, I am one of those people who has a really hard time working in a dirty space. I focus on wanting to clean the space rather than work. Also, if you keep distracting items or gadgets in your workspace, move them!

Tips to stay motivated:

1. Plan your day, time, and tasks. Get a planner, or start your own by bullet journal! I personally bullet journal and have found that it’s a great way to organize my life, goals, schedules, tasks, and health. You can use it as a creative outlet or make it super easy and minimal. It’s the perfect planner for you, made by you. I’m more of a creative planner, and I love getting inspiration from the YouTuber, Amandarachlee. Planning is the best way to organize your time, prioritize your tasks, and get things done!

2. Make goals – long term or short term. While trying to stay motivated, it always helps to have something to work towards. Create goals with steps to achieve them, so it’s a more manageable task!

3. Keep a routine. Try to wake up at least an hour before online school starts or work towards waking up at your normal school wakeup time.

4. Reward yourself for good work. After reading a chapter, eat a piece of candy, watch two minutes of a show, or use any other incentive to help get through your workload.

5. Create a to-do list, a house tasks list, or any list at all. Organize tasks of the highest importance to lowest importance, and get the important ones done first before you run out of steam.

6. Schedule fun activities, so you have a commitment and something to look forward to. Plan a family party or a distanced interaction with friends. It’s always easier to be motivated when you have something fun to do.

7. Workout! Though everyone has heard it before, moving your body and breaking a sweat will make it easier to sleep, focus, and boost your overall mood.

8. Get outside. Vitamin D is so important for both physical and mental health, so go outside and let the sun work its magic!

I hope you enjoy these tips for staying motivated and focused! However, don’t forget to take care of yourself, which includes your mental and physical health. Make time for activities that you enjoy doing and practice self-care! It’s perfectly fine too, to simply just relax.