It’s not always easy to concentrate in class on the best of days… and after months of virtual learning and summer vacation? Well, that pretty much requires Herculean effort. With many schools making the switch to in-person class right now, there’s no better time to add some concentration tips to your toolbox. With these seven tips for focusing, it’ll be like you never missed a beat.

Control your variables (like fatigue and hunger!)

I can’t focus on anything when my stomach is growling and I’m plotting what I’m going to have for lunch. I really can’t focus when my eyes are drifting closed. One of the best ways to ensure you’ll stay focused through your classes is also pretty easy: just make sure you’re eating enough, drinking enough, and sleeping enough!

Just say “no” to those addicting distractions.

Your phone should be out of sight and out of mind – you already know that one. However, there are plenty of other distractions, and you’ve got to ditch those too! Personally, I was a big doodler in school and would zone out for entire class periods as I filled my notebook with bubble letters and flowers. For you, it might be whispering with a friend or working ahead on homework. Stay present and focused in your class by completely eliminating these disruptions – whether that’s moving seats or leaving things in your locker.

Take good notes and participate.

Are you more involved and invested in a conversation when you’re contributing to it, or when you’re listening from afar? Most people would probably say the former, and this applies to the classroom. By taking detailed notes, asking questions, and offering answers, you’ll become an engaged participant in your class. By closely following everything that’s being said and taught, it’s much more difficult to zone out!

Sit near the front, when possible.

Whenever you have your pick of seat, choose a front row. Simply getting up close and personal to your lecture will help keep you absorbed in the material, and it’s much harder to check your phone or work on something else when the teacher’s eyes are right on you. When you’re having difficulty concentrating, proximity and accountability are your friends.

Use up your jittery energy elsewhere!

We used to have a chocolate lab who was completely spastic and hyperactive, and the only thing that helped was making him run laps during frequent games of fetch. While I’d never compare a human to my rambunctious pup… there’s a lot of wisdom to take from that! If you find yourself struggling to sit still through the entire school day, it might be a good idea to tire yourself out (within reason!) outside of school through exercise. Personally, I always brought my academic A-game during cross country season, and I think all of that physical activity was why!

Keep your school supplies organized.

If you spend half your class looking for last week’s notes, a book, or a handout you need, you’ll probably miss a fair amount of information. If your backpack is disorganized, your mind might be too! Have a plan to stay organized this semester, whether it’s with labeled notebooks or color-coded binder tabs. When you notice things start to get cluttered or disordered, set aside time to clean and reorganize. It may sound silly or unrelated, but the less effort you use hunting down school supplies, the more effort you can put into focusing on learning.

Come prepared.

You know what is supremely boring? Listening to a room full of people talk about characters in a book you never read. Or going over answers to homework you didn’t complete. There is zero chance you’ll be attentive and focused in class if you are unfamiliar with the subjects being discussed, so always show up to class prepared and ready to go.

There is always a short phase of adapting to classroom life after summer break, and that adjustment is only amplified after such a strange couple of months. The more you implement these tips, incorporate good habits, and genuinely practice paying attention, the easier this phase of adjustment will be!

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