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How do you stay focused?

I am struggling with my boring classes. I find myself getting distracted often by information I want to learn versus the information I have to learn. I am studying health sciences and the History of Japan in the 1800s is boring me to tears. premed

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Suddhasattwa’s Answer

yes, that's very common Courtney and we all have been thru this in our college days too :-)

But what can bail you out is few youtube videos below that will tell you the medical history pre-1800 and post 1800 era .
once you watch these quick videos, you will learn and remember the entire story as Visualization and will be able to relate/connect with the current boring lectures with facts and figures much better:

1. Watch some youtube videos on Kampo medicine, RANGAKU,
2. Browse the Timeline of healthcare in Japan in wikipedia
3. Later in the era of 1800, the Meiji Restoration happens. Japan opens to Western influence. Several Western hospitals were founded. Traditional medicine enters a period of rapid decline then and hence is the reform of modern medicine.

These steps will certainly help you stay focused. Good luck with your premeds.
~Suddho

Suddhasattwa recommends the following next steps:

1. Watch some youtube videos on Kampo medicine, RANGAKU,
2. Browse the Timeline of healthcare in Japan in wikipedia
3. 1800 Meji restoration videos
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Brenda’s Answer

I think we have all been there at some point. Not every class will be as interesting as some. But it has to be done. So make sure you are organized and remove all distractions. Make sure you take adequate breaks and that you are getting the rest you need to stay focused. Try to sign up for other classes that you will really enjoy and have something to look forward to. Just hang in there!
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Jillian’s Answer

I think we all suffer from this issue whether its a class, seminar, a conference call, or anything where you are not participating in the conversation. One thing I do is take notes. It keeps my mind engaged. I may not need the notes but it helps me stay focused so I do not miss any key information. Another thing I find useful is visualizing the information. By listening to the speech, I think of a story line that it can be applied too. Just like if someone was telling you about their vacation, or a fender bender in their vehicle. You tend to visually follow that story line in your head.
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Dana’s Answer

Completely understand your lack of focus. I have been there and know when the subject isn't interesting to me I had a hard time as well. All the answers above are very relevant and insightful! Just remember what the end goal is and what your objective is! If possible rely on peer groups within your classes to keep it interesting. I find study groups make it way more interesting and I have to get more involved in the class and participate.
Good luck!
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Philip’s Answer

Distractions are very common in not only school, but also the work environment. I have experienced the same predicament in my career. I found keeping my head down and tackling the "boring " subjects first, helped me stay focused and complete the task at hand. If the task becomes too much, take a break and clear your head. Best of luck!
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Michelle’s Answer

Courtney --

You are not alone! Distraction struggles do not stop once you begin working, but there are some great ways to cope. Here are a few ways I do:

- Time block - set a timer for 20 minutes and commit to doing nothing else but that task for 20 minutes. When that time is up, you can check your phone, send the email that came to mind, etc. Sometimes you'll find yourself in a groove at that point. And if you don't, you'd be amazed where 20 un-distracted minutes can get you!

- Keep a piece of paper to the side of you work to quickly jot things you feel like you have to remember down so your brain can release it without feeling you have to remember the task. You probably only need to write down one word for you to remember each task/distraction.

- Keep the space surrounding you clean and visually appealing. In high school when everything else was a mess, I would put a blanket on the floor and make that little space perfect. Sounds funny, but it truly helped me focus.

- If you feel yourself getting stuck on a concept, step away from it for a minute and come back to it. Frustration can be a big distraction too.

Keep at it!
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Masha’s Answer

I use mindfulness triggers to stay focused. For example, you can decide that some word your professor says frequently will be a trigger for you to check in with yourself and get back into the moment. I had a professor when I was in college who constantly said "yes, yes, yes" - just like that - three times. I used that phrase as my mindfulness trigger to check back in with myself.

To actually check in when you hear the trigger word, here is what I usually do:
1. Take a few deep breaths
2. Quickly acknowledge any sensations I'm feeling in the body (i.e. heat, tingling, soreness, tightness, etc.)
3. Acknowledge emotions I'm feeling (i.e. I am feeling bored, sad, happy, content, etc.)
4. Check my surroundings and notice what is going on outside, notice things that I like.
5. Take a few more deep breaths and go back to focusing on the lecture.

I hope this helps!

Masha recommends the following next steps:

Check out this article about mindfulness triggers: https://www.wildmind.org/applied/daily-life/mindfulness-triggers
Take a mindfulness-based stress reduction class (usually covered by insurance, if your doctor approves)
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Dan’s Answer

If you are taking classes that are pre-requisites for harder classes, there will likely be key concepts that you must learn before moving onto classes with things you want to learn. Focus on the key topics and try to find the links between the introductory information and the secondary classes. If you tell yourself it will be boring going in it will be hard to overcome that. Tell yourself you like the class every time you read or study. It might not make it your favorite topic, but it will help you get through.
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Matthew’s Answer

Good question, Courtney. Being able to stay focused can be tough especially on topics that don't peak your interests. I've found in the past that rewarding myself during scheduled study breaks can help me to stay focused. For example, if I have a large passage to read and Im having trouble focusing, I might plan one 15-20 minute break every hour or two to do a quick workout, eat a piece of candy, scroll Instagram, or anything to give my mind a break. I noticed that by doing this I can focus better during the time I am studying.
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Deborah’s Answer

What a great question Courtney, the fact that you ask it shows that you know yourself well, and that's a great quality. When I have a boring subject to learn, I make notes. The old-style habit of pencil and paper recording what I'm hearing really helps me. Then, another thing I do is that after the class is over, I try to research a little more and find a source of information on that topic that is delivered in a way that is interesting to me.

As others here have said, it is true, that this class won't last forever. Look forward to the day when it is over and then be proud that you endured it and learned something.
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Robert’s Answer

Learn what is required, then continue down that thought to where you want to go. Then the knowledge is just the start and the learning is the important part. For instance, learn 1800's Japan, then start looking at what medicine was like in 1800's Japan. Learn about the history, then what your subject was like at the time.
Hi Robert, are you saying that the student should start with a very broad understanding on history and then dive in to the specifics? Just wanted to clarify! Gurpreet Lally, Admin
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Mallory’s Answer

Great question Courtney- I can say that many students struggle with this themselves!

Some tips on how to stay focused:
Take breaks every hour
Remove any distractions
Do the most difficult studying first
Remind yourself constantly of your ultimate goal (achieving your degree!)
Take classes that apply for credit, but that also interest you

Unfortunately not all classes are going to be interesting to every student, but is always helpful to keep your goals in mind and strive for success!

Good luck to you!
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Curt’s Answer

I find taking notes keeps me focused both when I'm listening to something I'm interested in and when I would rather be doing anything else but have to be present. In both cases it serves me well in keeping focused. When it comes to the environment you are in - school - the objective is to retain the information being presented so you can perform well on tests and quizzes down the road. What you will find is you may not get less bored with the subject material but it will be written down so you can go back and at least study/remember what was said so you can do well on the tests and get out of the class without negatively impacting your GPA. When you enjoy something, you are engaged and probably retain what you hear. When you are bored stiff with a subject you are not retaining the information being shared at the time so notes will save you when you need to remember. Best of luck!
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Puneet’s Answer

There are lots of ideas people recommend to stay focused in boring classes or meetings. My personal favorite is taking notes in the form of bullets. It keep you engaged and away from day dreaming or spacing out.

I hope this helps.
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Maharlika’s Answer

I have been trying to improve my ability to focus during the quarantine too. One of the best solutions I have come up with is utilizing my computer timer for 30 minute increments. I try to focus on a certain task and try to achieve as much as possible in that time increment. If I still feel focused, then I reset the timer. If I think I need a break, then I take a 2-5 minute break. This technique has definitely helped me complete work tasks faster. I have also implemented it with my workouts and other tasks in the evening to improve my time management and not be distracted while I am at home.
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Lamecca’s Answer

Staying focus takes purpose, determination and willpower. If you can remain focused on the outcome vs the moment. It'll be much easier to get through any uneventful situation.
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Nadia’s Answer

My personal advice it to try to think and analyze instead of memorize. Think about possible background stories, patterns - like a real life, not a history. Check alternative ways of learning - documentary movies, YouTube or even Netlfix or fan pages that are owned by people who are really passionate about history or health science.
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Clint’s Answer

That is a tough one. I have been in your shoes for sure. As boring as the class may be, you just have to focus yourself and get through it. Just buckle down and get your coursework or reading completed so you can move on to something more fun or interesting. Turn off your phone too.
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Paul’s Answer

You are not alone. Almost everyone has had to take courses they had no interest in because it was a requirement for graduation. When I was in school the best way that I found to deal with that was to focus on the big picture. I reminded myself that these courses were a means to the end. They were challenges that I needed to beat in order to achieve my goal , which was graduation. If you keep this in mind, you'll be able to get through the course no matter how boring it is.

Also, remember that nothing lasts forever. You only need to sit through these courses for one, maybe two, semesters and that's it. So do your best and take it one week at a time. It will be over before you know it and you'll move on to courses that you'll actually be interested in.

Good luck.
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Amy’s Answer

Staying focused in a class that does not interest you or does not seem relevant to your degree or ultimate career can be tough, but we have all had to do it at some point in time. One thing I would suggest is to make sure you have removed as many distractions as possible. For instance, don't go to class hungry or another suggestion is to make sure you have gotten a good nights sleep so that you are not nodding off in class. Other suggestions I would provide to help keep you focused in class and hopefully help it go by faster would be to make sure you are taking good notes, try to get involved in any discussions that may occur within class or possibly even sit near the front of the classroom because you are less likely to pick up your phone when you are bored. At least with a class, there is a limited time frame in which you have to put up with it so try a couple of different techniques and see what works best for you.
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Toni’s Answer

If the class that is boring to you is required you have to find something you like to stay engaged and focused.
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Padmapriya’s Answer

Hi Courtney,

Great question. It is definitely important to stay focused. Here are my tips,

1. Set study goals. First things first; start with the basics and set your study goals.
2. Make a study timetable. Once you know what you want, the next step is to prepare a weekly study timetable.
3. Stay focused on your priorities.
4. Find a suitable environment.
5. Block distracting websites plus apps on your phone, tablet, and computer.
6. Focus on skills, not grades.

Finally, use the Pomodoro Technique, this is a very effective technique to stay focused and make you work smarter and your brain will thank you.

Hope this helps.

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Riley’s Answer

It sounds like the History of Japan is satisfying your elective credit and that is why you're taking it? In my college career, I have taken many boring classes, and in my internship had to work on many boring projects; unfortunately it just is a normal downside of life. However, to stay focused in class something that I do is give myself little breaks. For example, if the class is an hour and a half long then I would probably break it up into 3 smaller chunks of time by taking two trips to the bathroom or water fountain. By getting up and removing myself for a couple of minutes twice during the class I find that it really refreshes my mind. It not only takes my mind off the boring material for a minute but it also gets the blood flowing to my brain. This is helpful to me because when I come back I feel a little more refreshed and energized and more eager to focus.
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Jacob’s Answer

Hi - it is hard to keep focus on topics/classes that do not interest you, but you need to look at what your final objective is for taking that class. Make sure you take breaks if possible. See if you can get a study buddy in the class and you all can review class notes together to make nothing was missed. Good Luck!
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