Tips to Improve Concentration In Class

Advice Column

From: Off In La La Land
Subject: Concentration Help

Hi Alisa,

I’m having trouble concentrating in my classes. I know that I need to get this fixed before I get much farther in the semester if I want to save my grades. Do you have any tips for paying more attention in class?


Hi La La,

I understand that concentrating  can be difficult sometimes. It can be difficult at all levels, whether it be Elementary school all the way up to sitting in meetings when you’re in an actual job. Paying attention in whatever situation you are in can really help in the long run. It will help you retain more later, like on the final test, during a work project, or when you find yourself in a situation where the knowledge you learned may come in handy.

Luckily, I can usually pay attention pretty well in class, but I do have some tips that help me and help others that I know when we do have those difficult times concentrating

Alisa’s Top 10 Tips To Improve Concentration

  1. Don’t Sit by Distracting People- This is one of the most basic ways to help improve concentration. Don’t sit by the people who you will talk to, or who will take your attention away from the main part of the class by messing around on the internet, making jokes, or talking about weekend plans. Yes, it may be hard to say no to sitting by your friends, it will help you in the long run if you know you will talk to them. (This can sometimes be difficult if you have a seating arrangement, but if it is a serious problem, talk to your teacher and they will usually be understanding.)
  2. Face The Front of the Room-I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes you may find yourself turning your body away from the front of the room and becoming distracted by things around you. If you just position your body facing the front of the room (and oftentimes, facing front in your seat), it causes you to look more at the teacher, which improves concentration by allowing you to make eye contact and pay more attention to what is being said.
  3. Stop Checking the Clock Every 5 Minutes- Just stop, honestly. It’s not doing you any good. Staring at the clock doesn’t make time go any faster, and it distracts you from the topic at hand. When you keep checking the clock it causes thoughts about how slow time is passing, and causes you to get frustrated. If you don’t check, time will seem to move faster, and you won’t be as frustrated, even if it is a class that you just don’t like at all.
  4. Disconnect From Technology- Oh, yeah, I went there. If you really want to improve, you have to disconnect from technology. It’s insanely distracting. If you don’t need to use a computer for a class, don’t. If you do need to use the computer, just disconnect from the Wi-Fi if at all possible, it’s a lot harder to get distracted that way.  I know in today’s world, it’s hard to ignore your phone and all the different things it can do. I love my phone too, but it’s better to just turn it off during class time. 
  5. Take Notes- This is definitely one of the most important things to do when trying to pay attention in class. Taking notes improves memory also, so when you take notes you are helping yourself to do better on tests as well. Taking notes by hand (yes, by hand, I told you to get rid of your technology) is something that can help you improve concentration by  allowing you to keep track of the main points of the lesson.
  6. Doodle, but Don’t Overdo It- Are you a visual learner? Well, then by all means, doodle. Draw diagrams and tables if it helps you remember the information. You can even draw a nice flower or other design in the margins. Just make sure not to get too carried away by it. Keep the doodling to a minimum and keep it relevant.
  7. Participate- Yes, the dreaded class participation. I know participating in class can be a bit scary sometimes, but it really does help. Adding to the discussion will show your teacher that you are paying attention, and it can even help you understand the material better. Asking a question is another good way to participate and improve concentration. You can even make it a goal for yourself to either add to a discussion or ask a question once or twice per class. It will help you focus on what is going on in the class.
  8. Fidget a Little Bit- Your body is made to move. Sitting in one position for a long time can be very uncomfortable (and some desks don’t help the comfort level one bit). If you’re feeling uncomfortable, stretch in place, shift positions, just move a little. It will help improve concentration because you won’t be sitting and thinking about how uncomfortable you are.  If you need to fidget a bit more to relieve stress or anxiety, or just because you’re a fidgeter, do it in a way that will not attract much attention, as to not distract others (i.e. tap your foot, twirl your pen between your fingers, etc.).
  9. Take A Breath- I’ve left the two most important tips for last. Simply take a deep breath. Close your eyes and breathe. Just take a moment to do this at the beginning of class, and at any moment you are feeling particularly distracted. It will help clear your mind, and help you to clear your head a bit.
  10. Focus On Being In the Here and Now- I know this is easier said than done, but i you combine it with #9, you’ll have an easier time. Do  #9 and then work on clearing your mind of any other obligations, assignments, classes, tests, anxieties, etc. Then you need to try to be present in the moment. If you work on being in the moment, then you won’t be thinking of anything else other than the moment that you are in, and the class that you are in at the current time. Being present mentally will help you pay loads more attention, I promise.

Best wishes,

Alisa