Tips for Staying Focused and Managing Your Time
Published: February 28, 2021 by Leslie Parry
While many of us may be finding it difficult to concentrate during this unprecedented time, graduate school remains a positive outlet for our intellectual and creative energies. The School of Information offers so many opportunities to apply our talents, strengthen our resolve and plan for a better future. So how do we put one foot in front of the other and keep distraction and procrastination at bay? Below are some resources, from academic assistance to online learning tools, that can help students stay disciplined and continue to flourish in a remote environment.
Create an at-home study plan
- Keep a calendar. In order to minimize stress, it’s important to plan ahead and budget your time. As an SJSU student, you can create a Google calendar through your school email account. This how-to video (courtesy of the INFO 203 peer mentor team) shows how to set up calendar alerts so you stay on top of deadlines.
- Create a manageable schedule. Sometimes I get overconfident and create an extensive to-do list, which quickly becomes overwhelming, and then paralyzing. It really helps me to break down the work into daily tasks. Evernote is a hugely popular (and free) note-taking app that you can synchronize across devices. If you’re an analog list-maker like me, you might be interested in this tutorial (also from the peer mentors), which features an introduction to bullet journaling.
- Set aside dedicated time and space to work (as best you can). It can be a challenge to find substantial time alone during the pandemic, especially if you’re working at home, sharing space with others, and/or caring for family members. But try to schedule blocks of time solely for your schoolwork. During this time I generally turn off notifications, close apps and tabs, and do my best to minimize the temptation (compulsion?) for distraction.
- Implement time management strategies. If you’re having trouble focusing, try something like the Pomodoro Technique, which breaks down work into manageable intervals (“pomodoros”), with regular rests in between. “One pomodoro” usually equals 25 minutes of uninterrupted work. You can find a handy tomato-timer online here.
Check out SJSU’s online resources
- To start, bookmark this comprehensive list of iSchool Student Resources. It includes pertinent information about advising, student wellness and academic support – all of which can potentially help you with organization and goal-setting.
- Student Lingo, accessible through one.SJSU, has many tutorials related to academic success and well-being, including Time Management Strategies for Success, Setting & Accomplishing Realistic Goals, and Overcoming Procrastination: Causes & Cures.
- SJSU’s eCampus also offers helpful tips for online students.
Make use of academic and peer support services
- Writing support is a big part of SJSU’s vision for student success. Accountability to a tutor or a group not only improves your research and writing skills, but also helps you stay focused and meet deadlines. The San José State Writing Center has many resources for iSchool students, including online tutoring and graduate student groups. Other online resources include guides to procrastination, writer’s block and writing anxiety.
- CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) offers opportunities for students to connect and support each other through academic and personal challenges. The Life Skills Workshops are designed to help students address such topics as resilience, focus and procrastination. Student Peer Groups provide encouragement and guidance on a number of diverse subjects, including developing mindful habits and coping with anxiety.
- Peer Connections, through the Division of Student Affairs, provides free peer mentoring, which is designed to help students develop effective study skills and time management techniques. Their list of Resources for Virtual Classes provides additional information on remote learning strategies.
Finally, it helps to remember that you’re not in this alone. If you have questions related to your academic progress, you can always contact the iSchool’s Student Services team.