Tips for Staying Focused and Managing Your Time

iStudent Blog

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

Make use of academic and peer support services

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


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