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How To Stay Focused In Your Online Classes

Are you struggling to focus in your online Zoom classes? Is staring at a blurry video of your prof just not the same as sitting in a classroom after hiking up the hell that is the Milbank stairs? Deputy Editor Caroline Mullooly offers insight on how to pay attention to your online classes.

A lot has changed about CU in the past month. Most notably, the shift to online classes as we have become Columbia Online University in the City of Your Sad Hometown. None of us could have expected nor wanted this change, but we continue to push onward and occasionally log into Zoom for some resemblance of normalcy. As we continue to struggle to focus in our online classes, Bwog has compiled a list of tips to help you reach that P as in Pass marker.

Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me (but only after class).

  • Power your phone all the way down. The COVID-19 updates and Instagram notifs will be there for you later, but your lecture won’t be.
  • Put your phone seriously out of reach, so you can’t just reach out and grab it.
  • Be sure to charge your headphones the night before, so they’ll be ready for you to zoom into class in the morning.
  • If you have a laptop with a foldable/detachable keyboard, hide your keyboard. It’s much harder to switch tabs without your mouse/keyboard, and it just has a different feeling to it.

Workspace Productivity

  • Say it with me, everybody! Separate workspace! Don’t log into class or do homework where you sleep or hang out! It’s super helpful to have a separate work area (even if it’s just a specific desk/table/corner), to get you in the “it’s time to be productive” zone.
  • Put a stern-yet-polite note on your door when you’re in class, so nobody has the urge to knock or come in.
  • Keep a pitcher of water at your desk, so you don’t deceive yourself into taking an hour-long “water break.”
  • Organize your materials for class in your workspace the night before to simulate getting ready for normal classes.

What Not To Wear

  • Put on real pants! I love sweats, but skinny jeans prevent me from getting too comfy and falling asleep. No pain, no academic gain.
  • Don’t wear sunglasses. Don’t wear glasses that aren’t your prescription. Don’t wear 3D glasses.

Have a Routine

  • Wake up at least an hour before your first class. Stretch, eat breakfast, establish some sort of routine so you feel like you’re starting a normal workday.
  • Make a fancy coffee drink to brighten your day! Bwog recommends this whipped iced coffee from TikTok. It may not be Joe, but it’ll help you feel energized and excited for class.

Check yourself, before you…

  • Stay on the Zoom window or the window where you’re taking notes. Don’t get distracted by other things on your computer. In fact, close all of your other windows so you have no choice but to stay focused.
  • Find someone who can hold you accountable. This can be a classmate, friend, sibling, or parent who is also working from home. Work together, take breaks together—whatever will keep you doing what you need to do.

And For The Artistically Inclined:

  • Doodle everyone’s faces! You’ll be forced to pay attention to the screen and whoever’s talking, instead of another web page or your phone or your family in the room next door.


In all seriousness, we wish you all the best during this tough time. We will get through this, but we might as well try to stay focused in our Zoom classes and get somewhat of our tuition’s worth.

The new normal via The Department of Defense

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