2020 is still a year many people are trying to wrap their head around, myself included. Covid-19 has brought on a lot of stress for those who are working and have lost their jobs and also to those who have returned back to university, everything feels so surreal. During lock down it had been announced that university would be done online this year with the possibility of being back on campus by second semester, this isn’t something many students wanted to hear; however, we know that it was needed due to the circumstances so we quickly came to terms with the news.

When I “returned” to university this year, I had been feeling anxious before we’d even gotten past our introduction week as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to cope with online learning, so far my fears have become a reality. Lack of concentration, finding it harder to read academic literature online, not being able to see my friends and catch up about the last year we’ve been apart. All minor inconveniences in the grand scheme of things but we are halfway through the first semester and nothing has improved. This has caused me a great deal of concern about the future as I’m a final year student, this could affect my degree massively if I don’t try and implement things to boost my concentration levels. Having lectures and seminars on campus makes learning so much more fulfilling, you finish the day feeling like you’ve actually done something with your time and you feel more accomplished. Whereas, doing online lectures at home you find yourself feeling tired, and mentally not at the lecture, most of the time you don’t even realise you’ve zoned out until you zone back in again.

I’ve thought of a list of things that could potentially help me concentrate better and anyone who reads this that’s in the same situation can try them out too.
• Leave your phone in another room – Yes, I know this is a hard one, our generation is constantly glued to our phones, which is probably the main culprit for lack of concentration levels, but put it away and only use it on your breaks.
• Work from a desk not from a bed- Probably a bit hypocritical of me as I write this from my bed however, I definitely will not be working in bed from this day onwards. Working from your desk will make you feel more productive, especially when listening to a lecture you will be more likely to take notes and remember the information you were taught.
• Drink plenty of water- Keeping hydrated will leave you less heavy headed and you’ll feel a lot more refreshed whilst working.
• Go for a walk between lectures- Whether it’s to the shop or just to your front door for some fresh air, try and get a walk in especially if you have a long day online, it will prevent you from getting groggy and tired.
• Interact in lectures- Ask questions, answer them, speak up if you’re unsure on something, lead discussions. Interaction during lectures will not only give your lectures peace of mind but it will also help make the lecture more enjoyable.
These are just a few things you can try and implement to get the best out of your online university experience. This year will definitely be a struggle for the vast majority of us, but if we try and get ourselves into a routine and the right head space, I have no doubt we will all do as well as we hope.

Remember to keep yourself safe and well, your university lecturers are always there to help and guide you if you’re struggling so don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask questions.

Kayla Collins is a final year BSc in Communication Management and PR student at Ulster University. Find her on Twitter, Instagram or Linkedin.

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