How you can focus in lectures

If you’re struggling to focus in lectures, these simple tips will help you to boost your concentration.

After the initial buzz wears off, we all know lectures can be really dull. Some lecturers don’t seem to care or want to be there; many are terrible at presenting; some speak way to quickly, and some way to slowly. Being able to fully focus in lectures will allow you to take away as much as you can from it, no matter how bad they are.

1. Get good sleep

Creating a good sleeping habit is possibly one of the most important things you could do at university. It’ll be useful way past university life and allow you to be on to form all the time. Sleeping well is crucial to being able to focus. Lack of sleep means running on sub-par energy levels and it’ll be more difficult to keep concentration, especially during those really boring lectures.

Lack of sleep has been linked to depression, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. And we all love that feeling of waking up and wanting to jump out of bed ready to get stuff done.

2. Switch off

Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, email, buzzfeed…. They’re all distracting. So switch them off. Eliminating distractions is a sure fire way of reducing the chances of loosing focus.

Personally, if I’m taking notes, I take physical notes, which means I can just put all my tech into my bag and not think about it for the 1 or 2 hour lecture. But even if you use your laptop or tablet to make notes, go onto Airplane mode or turn on Do Not Disturb. That way you’ll make sure that no-one will be able to pull your attention away and you’ll have your full focus in your lectures.

3. Switch on

Place all your energy in the now. That way you’ll only be experiencing the lecture and your mind will not think about anything else: not about lunch, nor why you did that stupid thing earlier, nor this post (in fact, if you’re in a lecture shut your device now!). Being able to purely focus on lectures will mean that you don’t miss a thing. Your notes will be more coherent; time will pass quicker; and hence you’ll understand and remember more, which makes writing your essays way easier.

Practicing mindfulness or meditating regularly can help you do this – check out Headspace or search online for free meditation audio/video guides.

4. Drink plenty of water

This is an easy one to boost your focus in lectures. Aside from being good for you and crucial to life; water increases your concentration, makes you look younger, promotes weight loss and much more… Drinking water over coffee is healthier and the energy boost will last longer – all day perhaps? So drink plenty of water (and even try cutting coffee for a while – it really works for me!).

5. Aim for one reading (at least)

Reading before the lecture is difficult. During my masters I was bombarded with nearly 100 pages each week for one module!! I just couldn’t do it, got overwhelmed and gave up. After I had reading week to recuperate, I decided to focus on making sure I got at least one reading done before the lecture. This smaller target was much more manageable and I often ended up reading more.

Reading before a lecture is good for 1 main reason: you are primed. Lectures are intense; a lot of information is thrown at you; and having a basic understanding of what you’re going to cover means you won’t be trying to figure out what on earth the academic is talking about when they start. This means, you’ll be more relaxed and able to focus on the interesting stuff, rather than sat there slightly confused.

6. Prepare

If you don’t have readings (and even if you do), spend some time preparing for the lecture. Look at the topics you’re going to cover, have a quick search on Google or Wikipedia and get a basic understanding of them. If something in particular sparks your interest see if you can find more info. – you never know you might even be able to get the lecturer on a tangent and speak about that subject for a while. That’s bound to be more interesting!

Remember: Proper, Prior, Preparation, Prevents, Piss, Poor, Performance. Prep for your lectures and you’re bound to be able to focus and get a lot more out of them.

7. Sit at the front!

Hate to break it to ya: lectures are about learning, not sleeping. So get to the front, cut all the distractions, and use that time wisely! Sitting at the front means you’re not looking at the person in front of you scrolling through Facebook or watching a video of epic fails or funny cats (like this 16 minute one). Sitting at the front makes you focus on the lecturer and the presentation. It’s possibly one of the most effective ways to focus in lectures.


So those are my top tips! We’d love to hear anything you guys do to maintain your focus in lectures. Drop a line down in the comments below

Photo credits: Mark Hunter, Flickr

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