8 Ways Distance Learning Makes It Harder To Focus


Article by Understood.org

School shutdowns because of COVID-19 have caused upheaval and distraction for all students. Some kids settle in to distance learning quickly and easily. Others take longer. But for kids and teens who struggle with focus, distance learning in the time of the coronavirus can be difficult.

Here are eight ways learning at home can make it harder to focus.

1. Lack of structure

At school, the day is totally planned out. There are schedules and routines. And there are rules to follow in class and out. From kindergarten to 12th grade, school means structure.

Learning from home often means making up your own routine. For some students, the flexibility is liberating. But kids and teens who struggle with focus tend to do better when they know exactly what to expect, and exactly what’s expected of them.

2. External distractions

A doorbell ringing, someone making lunch, people or pets moving around. There are sights, smells, and sounds that are part of daily living at home that make it especially hard to focus on schoolwork. That can be true whether there’s a lot of physical space at home, or very little.

3. Internal distractions

The pandemic has caused anxiety and sadness for many people. And those emotions and worries can be as distracting as a TV playing in the next room.

Many kids and teens have feelings of loss because of COVID-19. They may be missing out on big events like moving-up ceremonies, prom, and graduation. Some are also coping with the trauma of family members losing jobs, getting sick, or even dying. And social media exposes them to what other people are going through.

Dealing with loss can make it hard for anyone to focus. It’s even harder for people who already struggle with focus and coping with emotions.

4. Less support for time management

Even before the shutdowns, there were no set start and end times with homework. There were also no teachers standing there to keep students focused and on track. But with distance learning, that’s often the case with classwork, too.

Many students have trouble staying on top of their work when they’re learning at home. Without the natural supports that exist in class, they can easily drift off and lose track of time. They may also choose to use their time to do things they like more than schoolwork.

5. No in-person help with refocusing

At school, the teacher can refocus students with a hand on the shoulder or a quiet reminder. Classmates asking or answering a question can bring attention back to the lesson or activity. But those things don’t exist in the same way if students drift off at home.

6. Not enough sleep

When people don’t get enough sleep, it directly impacts how well they can focus. Learning at home can upset many schedules, including sleep schedules.

At first, being home may feel like a vacation because there’s no school to race to every morning. Regular sleep routines can fall by the wayside. Kids and teens may also have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep with all the changes and uncertainty. All of these things can make it even more difficult to pay attention and focus.

7. Long, written communication

Many teachers are using email to reach students and present information. But a long email can be hard to focus on, just like a long oral lesson in the classroom can be. The same is true of written class materials. Often, the longer they are, the harder they are to stay focused on.

8. No change in scenery or built-in breaks

Staying in one place all day can make it hard to stay focused during distance learning. Students get built-in breaks in regular school. Recess, gym, music or art class, and even changing from room to room let students recharge. And for many kids and teens, these mini-breaks make it easier to focus when it’s time to sit back down and do academic work.

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7 Ways Online Students Stay Focused Nowadays

Article from ELearningIndustry

Most activities we do during the day require laser focus. Then, we remember more, are engaged, get things done faster, and reach our goals sooner. That’s especially true for online learning. Here’s how students can remove distractions and focus on their training.

How Online Students Stay Focused Regardless Of The Distractions

If you’re taking an online course of any kind, you’re investing your time, energy, and resources in it. That means you care, want to see certain results like building skills, or take your career to the next level, and you want that to be a good investment. But if you constantly get distracted, you might miss out on the knowledge and practical advice you can get. So, it’s worth making some changes to your day to make sure you improve your memory and are more productive and alert during the eLearning experience.

1. Find Your Prime Time

How you structure your day is crucial. Turns out, there are hours during the day when we are most and least productive. Imagine the difference it can make to move your online classes to that prime time!

Well, it can easily happen. The characteristics of this most productive period of the day are that your energy levels are at their highest. It’s much easier to find focus and keep it at that time, you retain information better, and you are more motivated to engage in the lesson. So, find your peak time, now, and structure your day around it.

2. Identify And Remove Distractions

Distractions are everywhere. Even if you’re alone in your room with your laptop, there can still be plenty of factors ruining your focus. A noisy environment, someone coming in the room, a wandering mind, notifications from your phone, etc. Let’s clearly identify these, and then do something about each one of those.

3. Tame Your Mind

A great way to ease your mind and let go of anything else happening around you or later in the day is to take a few deep breaths, do one thing at a time, remember why you want to take this course, and how it can improve your life, and then get to work.

Now, science suggests that you do need to let your mind wander every now and then as it’s what unleashes your creativity and helps you focus better when it’s time to learn things. But right before you get to work, you need to leave behind the distractions around you and inside your head, and simply concentrate on this one task in front of you. You, then, become one with the activity, you’re present, and your mind is alert. Whenever we do something consciously and pay all our attention to it, we do a great job.

4. Rest Well

Downtime is crucial for our uptime. According to research on meditation, napping and more mental breaks work and help high performers reach their goals. And chances are, if you’re a motivated student who’s got a lot on his plate, you don’t have that much time set aside for rest during the day. But you need to do so if you want to improve your focus and memory.

Start by fixing your sleeping schedule. Going to bed and waking up earlier are sure ways to give your body and mind the rest they need but also kickstart them both as soon as the day begins. If you add a short meditation session during the day, you’ll be able to have a clear mind until the evening. Such a trained brain concentrates more easily and for longer periods of time.

5. Understand How Your Attention Span Works

Our attention span is quite short, and there’s so much going on around us. With social media, the information overload, and all the random thoughts in our mind, finding focus is a challenge. That’s why you need to set some limits.

For example, decide to browse the Web, watch funny videos, and/or check email just 1 or 2 times a day. Preferably, after your study time. Then, block social media with the right app for that. Your phone is such a big distraction. It takes a lot of our attention away once we unlock it, and we end up spending a lot more time than just checking who texted us.

6. Automate What You Can

One of the many advantages of the digital era (aside from the fact that we can learn online and at our own pace) is that we can leverage many other tools to make our days easier.

For instance, track your time with an app, use a tool for journaling your thoughts, meditating, tracking your tasks for the day and checking them off, scheduling meetings, setting reminders, etc. That means you won’t need to remember any of that, which gives you peace of mind and more focus left for your studies.

Don’t be afraid to use tech for easier actions too. I, for instance, track my sleep cycles with my phone and then, get a detailed report on how my brain is doing during that time. Additionally, I like this calculator to add time and use it even though it’s something that takes little to no effort. The point is that I’m saving my focus in any way I can, and technology is here to help me do that for free.

7. Make Your eLearning Experience More Pleasant

eLearning can be a challenge if the focus is nowhere to be found, but it can also be fun and let you feel accomplished afterwards if you do it right. With the simple but effective techniques above you’ll be able to keep your attention and be a great student without investing all your free time in that.
Learners Attention

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How NOT to Lose Hope in Difficult Times

 

Like it or not, there will be difficult times in our lives. You might lose your job, fail in your business, or have an illness. Whatever it is, it’s essential that you don’t lose hope. You must have hope that you will go through it. If you don’t, you will only drag yourself down. You will enter a vicious cycle where your negative attitude makes the situation worse, which makes you even more negative, and so on.

Don’t let that happen to you. Be prepared for difficult times so that you are ready when they come.

Here is how not to lose hope in difficult times:

1. Have faith.

Based on my experiences, to not lose hope you must have faith. You must believe that things will work out well in the end.

In my case, I believe that God is in control of my life and has a good plan for me. No matter how bad the situation looks, I’ve learned to trust Him, even if I don’t understand how things will work. Time and again, things turn out to be good, often in a way that I couldn’t understand earlier.

Just to give you one example, several years back I failed my Master’s degree at a local university for reasons that were beyond my control. It was a really bad experience, especially given how hard I had been working on it. But I learned to trust God in that situation. That gave me the faith to get through it. Long story short, I eventually got a scholarship at an overseas university that was of much better quality than my previous university. I learned a lot more there than I could ever otherwise.

Experiences like this strengthen my belief that having faith is essential in difficult times. In fact, I believe it to be the most important tip here, which is why I list it first.

2. Remember your “why.”

When you are in a difficult time, you should remember: why do you do what you are doing in the first place? What is it that you are after? Remembering your why gives you the strength to keep going because the cause will pull you ahead. As Viktor Frankl once said: “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’”

There are two points here:

  1. Always have a cause in whatever you do. To put it simply, if you don’t have a why, then don’t do it.
  2. Always remember what the cause is. Keep it front in your mind so that you don’t lose sight of it.

To be effective, the cause should be bigger than yourself. A self-centered “cause” won’t work. It must be something that gives you inner satisfaction rather than external rewards. It must be inspiring.

3. Be around supportive people.

Going through difficult times is hard, but going through them alone is even harder. You need a group of positive people who can support you. You should become a part of a community that cares and encourages one another. If you don’t, my suggestion is to start looking for one. Don’t wait until you need it, because by then it will be too late. You need the community before difficult times come.

4. Help others.

An additional benefit of being in a good community is it encourages you to think about other people. It pushes you to help others and, therefore, think about other people. This way you shift your focus away from yourself. As a result, your situation won’t look as bad as it would otherwise.

Often the situation looks worse than it really is because we give it too much attention. Shifting some of your attention away will put the situation in a better perspective.

***

When you are in a difficult time, remember: don’t lose hope. Hope is essential; once you lose it, you already lose the game. Furthermore, it’s your responsibility to not lose hope. You can make it as long as you don’t break it.

By Sonia Shrestha

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Perseverance in Psychology: 4 Activities to Improve Perseverance

Ways to ImprovE Perseverance

Angela Duckworth argues that growing grit from the inside requires four essential ingredients:

  • Interest
  • Practice
  • Purpose
  • Hope

We must, first of all, follow our passion. That entails discovering what our core passions are. This process involves curiosity, trying new things, experimenting, and actively seeking to develop and stay with our interests.

Then, we have to practice. But we must practice deliberately, by honing in on our weaknesses and Achilles heels, setting challenging stretch goals, and incorporating feedback.

Purpose refers to our desire to contribute to making the world a better place and to helping others. It can be a core driving force for passion.

Hope, the fourth and final ingredient, is related to the belief that our efforts matter and that they can improve our future (Duckworth, 2016).

We can also try to foster perseverance from the outside. As parents, for example, we may wish to signal that we have high expectations and give all the support we can so that our children can reach them. This includes instilling in them a fundamental belief that they can live up to our expectations.

We should also encourage our children to do difficult things that interest them and stay (at least for a while) with the extracurricular activities they have chosen. In organizations, we can try to establish a gritty work culture that is based on similar principles: high expectations, coupled with increased support (Duckworth, 2016).

 

4 Helpful Activities

Resilience, perseverance and passionResilience

The Best Possible Resilient Self is an intervention that invites us to reflect on our best possible future selves.

In as much and as vivid detail as possible, we are asked to imagine that we have achieved everything we wanted after having worked hard for it.

Crucially, this strength-based intervention entails imagining that we have successfully overcome obstacles and bounced back from adversity. It instills a sense of optimism and competency, which helps us push through specific challenges.

 

Intrinsic values

We know that the pursuit of internally rewarding goals results in increased performance and persistence over time (Vansteenkiste, Simons, Lens, Sheldon, & Deci, 2004),

If we wish to pursue big, significant life goals, it is therefore highly beneficial to connect with our values and, in particular, our intrinsic values. If we are in touch with our values, they can be highly motivating forces and help us to persist with a challenging life goal.

The Using Intrinsic Values to Promote Goal Commitment exercise invites us to create a values vision board for a life goal that we are currently hoping to achieve.

This goal can be learning a language, gaining a degree, exercising regularly, buying a house, gaining a promotion, or quitting smoking. The exercise asks us to explore potential obstacles, list good reasons for wishing to pursue our aims, and then extract our values from these reasons.

 

Values and resilience combined

Using Values to Build Resilience is based on a similar premise. The exercise seeks to encourage us to manage a challenging life event by connecting with what is most important to us – that is, by connecting with our core values.

Here, too, we are asked to develop specific value-based reasons why we may wish to get through a particular challenge and remind ourselves of what matters most to us.

 

Valued living

Valued Living During Challenging Times, finally, asks us to investigate whether we may have lost touch with personal values in the context of current challenging life events. It encourages us to realign ourselves with these values by taking valued action.

Living in tune with our values – specifically during times of personal stress – is a way of cultivating resilience that makes us better able to cope with stress.

 

Article from Anna Katharina Schaffner, Ph.D.

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How Not To Lose Hope In Tough Times

Tough times happen to all of us. No matter how strong or powerful or confident we are, tough times will come: viciously forcing their might on us, causing us to crumble. As mighty as we can feel one day, we can feel just as lost and scared the next. I don’t say this to cause fear, I say it because it’s the truth. The hardest part of tough times is not to lose hope.

I’ve felt trapped under miles of rock, no light seeping through, and the rescue workers weren’t coming to save me. It’s a feeling mixed with loss, fear and deflated dreams.

The amazing thing about life – and I’m never going to understand how – is that as long as you’re breathing, you still have a chance. I don’t care whether you think it’s God, the Universe, or a couple of alien civilizations playing games with us, you always have a chance.

Understand Why You Are Experiencing Tough Times, But Be Grateful For What You Still Have

Telling you to be grateful is almost starting to sound cliché. Everybody says it, yet not a lot of people take the time to do it. It’s easy to get lost in cluttered thoughts filled with decrepit hope and feel sorry for ourselves, so I understand why we generally don’t make the effort to be grateful. But being grateful helps.

 

It pulls you back into the present moment, allowing you to put your troubles on the back burner, even if it’s for just a short time. It doesn’t matter how you choose to be grateful. You can write out ten things right now you’re grateful for. You can sing to the heavens all the beautiful aspects of your life. You can take a big, giant breath, hold it for ten seconds, give it a powerful exhale and yell, “YA! I’M GRATEFUL FOR THIS BREATH.” I don’t care, just be grateful, period. If you’re struggling to come up with anything, remember you are, in fact, still alive. That won’t last forever, so take extreme advantage of it.

 

Remember All The Previous Tough Times You’ve Battled Through And How You Got Out Of Them

You’ve been through your fair share of tough times, am I right? I thought so.

What I find interesting is that you’re still here. You made it through your past tough times even when they probably felt a lot similar to the tough time you’re experiencing right now. Why should this tough time be any different?

Think back for a moment. What positively helped you through? Was it a book, friend, or a family member? Go back to what helped you through the last tough time. Was there something you did that helped? Revisit that.

Personally, James Taylor’s music has always helped me during my tough bouts. It calms me, puts me in a more hopeful mood. But I can get so lost in my struggles sometimes that I forget about Taylor’s music. It’s not until I’m proactive about my struggles that I tap into past sources of inspiration and guidance.

Be proactive and trust yourself, don’t let your tough times control your life.

Embrace Your Tough Times And Explore What Options Exist To Create An Even Better Life

During tough times you can’t give up, ever. Even during the toughest times you must keep your hopes alive by pushing through. Work on what needs to get done, try and build some momentum, and then build on it further.

That last thing you should be doing is quitting, which I slightly hesitate to say because there are some very good reasons to quit sometimes.

If you’re passionate about what you want to do, then don’t quit.

If you’re losing your life because of it, well, you don’t have to quit, but take a break from it and get your life back together.

One of my little secrets with my writing is that I write out of fear. I’m scared to death every time I type up an article or write a book. Am I going to make enough money to support myself, my wife, and my dog? Is anybody going to even read this? Is what I’m writing worthwhile, or is it hogwash? The list of insecure questions goes on and on.

The point I’m wanting to make is: Keep your head up, believe in yourself, and take life head on.

Your tough times won’t stand a chance.

By Daniel CJ Grant

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The Science of Perseverance – How Your Beliefs Can Strengthen (or Weaken) Your Motivation

 

Persevere: To persist steadfastly in pursuit of an undertaking, task, journey, or goal, even if hindered by distraction, difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement.

First, the bad news …

When it comes to creating change in your life or achieving your goals, it probably won’t be easy. You may struggle. It’ll likely take longer than you expect. It’s almost certain that you’ll have setbacks and short-term failures along the way. Especially when it involves creating new habits, developing new skills or learning new concepts. This helps explain why most people fail to achieve their New Years’s resolutions.

Now, the good news …

Struggle, setbacks and short-term failures don’t have to drain your motivation. They don’t have to make you want to quit before you’ve put in enough time and effort to reach your goal. In fact, psychologists who study motivation and achievement say it could be just the opposite; as long as you adopt the right mindset.

 

According to decades of research, there are two fundamental belief systems, also know as “mindsets,” that determine how people respond to struggle, setbacks and failure when pursuing their goals. In one mindset, you’re likely to get discouraged and give up on your goal. In the other, you tend to embrace the struggle, learn from the setbacks and keep moving forward – you persevere.

Before I tell you more about these two mindsets, I want to share this inspiring, true story about a boy named Stevie.

How Stevie Became a Millionaire, Bestselling Author

His mother called him Stevie. He fancied himself a writer. He wrote his first story before he was old enough to shave. His mother liked it; said it was good enough to be in a book. A few years later, he sent one of his stories to a magazine, hoping to get it published.

Unlike his mother, they rejected it.

Stevie nailed the rejection letter to his bedroom wall and kept writing. By the time he was old enough to drive, he’d replaced the nail with a spike large enough to hold the ream of rejection letters he’d received since the first. Still, he kept writing.

Ten years came and went, along with many more rejection letters.

Stevie – now a struggling, 26-year-old school teacher with a wife and two children – receives a telegram from Doubleday publishing. They tried to call him on the phone, but Stevie and his wife were too broke at the time to afford telephone service. That was about to change though, because the telegram was not another rejection letter.

Doubleday had agreed to publish Stevie’s first novel – a horror story about Carrie White, a teenage girl with telekinetic powers. They paid him a $2500 advance for the book. Not long after, paperback rights to Carrie sold for $400,000, and Stephen King was well on his way to becoming one of the most prolific and successful writers of modern times.

What Ultimately Makes People Successful?

Image source: This is a Book by Demetri Martin

IMAGE SOURCE: THIS IS A BOOK BY DEMETRI MARTIN

I’m always inspired by stories of how successful writers like Stephen King started out. How they struggled for years. How they endured rejection after rejection, failure after failure, but kept moving forward. Kept honing their craft. Kept chasing their dream.

J.K. Rowling is another fine example. Depressed, practically broke and living on welfare, she was rejected by a dozen publishers before she finally found one to publish her Harry Potter book series. As you probably know, she’s now a multi-millionaire.

success-bookOf course, it’s not just famous writers who struggled their way to the top. If you study the background of any successful person in any field, you’ll often see a long road of struggle, setbacks and failure stretching out behind them.

Maybe these people were blessed with raw talent, intelligence, luck or other advantages the rest of us lack. Maybe they weren’t.

In either case, what ultimately made them successful was their choice to keep learning, keep working and keep moving confidently in the direction of their dreams, no matter how hard it got. What ultimately made them successful was their choice to persevere. As you’re about to see, when you adopt the right mindset, that choice becomes much easier to make.

“When we hear about extremely successful people, we mostly hear about their great accomplishments – not about the many mistakes they made and the failures they experienced along the way. In fact, most successful people throughout history are also those who have had the most failures. That is no coincidence. People who achieve great feats, no matter what field, understand that failure is not a stumbling block but a stepping-stone on the road to success. There is no success without risk and failure. We often fail to see this truth because the outcome is more visible than the process—we see the final success and not the many failures that led to it.”

— Tal Ben-Shahar from Choose the Life You Want

Do You Have a Fixed Mindset or a Growth Mindset?

The Science of Perseverance: How Your Mindset Strengthens (or Weakens) Your Motivation

CLICK TO ENLARGE.
FIXED MINDSET VS GROWTH MINDSET
CREATED BY NIGEL HOLMES.

What do you believe about human qualities, such as talent, intelligence and creativity?

If you’ve adopted a “fixed mindset,” you view them as qualities that you’re either born with, or not, and there’s not much you can do to change it. On the other hand, if you’ve adopted a “growth mindset,” you see them as abilities that you can develop through education, hard work and practice.

How about character traits like self-discipline, grit and willpower?

With a fixed mindset, you believe traits like these are largely static and predetermined by your genes and upbringing – either you have them or you don’t. Through the lens of a growth mindset, you see them as malleable skills that you can cultivate and strengthen over the course of your life (science proves this to be true, by the way).

This distinction between the fixed mindset and growth mindset emerged from the work of Carol Dweck, Ph.D., and her colleagues. Dr. Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, has spent her career studying motivation and achievement. In her bestselling book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she presents an airtight case that a growth mindset can help strengthen your motivation, even when the going gets tough.

“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success; without effort. They’re wrong.

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work … This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

“Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports. It enhances relationships. When you read Mindset, you’ll see how.”

Dr. Carol Dweck, Ph.D.

How the Fixed Mindset Weakens Your Motivation

The human mind is a meaning-making machine. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re constantly monitoring what’s happening around you, interpreting what it means and deciding what to do about it. This is obviously an important process for your survival, but it’s also the main driver of all your suffering – especially when it’s shaped by the fixed mindset.

When you struggle or fail to achieve your goals, you make that mean something about yourself. In the fixed mindset, it means you’re simply not good enough, or that you somehow don’t have what it takes. For example, have you ever thought or said things like:

  • I’m not a math person.
  • I’m not creative.
  • I’m a procrastinator.
  • I’m not good with technology.
  • I don’t have any self-discipline.
  • It’s hard for me to lose weight.
  • I have no talent.
  • I’m shy.
  • I’m not athletic.
  • I’m not a writer.

It’s healthy to acknowledge your limitations and recognize where you can be doing better in your life. But that’s not what’s happening in the fixed mindset.

Remember, the fixed mindset believes that talent and abilities are largely fixed and predetermined – either you have it, or you don’t. If you have what it takes, great. If not, why even bother to try? You might as well give up, and move on to something easier.

Obviously, this is not the kind of thinking that helped Stephen King and J.K. Rowling become bestselling authors. It’s not the kind of thinking that generates motivation to persevere when the going gets tough.

How the Growth Mindset Strengthens Your Motivation

The growth mindset interprets challenge and failure much differently than the fixed mindset. Remember, the core belief of the growth mindset is that human abilities and talents are malleable skills that you can cultivate and strengthen over the course of your life.

The fixed mindset mistakenly views your limitations as permanent. The growth mindset understands they’re just a starting point – guiding stars that tell you where to focus your energy toward personal and professional development.

The growth mindset is an antidote to defeatism. It interprets challenge and failure not as a signal to throw in the towel, but as a natural, healthy part of human growth and achievement.

This may sound like good ole’ fashioned positive thinking, and maybe it is. The difference is these conclusions are based on 40 years of rigorous, scientific research – hundreds of studies that all say the same thing. If you want to strengthen your motivation, achieve your goals and lead a more fulfilling life, you’re best-served by a growth mindset.

Your Choice: Fixed Mindset or Growth Mindset

As I’ve said many times, success rarely comes easily. Anyone who’s ever reached a level of success or made a change in their life had to overcome challenges, setbacks and short-term failures along the way. Some more than others, I’m sure, but ultimately, they all persevered. They all kept moving forward, regardless of the challenges they faced.

You now have a choice regarding how you interpret struggle, setbacks and failure. You can interpret it from a fixed mindset as evidence that you’re somehow not cut out to succeed. Or you can interpret it from a growth mindset as guidance for where to focus your efforts toward personal and professional development.

If you want to protect your motivation, and keep moving forward, always make the growth mindset choice.

 

Article By Michael D. Pollock
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