How to Stay Focused While Studying

written by Marie September 9, 2018

Marie-Philippe working

Throughout the previous year, I have managed to study for 8 hours and sometimes more. It has not always been the case though, as I have ADHD, which means that I always had difficulty working on anything. When I entered university in September 2015, I realized that I would have to significantly improve my work ethic and stay focused in order to finish my work on time.

It might sounds sad today, but it’s a fact. I was not even able to study for 30 minutes without being distracted by something. I have come a long way to where I am today. I will give you some tips on what I did to have the ability to study and work for longer periods of time while avoiding distractions. I hope these will be useful if you also need to be able to work more effectively for the university.

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Watch the video


My tips to stay focused and study efficiently

1. Make to-do lists

I use different tools to make my to-do lists. I sometimes use Todoist, which I find very useful for tasks that need to be checked and sorted into different categories. I have been using this app on my phone and desktop for more than a year.To do list on Todoist - Stay Focused

On the other hand, I sometimes change to Trello, this is because Todoist has only one defect: it is difficult to visualize tasks we have to do over the week. Especially when I have a lot of work to do. I tend to change for a few weeks or months, just for that visualization aspect.

Trello board with tasks to do for every day of the week - Stay Focused

I also have another method. If I just want to make a paper list for the day of what I need to get done in one sitting, I end up using a notebook like this:

Today's Plan Of Attack - Notepad product from Knock Knock - Stay Focused


2. Study with Study Live Streams on YouTube

When I discovered Study Live Streams on YouTube, it completely changed my life! What are study live streams? These are videos where people are filming themselves live while studying. It sounds bizarre when you first hear about it, but it’s crazy how these videos are the starting point that has allowed me to study better.

It’s simple: when the person we’re watching is studying, we must study too. When it’s a break, we can relax and go on our phone! It’s like a study group that we could have in real life around a table, with the exception that, it won’t end up becoming an endless discussion as is often the case when we study with a group…

The reason it helped me so much was that when I started to become less motivated to study, I looked at the person who was studying on YouTube and I said to myself, “If this person can study so much, then I can also do it!”

I was just listening initially, and I did not create videos. However, I quickly realized that the YouTubers who created videos were in Europe, so we did not have the same time zone. That’s why I decided to create videos myself afterward.

At the beginning of the day, I give myself a goal, for example, to study for 3 hours. Then, for each hour, I write down what tasks I want to accomplish.


Watch | Why Do I Broadcast My Studying On Live Stream?


3. Have everything you need at your fingertips

I realized that when I sat down in my office to work, I would always be missing a few things and I would have to get up multiple times. When I started to realize it, I was able to make the right efforts to make sure to have everything around me in my office to minimize the need to get up. Otherwise, I might have to get up for 1 hour to get things (I swear, I’m not exaggerating). Here are some things that I now have at hand:

I challenge you to make your list. Why do you have to get up once you start working? What do you always forget?

When you get up too much, you often lose the momentum or the “study bubble” that is so hard to reach! And it’s crazy the time we can lose…


4. Have ready meals

Once again, I realized with time that I lose momentum when I stop doing homework for more than an hour. For lunchtime,  a 50-minute break to eat and relax is perfect for me.

The most optimal way to eat for me has been to make sure I have a ready meal, which I only have to heat up in the microwave when it comes time to dine. That way, it only takes 3 minutes to warm up my lunch, and I have the next 45 minutes to relax and watch a TV show. It feels like you can come back to study with more energy and it makes you able to stay focused!


5. Use the Pomodoro technique

It was when I started to watch Study Live Streams that I began to seriously use this method. It is quite simple, but it is neglected too much: I love doing 50 minutes of work for 10 minutes of break per hour. The normally recommended method is to do 25 minutes for 5 minutes break, but I found that it did not work well for me.

As I have to concentrate a lot to do my homework, the effort to get back into my calculations every 30 minutes was disturbing. Also, since it’s only a break of 5 minutes, I was always running late. It is not enough to prepare fruit or a glass of water, pet my cat and come back. It still took me 10 minutes. So I chose to go with the technique 50/10!

I use the IntervalTimer for my YouTube videos, but there are other apps out there.


6. Tips to avoid your cellphone

During my first video I made on YouTube, I realized that I was wasting a lot of time on my cell phone. I think I went on Facebook or Instagram every 7 minutes, for at least 5 minutes! It did not make sense! It was one of my first awakenings.

To avoid wasting time on your cell, I advise you:

  • Use the Forest app to plant trees (real ones). However, to get there, you need to leave your phone alone!
  • Use your cell phone as a timer for your Pomodoro sessions
  • Of course, you can also leave your phone in another room
  • Sometimes I even give my phone to a friend or someone else and tell that person not to give it back to me


7. If you don’t need it, leave your laptop in another room

When I had to study physics or mathematics, I did not need my computer. I was only using it to have music. I realized that I was wasting a lot of time on it because it was next to me! That’s why I bought speakers on Amazon.

By having a speaker, I started putting my computer in another room, and it helped me a lot!

There are also applications, like SelfControl, which allow you to block some websites on our computer for a period that we choose.


8. Have diverse tasks: long, short, easy, difficult

This advice is probably one of the most important of this list! It is essential to have difficult, easy, long and short tasks on your to-do list. That way, you do the difficult tasks in the beginning, when you have more energy and concentration. On my end, in the afternoon around 3 or 4 pm is when I know from experience that it’s hard for me to concentrate, I’m more tired. That’s when I do easier tasks, or tasks that I want to do and that require less concentration!

It also helps to have tasks for several classes, not just one! Like that, when you have studied mathematics too much, before doing too much and being fed up, you can study something else.


9. Know yourself

It’s important to know ourselves and identify the times when we are most productive in the day. For some, it is morning, for others, the evening. It is, therefore, necessary to identify the most opportune moment to do one’s homework.

For my part, I like to start around 9 or 10 am to 1 pm, when I eat lunch. I get back to work at 2 pm. Between 3 and 5 pm, I do easier tasks. Then, I take a long break, and I start working in the evening around 8 pm when I regained strength after a break!


10. Film yourself studying to identify where you’re wasting time

When I did my first video live stream video, it was the moment that I was able to realize and recognize everything that I was doing wrong and would make me waste time when I was trying to study. We don’t even understand how much time we spend on our cell. That’s why, if you feel like it, I suggest you film yourself during a typical study session! Then watch the recording, and see precisely what distracts you and how much time you lose.

10 tips to stay focused while you are studying or working. How to keep focus for a long time? How to work more efficiently? As I have ADHD, I learned how to be able to work for longer periods and am sharing my tips with you!


I hope this article will help you focus better to study or do your homework! These few things changed my life. By being more efficient in studying, it allowed me to invest my time elsewhere, as in my various implications for women in technology for example.

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Afia Anjum Preety September 10, 2018 - 5:07 am

This post was so useful Marie . Thank you so much <3

Marie September 10, 2018 - 6:52 pm

Hello Afia,
I’m glad you liked my post! Thank you for writing a comment! 🙂 xx

yevandy September 13, 2018 - 8:18 am

I also have issues studying for too long and I need to work on fixing this because i am going back to school next year.
Im going to try some of these tips and hopefully ill be able to do a study lifestream in the nearest future.
Thanks for sharing Marie

Marie September 20, 2018 - 9:34 pm

Hello Yevandy!
I hope these tips can help you!
Good luck for the upcoming school year!

Shagufta September 18, 2018 - 12:57 pm

Hi Marie,
I am happy to see this amazing content here ! because here you have explained all the things to stay focused.
Thank you so much 🙂

Marie September 20, 2018 - 9:11 pm

Hello Shagufta, I’m really happy you enjoyed the blog post and I hope it will help you!

Rifat February 25, 2019 - 5:08 pm

What is that clock app that you use on your phone?
BTW, I find your blog very helpful.

Marie April 5, 2019 - 6:50 pm

Hi Rifat,
The app is IntervalTimer!
Thanks, I’m very glad you enjoy my blog!

awez March 14, 2019 - 5:58 am

hii…great article….just wanted to ask that do you take medication for your adhd and if you don’t then how do you manage it??
i’m asking this because i also have adhd,and its very difficult for me to study!!!

Marie April 5, 2019 - 6:59 pm

Yes, I do take medication for my ADHD. Another way I found to improve my grades and life is just to get organized more and stick to a system. I know it’s hard but it’s what changed my life for the best 🙂
You can do it !

Genderson April 22, 2019 - 1:28 pm

Me encanto el articulo, use el traductor y capte muy bien las recomendaciones… Gracias prometo seguir las pautas.

Saludos de Lima, Perú

Marie May 18, 2019 - 11:54 pm

Hello Genderson! Happy I was able to help 🙂

Paulo Lisboa Kolarik April 26, 2019 - 10:45 pm

Hi, im from Brazil u can send e e-mail please i want speak with you ?

Marie May 11, 2019 - 10:08 am

Hello Paulo, you can contact me by clicking the “contact me” in the top navigation of the blog.

Kennedy May 2, 2019 - 1:27 pm

Thanks for your great advice I jut complete Higher Secondary Schoool and prepare to study CS in college. Thanks alot, will follow your instruction.

Marie May 11, 2019 - 10:09 am

Hello Kennedy,
Thanks for your comment, I’m happy I was able to help you a bit 🙂

Jacob Thomas May 3, 2019 - 2:11 pm

Hi mam, just a guy from India. All I want to say is that I became quite optimistic when I realized that you too underwent the problems that I am facing right now. I hope I can pull it off and work for long hours with concentration and sincerity. Thank you mam for all the advises you gave.

Marie May 18, 2019 - 11:52 pm

Hello Jacob! Thanks for your comment! 🙂
For sure, I completely understand what you’re going through and I’m sure you will be able to pull it off as well. 🙂
You can come & work with me on my YouTube channel, I do live study sessions!

Nico May 10, 2019 - 3:56 am

Great article 🙂 I’ve recently written a similar article that might be helpful to some of your readers:

Marie May 11, 2019 - 10:06 am

Hello Nico! Thanks for your comment 🙂
Your blog post is great as well!

Jeh August 14, 2019 - 5:14 am

How can i get motivated to always study?

Jignesh March 26, 2020 - 9:20 pm

Simply just thank you 🙂

Emily James June 12, 2020 - 6:07 am

Great Article. Thanks for sharing. It Will help many students.

Debbie Miller June 15, 2020 - 10:18 am

Nice Post. I usually use 3rd option because it took me an hour to restore my mindset once i’ll go to kitchen to get water. Just an excuse to get a long time break.

Marie June 27, 2020 - 2:38 pm

Thanks! Yes exactly!


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