11 Unconventional Tricks To Help You Pay Attention In Class

11 Unconventional Tricks To Help You Pay Attention In Class

Here are some tips and tricks that help me pay more attention in class during lectures.


I am sitting here on these nice chairs in my college building with my two cups of coffee, and still my eyes are blood red from the lack of sleep. Nothing seems to wake me up right now. The temperature here is nice and cool for the heat outside but also just warm enough. The guy napping next to me is not helping at all. I am trying to stay awake.

I have to submit an assignment by 11:59 p.m. tonight. It is 10 a.m., and I am already tired. The commute to school is long during the rush hours: 8 in the morning is worst and 5 pm on the way back. 2-3 hours are spent in the car.

That is my typical day, but I have to go to my next class and need to pull myself together. Below are some personal tips I have learned to help me function again.

1. Sit in the front row


Being an insomniac, I knew that morning classes were going to be a bigger struggle. I asked my doctor what I could do to be in class. He asked me, "Where in class do you sit?" I told him I sat in the back row. He said go and sit in the center front row.

He was clearly right. I went in the next day and took the center seat in the front row. That way I could not only watch myself from dozing off but also minimize distractions of those people in front of me. The center seat literally made my professor and the lecture the center of attention. The first part of the mission was accomplished.

2. Hot coffee or iced water


Slowly sip on your coffee. Slowly drinking coffee, in my opinion, works better than chugging the whole cup at once. It is like every minute I reach for a boost when I reach for a sip. Sometimes coffee doesn't do it, and other times we have maxed out our caffeine limit (mine is two cups) and start getting jittery. For those who don't consume caffeine at all (you amaze me), you probably know about iced water. Not just cold water but iced water that serves as an eye-opening refreshment, literally. Iced water, too, shall be sipped on moderately slowly because, you know, brain freezes.

3. Do not get too comfortable in your seat


As soon as you catch your elbows reaching for your desk, you trigger that "I wanna take a nap" feeling. For me, that is the first indication of my muscles getting fatigued. Keeping my arms on chest level with only my hands on the desk and not the elbows ensure I don't get in the napping-while-sitting position.

Also, do you have a class where the temperature in the room too chilly? I have a 9 a.m. in one of such classrooms, so I started to take a comfy hoodie just for that class but very soon decided not to. If you give me a blanket in a chilly room at 9 a.m., it will officially be nap time. People in hoodies, wear something not so comfortable—a light jacket would do.

4. Switch back and forth between writing utensils

Photo By Raul Pacheco-Vega on Flickr

Keeping a nice pen is great, but we are talking about trying to stay awake. Get at least two different types of writing utensils and keep switching between them. For example, writing a few points with a pen and a few others with a pencil then repeat. If this seems to tedious, then keep a highlighter and highlight after you jot down a point. Switching between a pen or pencil and highlighting not only helps me stay attentive but also encourages active note taking. Not to mention, color coding is a form of effective note-taking and helps in memorization.

5. Reduce carbs for lunch


Stress-related hunger leads to impulsive eating and cravings, which usually consist of foods that are loaded with carbs. A burger, giant sub, pasta, pizza, or even chips. Carbs are needed for energy, but too many carbs, even in the morning, make me sleepy. There is a reason why black coffee is more effective than coffee with more milk, so keep meals frequent but light.

6. Regulate breathing for attention span


You know those lectures when the professors keep going and going without a pause, and you want them to stop and take a breath? They get fatigued talking, and we get fatigued writing down everything they say. It is a workout. What makes workouts easier is breathing, and what really puts a strain on the muscles is unregulated breathing. Whether you are extensively taking notes or typing at an unbelievable speed, remember to regulate your breathing.

7. Shoulder rolls and watch the posture


You don't need to get out of your seat to stretch, and you don't need to hit the person next to you while stretching. Shoulder rolls are a bliss. Roll the shoulders to the front and back twice during lecture, and these serve as wonderful refreshments. Remember, it is all about not getting too comfortable. I do not have strong core muscles that naturally give me a good posture, but one way to keep me sitting up straight is sucking in my gut to keep the core tight.

8. Print out the slides


Professors spend a great deal of time explaining one slide, and sometimes it can feel like staring at a blank page on a computer for hours. Some professors do the favor of putting up slides online before class. One of the favors you can do for yourself is printing those slides out before class. That way you can actually pay attention to what the professor is saying, instead of copying the slide. Also, take notes right on top of the printed slide, that way when you look back at your notes it will be easier to remember exactly what the professor said about that particular slide.

9. Gum, baby carrots or dates


I have heard that snacking on things helps keep people up during long drives. Snacking can keep us from dozing off, but snacking on the right snack is crucial, too. I prefer carrots. They keep me full and prevent those dreadful whale noises my stomach makes when I get hungry. When I get hungry, I cannot pay attention to anything else.

Chew on gum if you can't eat in class. Keep in mind gum can increase the growling noises in the tummy, so munch on a quick, healthy snack between classes. I swear by dates. I never liked the taste until recently, and I do not step out of the house without keeping at least three in my bag. If you are craving candy and want that energy but also need it to be long-lasting and healthy, then eat a date. Getting a quick, sweet, healthy, and effortless snack sounds too good to be true. Well, it is true. Try eating a date. Tennis players do it too during matches!

10. Sit where the light is bright 


Out of the front and center seats in one of the lecture halls, the lights are placed directly above three of them. I make sure to pick one of those three seats. With the light too bright, I do not physically or mentally doze off. Do so while studying in different places across campus, too. Picking that spot right under the light will keep you attentive—that is for sure.

11. Don't forget the music


Music relaxes and revitalizes. Keep your headphones in the front pocket of your back pack, and while walking to the next class get pumped! That is the best part!

Popular Right Now

The Truth About Young Marriage

Different doesn't mean wrong.

When I was a kid, I had an exact picture in my mind of what my life was going to look like. I was definitely not the kind of girl who would get married young, before the age of 25, at least.

And let me tell you, I was just as judgmental as that sentence sounds.

I could not wrap my head around people making life-long commitments before they even had an established life. It’s not my fault that I thought this way, because the majority opinion about young marriage in today’s society is not a supportive one. Over the years, it has become the norm to put off marriage until you have an education and an established career. Basically, this means you put off marriage until you learn how to be an adult, instead of using marriage as a foundation to launch into adulthood.

When young couples get married, people will assume that you are having a baby, and they will say that you’re throwing your life away — it’s inevitable.

It’s safe to say that my perspective changed once I signed my marriage certificate at the age of 18. Although marriage is not always easy and getting married at such a young age definitely sets you up for some extra challenges, there is something to be said about entering into marriage and adulthood at the same time.

SEE ALSO: Finding A Husband In College

Getting married young does not mean giving up your dreams. It means having someone dream your dreams with you. When you get lost along the way, and your dreams and goals seem out of reach, it’s having someone there to point you in the right direction and show you the way back. Despite what people are going to tell you, it definitely doesn’t mean that you are going to miss out on all the experiences life has to offer. It simply means that you get to share all of these great adventures with the person you love most in the world.

And trust me, there is nothing better than that. It doesn’t mean that you are already grown up, it means that you have someone to grow with.

You have someone to stick with you through anything from college classes and changing bodies to negative bank account balances.

You have someone to sit on your used furniture with and talk about what you want to do and who you want to be someday.

Then, when someday comes, you get to look back on all of that and realize what a blessing it is to watch someone grow. Even after just one year of marriage, I look back and I am incredibly proud of my husband. I’m proud of the person he has become, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished together. I can’t wait to see what the rest of our lives have in store for us.

“You can drive at 16, go to war at 18, drink at 21, and retire at 65. So who can say what age you have to be to find your one true love?" — One Tree Hill
Cover Image Credit: Sara Donnelli Photography

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Summer And Jobs

Working summers doesn't have to be tedious.


Like many other college students, I was ready for summer but was kinda bummed that I had to work. Its not that I didn't like where I was working, I actually was really lucky to be working in a hospital environment but I just hated being alone all summer from 9-5. I've had this job for a few years now and a few other paid interns came and went but I never really connected with any of them. This year is different though.

I got really lucky to have another intern work with me that was very similar to me. The tasks we got were always simple but they were made to be more fun because I got to do them while talking with someone else. Now I actually enjoy and look forward to going to work.

The key to finding a good job is finding one that you enjoy doing and one that will help you gain knowledge that will help you out with future career plans. Working with friends also make tasks enjoyable! I would be careful with working with your friend however because if your job needs you to be serious and focused, being around your best friends may distract you from that.

Another thing that definitely makes summer jobs more enjoyable are taking breaks! It is your summer vacation after all! I'm not saying don't take a day off just to sit around, but if you make plans with family and friends, take a Friday off and enjoy the warm weather and good company! Employers understand that us college students and on break and have lives, they are usually very lenient with days off!

If you have to do a summer job to make money to live off of or pay for college, the best thing to do is look at the big picture. If you don't enjoy your job but can't afford to quit, remember that the money if going to help you out a lot. Also, this job is probably only for the summer right? So it's not permanent my friend! Get through these annoying few weeks and you will be back at college, taking steps for a bigger and brighter future.

Summer jobs are tough, I know, but make the most of it! And don't forget to enjoy it whenever you can!!!


Related Content

Facebook Comments