My tips for staying focused while studying at home

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are now studying at home for the Leaving Cert. Dave has some tips for making the most of your study time.

Written by Dave Lawlor


This COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic is extremely difficult for everyone right now, but over 65,000 students have the added pressure of exams potentially starting on July 29th. It can be difficult to study at home for many people. Here are a few tips to help you stay focused during these tough times.

1. Take study breaks

It’s so important to take breaks during your study. Studying all day with only one or two breaks for food does more damage than good. I would recommend studying for 35-40 minutes blocks with a 10 minute break in between. After two or three of these sessions, take a longer break. This will leave you feeling refreshed and increase your focus for the 40 minute sessions. I would also recommend using a timer to control this so you stay on track with both your work times and break times. Personally, I found seeing the clock go down makes the study seem almost game-like, trying to get a certain amount of work done in this time and then enjoying a well-deserved break.

2. Exercise

For our own health and the health of others we’ve been asked to stay at home which for some people means less exercise. The government has told us we can now exercise within 5km of our homes. Exercise is so important for our mental health. When we exercise our body releases chemicals called endorphins. These are nicknamed the ‘happy chemicals’ in our bodies. The happier and more positive we are – the more focused we become! The bit of fresh air you get while out exercising also helps you focus. 

3. Be conscious of what you eat

Eating well is the key to success, especially during these difficult times. Try to avoid foods which are high in sugar and ‘junk food’ which only provide a boost in energy for a short amount of time and can make you crash. Try snacking on foods such as nuts, blueberries and bananas which are ‘brain foods’ and have natural sugars which boost energy and help concentration. Dark chocolate is also a great food to improve concentration and focus, and gives us energy. Just make sure to eat it sparingly!

4. Disconnect from the news and social media

Turn it off! I understand that we are all inundated with news about this crisis and it’s important to stay up to date. However, it’s equally important to take a break! I too am guilty of reading articles and constant news updates on my phone but it is so important to turn it off sometimes and take a break for the benefit of our mental health. If families are discussing the pandemic, especially what will happen regarding the Leaving Cert – ask them to change topic when you’re around. Families understand that LC students are under a lot of pressure right now and more often than not are willing to help in any way they can.

5. Focus on what you can control

We are living in really difficult times where almost everything seems like it’s out of our control. So focus on what you can control. You can’t control what decisions the government makes about this pandemic or what will happen about the Leaving Cert. What we can control is making sure we are eating properly, getting enough sleep, and keeping ourselves well – both mentally and physically. Remember too that the Leaving Cert isn’t the ‘be all and end all’. It might be an important exam, but it is only an exam. Sitting the Leaving Cert and the study done towards it are achievements in themselves. Stay safe, stay positive and stay focused!

Need some support? 

If you are struggling with the stress of our exams or with this pandemic in general please talk to a trusted friend, family member, or someone you trust. If you could do with having a chat with someone,’s anonymous, 24 hour text line is always open. You’re worth talking about and we’re here to listen and support you! Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280. Standard SMS rates may apply.

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