How to focus in a boring lecture in med school

How To Focus In A Boring Lecture In Med School

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Med school is no stranger to dull and stale lectures and classes. If you have difficulty paying attention, then learning and trying out a few tips on how to focus in lectures would certainly help you survive the year.

Given the complexity of their studies and workload, most med students struggle to pay attention to their lectures. Staying focused is hard when sitting in a dull classroom and listening to a tiresome, mind-numbing lecture. 

If you’re one of these students, then you’re certainly in need of a few tips. To help, here are simple suggestions on how to focus in a boring lecture in med school

how to focus in a boring lecture in med school

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Tip #1: Start Motivating Yourself

When trapped in a boring class, motivation is vital to ensure you survive not just the next hours but the entire semester. You must find and create the proper motivations to keep your focus during stale lectures

If the class itself or the professors can’t or won’t help you be more motivated, it is up to you to work on creating your own motivation to survive. While this might seem frustrating or troublesome for you since it demands more work, it will undoubtedly be worth it in the end. 

You will sow the benefits of education — whether other people help you or not. 

Fortunately, a couple of ways can help you motivate yourself

Set Small Goals To Accomplish

When aspiring to learn a new skill, be prepared to encounter several challenges and obstacles. If you want to make it worthwhile, you must set achievable goals.

Make the learning process much easier by breaking down your main objective into smaller rewards and goals. For instance, to keep yourself focused in a specific class, make it your goal to take down notes that can help you in future exams. 

Choose A Reward

Sitting through an entire class is surely a frustrating thought, especially if it runs for a couple of hours or starts early in the morning. To keep yourself motivated in going and sitting through that lecture, pick out a small reward you can give yourself after.

If class starts during the early morning hours, promise to eat at your favorite diner or café for lunch as a reward for surviving and keeping focused. Another example: after class, you can stop by the mall to unwind for a bit. 

person holding burger bun with vegetables and meat

Treat Yourself 

Treat yourself to something that is connected to the lecture. You can get some good stationery after a literature-related lecture, or if you just left a psychology class, see a highly-praised psychological thriller movie to keep your mind active.

You can also pick up a book related to the lecture if you want to dwell deeper into the science behind it.

Find More Ways To Be Motivated

You can also ask for help from your family and friends to help you keep motivated for class. For instance, ask your parents for a reward if you get a high score on a quiz or exam — that could be some extra pocket money or a gift.

Also, you can keep focus during lectures if you find the right motivation, like gaining better grades to achieve a higher GPA

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Tip #2: Keep Being Occupied

During a bland lecture, another way to stay focused is by keeping yourself occupied. It may seem counterproductive, but there are ways to keep occupied while still paying close attention to the lecture.

Finding ways that work for you will help keep your mind settled and ready to digest information. If you occupy yourself with something to keep distractions away, it can help you focus more. 

Here are some ways you can go about it:

how to focus in a boring lecture in med school

Participate in Class

If you are feeling particularly bored during a class, it’s likely because you are being passive. One effective way to keep your focus is by participating and staying engaged during the lecture.

Sitting comfortably in your seat and listening throughout the class would instantly get you bored, especially if you have a short attention span. Since the lecturer or professor made an effort to teach, it would be best to take the initiative by getting more involved.

By doing that, you are not only letting your professor know that you are paying attention but also forcing your mind to stay within the classroom and not wander off.

Deciding to participate in the class helps you stay focused, and there is also a good chance that it will reflect positively on your grades

Aside from the fact that professors like it when students ask and answer questions during lectures, participating can also help you retain the lessons better. That would certainly be useful during exams or surprise quizzes.

Participating in class can mean a few things, like raising your hand, asking questions, making appropriate and well-timed jokes, laughing with the professor, and trying to answer when they ask a question addressed to the class. 

Sit In Front

While the seats in front of the classroom are typically the ones that students tend to avoid, it does help to sit in them during a boring class. Sitting in front helps limit the distractions that usually come with sitting at the back. 

You will not be staring at the back of anyone’s head. As such, you will also not have such an expansive view of the classroom. That means you wouldn’t be distracted as much and will be able to focus better on the lesson.

When you sit in the front, you will be more motivated to stay awake to avoid being called out at some point during the lecture. It will also make a massive difference in your learning.

Being in front, you can engage your professor with eye contact and will also be able to show them that you are interested in what they are saying and teaching. Also, it will help you stand out more. 

taking notes

Take Notes

Taking notes during a lecture can help you stay focused on what the professor is explaining or saying. It will, beyond doubt, help you keep focused even if you don’t think the notes are needed in the end.

Doing so can help you pay attention throughout the lecture. Keeping careful note of interesting and important points of the lesson, as well as potential topics or subjects that may come up later in a test or during future classes, would help you in the long run.

You can develop an organized system for identifying and determining specific themes in your notes. Using colors is a proven note-taking technique that can help you retain information better while studying.

Color-coding your notes is a dynamic method that can help you remember and memorize information. Bright colors are typically the best option for studying and note-taking as they can help grasp your attention better. 

Also, you can rely on your notes to prepare for exams and work on papers, so ensure you take the lectures and note-taking carefully. 

Use A Fidget Or Stress Ball

If you like to keep your hands busy, then keeping a fidget spinner or stress ball with you will undoubtedly be handy.

It is no secret that med school is a stressful and taxing environment for students. Having fidget toys are a proven way to help alleviate some of that stress during lectures.

Fidget toys help people focus while alleviating other distracting behaviors and habits. A fidget occupies your hands so your mind can redirect its attention to the lecture. 

These toys can stimulate your tactile system and are mainly created to provide a calming effect when stressed or agitated. 

person using smartphone - how to focus in a boring lecture

Tip #3: Avoid Any Distractions

As humans, anything can be a distraction, especially if you’re a med student trying to survive a boring class. 

The focus of attention pertains to the process of focusing on a specific thing or object. Distractions are anything outside of the stimuli that can take your attention away from your task.

During a boring class, plenty of things can count as a distraction. Fortunately, there are easy ways to avoid them.

Stay Away From People Or Things That Can Distract You

Friends are the biggest distraction that can bother you during a class. If you share a class with people you are close to, it is best to avoid sitting next to them. 

It is crucial that you are physically away since staying close to them can make it hard to stay focused during lectures. The urge to talk or pass notes to them would be too hard to resist if the distance was just a few seats away. 

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Turn Off Your Phone

Turning off your phone would also help you keep your attention in class. Checking text messages, emails, and social media notifications are all effective distractions that can get you distracted. 

You can avoid giving in to this urge by shutting off your phone or stuffing it inside your pocket or bag. Don’t leave it on your desk either, since that can still count as a distraction.

Keep it out of your sight so you can focus on the lecture.

Avoid Looking At The Clock

As a med student, you may have been distracted by the clock and time more than once. It is a relatively common distraction, especially during a boring lecture. 

As such, you should avoid checking the time as much as possible. Glancing at the clock means unconsciously counting the minutes until the class ends, taking your focus away from the lesson.

Instead, focus on your work, listen actively, and participate during class. Keeping yourself busy can help pass the time quicker than just staring at the clock.

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Tip #4: Prepare For The Class 

Another way to keep yourself more focused on class is by preparing thoroughly. Here are ways to prepare for the boring lecture ahead of you.

Do Preliminary Readings

If your professors assign any readings related to future lectures, ensure that you do that before class. Otherwise, you will be pretty clueless about what is being discussed and explained, which then makes it harder to focus.

Knowing something about the lecture or subject matter beforehand helps you keep up with the professor. It will allow you to easily follow the discussion and gain the proper foundation to build upon through note-taking. 

Eat Or Take A Nap Before The Lecture

Feeling sleepy or hungry are relatively common distractions when attending a boring lecture in med school. Eating or taking a quick nap before the lecture would help you focus more during class.

Ensure that you gain enough nutrients in your body. Also, taking a nap or resting properly before a lecture can help you feel energized and less tired. 

how to focus in boring lectures in med school

Schedule Smart

If you are the type of student who feels groggy and tired before 9 AM, try to schedule your classes during the afternoon or late morning. Unfortunately, this might not always be an option since med schools have different systems in place for setting up class schedules.

If it is an option, ensure that you schedule your classes wisely. Aim for a time when you are more alert and attentive. 

Create A Good Studying Strategy

Another thing that can help you focus on your classes is establishing an effective study strategy to help you follow through with the lecture and even excel in the exams. Here are a few tips you can consider:

  1. Plan the time for when you are going to study. It would help if you set a standard study schedule you can follow. 
  2. Set goals that are achievable and possible. Plan out your goals and spend time trying to achieve them. 
  3. Find a quiet and peaceful place to study. Try to limit and minimize the distractions around you.
  4. Take frequent study breaks. Burnout is common in med students, given the heavy course load and readings, so make it a habit to take needed rests.
  5. Use proper time management. Facilitate your time by arranging your priorities and making your study schedule more manageable. 

[Free Download] Want to have everything you need to be a top student on your medical journey? Get FREE access to our Med School Success Handbook to get 60+ tips including the best study, time management, mindset tips you need to be a top student. Download it here. 

Holding out and surviving a boring lecture in medical school is a tough challenge for med students. You are stuck with a tedious and dreaded daily class schedule, which you must follow throughout the week.

On top of long classes, there is still a heavy workload to finish. That is not to say that paying attention to lectures is not essential. It is the opposite since they will likely be included in future exams.

Instead, you can spice things up and make some simple tweaks to your routine and habits to make it easy to focus

The mind likes to wander around, so losing focus is almost unavoidable in a lecture. When this happens, you must learn how to stay on course. 

Hopefully, the tips above on how to focus in lectures will help you!

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Until the next one, my friend…

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