Talk to my student yesterday regarding his bad exam performance in one of the subjects he took. And his response was
“I try to concentrate Dr, but sometimes, the class is too boring”
I appreciate his honesty. Then I began to wonder. Do all students feel the same way? And the biggest question is how you can stay focused in a most boring class
Let’s highlight the main contributor for a boring class session
- A boring teacher: monotonous, read through the slide, don’t read the room
- A boring subject: lengthy, fact-based topic, difficult to understand
- A bored student (you): come to class clueless and yawn as the class begin
After looking at the component of the boring lecture session, you will probably realize that the only way to get the output from the boring session is by changing yourself.
Don’t hate me, but seriously there is no other way.
Okay, now you know the class is boring, let’s try to change the approach.
Is it you feel bored when you listen to a particular lecturer, or is it a subject? Then ask around, your friends whether they feel bored as well or is it only you? If most of them think the class is bearable but you are the only one stuck in the boredom, well it is much easier to survive the class as you only need to change yourself.
Make sure you are clear whether you are really bored, or you are actually tired or sleepy. Improve the diet and get proper rest before coming to the class (well if it’s possible) and see the energy level afterwards.
2. The mindset
I actually don’t want to go in this direction, but I have to as it also set a tone whether you will survive that boring class or not
Have a reason on why you need to focus in the class by setting goals and daily habit
Long term goal: to graduate successfully
Measurable goal: Obtain A or 4.0 this semester
Obtain the knowledge for future career
To not flunk the class
Habit: To stay focused in class and get some input for revision later
The list can go on and on. But the moment you know your why, it’s easier to execute the plan. It’s not necessary to have it, but once you have a clear goal, your direction will be clearer, and it will become easier to remain focus even though it’s a boring class.
3. Negotiate with yourself
If the class is too boring is near impossible to focus 100% during the session. So, negotiate with yourself and decide how much % of focus you are able to do that day. Is it 20-30%, or 40-60%, or more? You can start slow by focusing 20% of the session first. And see the momentum afterwards.
So despite how boring you may feel just make sure you try your best to focus as maximum as possible according to the % you have decided. You later will realize, once you put your effort, the ability to concentrate will just come naturally
4. Learning is all about strategy and planning
After deciding how much % you want to focus, you need to plan for the class. This will ensure you don’t go into the class clueless of what is going to happen
Do a brief pre-study session by reviewing or watch any short clip (3-5 minutes) on the related subject. The point is not to understand, but to get a general idea of what the lecture is about. Spend the next 3-5 minutes sketching the idea in a mind map.
5. Stop preconditioned yourself
You have come prepared but as soon as your lecturer begins to talk, you open your mouth to yawn. Maybe you already precondition to feel bored as soon as you look at them.
Stop telling yourself the class is boring, the subject is boring, or you will die of boredom in the class. The more negative inputs you instil in yourself, the higher chances you going to believe it.
To be fair, maybe the class is boring. Yes, maybe the voice of the lecturer is like a lullaby singing you to sleep. But the more you strengthen the belief that it is boring, well guess what? IT IS GOING TO BE BORING.
So, stop preconditioning and go to the class with the right mindset. You go in to learn. And you will put the effort into focus in the class. If it’s too boring and you get sleepy and sleep, its ok. You can try again tomorrow.
6. Get active in the class
When you feel bored, most likely you are being really passive in the class
There is various way to keep engaged in class-take notes, asking questions or even confirming your understanding with your lecturer.
If the only thing you do is get comfortable at the back of the lecture hall and watch the lecture from afar, of course, u will get boring.
As the lecturer put the effort into teaching maybe you can take initiative to get involved in the class.
To be honest, if there is no interaction between the student and the lecturer, the chances are the lecturer is bored with the class as well. Ask questions, make appropriate jokes regarding the topic, try to answer the question asked.
7. Use the Pomodoro technique
Another way is to use the Pomodoro technique in class to remain active in the class. The Pomodoro technique is basically a time management hack to get things done.
You can use 25 minutes to focus and another 5 minutes to take a break. If it’s a long class, get an excuse to go to the toilet and splash yourself with water. This way, you will remain focused until the end of the class.
8. Connect the learning input with the class environment
Look at the lecturer outfit today, what colour it is, is it remind you of something from the topic? Now listen carefully to what they trying to say.
Is it interesting? No, not really interesting. But oh, they mentioned it is important for an essay, might need to jot that down. Relate the external input the environment or the weather with whatever you are learning.
Make interesting relation with the movie you saw, the people you knew, crazy mnemonic you can create about the topic
Look, listen, and relate. Use all our special senses and engage them during learning. This makes learning interesting and fun.
9. When you feel bored, most likely because of the complexity of the subject
There are higher chances that the subjects it’s difficult. And you get lost in the sea of information, so you just shut yourself off. Then you will find it boring. But the truth is, it’s boring because you don’t know anything about it.
It’s harsh because it’s true. When you have some basic understanding, maybe just a fraction of it, you will have the urge to know more about it
Same analogy when you accidentally watch that telenovela when you visit the clinic with your mom. You don’t even like the show. But you keep on watching it because you just want to know what happens next. It’s ridiculous in some scenes where they keep zooming in on the actor’s faces every time something tragic happens. You laughed at how ridiculous it is but still watch it. When it’s time to go home, back in your mind you still wondering what happen next.
Has this ever happened to you before?
By knowing maybe, a little about the subject, the topic will help to instil your curiosity and help to overcome the feeling of boredom in class.
10. Make it like bingo
Are you familiar with the game bingo? Where you have a set of numbers and as the people call the number u can scratch it off.
Prepare some set of questions or just use any book with questions. As you listen to the lecture, find the answer for that question, and jot down the answer, using the information given by the lecturer.
This will help you feel more focused and engaged and less likely to feel bored.
11. Doodle it
I am a huge fan of doodle and mind maps. When I listen to the lecture, I will doodle the info. Say, when I learn about thyroid, and excess in thyroid leading to symptoms like palpitation, hand tremor etc instead of writing it, I will doodle it and at the end of the lecture session I have few doodles ready for my revision later.
12. Pretend you going to teach your friends afterwards
No matter how bored, promised your friends that you are going to teach them something from the session. When you set the intention to teach, you have no other choice than to concentrate. This will set some accountability for you to stay awake in a boring class.
Do a discussion afterwards and complete each other gaps of information. This will keep the learning part interesting despite having a boring subject.
Keep on experimenting with the best way to keep you interested in class. It’s okay if someday you feel like u have improved but the next day you feel bored again, Just keep on trying again and again and you will find the best method to help u focus at least up to 50% of the class.
Now let's see 5 practical tricks that you can implement right away
- Change your posture-identify how your posture looks when you get bored. Your posture is sloppy -drooping shoulder lowered tone voice. Now change the posture, sit up straight, take a deep breath 4-5x.
- Talk to yourself – if you are focused now, you can go and chill after the session and still ace the exam. This is the trick I used back then in my med school. If I sleep in that boring class now, I have to study again after the class and I don’t want that. I want to go out and eat ice cream.
- The peppermint tricks. – chew the peppermint gums just to get the feeling of freshness. (If your lecturer permits).
- Get yourself some coffee, but don’t overdo it.
- Stretch in between classes. Don’t just sit continuously for hours. Ask permission to stand in the class whenever you feel bored or sleepy.
There you go, an ultimate guide to help you survive the most boring class and a few simple tricks to help you focus right away.