Having trouble staying focused? Don't worry, you're not alone. It happens to the best of us. Reading and writing line after line of code can be a little tedious after a while, and it can be hard to stay focused when our favorite distractions (like Instagram and Twitter) are only a tap away.
Thankfully, we have a whole community of learners who've faced the same problem and are willing to share their solutions. We reached out to them on Twitter, asking about their favorite tricks for staying focused while they learned.
Turn off notifications
One of the tricks we heard most was to set your phone to Do Not Disturb (or to set it aside altogether). It can be hard getting into "the zone," and once you're finally there, the last thing you want is to be pulled out of it after your friend sends you a meme you've already seen a dozen times.
Setting your phone to Do Not Disturb helps ensure that you stay in the zone, free from any and all distractions.
Listen to music
Listening to music is another great way to stay focused. Dr. Masha Godkin, professor at Northcentral University, explains how music's "activation of both hemispheres [of the brain] can maximize learning and improve memory."
Dr. Godkin also advises us against listening to our favorite songs while trying to work. It's hard to stay focused when you're tapping or singing along to Taylor Swift. Instead, try listening to ambient genres like classical or electronic.
Have a daily trackable goal
Being ambitious is admirable, but it can also be a little overwhelming. It's easy to lose your focus when you're fixated on a distant end goal. Instead of concentrating on your current projects, you might find yourself plotting or stressing over the work ahead of you.
Self-described aspiring software developer Juan Villa offers a solution to this problem — recommending that you break your projects down into smaller, trackable goals. Take our learn to build websites Skill Path as an example.
Creating an entire website can be a daunting prospect for someone new to the world of coding. But, breaking it down into the lessons in the Path (e.g., learning the basics of HTML and CSS) makes it feel much more manageable. Plus, as you complete your goals, you'll end up with a gradually expanding list of achievements that you can look back on to stay motivated.
To help you on your way, our Curriculum Developers cultivated this list of bite-sized goals to look forward to while you're learning to code. You can also set a weekly target for coding practice in your Codecademy account settings. While going through our records, we noticed that learners with weekly targets are more than 40% more likely to achieve their goals!
Use the Pomodoro Technique
Several learners suggested using the Pomodoro Technique. Developed in the '80s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is a tried and true method of boosting your focus and the quality of your work — while also creating more free time. To get started, all you'll need is a timer, pen, and paper (or you can just use your smartphone).
Essentially, the Pomodoro Technique involves working for 25-minute stretches with 5-minute breaks in between and an extended break (20 - 30 minutes) after 4 cycles. Over time, you'll find yourself more focused and less vulnerable to distractions during your work sessions.
As you work, take note of how long it takes you to finish a project. This will give you a better understanding of your abilities, and you can refer to it later when undertaking a similar task.
Stay focused with Forest
Lastly, several learners recommended Forest. Forest is a productivity app that allows you to plant a virtual seed every time you set its timer. As the set time elapses, your seed will steadily grow from a sapling to an adult tree. Navigating away from the app will reset your tree's growth, but if you leave it open for the duration of the timer, once your tree is mature, you'll earn points that you can use to buy different types of trees or even plant one in real life.
Along with its app, Forest offers a browser extension that helps you stay focused while working on your desktop or laptop by blocking less-than-productive websites. You can also use it collaboratively in the event of a group project.
Hopefully, these tips will help you stay focused while you're working — both on our website and beyond. Have any tips you'd like to share? Leave them in a comment below.