Stay focused

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Making Adjustments

With the transition to online learning, staying focused, adjusting study habits and maintaining social relationships is key to success. This can be accomplished by creating a schedule to keep you motivated. Manage your time effectively by focusing on one task at a time. Keep your space clean and organized while establishing new habits and routines. Practice social distancing and utilize electronic devices to stay socially connected. Be mindful to take care of yourself and others and remember that this transition is temporary. 


  • 87.5% of ASU students feel they can succeed if they put their mind to it.
  • Yet 53.7% indicate academics are difficult to handle. 
  • 38.5% of ASU students find it difficult to stay focused on what is happening in the present. 
  • ASU students reported the following barriers had a serious impact on their academic performance during the past 12 months.  These challenges resulted in getting a lower grade, taking an incomplete or dropping a class, or caused a significant disruption in their graduate studies for varying proportions of ASU students:
    • - Being overcommitted – 15.6%
    • - Stress – 15.7%
    • - Sleep difficulties – 7.7%

Give yourself a healthy foundation for learning by adopting healthy lifestyle practices.  These practices contribute to optimal well-being and support your best academic performance.

Source:  American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment: Arizona State University Spring 2019. Baltimore: American College Health Association, 2019, (n=2,096).

Many students sacrifice sleep, physical activity and good nutrition to make time to finish projects and study for midterms or finals. Some will pull all-nighters, using soda, coffee or energy drinks to help them stay awake. A few will risk using stimulant medications, such as Adderall or Ritalin, as study aids.

The best advice is to stay ahead of your studies throughout the semester. Even then, the pressure to perform can be challenging. To think more clearly and maintain your focus, be sure to:

  • Manage stress.
  • Plan ahead. Maintain a manageable schedule of commitments, including study time, social time, time for sleep, work and other responsibilities.
  • Get enough sleep so that you feel rested.
  • Fuel your brain with healthy foods and beverages.
  • Take study breaks every hour for about ten minutes.
  • Re-energize by moving your body: stretch, walk, dance, run to get blood flowing.
  • Avoid substances that disrupt sleep, i.e. caffeine, energy drinks and alcohol.
  • Avoid taking prescription medications not prescribed to you.


Stimulant medications, such as Adderall or Ritalin are powerful drugs that can have serious and even life-threatening side effects. Taking too much can result in symptoms such as panic, hallucinations, aggression, confusion, flu-like symptoms, nausea or vomiting, muscle pain, weakness, twitching or tremors, faintness, uneven heartbeat, fatigue, dark urine, depression, seizures, convulsions, and coma.

To protect health and academic success, Adderall and Ritalin should never be taken without the oversight of a physician who understands how much to prescribe for the person’s size, medical conditions and other medications taken.

Stay ahead of the pressure of midterms, finals and final projects by taking good care of yourself and spending the time you need to study, sleep, move and eat in a way that supports your success.

If you or someone you know needs help finding ways to stay focused or is using prescription drugs without a prescription, ASU Counseling Services are available at each campus to provide the help and support needed.