Life @ U of T

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Hands-On Activities to Help Keep Focused in Zoom Class

Hands-On Activities to Help Keep Focused in Zoom Class

This week’s post is about the hands-on activities I do while tuning into Zoom class in order to keep myself focused. I have a bad habit of having Zoom or BB collaborate open, and then also social media, or an assignment for a different class, or recently, a YouTube video of a parrot playing a drum.

Since my laptop’s right in front of me (the one thing that holds all sorts of procrastination fun) I can’t hold back from opening up a new tab with a few button clicks. One solution I’ve come up with is to do something with my hands. Here are some things I do:

Building, Organizing, Stacking: Playing around with stackable and colourful items is just distracting enough to prevent me from tuning out the lecture. I use starbursts because this is a good excuse to buy candy, but if I owned something like Lego I would use that. 

Pile of starbursts.

Finger Knitting: I am actually very proud of this one. For me, finger knitting makes much more sense than regular knitting and crochet. Here’s a good tutorial on how to begin.

Finger knitting.

Braiding: There is a surprising amount of string that is hidden around the house (shoelaces, hoodie strings, thread in a sewing kit, etc), and I’ve found that fiddling around with these strands keeps my hands busy enough to not scroll through social media. 

Braided string.

Origami: The only origami I know by heart is a cootie catcher so that’s what I make. Anything else would require extra brain energy and would distract me a bit too much. Sometimes I just fold the paper and try to figure stuff out for myself though. 

Cootie catcher on books.

Squeeze Toy: This is my beloved stuffed narwhal, and he is purposely made to be squeezed. Holding a squeezable item, or something you can play around with like a ball, works too. 

Stuffed toy animal.

Drawing or Colouring: This is what I would do if classes were in-person anyway. I always have little drawings and scribbles around my notes. Here’s a picture I drew on a piece of paper towel last week. 

Drawing of big dust mite, losing small dust mites.

I’m sure some people will think that doing these activities in class will actually hinder my learning experience, but since I have such a difficult time staying on track, I’ve found that it’s better to be half-aware of what the prof is saying rather than completely tuned out. Having something physical to do with my hands while attending online classes has been very useful to me! 

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