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  • Writer's pictureLegal Outreach Project

How To: Handle Online Lectures with a Short Attention Span

Riya Patel is a penultimate year Law student at King’s College London, with aspirations of pursuing a career as a solicitor. In her post she talks about how difficult focusing on online lectures can be and gives you tips about how to maximise your efficiency and motivation.


The jump from in-person teaching to online teaching has been a difficult adjustment for a lot of us. I know that I definitely felt it and struggled immensely, especially since I entered into this new world of teaching in my first year of university and all of my lectures were two hours long. I didn’t know how to handle it.

Two hours long of being bombarded with Latin phrases, Supreme Court judgements, and enough case names to make your brain boil. As you can tell, sometimes it gets overwhelming. So, it is important to find a way to work that doesn’t cause you stress and allows you to stay on top of your work.

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Here are a few methods I have come up with:

1. Find the keywords for each topic

You often begin a lecture with no knowledge of the topic, which may lead to confusion and then subsequent disinterest. I recommend looking at the lecture timetable and seeing the topics covered in that lecture, and putting the keywords of each into a table, and filling out this table when watching your lectures.

2. Take strategic breaks

If you are like me, your attention span cannot be held for long periods. Therefore, to gain maximum productivity, you should take short, regular breaks throughout your lecture. For me, the Pomodoro technique is particularly effective: where you take a five-minute break after twenty-five minutes of work, then after four intervals take a fifteen-minute break. This will work for when lectures are one whole video. But sometimes they can be split up, and in this case, I suggest you find what works best for you: you can either use the Pomodoro technique or you can watch each lecture part and have a short break after each one.

3. Have questions at hand that you want answering in the lecture

To truly engage with what your lecturer is saying write down some questions that you want to answer about the topic. I did this by looking at my tutorial question handouts (the work I needed to do after watching the lecture and doing the relevant readings) and seeing if the lecturer answered any of these questions.

4. Understand that sometimes you may not be in the mood to focus

Often, I found myself with no motivation to do any work, and when I would watch the lectures, I would not be paying attention to what was being said. I often found myself scrolling through my phone, getting distracted by the outside, or just zoning out. In these situations, get off the computer and take a break - and break for however long is necessary until you have the motivation to work again. Go for a walk. Get a coffee. Do some painting. Go to the gym. Make a TikTok. Whatever it is, do it! Otherwise, you will not truly understand the topic of the lecture, nor will you engage in the content of it.

These are a few of my tips, I encourage you to try them. As you are working you will find ways that work for you. It is a process of becoming the best student that you can be.

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