How to stay focused when you’re overwhelmed | Ask Kelly

Women holding her head in her hands and looking stressed at a computer

Editor’s Note: Do you have a question about distance learning or coping with school in these challenging times? The Den is starting a new feature called “Ask Kelly,” and each week Kelly Browning, an early childhood education/special education major and student ambassador at the Henry County Regional Academic Center, will answer questions from the Mercer community. Email her at or fill out our online form to submit your question anonymously.

Dear Kelly,

I am in a class that was face-to-face, and now I am trying to juggle work, online school and home schooling my middle schooler. How do I stay focused?

So many of us are feeling this way right now. We feel overwhelmed, tired and our focus seems to have diminished. We are in a place where we feel that we are juggling too many things, and that at some point we’re going to drop the ball. That tenacity that we once had feels as if it’s fleeting. Today, I want to focus on what you can do to build your endurance and persevere through this challenging time.

First, before you try to figure out a solution to the problem, I want you to sit back, take a deep breath, release it, close your eyes and ask yourself the following questions:

• What was the catalyst that ignited my desire to go to school?
• What were the goals I had in mind that led me here?
• What did I want to achieve by being a Mercer student?

We all need to take a moment to meditate on the reasons that we chose to be Mercer students in the first place. You, my friend, have a goal, a place that you want to be that changes your future. You came to Mercer so that you could change your life, and by doing that, change the world! This situation that we are all facing right now will eventually come to an end. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Although we may feel uncertain, overwhelmed or even afraid, our goals are still within reach. Don’t let something that will one day end deter the goals that you have set for yourself and your future. The truth is, you’ve made it this far — don’t stop this journey now. See it through!

Once you can feel that determination starting to reignite, my advice is to create a written schedule. When do you work? When do you have classes? Those times are fixed; write them down first. Now, schedule what times to focus on homeschooling your child, and remember to give them time to work independently (you could do your homework at the same time). Next, schedule your homework times and due dates. (Tip: always write down your due dates.) Schedule dinner time, free time and even when you will go to the grocery store. Schedule everything and display it in a place that your entire family can see. Stick to it and let everyone know when your focus is on them and when your focus will shift to the goals that one day will benefit you all.

The good news is the semester is coming to an end, we’re turning the third corner and can see the finish line! If you take summer classes, pretty soon your child will be done with their school year, and the tension of trying to fit in everything is about to soften. Stay the course. Remain focused and determined. You can do this! Take some time each day, even if just a few moments, to reaffirm your goals, your abilities and your strengths, and to reflect on those questions above. Making it through the hard times in life, rising above the challenges, is what builds our strength, and truly lets us know what we are capable of. You’ve got this. After all, you’re a MERCER BEAR!

I wish you health, happiness and continued success throughout your journey.

Photo by from Pexels


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