Having a clutter-free work room is an important part of having a productive tutoring lesson.

Sooner or later, everyone will need to have an online meeting of some sorts, be it an online interview, a tutoring lesson or a business meeting. While some things might seem perfectly acceptable to you, to others, they can be distracting. At Tudor Tutoring, we’ve put together some helpful tips and tricks to make your room lesson-ready.

1. Turn your phone off (or put it in another room). This point is bordering on the cliché, but it needs to be said.

2. Ensure you have a space that is noise-free. Even an insignificant noise or distraction can be enough to cut off a train of thought. According to some researchers, it can take up to 25 minutes to refocus after an interruption. Consider how productive an hour lesson will be if a student is distracted even once.

3. Keep your background distraction-free. There are few things more distracting for a tutor (or yourself) than a room that has various people walking behind you, or a room that has clothes thrown on the floor, or bed. If it is difficult to keep people from crossing into your camera’s field of view, consider sitting against a wall or putting up a screen. If this is not an option, consider using one of the freely available virtual backgrounds. Tutors are people too, so if something is distracting for you, it is probably distracting for them.


These points, though for tutoring, are also very applicable for online job interviews and online meetings.

4. Keep siblings out of the room as much as possible. Siblings, whether younger or older, can cause interruptions, even if they are not doing anything in particular to draw attention. Try, as much as possible, to be the only person in the room. 

5. Keep pets out of the room as much as possible. This statement could be considered point 4a, but it is an important one. Pets, are often a welcome distraction, though not during the lesson. Consider playing with your pet before or after the lesson, and giving everyone a bit of a break while you are busy studying.

6. Have your book/notebook/assignments ready. Instead of trying to find your book or your notes, or the assignment you need during the lesson, a much more productive use of your time is to prepare what you think you will need beforehand. This way, the lesson will largely cover the sections that you would like to be clarified further. In fact, some students even create (or have) electronic copies of their work, that they can share with their tutor before the lesson, to maximize the lesson time.

7. Pick a time that you are awake and alert. Everyone has times during the day when they are more alert and open to absorbing key ideas/concepts. Consider whether you are an “early bird” or a “night owl”, or something in between. It will be useful to, as much as possible, try to schedule your tutoring lessons within this time.

Though we’ve structured this post as a list, for different people, these points can be rearranged in order of relevance. As on most things, personal preference will be a deciding factor. It might be helpful to put in the same amount of work into preparing for an online tutoring lesson as you would for an online job interview. Though it is a more relaxed environment, it is a great habit to develop in the long-term. Like most things, what you get back will depend on what you put in (both in preparing yourself and your surroundings for your lesson).