You’ve heard the cliche before: everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. It’s not about how much time you have on your hands, it’s about how you manage it. It can be easy to fall behind in your online coursework when you work full time, have family responsibilities, or a house full of distractions. When you sign up for an online class, you need to find ways to stay focused without the motivation of a classroom and the pressure of an in-person teacher. See below for tips on time management strategies for online students to help you stay on top of your schedule.
Get Your Goals and Priorities Straight
Start your days by making lists of the things you need to get done each day. Include both personal and educational tasks. Prioritize each item based on importance and urgency. Mark what needs to be started immediately and what can wait. Pay close attention to your course deadlines and calculate how much time each assignment will take so you can properly plan. Don’t forget the best part: crossing each item off your list as you complete it! This has been proven to help with motivation and providing a sense of accomplishment.
Create a Study Space
While working from the couch can be fun, having a dedicated studying space can be the key to your learning success. Carve out a specific, distraction-free space where you tackle studying to help you separate your school life from your personal life. Fill your space with what you need (your laptop, headphones, pen and paper) and leave unnecessary distractions behind. You’ll find that you will be able to be more productive when there is less clutter and noise.
Get Rid of Distractions
Stay! Off! Social! Media! is the best tip to help you with time management.
This cannot be stressed enough. It’s essential to use willpower to avoid checking your Instagram, Facebook, or other accounts when you should be studying. The best way to stay clear of these major distractions is to leave your phone in another room while you study. If the mere thought of being apart from your phone is making you sweat, try using a procrastination app to turn your social apps off for a period of time. You can also put your phone on airplane mode, or put a browser blocker on your devices.
The same rule applies for email and texts. Try to avoid the bad habit of obsessively checking your messages. Leave non-urgent matters to wait so you can focus on getting the most out of what you paid for.
Plan Ahead to Maximize Time Management
Instead of only working on what’s due tomorrow, look a few weeks out to help plan and manage your time. Read through your course materials and take note of major projects, assignments and exams. Write them down in a calendar and make a habit of glancing over it every day to ensure you’re never caught by surprise.
Ask for Help
Don’t stay silent if you’re struggling. It can feel awkward asking for help when you haven’t met someone face-to-face, but approach your classmates and your teacher as you would if you were taking an in-person class (except virtually). In many cases, teachers may offer flexibility with deadlines or extra credit if a student needs it, and most online programs have advisers to help if you reach out. Asking for help from classmates also gives you a good reason to network. If you’re struggling, other classmates likely are, too. Introduce yourself to your peers and build a support system.
Don’t underestimate the amount of effort and time online courses require. The above tips will help you stay on top of your time and workload, but then it’s up to you to stick to good habits and exercise your willpower. Avoiding social media, prioritize what’s important, and plan out your day to allow yourself to give your online course your full attention. Click here to learn more about my webinar, here to learn how to network while taking an online course, and here to keep the conversation going with me on Facebook.