Are you an online college student or otherwise enrolled in an online course?
Do you have trouble managing your lectures and study sessions?
Online courses can be extremely convenient for students; there’s no need to travel to lecture halls and classrooms, and students can set their own schedules for lectures and study.
However, such freedom comes with a great price: students must be disciplined, focused, and committed to their studies if they are to succeed.
In this post, I offer five practical time management tips to help online students better manage their time.
Even if you’re not currently an online student or taking any online courses, you can apply many of these tips to your daily routine at home or at the office.
Schedule courses into your calendar.
While online courses allow you to create your own class schedule, you need to make sure you are regularly attending classes. You’ll make consistent headway in your coursework if you set and keep a regular class schedule. Instead of randomly logging into classes, make a plan to sign in on specific days and times.
Which days and times during the week are you going to “attend class” or study? You should strongly take into consideration which hours of the day you are most alert. For example, do you find you concentrate better on your coursework when you take classes early in the morning, as opposed to late at night, or vice versa? This is definitely something worth exploring if you want to make the most out of your study time.
What’s more, you should also to a moment to schedule important landmark course dates into your calendar. Do you know when your online course problem sets, reports, homework, and exams are due? If not, take a few moments to gather, review, and add this information into your calendar or planner.
Keep tabs on module/class/session lengths.
You’ve been watching an online class that was supposed to be 45 minutes in length. It’s been more than 45 minutes…what gives? On further inspection, you may realize your class module is actually 145 minutes long. Ouch!
Do yourself a scheduling favor and double-check the length of individual online modules or classes. This is so you can appropriately adjust your schedule as needed for a particular module or class.
As you review module lengths, ask yourself, “Do I need more or less time for my coursework this week?,” and make adjustments in your calendar as necessary.
Log out of computer programs and applications.
Your time is precious, so it only makes sense to treat your lecture and study time with respect. Avoid multitasking or distractions during your online classes. Remember, the more distracted you are, the more time you’ll have to spend catching up on your work.
Before sitting down to an online class, be sure to log out any unnecessary computer programs or applications, such as email, internet browsers, word processors, or games. You may also find it helpful to temporarily switch off or disable some of your other digital devices, such as cell phones, tablets, or other computers.
Set aside time to review course material.
Watching an online course, seminar, or lecture is one thing…reviewing the material and thoroughly understanding it is an entirely different thing! It’s important to separate your class lectures and study sessions from another. You want to make sure you have enough time to review, process, practice, and the understand material you learned in class.
That being said, you should not only schedule time in your calendar to watch your class lectures, but you should also schedule study time in which to review information and materials, work on problem sets, write essays, and the like.
Try adding setting aside at least two study sessions per class lecture. This way, you’ll have time to do your homework and assess whether or not you’ll need to schedule more study time for yourself for a particular lecture.
Rotate coursework evenly.
It can be tempting to spend more time on one online course than another. After all, you can take your classes at your own pace, right? While this is true, it’s important you rotate your courses on an equal basis so that you can make consistent progress in your studies.
This coursework rotation doesn’t have to be anything fancy; you just need to make sure you spend adequate amounts of time on each of your courses, each week.
For example, if you’re taking three courses, you could set aside time to work on Course A on Monday and Wednesday, Course B on Tuesday and Thursday, and Course C on Friday. You’d then begin the same pattern the following week, starting with Course A on Monday, Course B on Tuesday, and so on.
How about you? Are you currently taking an online course or are you going to take an online course in future? Which of these time management tips are you going to try out? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!
A version of this post appeared on the blog in 2015.