In order to be successful as an online learner, there is one important skill students should master: time management. Because students have the freedom to complete coursework at their own pace, it’s imperative that they learn how to utilize their time effectively to ensure they get everything done without overwhelming themselves. Here are some time management tools and tips for online students:
Use a planner
One of the best ways to keep yourself organized is to use a planner. Having one place to jot down assignments and important deadlines will keep you on track. There are so many planners to choose from, whether you want a digital or physical version. Many companies, such as The Happy Planner and BlueSky, allow you to personalize your planner depending on your needs. You can also choose to utilize an app, such as Wunderlist or myHomework Student Planner, which will enable you to create daily to-do lists and get reminders for any upcoming tests or assignments. You can find more planner apps here.
Set SMART goals
A component of having strong time management skills is being able to focus on the current task at hand. It isn’t enough to carve out the time to get something done—you want your time to be spent effectively. This is where SMART goals come in handy. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely, and this formula is designed to help you stay on task and work toward something achievable. For example, if you want to achieve a higher grade in a certain class, you can break it up into smaller, easily manageable goals throughout the semester, such as committing to doing your homework assignments every school night from 6 to 8 pm, or studying every other night for two hours before watching your favorite show. Be sure to work with your teachers to ensure you’re setting realistic goals and keep track of your progress!
You can plan your day and have all of your assignments laid out to complete. But if you’re surrounded by things that make it hard to focus, chances are you won’t get much done. On top of creating a dedicated workspace that’s free of distractions, it helps to identify what your biggest distractions are. If you like to mindlessly swipe on your phone or browse the web, consider setting an alarm for ‘social media breaks’ or using apps to help limit your social media usage. There are even Google Chrome extensions, such as StayFocused and Block Site, that you can use to temporarily block access to distracting websites while you work on your laptop. And if being at home makes it harder to get your work done, that’s okay! Try heading to a local coffee shop or library for a change of scenery.
It can be easy to work for hours on end when you’re completing coursework at home in your pajamas. But it’s important to take breaks! Working for too long can cause burnout and make it harder to complete your tasks. Scheduling downtime throughout the day will give your mind and body the break it needs, whether it’s taking a walk, having a snack, or snuggling your pet! Divide your day into easily manageable sections, whether it’s based on class subjects or specific assignments, and set a timer so you know when to stop and rest.
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