If you’ve ever taken a class online, you know how important time management is. If you find yourself struggling with managing your time and falling behind in class, there are some things you can do to get back on track.
Most students taking online classes or going to college online are doing so because they have outside responsibilities. Taking care of children, going to work, or other family obligations can limit the time you have to dedicate to your studies.
But when it comes to online classes, it’s more important than ever to carve out that time every day to focus on your classwork.
Here are some easy tips to follow to help you manage your time and successfully complete your online classes.
Make a plan
As soon as your class starts, take a look at the syllabus and figure out your plan. Sit down with a planner or your digital calendar, and start slotting in time to focus on both your lectures and your assignments.
Having a defined schedule planned out in advance sets you up for success. You can easily see when you’ve set aside time to study or work on projects, see due dates at-a-glance, and when you want to review your lectures.
Even though life throws us curveballs, and it might not always be possible to stick to your plan, the more you do stick to it the better. After all, they say it takes just a few weeks to develop a habit. Make your class a non-negotiable in your schedule the same way you do your family or your work hours.
Find a buddy to work with
It’s easy to lose focus on your classes because you’re sitting in a room by yourself for everything. Make an effort to reach out to your classmates or friends that are taking the course and start a buddy system.
Talk about the lectures, go over the assignments, or provide each other feedback. Having someone to discuss the class with, even just over text messages or forums, can help you wrap your head around the material.
It can also make it more fun to do the work if you know you have someone going through the process with you. It’s much better than suffering through it alone.
Get rid of distractions
Many students take their online courses from their homes or dorm rooms. While taking a class from the comfort of your own space is a major perk, it’s also filled with distractions.
Find a quiet room in your house to do your work. Don’t allow the TV on and put your phone on silent. The more you limit distractions, the less likely you are to lose focus on the work you’re doing.
If you’re in a dorm, try to find somewhere else to work on your online course. Get a study room in the library or go to a local coffee shop with a calm atmosphere. Being outside of your space, with other students or activities to distract you, will help you focus on the task at hand.
The space you study in makes a huge difference in the information you retain. Set yourself up for success by finding the best space possible.
Get ahead of the curve
Once you get your syllabus and have a better understanding of the work required of the course, consider finishing some of the work in advance. If a free window of time opens for you to get ahead in the reading or start on a big project, go for it.
Online courses give you the flexibility to work at your own pace (as long as you have an understanding of the work ahead of the lecture). Use your free time to jump ahead so you can open your time up for more studying when exam time comes.
Always ask for help
A major mistake that online learners make is being hesitant about asking for help. Your professor is there to help you. Just because you don’t see them at a lecture every week doesn’t mean they can’t or are not willing to help you.
You can still ask them for office hours, whether it’s done via a video call or in person. If the question is simple, don’t hesitate to email them.
Beyond your professor, many online learning systems have forums and discussions boards. Start conversations with your classmates and ask questions of them. You’re all there working towards the same goal, and generally, students love to help each other out and continue discussions from lectures. Engage with the people you have access to and you’ll have a much better understanding of the course.
The less time you spend trying to figure it all out on your own, the more your time opens up to move on to the next item on your to-do list.
These might seem like obvious things every student should know about, but stepping into the online learning environment is a learning curve on its own for many people.
If you walk into the digital classroom knowing what to expect and how to manage your time, you’ll be much better off than those who try to wing it.