Time Management

Tips to keeping organized

Despite the progressive mainstreaming of online learning, there continues to be a perception that achieving a degree or diploma in this fashion is "easier" than doing so on campus. This is a very dangerous attitude to have, particularly for someone who is thinking of getting into the field. Online learning is not a shortcut to a degree. While it's certainly more flexible, it may actually require more work than an on-campus program. It also takes a great deal of self-motivation, and consequently calls for a good time management strategy in order to be completed successfully.

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Stick to Your Schedule

Procrastinators have a particularly difficult time with online learning, perhaps because there are no teachers to nag about upcoming due dates for assignments. When you begin a course, it's a good idea to estimate how much time you'll need to spend on it (be sure to overestimate if you're unsure). Many online colleges and universities offer special online calculator programs that can provide general timelines for course completions.

Next, distribute this required time in blocks on a calendar, and be sure to follow your schedule! Don't allow yourself to fall behind. If you view one online lecture per week, plan on at least one review session per week. Plot out some extra time toward the end of your course to use as review or catch up time.

To help keep yourself motivated, create some kind of reward system. For every two to three hours of study that you do, allow for half an hour of fun time. But make sure that doesn't lead into all fun time. Remember, you have spent a lot of money on your online course, so make sure you get a return on that investment.

Avoiding Distractions

Online learning is convenient - you can make your own schedule, work at your own pace and take a break whenever you want. However, the freedom associated with learning from the comfort of your home can also hazardous. Distractions are all around, in the form of family members, the television or even housework that needs to be done. Make sure you develop a set of good study habits and stick to them. For example, choose a study place that's free of distractions and do all your coursework there.

Computer distractions are impossible to avoid with online learning. It will take sheer willpower to stop yourself from surfing to websites that are unrelated to your coursework, checking your e-mail or logging on to an instant messaging program. Promise yourself before you begin studying that you won't allow these things to become distractions, and then do your best not to break that promise. It may be hard, but you'll benefit in the long run.

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