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Top Time Management Tips for Online Students

One of the major struggles online students tend to face is time management. Being an online student requires you to be self-motivated, organized, and an independent learner. It is easy to get pulled into a vortex of distraction and procrastination. Here are some simple time management strategies to make your online learning experience less stressful and more productive.

1. Treat time as seriously as a face to face commitment

  • Unlike attending a physical class, where certain aspects of the course are scheduled for you, an online course often requires that you schedule time on your own for all or some course components.

  • It is important to block out time and give it priority, just as you would if you were attending a face-to-face class session.

2. Be sure to use your syllabus as a guide

  • Read the syllabus thoroughly. This will give you time to familiarize yourself with the expectations and allow you to begin prioritizing how to utilize the time you spend on the course.

  • Add all important due dates to your calendar

  • For larger or long-term assignments, create benchmark due dates for yourself as well.

  • Make note of any potential conflicts. Where possible, make plans to work ahead to minimize the issue.

3. Create a schedule and keep a routine. Make sure to block off regular time each day for class, studying, etc.

  • Be mindful of what time zone classes and other appointments will be occurring in and keep that in mind when making your schedule.

  • If you live with other people, keep them informed of your routine as well so they know when you will be studying or taking exams and can keep household noise to a minimum.

4. Make a weekly to do list and study plan

  • Productivity is typically highest in short bursts with minimal distractions and frequent breaks. Where possible, work in 20-40 minute bursts and allow yourself time before jumping into the next task.

  • At the beginning of each course week, create a to-do list that outlines all coursework you need to complete.

  • Pay attention to how long tasks are taking you to complete and adjust your plan as needed.

5. Leverage available technology

  • Use applications that block websites or apps that compete for your attention, such as social media.

  • Take advantage of your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” or “Digital Well-Being” features to limit distractions during study time.

  • It can be easy to lose track of things when you’re not in your normal routine, so set alarms for anything you need to be present for online.

  • There are a ton of apps to help with various aspects of time management and organization. Find one that you think will work best for your needs and that you will actually use.

6. Allow for breaks

  • Use your break to get outside for fresh air or exercise

  • Think about when the breaks will be most effective for you and those around you. If you have family or friends at home with you, take breaks when you can spend time together.

  • Plan virtual hangouts with your friends! Video chat, plan to all watch a movie or TV show at the same time, or play an online game.

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