So, you’ve decided to go back to school online, because it’s so convenient….congratulations on your new adventure! Now, you are taking your first online class and feeling overwhelmed. It’s hard trying to figure out when to log into your course, review materials, post to discussion boards, complete assignments and such… Stop and take a deep breath…help is on the way.
You will now need to incorporate your new educational tasks into your daily life just like you would any other important event. For instance, right now we are in tax season, so most people will need to gather documentation and schedule an appointment with an accountant to file them. You will need to set aside time to collect the documents, communicate to schedule the appointment, and you may even have to get a babysitter to watch your children when you go to that appointment. These are some of the same types of things that you need to do to be academically successful in the online learning environment. Let’s take a look at some time management strategies:
- Create a schedule – This may seem silly, but you should set aside specific days and times on when you can complete your school work. Maybe you will start reading and watching video content on Monday, complete discussion forums on Wednesday, and work on assignments on the weekend. Whatever plan you create make sure it is specific with days and times. It also helps if you create a visual and post it somewhere that you will see it every day. I like to print out blank calendars and write on them. When I take a look I’m reminded of what needs to be completed on that specific day. You also need to adjust that schedule when more important things pop up.
- Implementing the schedule – This is super important. So, you have everything written down but cannot seem to ever complete your school work. You may to need to revisit your schedule and change it around. Use apps to organize tasks, set goals, and find fellow students. Maybe you need to get a babysitter to watch your kids. Maybe you need to set an alarm on your phone to alert you when it is time to sit down and complete your work. Use whatever works best for you. School work will now be routine – so you need to make it a habit.
- Build a support system – Having someone that is routing for you in whatever you do is always important. Whether it is a partner, friend, parent, or someone else tell them that you decided to take online courses and could use their support. Tell them that they have permission to ask how school is going, give you kudos when you are doing well, and give you consequences when you have fallen off the tracks. Maybe you sit down with your children when they are doing their homework to complete yours – this will also set a good example! Finding others that are currently in school helps too since they also need to find time to complete their assignments. Set up school dates so that you and others can complete your work together – you don’t have to be taking the same class either. Just knowing that someone is in the same boat as you can be comforting and give you that boost of motivation that you may need!
Dr Dee, eLearning