If you are planning to take the less travelled road and pursue an online Master’s degree, knowing how to prioritise your schoolwork is a key skill on your way to successfully graduating from a distance learning programme.
You will not only have to decide when to read, research, and study. You’ll have to work out your own best time to receive lessons and instruction. Without any real structure, the future online student in you will be required to come up with your own schedule and workflow.
To start searching for a programme that enables you to manage your time and achieve flexibility, check out these universities:
- Walden University
- Southern Cross University Online
- Royal Roads University
- Nottingham Trent University
- The Open University UK
Whatever online course and university you decide to attend, you will need these vital tips for managing your time and creating your own study/work schedule.
1. Set clear hours for your studies
One way to manage your future online study programme is to create a fixed schedule for yourself, with specific time slots that are strictly devoted to taking your classes and sitting through online tutorials.
Instead of trying to fit your online studies with your life and activities, do the other way around. Arrange your activities around your studies. It will give you the feeling that you are enrolled as a student in a traditional classroom and shows your commitment to your studies.
The key difference is that this schedule is designed according to you and not imposed by the school. So, if it’s easier for you to study at night, after you’re home from your full-time job, and to only work twice a week, you have the freedom and flexibility to do things this way.
You simply have to decide which time is best to fit your schoolwork into your own life. But, with this level of freedom, it is easy to let your coursework get away from you. That’s why a strict, solid structure to your working hours, will help you avoid the temptation to procrastinate and waste time.
2. Keep yourself disciplined and motivated
When you’ll become a distance learning student, you’ll discover that it can be rather difficult to motivate yourself to complete your work, especially with no one standing over your shoulder to make sure it is done. This is true if you do a Bachelor’s, a Master’s or even a Ph.D.
Self-discipline and self-motivation are among the hardest skills to develop in your life, but there are a few ways that will effectively lead to good study habits.
As with many tasks, chores, and assignments, what will help you is to create small incentives, or treats, for yourself, so that you feel extra motivation to finish your work.
When you finish your work, treat yourself to a dessert; or, tell your friends, ‘I can’t hang out with you until after I’ve finished my online tutorial’. Set a deadline for yourself and say, ‘If I finish this by 2:00, I will go get a cup of coffee.’
Incentives – big and small – are a good way of giving yourself that extra push, that extra bit of motivation to complete all of your work on your own. Especially with online classes, you’ll want to find ways to get you to sit down, log on, and work, without being tempted to do other things.
3. Set timelines for assignments, big or small
You probably have the habit of doing your assignments one after another, basing your work according to deadlines; that is, you’ll start with the assignments that are due first, and then move on to the assignments that are due later. While this may seem like a wise way to work out your assignments, it is actually not the most efficient way to work.
Instead, you should consider the amount of labour and time your assignments will take, and be sure to start with the most intense assignments. For example, if you’ve been assigned an online quiz, a 10-page paper, and a group project, you’re probably wise to start with the group project first, even if it's not the most urgent task.
Consider that when you will be an online student, group assignments can be especially difficult to manage. Your fellow students might live in different locations and have different responsibilities, and you'll sometimes be asked to meet over Skype. Planning and getting all of your digital classmates to meet will require a lot more time for planning than, say, studying for a short quiz.
So, instead of saving the difficult work for last, start with the difficult things while still keeping a close eye on your deadlines. This is a useful way to manage your time that is both effective and efficient and does not force you to cram everything into a small timeline.