Just like remote working during COVID uncovered a whole slew of challenges for workers outside of an office environment, so to online students like you have a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing your time. Here are some tips to study like a pro.
Don’t be overwhelmed – manage your degree like a project manager
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face during your online degree is the feeling of being overwhelmed by how much you have to do. The good news is that there are ways to cope with large tasks, and learning them now will get you through, and even give you great tools to bring with you into your later career. Using techniques borrowed from the project management world, you can approach your degree like a project manager works any project. Do you think that building a space shuttle or even a Tesla is simple? It’s all the same – follow this tried and true process.
Break it into chunks
First, break up your tasks into a number of manageable chunks. You may have a number of larger tasks that you can break down into smaller ones. Put all these sub-tasks into a list, call it a to-do list. Make the chunks realistic sizes so that you can get them done in an amount of time that you can work. Try chunking to 30 minutes blocks, then you can schedule more than one chunk at a time into your schedule. If you get the chunking wrong, you can always go back and re-chunk.
Total Testing’s program with Daemen University is your partner when it comes to time management. Courses are delivered in monthly installments so you don’t need to focus on a full semester. Every month, simply work your degree into your schedule in bite-size pieces, that are easy to swallow.
You may find that there are tasks and sub-tasks that you need to get done sooner because of deadlines, or also because you can’t start a later task until an earlier one is completed. Give these a high priority. Stuff that you can leave until later gets a low priority. Remember, that you will be adding new stuff to your to-do list often, and taking it off as you complete things. Likewise, you are going to need to reprioritize often. Keep moving the tasks that you need to get done now, to the high priorities and lowering the ones that are not needed yet.
Put it in the calendar
Here’s the best piece of advice you are going to ever get for managing your time. Most people have to-do lists and priorities – it’s not a new idea, BUT, you need to take the next week or two of tasks and actually assign them a time slot on your calendar. No – you can’t work from a to-do list. You need to nail down a time to do the piece of work and schedule it in amongst all the other stuff you have going on. If you don’t, you’ll keep finding excuses – and you’ll get nothing done.
Stick with the schedule
Block out distractions, maybe listen to some light music on headphones, turn off the phone, and go for it. Yes – there will be times when the schedule slips and something comes up, you can adjust your calendar and go deal with life’s interruptions. Yes – you are going to have to miss social events and stay home to study. And guess what? You are going to need to learn to say no. No – I can’t go out! No – I can’t watch TV! No – I can’t talk now! Find the best and most pleasant way to excuse yourself and stick with your plan.
You don’t have to do it alone
Some people prefer to study at their own speed and in their own way. If you are someone who finds learning alone difficult, try and study with a study-buddy. Maybe it’s someone from your course, or maybe there are study groups as part of your online degree program. Check out what’s available and study the right way for you.
Celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate!
It is really important to take time to celebrate. Set a goal and when you reach it – celebrate! In the early days of your course it may be for sticking with a day or a week of your schedule – treat yourself to a coffee or an ice cream. Or take an hour and go for a walk in the sun. It may not be a huge celebration – but you need to take time to feel good about yourself and celebrate your successes. Set minor and major goals and reward yourself accordingly. Who knows? When you get your degree, you can even promise yourself two scoops and hot fudge sauce!