Online Learning: Finding The Time to Study
As an online learner, you may be attempting to juggle your studies with raising a family or holding down part-time or full-time employment. Having commitments outside of your course can make it difficult to find time to study. As online and distance learning courses require you to be self-motivated and self-disciplined, being able to manage your time effectively is crucial for getting good results.
Schedule time for studying
Scheduling studying into your day is an effective way to manage your time, and it can be useful to treat your online studies in much the same way that you would treat a conventional university course . If you were attending a conventional university, you would be obliged to spend several hours per week in the classroom and this would be a set requirement of the course. While this is not the case for online learners, setting aside a few hours each week for studying can help you to get on top of your note taking and essays. If you are not stressing about how to find the time to complete your coursework, you are likely to produce a much better essay.
If you can only find time to study at the end of the day (for example, when your children have been put to bed), it is likely that you will be too tired to do anything constructive, which can result in very little work being done. Despite this, you may find yourself suddenly prioritizing less pressing activities, such as checking your emails or rearranging the contents of the fridge. Putting off important tasks in this way is known as procrastination, and is very common if you are settling down to do something when you are not really in the mood.
Drawing up a to-do list is a useful way to inject some productivity into your study sessions. This can be as simple as resolving to read a chapter of a textbook or listen to an audio recording. Once this has been completed, it is often a good idea to spend five minutes doing one of the less important activities that was previously occupying your mind (such as cleaning out the fridge) before returning to the next item on your to-do list. Breaking down your tasks into more manageable chunks of time can be much more productive than telling yourself that you have to spend the next hour on your studies, as your lack of enthusiasm and motivation can mean that you easily waste that hour on daydreaming or browsing the Internet with nothing much to show in terms of studying. Your to-do list should prioritize the most important tasks, such as reviewing notes from a previous study session. Many students find it helpful to create their to-do list at the end of a study session while things are fresh in their minds. This also means that you know exactly what you need to do when you begin your next study session and can therefore get to work straight away.
If your course materials include audio discussions, you can listen to the CD while doing other activities. For example, play the CD in the background while doing the washing up or cooking the dinner. You will not have the opportunity to take notes if you take this option, but it can be useful for getting an overview of the material before you sit down and dissect it in greater detail. Alternatively, you can record your notes and play them in the background while completing household tasks or while driving to and from work as a way to consolidate your understanding of specific topics.