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A Guide to Managing Your Time When Studying Online

Everyone knows that there are countless benefits associated with online learning, from flexibility and convenience to reduced costs and, in many cases, improved access to lecturer support. However, there is no denying that keeping up with one’s coursework can prove challenging at times. Self-discipline is key, but your online learning success is also largely determined by your ability to effectively manage your time and organize your schedule.

With that in mind, here are a few helpful guidelines for optimizing your time management when working towards a degree online.

Choose a course that you love

If you are truly passionate about what you have chosen to study, you are sure to feel a lot more motivated to get your work done on a daily basis. Therefore, take a moment to carefully assess your reasons for pursuing a degree before applying to take an online course. For example, if you absolutely love working with children and you are already a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, you should definitely consider looking into the various NNP programs available.

Learn how to prioritize

When you are juggling your studies with a swarm of other important responsibilities, it can be extremely overwhelming to look at your schedule and see the countless deadlines that are swiftly approaching. Try to avoid looking at the bigger picture and, instead, learn how to break up your study tasks into smaller chunks. Do your best to prioritize which of these tasks are most important at any given time and only focus on getting through what is on your to-do list for that day. You are sure to get more done this way.

Limit distractions

Maintaining self-discipline is a huge challenge for many students completing their courses online. If you are struggling with the urge to procrastinate, take action by eliminating the distractions around you, especially within your dedicated study space. Switch your cellphone onto silent and leave it in a different room, turn off the television and the gaming console, and steer clear of listening to music. Unless, of course, it is classical music, which has been proven to help boost concentration. Once you have gotten rid of distractions, it will be much easier to focus on the task at hand and optimize your time in the process.

Take frequent breaks

Do not try to complete an entire day’s worth of work in one sitting. There are many studies that demonstrate that people are usually a lot more productive when they take frequent breaks in between getting their work done. Taking a 10-minute breather every 45 minutes or so can aid in keeping the brain focused and maintaining your motivation to continue.

Also, be careful about how you choose to spend your breaks. The goal is to let your mind and your eyes rest, so avoid picking up your cellphone and scrolling through your social media feeds. Instead, head off on a brisk walk around the block or simply sit quietly in the sun for some mood-boosting Vitamin D.

Take good care of yourself

Self-care plays a significant role in succeeding when it comes to online learning. If you are exhausted or you haven’t been eating well, managing your time effectively will become nearly impossible. You won’t be able to concentrate for long periods, which will often result in a poor study session, and you’ll struggle to retain information or think creatively. So, don’t forget to set aside some time for yourself every day. Find a relaxing way in which to de-stress, eat smaller meals more regularly to stabilize your blood sugar, keep hydrated (being cautious to steer clear of sugary drinks), and get plenty of sleep. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Negative self-talk isn’t conducive to self-care or productivity!

Say ‘no’ to multitasking

You might think that you will accomplish a lot more by working on more than one task at any given time. However, experts insist that this is rarely the case. This is because it is impossible to completely focus on either of the tasks you are working on when you are jumping from one to the other. Essentially, multitasking means that you won’t absorb as much information. You are also a lot more likely to make costly errors.

Rather, approach one task at a time. If there is a lot of work to get through and you are feeling overwhelmed, it pays to tackle the smaller, simpler tasks first. Once you get those out of the way, you will then be able to buckle down and get through the larger, more complex assignments.

Ask for help the moment you need it

If you run into an aspect of your coursework that you do not understand, try not to spend hours attempting to figure it out yourself. This will suck a massive amount of time out of your day. While it is important to be self-sufficient, it is also important to know when to seek support and guidance. A quick online chat with your lecturer could solve the problem in minutes and prevent you from getting stressed, too!

Reward yourself

Staying focused and productive is difficult for even the most dedicated of students, so don’t hesitate to reward yourself every now and again for a job well done. Rewards will help to keep you motivated and can act as an incentive to continue pushing towards reaching your goals.

Connect with other students

What better way to learn how best to manage your time when studying online than by connecting with other students and sharing tips and advice? You never know what sort of study hacks you might come across. Plus, chatting to other individuals who are ‘in the same boat’ is certain to have you feeling less alone and a lot more supported, which is great for morale!

Now that you know how to start improving your time management skills in line with your online learning, you are one step closer to completing your degree. Best of luck for the remainder of your journey in education!


  1. Mary A Ambrosino says

    Great advice for all students as most of them are returning to virtual classrooms.