Almost half of full-time college undergraduates work, according to a recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics. Many of them, especially those enrolled in online programs, juggle family responsibilities as well. It’s a challenge. However, college students can develop productive strategies to balance school, work and family obligations.
Time management for online students entails building schedules, avoiding distractions and setting the stage to become an effective learner, whatever the circumstances.
Why Is Time Management for Online Students Important?
The benefits of time management for online students are many, including:
Targeted goal setting
These benefits can result in:
Increased life satisfaction
Boosted academic performance
Time Management Tips for Online Students
To begin reaping the benefits of time management for online students, consider applying the following key tips:
Create a Schedule
When people create a personal schedule with their priorities in mind, they turn isolated behaviors into intentional habits. Writing out a schedule can have a powerful effect on creating order and productivity in one’s life.
Online students can mark out the inflexible hours on their schedules, such as times when they go to work. Then they can plan out their weekly assignments, paying close attention to:
Due dates for assignments
Class-related activities, such as virtual study sessions
Professors’ office hours
For assignments that involve several tasks, students should determine the various steps required and allot time for each.
Online students can increase their focus and productivity by setting reachable goals for each study session. Goals give students a clear purpose, making it easier to measure their progress and stay engaged. Goals may focus on reading or writing a certain number of pages, getting a particular score on a practice quiz or gaining understanding of a specific concept.
Students should align their goals with the objectives in the course syllabus.
Online students should try to get started on their coursework early, keeping in mind one can’t always predict how long it will take to complete an assignment. This is especially true for larger projects, such as class presentations and research papers.
A helpful tip is to first separate out an assignment’s tasks and subtasks. Then space those tasks out on a timeline, each with its own start date and due date.
To work effectively, students should avoid distractions during study sessions. Good ways to maintain focus include:
Turning off device notifications
Putting away one’s phone
Asking family members not to interrupt
Using apps to block attention-drawing websites
Maintaining a dedicated study space
Online students can help themselves avoid distractions such as email and social media by scheduling specific times during the day to check email and limiting that time. They can also limit social media use to planned leisure time.
Planned study breaks can help online students recover focus and energy. These built-in rest periods can also boost memory and increase a person’s ability to learn new skills. Recent research in Cell Reports found that the brain needs such breaks to improve skills.
Planned study breaks might include:
Taking a walk
Taking a shower
Practicing deep breathing
Doing a yoga session
Listening to music
Enjoying a healthy snack
It’s worth noting that scrolling through social media is not helpful during a planned study break. The Journal of Behavioral Addictions reports that checking social media in between tasks can actually result in less mental acuity.
Time Management Apps for Online Students
Technological tools can be useful when it comes to time management for online students. A wide variety of resources exist that assist individuals with everything from setting up goals to delegating tasks to keeping track of deadlines. Helpful time management apps include:
Todoist allows students to create tasks and subtasks and add them to their calendars. The app delivers reminders and allows users to highlight priority tasks. Online students can also use Todoist’s task delegation feature to manage home responsibilities they share with family members or class projects they’re collaborating on.
Online students wanting to track how they use their time can take advantage of Toggl Track’s time tracking software. The app also offers a calendar feature that allows users to plan out their days, weeks and months.
Flipd allows users to track their time and visualize their progress toward school goals. The app motivates users with milestone badges given for completed tasks. The app also provides public study rooms and clubs designed to encourage productivity and create a sense of community.
Calendar offers analytics features that help users identify how, where and with whom they’re spending their time. This can help online students structure their time according to their priorities. Calendar users can integrate their personal, work and school calendars to keep up with responsibilities across all areas of their life.
Online students can mark important deadlines, class times, office hours and more on Google calendar. App users can easily toggle between daily, weekly and monthly views. A search option helps students quickly look up assignment due dates or teacher conference appointments. The app also automatically populates users’ calendars with events mentioned in their Gmail accounts.
Prepare Yourself to Succeed as an Online Student
Effective time management for online students can play a critical role in ensuring they get the most out of their studies while also successfully balancing other life responsibilities. As you prepare for your online degree program, consider how to set yourself up for success by managing your time wisely.