Online students benefit from a flexible, self-paced approach to learning. They can choose to work in the morning or the evening, on weekdays or weekends. When faced with a challenging unit, online students can take their time rather than having to keep pace with a classroom of peers. Conversely, they can breeze through units they find easy, moving ahead in their studies at a personalized pace.
But all these benefits underscore a key responsibility: time management. Without a teacher’s physical presence looming over them, and without school bells to signal the starts and ends of study periods, online students have to manage their own time and effort.
Typically, when someone refers to “time management skills,” they discuss productivity in the workplace. But online students need time management skills just as much – or more than – their workforce counterparts.
If you’ve started grade 12 online courses in Ontario this September and are searching for ways to improve your time management skills, you’ve come to the right place. Here are a few essential tips to make the most of your time.
Optimize Your Study Space for Focus
If Einstein’s General Relativity theory taught us anything, it’s that space and time are intimately related. Certainly, this principle applies to your studies.
If you want to manage your time effectively, start by considering your space. Your study space should be quiet and free of distractions. You should set it up with everything you need for a successful study session (paper, pens, calculators, rulers, etc.). And it should be comfortable (discomfort can be significantly disruptive).
Create a Schedule
Think of a schedule like a long-term weather forecast. It models the future based on current patterns and estimates.
As you begin an online course, create a schedule that lists each major and minor requirement: papers, tests, group projects and final exams. Plot these requirements in a calendar or agenda according to how much time they might take you. Then fill in the remaining days with detailed plans for preparing for each requirement (e.g., studying for a test, writing a paper or meeting with your group).
Like the weather, your best-laid plans may change – but at least you’ll have a solid foundation to refer back to in those cases.
Develop a Rhythm
With your long-term schedule plotted, you can turn your attention to managing time on a micro-level. Whereas scheduling had you thinking far in the future, developing a rhythm is all about managing objectives in the moment.
Let’s say you want to re-review three chapters of a textbook for a test tomorrow (not in a “cramming” way, mind you). Find a rhythm that works for your attention span and energy levels. Several time management experts prefer the Pomodoro method – 25 minutes of work, two minutes of rest, repeated until a task is complete. But whatever rhythm you choose, be sure to take breaks; rest periods are an essential part of studying as they allow your brain to recuperate and digest information.
Who needs bells and hall monitors anyways? If you’re looking to boost your time management skills this semester at an online school, follow the straightforward tips above.