One of the most valuable skills you can have as an online student is effective time management. When you learn how to better manage your time, the easier it will be to achieve your goals.
One of the best methods of using time effectively and controlling procrastination is to plan when you will do specific tasks. Planning does not mean following a rigid schedule, it means making good decisions about when it is easiest and most efficient to get your work done. Time management means working smarter, not necessarily harder. It’s not about how much time you have, but how well you can manage it. Below we have outlined a few simple things you can do to manage your time efficiently:
Start with your GBC timetable.
Add in your work schedule.
Schedule down time.
By setting your schedule in this realistic way, you will be able to get a grasp on your time. And as things come up, which they will, you will be prepared to tackle it!
Once this timetable is complete, add it to your calendar and turn on notifications.
So you just went through the exercise above and created a schedule, and added it to your calendar. You even turned on the notifications as we suggested. Now what?
Well, use it! In the same calendar make note of any important events, like a scheduled live-stream of a lecture or a time frame when an online quiz is available. Add in all the due dates for upcoming assignments, presentations, and tests in your calendar. Integrate your Blackboard calendar into your personal calendar to make things easier.
Now you have a robust calendar that will help you avoid falling into a trap of wasted hours in front of a screen instead of working on assignments.
Getting distracted is easy these days. Between cell phones, social media, and binge watching shows, there are a lot of activities that can distract you from doing what is important. As an online student, it's very important to avoid them as much as possible given that you are sitting in front of a screen even more than usual.
When your calendar is blocked off for studying or course work, turn off your cell phone and sign out of your social media accounts. Turn off the TV, and try to work in a quiet area.
Every day try setting yourself specific small goals, like how much reading you will complete, or how much of an assignment you will attempt. Your calendar and master schedule will help you with planning the daily goals. This way at the end of each day you have wins to celebrate. Also, before you know it, your assignments and course work will be completed on time.
You might think more is being accomplished with multitasking, but splitting attention between more than one task isn’t an effective way to learn.
As it turns out, we spend more time multitasking than we ever have before, but studies show that 98% of us aren't actually very good at it. Dozens of studies agree that both kids and adults are far less effective as learners, communicators and problem solvers when they're distracted.
You should work on one task at a time, giving it your full attention. Focusing on one task will help you complete it more efficiently and effectively.
For every hour of studying, take a short 10-15 minute break to recharge.
Trying to work on one thing for too long can actually cause your mind to wander more. Taking short breaks is a good way to give your brain a chance to recharge so you can come back more focused.
Have some snacks and water near by to help stay focused.
Everyone procrastinates to some extent. It is probably the most common time management problem students face when studying online.
The strategies to help you with procrastination are the same that will help you master your time management skills. By doing a few simple things you can control your procrastination.
Plan out your time.
Set a realistic goal.
Break down your work into smaller tasks.
Also, did you know that procrastination is a habit? According to Mel Robbins, all habits can be conquered and have three parts:
And to fix the habit of procrastination, you need to look at changing step 2 - the pattern. And you can do that by following the simple time management strategies we have given you above.
You've heard about SMART goals before, and there are thousands of resources on the internet that explain what SMART goals are. But we are going to break it down a bit more into tangible George Brown student specific examples to help you set your own SMART goals.
To set a SMART goal you need to be:
Specific: Goals should be written in the most simplistic manner possible, focusing in on one specific outcome. Without this core principle, you might find it hard to focus and, in the end, feel unmotivated.
Measurable: Goals need to be measurable in such a way that tangible evidence can be presented along the way. It's fun to track your milestones! This can be as simple as setting a specific date for your achievement.
Achievable: Goals should be designed like a good workout. They should stretch you slightly, so you feel challenged, but not cause stress or injury.
Relevant: It's important to examine your goal. Make sure it's relevant and realistic.
Time-bound: Goals should be linked to a timeframe that creates a practical sense of urgency, creating a healthy tension that will propel you forward.
Students: Accounting 3007 is not a real course, it was used as an example for this exercise!
Stress is a given in our lives and there is no easy way to avoid it. But, there are many ways that you can manage it so stress doesn't negatively impact your personal and academic life.
Below we also have a few tips to help you manage some of your stress while you navigate your online semester:
We don't mean to the internet (but do that too!), but to each other. Online courses can be especially isolating as you are doing them by yourself. So make sure you connect with your instructors, classmates, friends and family.
A good night’s sleep is not only important for online learning success, but for keeping your stress levels manageable. You need between 7-8 hours of sleep to be fully rested. Find the amount that’s right for you, and then try to stick with it. Also, try to stick to the same sleep schedule as much as possible. This will help you create great sleeping habits!
Finding time in your schedule to move your body may not be easy but it’s a time-tested way to manage stress for a reason: it works. Moving your body for 30 minutes each day can look different for everybody (you can dance it out, or go for a walk, or do yoga, or run...). Whatever you choose to do, it will help improve your mood and create a good break in your day.
You already know this. But try to avoid high carb, high sugar foods. Fill yourself up with with healthy high-fiber foods, including fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains. A healthy diet will help you solidify your sleeping habits, and will also help you when you have to focus on important assignments.
Between your school work and and personal commitments, you’re going to be very busy. An important way to help you manage your stress is to go back to the time management skills we told you about at the beginning of this module, get organized—and stay organized. Keep your desk neat. Create folders on your computer. Map out your quarter or semester and set reminders for important dates. Once you get organized, you’ll feel stress levels go down immediately.
Managing stress is not something you do once, and it's done (we wish!!). So, take a moment to regularly check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling, physically and mentally. Be honest with yourself. Then come back to the stress management tips in this module and see what you need to stop, start or rejig to help you with your stress management.
Setting up a dedicated study space doesn't mean that you have to go spend a lot of money and get brand new things to do it. It means that you carve out a space in your home where you go to study. This is the spot where you will be able to focus and get your work done. Here are a few ways you can do this:
Set the scene.
Make the space comfortable.
Make it ergonomic (as much as you can).
Don't forget about lighting.
Decorate your space.
Source: 9 Tips for Creating the Perfect Study Space from Scholastic.
Online classes have their own set of challenges, but add to those balancing careers and families it can feel very daunting.
But it doesn't have to be that way. There are a few things you can do to create a healthy balance between all the things you need to do while studying online.
Lean on your personal support team.
Ask for help.
Look at your priorities.
Give yourself a break.
There are also many students who are taking online classes while they have kids at home. Managing childcare and studies is not an easy thing to do. George Brown College’s School of Early Childhood has put together a list of online resources for families looking for new ways to keep children engaged, active and learning at home as well.
Motivation is very much like showering... you have to do it everyday to keep it consistent!
Being self-motivated is a skill, and like any other skill it requires practice to master. To start, you need to work on your mindset. You need to believe that you are in charge of your own education. To get your mindset where it needs to be you have to:
To continue to be motivated, you need to work and experience the successes of your work. This means, you have to regularly log in to Blackboard and keep up with the assigned work. Stay in constant communication with your instructors and classmates and ask for help when you need it.
Graphic Source: Delaney Jaye - A New Perspective.
Below is a fun self-assessment you can do to get a better understanding of your motivation. The “How Self-Motivated Are You?” is from MindTools.com
Grab a piece of paper, and for each of the statements below give yourself a score between 1 and 5 (1 being Not at All, and 5 being Very Often). Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don't worry, there are no wrong answers. This activity will just help you better understand how self motivated you are, and what you can do to improve.
|How Self-Motivated Are You?||Score|
|I'm unsure of my ability to achieve the goals I set for myself.||1-5|
|When working on my goals, I put in maximum effort and work even harder if I've suffered a setback.||1-5|
|I regularly set goals and objectives to achieve my vision for my life.||1-5|
|I think positively about setting goals and making sure my needs are met.||1-5|
|I use rewards to keep myself focused.||1-5|
|I believe that if I work hard and apply my abilities and talents, I will be successful.||1-5|
|I worry about deadlines and getting things done, which causes stress and anxiety.||1-5|
|When an unexpected event threatens or jeopardizes my goal, I tent to walk away, set a different goal, and move in a new direction.||1-5|
|When I come up with a really good idea, I am surprised by my creativity. I figure it is my lucky day, and caution myself not to get used to the feeling.||1-5|
|I tend to do the minimum amount of work necessary to keep others satisfied.||1-5|
|I tend to worry about why I won't reach my goals, and I often focus on why something probably won't work.||1-5|
|I create a vivid and powerful vision of my future success before embarking on a new goal.||1-5|
44-60 high - Wonderful! You get things done, and you don't let anything stand in your way. You make a conscious effort to stay self-motivated, and you spend significant time and effort on setting goals and acting to achieve those goals. You attract and inspire others with your success. Treasure this – and be aware that not everyone is as self-motivated as you are!
28-43 moderate - You're doing OK on self-motivation. You're certainly not failing – however, you could achieve much more. To achieve what you want, try to increase the motivation factors in all areas of your life.
12-27 low - You allow your personal doubts and fears to keep you from succeeding. You've probably had a few incomplete goals in the past, so you may have convinced yourself that you aren't self-motivated – and then you've made that come true. Break this harmful pattern now, and start believing in yourself again!
Think about what you have learned in this module and complete the self-assessment below.