Starting school is daunting. There is so much to think about and worry about that it can be difficult to know how to deal with all of the courses that you are managing. For many people, success in school comes down to one thing: planning. Planning is the most important way that you will be able to balance your online course load, complete all of your work on time and be successful. Remember: you are paying in both money and time to take these courses, so make them worth your while and put all of your effort into them. All the work that you are going to be doing will pay off.
One of the most critical pieces of effective planning is effective time management. If you are hoping to be able to complete all of your work by a certain time, the best thing you can do to meet that goal is to manage your time effectively. Before the beginning of each week, maybe on Sunday evening, make a calendar of the way that your time will be spent for the next week. When you are just beginning to do the work for your many online courses, it may be tempting to assume that you can get your reading and other assignments done quickly. This is the mistake that many people run into when they are trying to plan their schedules. They have unrealistic expectations for how quickly they will be able to finish their work and so they wind up pressed for time.
In the beginning, when you are just getting a handle on the material and are only just beginning to learn what the online course expectations are going to be, it would be wise to schedule even more time than you think you will need. If you finish early, that’s great, but giving yourself extra time means not having to rush, which will ultimately create far less stress in the long term. If you think you’re going to need two hours to complete an assignment, schedule three. Proceed this way through your entire week, making sure to block off time for breaks, meals and other pleasurable diversions so you don’t grow frustrated with your online course load and give up.
Pay attention to how long things take. Within a few weeks of taking your online courses, you should be able to reasonably assess which of the courses has the most strenuous workload and which courses have a lighter workload. This is critical. Once you know what work takes the most time, or is the most labor intensive you can begin to more effectively manage your time.
Firstly, make sure that the heavy coursework you have been assigned is placed on your schedule towards the beginning of the week. Ideally you will be able to finish it quickly and move on to your other work, but if it does wind up that it is going to take more time that you assumed, you will have the whole rest of the week to work on it if necessary. Once the very difficult coursework is done, you will have the opportunity to work on your easier coursework, which should be much less stressful, much less strenuous and leave you with a sense of accomplishment.
Aside from managing your time, one of the best study tips you can have is to break down big projects into smaller steps. Very often, big projects like a research paper, presentation or other long-term assignment can be intimidating. People tend to avoid work that they find intimidating, so the best thing that you can do is to break down the task into a series of smaller tasks.
Vern Marker is a freelance writer interested in forensics, psychology, mentoring college students, and the ins and outs of time management. Marker has forensic psychology degree and aims to one day teach forensic psychology courses at the collegiate level.