Between school, work, family and social obligations, finding time to get everything done can be a challenge. This is especially true for students taking online courses that have a lot of work-at-your-own-pace assignments. However, with a time-management plan this doesn’t have to be an obstacle. The following tips can help you develop a basic strategy for completing your online courses (and other tasks!), reduce stress and work more efficiently.
Get a planner or calendar.
Calendars are a great way to keep track of tests and assignment due dates. iStudiez Pro is one of many great digital options (you can also try the lite version for free), or you can order a traditional planner online through the UA Little Rock Bookstore when you order your textbooks.
Blackboard also has a built-in calendar feature that allows you to create date reminders. Read our Calendar tutorial for more information about the Blackboard Calendar.
Write things down.
You may want to get a dedicated notebook or a planner with a “notes” section for assignments. Whenever a new task or assignment comes up—like studying for a test or picking a paper topic—write it down. Not only will you have a physical reminder of the things that need to be done, but each new task will also encourage you to look over the other tasks that need to be completed.
Schedule your day.
This is where you make the most use of the calendar and notebook mentioned above. Whenever you have a free moment, schedule a set time to complete each task. Be realistic about the amount of time needed to complete each task and schedule additional days if needed.
Some things to consider when scheduling your day to reduce information overload:
- Work in short, concentrated bursts spread out over the day or week rather than one long marathon session. Try to limit working on coursework to three hours or less as retention rapidly deteriorates after more than three hours of intense focus.
- Plan to start major projects the same week they are assigned and assignments the same day if possible and avoid the stress of getting things done at the last minute.
- Schedule breaks as well as study sessions. For every hour of intense focus, plan to take at least a one ten-minute break. This will reduce study fatigue.
- Plan your focused study around the time you feel most alert instead of most convenient. We are more alert in the mornings and afternoons and less so at night.
- Block times for regular assignments.
- For assignments and tasks that occur daily or weekly, schedule a set block of time that you will complete these tasks every week. For example, you might decide to read your weekly journal article at 10 a.m. every Monday.
Break projects into manageable portions.
For big assignments and projects, think about the steps to complete the project and make those individual tasks. So instead of facing one insurmountable project, you can deal with several smaller tasks over a period of time.
Leave some wiggle room.
Plan to finish assignments at least a couple of days before the due date. This will give you some wiggle room should unforeseen circumstances arise.