By: Pamela Rossow
If you are an e-learner and earning your college degree online, you may find that it is sometimes difficult to buckle down. You may be a nontraditional student who is working full-time, or has a family, and is juggling life and school. What could you do to increase your academic productivity and stir up some motivation? How about learning some important time management skills? Here are 5 tips for getting organized and spending your time wisely . . .
Map it out. As soon as you have your syllabus in hand, pull out your planner or smart phone and get busy inputting important exam days and assignment due dates. It is important to include not only the dates your projects are due or that your tests will take place on, but also study and research times. Don’t wait until the night before either. If your exam is on Friday be sure to block out times the week before to begin reviewing. Procrastination is the arch enemy of college which leads to the next tip . . .
Don’t procrastinate. In college, professors aren’t typically reminding you about when assignments are due, nagging you to study or looking over your shoulder to ensure you completed your homework. You need to bring your determination with you when you enroll in your first college course. Maybe in high school you could get away with cramming last minute but in college you usually spend much more time studying than you did in high school[i] so polish off your “A” game. It is best to review for exams as you go—even for 15 minutes a night—so that may eliminate cramming the night before. Not only could you feel more confident, you may also enjoy be more relaxed.
Study strategies. It may be helpful to mix up your study styles. Try using color-coded flashcards for one class, utilizing an app like Quizlet[ii] for another course, and putting on some background sounds like ocean waves when reviewing for finals. You could go to different locations to study as well. Maybe a local coffee shop with free Wi-Fi sounds appealing on Monday while a local library on Thursday is more your speed. Teaching someone else the course materials could be a great way for you to review and entrench the class notes into your mind.
Back it up. Nothing could be worse than nearly finishing your term paper only to have a computer glitch and lose everything. Instead, back up your important papers and notes using a thumb drive, disc, or even by printing out a hard copy. A free online service like Dropbox[iii] is a great way to store documents in a safe location online that you can access from multiple devices. Just don’t learn the hard way, it can be brutal.
Check daily. In college, you are on your own for making sure you complete assignments and study for tests. In addition to scheduling reminders for yourself in your planner or setting up your smart phone for text reminders, check your .edu address daily. Your professor may change a reading assignment or bump up a test date. You want to remain in the loop. If you have a smart phone you could do so from any location whenever you have a few minutes.
Learning time management skills may be possible to do at any age. While it could require an initial time investment, the long-term college rewards might be greater and you could be less stressed. If you feel less anxious, you may find it easier to stay on track and keep up with your courses.
About the Author: Pamela Rossow is a freelance writer who works with higher education clients such as eLearners. She is a native South Floridian who enjoys photography, literature, and hockey. You can follow her on Google+.