For those who enroll in online degree programs, time management becomes an issue, even if it’s never been one before. That’s because while effective time management is difficult for anyone, it’s particularly challenging for adult learners who often work full-time jobs while earning their degrees.
The effort is worth it because online degree programs make it possible for people who otherwise would not be able to do so to earn degrees. The structured class schedules and the need to come to campus for traditional degree programs make it difficult for many working adults to earn a degree. The rise of online degree programs has forever eliminated those obstacles for adult learners.
However, time management becomes increasingly important as students balance work life, personal life, and earning a college degree. However, students can achieve their goals by planning ahead and staying with the plan while remaining flexible in case they must make changes along the way.
Time management is a timely topic as online degree programs become more popular. Online colleges and universities enroll more than 2.7 million students, or about 15% of all U.S. postsecondary learners, according to Forbes. They added that about 8.5 million people take online classes.
Why Work on Time Management?
At its core, time management is about self-discipline. Success with time management requires organization and planning, but it also requires a solid commitment to stay with it.
Effective time management has many benefits beyond strengthening discipline. It makes you proactive rather than reactive, decreases stress, and increases the likelihood of success. It also empowers students and gives them a sense of accomplishment.
For online students, mastering time management leads to them getting more out of the self-paced learning nature of online courses. Effective time management ensures they stay on track and complete required coursework within the specified time frame. Time management also helps online students avoid procrastination, which can lead to last-minute stress and lower-quality work.
Perhaps most importantly, time management prevents online learners from becoming overwhelmed by multiple responsibilities and commitments. Planning and breaking down tasks into manageable chunks can avoid stress and anxiety.
Time Management Tips for Online Learners
Time management is crucial for adult learners, especially those juggling work, family, and other responsibilities. Here are some practical time management tips they can use while earning a degree.
Create a Schedule
Develop a weekly or monthly schedule that includes all commitments, such as work hours, family responsibilities, and social events. Set aside blocks of time for studying, attending classes, and completing assignments.
Set Clear Goals
Establish short-term and long-term goals for college degree program coursework. Break these larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks.
Identify tasks that are most important and time-sensitive. Focus on high-priority tasks before addressing less urgent ones.
Use a planner or calendar. Use digital or physical planners to keep track of deadlines, assignments, and important dates. Always set advanced reminders of upcoming tasks or events.
Create a Routine
Develop a consistent daily and weekly routine to create structure. Once the routine works well, stick to it. The plan should include dedicated study time when you are most alert and focused.
Identify and minimize distractions during study sessions. Turn off unnecessary notifications on your devices and create a quiet, focused study environment. Harvard Business School notes, “Although it can be tempting to complete your work from the comfort of your couch, having a dedicated learning space can be a key driver of online learning success.”
Break down study sessions into manageable intervals, such as 25-30 minutes, with short breaks in between. Use breaks to stretch, walk, or do something enjoyable to refresh your mind.
Learn to Say “No”
This is perhaps the most challenging advice to follow. But it’s essential to recognize limits and be willing to say no to additional commitments when your schedule is already full. While enrolled in a degree program, it’s crucial to prioritize education and allocate time accordingly.
Students also should seek support when needed. It can help to discuss educational goals and schedules with family, friends, and colleagues.
NMU Global Campus Supports Online Learners
NMU Global Campus provides an enrollment guide that walks online students through degree options, credit transfer policies, and more. Students receive support throughout their time at NMU Global Campus. NMU Global Campus’s online degree programs offer students solid support, including 24/7 access to course materials and expert tutors in more than 300 subjects.
Adopting time management strategies prepares students for the challenges of earning an online degree and making the rewards that much better.