Distance learning academic programs provide students with the flexibility to study from wherever and whenever they want. However, the intensity and demand of these courses should not be underestimated.
For the majority of distance learners, the experience is usually challenging because they have to juggle various responsibilities like studying, family, work and other personal commitments all at once. This can be quite overwhelming, to say the least.
But, the secret to achieving a healthy balance and surpassing your academic goals, like any course, is to stay on top of your academic work through good planning, discipline and most importantly proper time-management. Here are some tips that can help you to better manage your time when undertaking a long distance learning course:
Before your studies have even started, you should ensure that you know your timetable from top to bottom so that you can properly plan your schedule. You should always be aware of upcoming deadlines and exam dates so that you can adjust your personal commitments to revolve around these crucial events. Inform both family and friends of times when you’re likely to be very busy. Also, it is important to re-evaluate your priorities so that you put more emphasis on the important stuff.
The specific time you choose to study can vary depending on your personal schedule. Ask yourself when is your mind most active and sharp, and when do you have very few distractions to deal with. Once you have identified a specific time of day, let’s say in the morning, you can adjust your schedule in order to create time for studying. If you have to go to work very early in the morning, you can choose to wake up even earlier in order to get some work done or consider dedicating some time to studying after work. Perhaps your employer would invest in some in-house corporate training courses if you explain the benefits to them, that way you can study and work at the same time!
Self-assessing your time-management is very important. You may think that you are managing your time efficiently and effectively but in real sense you’re not. Sometimes, many days may go by and you’ve not read a single course book. This may be due to frequent procrastination or you simply get distracted easily and cannot find time to hit the books. One thing that can help you to manage your time is a to-do list. You can come up with a list of things you need to do at the beginning of the day and cross through the things you’ve accomplished at the end of the day.
Certain things can change drastically without warning. Because of this, it’s crucial that you always check your inbox every day so that no major changes to the syllabus or exam dates pass you by. You can also stay in touch with learning issues through your mobile phone if you don’t have access to your computer. Never switch off your phones even when you’re on holiday as you never know when your tutors may want to communicate something important to you. Don’t get caught unawares by those urgent emails – stay up to date!
Waiting to the last minute to complete an assignment is not recommended as things can easily go wrong. You can avoid finding yourself in such a fix by dividing your work into different sections, for instance: research, planning, writing, editing and proofreading. You should allocate equal amounts of effort and time to each section for best results. You can also prioritise assignments so that you don’t get stuck doing work that is not so influential to your overall grades.
With distance learning, it’s very easy to become distracted. Phones, social media sites, emails and kids can really make studying at home almost impossible. The important thing however is not to let any of these distractions weigh you down or prevent you from reaching your goals.
All work with no play may you a dull human being! It’s therefore crucial that you take some time to rest every once in a while in order to stay sane and maximise your productivity. You can do anything during your time-outs or breaks like going for a walk or cooking a meal.