Finding your Work – Life – School balance is critical when tackling a new degree program. Whether online or in-person, getting organized and managing your time well is a skill you’ll need to be successful. Brush up on your skills with our tips below!
Get Organized: Calendars and To-Do Lists
For many adult learners their lives are their first priority and we wouldn’t want to see that change. However, as you do with other life commitments, it’s best to keep a schedule to understand and prioritize your responsibilities and activities.
Whether you use an online system such as My Study Life, Google Calendar or Evernote or prefer a printed calendar, planner or to-do list, taking the time to plan out your assignments and study times will help you stay on track with your courses.
Use your syllabus to get started and begin mapping out your upcoming assignments including when papers, projects, and forum posts are due. Set aside specific blocks of time each week for studying and eventually these times will become ingrained habits.
Set up a Support Team
When you first begin your coursework, you may not recognize that you’ve added the new role of student to your life. Recognizing and visualizing that you have a new role can help you make time for your studies. In addition, it may be beneficial to set up a support system of people who can help you when assignments are due or life gets busy. Asking your sister, brother, friend or parent to lend a helping hand in some small way may relieve the pressure you feel.
Let your support team know ahead of time that you may need to call on them if times get tough. You’ll likely find that your friends and family are highly supportive of your new role. And don’t be afraid to share your new role more widely in your life. Take pride in yourself, you’ve made an important decision to earn your degree!
Create a Quiet and Productive Place to Study
Having a space at home where you can study is critical when you take on a degree program. You’ll want your space to be quiet, have good lighting and offer a comfortable place to read and use your computer. Be thoughtful about where will be best. At times you may find that taking your computer or books to a nearby library or park is great for study. Whatever you choose, stick to it if it’s working well for you.
For most, we’re constantly multitasking, so it’s easy to get distracted when you open up your laptop to do homework. Between incoming emails, social media notifications, and checking in on your favorite websites, there’s always something competing for your attention.
Here are a few simple ways to limit the distractions in your study space. First, get in the habit of putting your cellphone in airplane mode when you want to focus solely on your assignments. Next, use websites or download plug-ins for your browser that block the websites that cause you to inadvertently waste time. Examples include: Cold Turkey (for Windows and macOS), StayFocusd (Google Chrome browser extension), and LeechBlock (Firefox browser add-on).
With these two quick fixes, you’ll get a huge productivity boost!
Reward Yourself for a Job Well Done
Don’t forget to reward yourself when you accomplish great things. Did you get an excellent grade on your last paper or feel really proud of a forum post? Take the time to do something special to celebrate and relax. You deserve it! And sometimes taking a little time away from your studies to relax will allow you to do that much better in your courses.