Time Management Tips for Online Students: How to Balance Flexibility and Discipline

Time management is an essential skill for online students, especially those who are juggling work and family commitments. Planning ahead and creating a to-do list can help you stay on track and make the most of your online education. Additionally, it's important to be aware of potential distractions and take breaks between periods of work. Finally, learning to say “no” can help you manage your time more effectively.

Your hectic schedule, combined with daily distractions, can easily hinder task completion. If you're having difficulty meeting course deadlines, you should ask for help. Talk to your instructor, peers, or someone from student services (Writing Center, Counseling, etc.). They may have suggestions on how to stay on track.

If you don't do anything, you're going to get overwhelmed as courses accumulate. That's when the downward spiral begins on your path to incomplete or lackluster work. If you are a “dawn” person by nature, taking advantage of the first few hours is a good time management technique. Between academic tasks and daily responsibilities, waking up early to start your day, even if you start with exercise or other productive tasks unrelated to your online degree program, can help you more effectively manage your time throughout the day. Of course, if you're more productive later in the day, use the evening hours in a similar way.

Whether you're using a smartphone app or pen and paper, create a to-do list for each day. Include your domestic, professional and personal needs, as well as those related to your online education. After all, paying bills on time is just as important as meeting academic deadlines. This time management strategy is popular for another reason; marking items as “complete” leads to a sense of productivity, which in turn helps motivate you to achieve more. One advantage of learning online is that most of your homework, exams, and other responsibilities are clearly planned for you.

Take some time to review what you need to do, how long it will take, and when it needs to be completed, and then prioritize accordingly. Thanks to technology, there are more ways than ever to be distracted when earning an online degree (or doing anything that requires significant concentration). An essential skill in managing time is to be aware of what is distracting you, and then developing the willpower to avoid those distractions and be able to focus on your online education. Because online students use their computers and the Internet to participate in online learning, they may be tempted by distractions. A student working on a difficult task may find themselves browsing the Web, checking social media sites, or watching the latest viral video online. One way students can combat these distractions and manage their time more effectively is to book breaks between periods of work.

This will allow the online student to focus on school assignments knowing that they can check social media sites when they finish their work. A key issue for online students is time management. Students who manage their time well often experience greater success and less stress completing their online programs. Planning for your future tense, including the non-academic deadlines associated with your online college or university (such as class registrations and financial aid applications) will not only help you manage your time more effectively but it will also help you increase your chances of completing your degree on schedule. If you've made the decision to pursue your degree online, you may be wondering how you'll keep up with your online education while balancing your work and family commitments. Benefits of online learning include flexibility and practice 21st century skills but some problems may prevent effective online learning. One of the most difficult time management techniques to master is the delicate art of saying “no”.

Whether you're new to online learning or have enrolled in online classes in the past, honing your time management skills can help you make the most of your education. Although online programs offer convenience and flexibility, it can be increasingly difficult for you to catch up or recover after missing tasks as you also juggle other responsibilities that cannot be ignored. Students must find a way to balance the flexibility of online learning with a disciplined schedule to be successful online learners. In an online classroom, the instructor cannot physically stand in front of the class and give verbal reminders of what is expected in the next class and what will come later in the semester. However, online students often work on homework at home or in public places such as libraries and coffee shops.