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Time Management and Online Courses

6 Time Management Tips for Virtual Learning

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Plan Ahead

Busy schedules, combined with daily distractions, can easily get in the way of finishing tasks. Consider purchasing a calendar you can use to plan your daily and weekly assignments, also having a consistent time and workspace, away from distractions, and concentrating on:

  • Assignments due, including drafts and final submissions

  • Activities related to your program, such as online study group meetups or networking events

  • Virtual office hours with professors and advisors 


  • Monday - Begin required readings and multimedia
  • Tuesday - Continue reviewing materials
  • Wednesday - Post to discussion forum and begin assignments
  • Thursday - Continue posting and working on assignments
  • Friday - Read and respond to posts and work on assignments
  • Saturday - Read and respond to posts and finish assignments
  • Sunday - Read and respond to posts and finish assignments

Don’t Multitask

Avoid multitasking, focus on one assignment at a time. Make sure that you are giving your undivided attention on the specific task at hand, whether that’s studying for an exam, reading a textbook, emailing a professor, or participating in an online forum. Prioritize your tasks and pay close attention to the crucial tasks that require the most effort.

Concentrate on your upcoming deadlines and if it’s a small assignment that you do not need to address for several weeks, put it on your calendar to focus on when the deadline is closer.


Set Up Your Virtual Office

Having a comfortable workspace to work in is a must as you will need to focus all of your attention on the task at hand. For example, some people prefer to work with headphones on or while others prefer silence. Sit in a comfortable chair, and make sure the lighting isn’t too dim. Close out your browser windows and put your phone away (preferably somewhere not visible), make sure to have all required materials and set up and ready to get to work. 



Block Out Distractions

It’s easy to become distracted by the news or websites, stay focused and avoid social media sites. Consider the Pomodoro Method, a technique that helps with productivity by arranging how you work to help increase efficiency. The tool builds on 25-minute work sessions, optimizing your time to focus on your online studies. The best way to use this method is to:

  • Set a timer for 25 minutes and work uninterrupted for the scheduled period.

  • Take a five-minute break to grab coffee, check emails, or do something else.

  • Once you’ve completed four work sessions, treat yourself to a longer, 15-minute break.

  • Make sure to tell your family that you will need to have a specific amount of time working on your school work or studying. 

    • Family has a tendency to grab your attention when you are near. 

Reward Yourself

It’s important to reward yourself after a job well done in order to avoid burnout. You can reward yourself by celebrating your accomplishments and treating yourself to something you truly enjoy (self-care), whether that’s watching your favorite show on Netflix or doing an at-home activity.

Also, make sure your time away from your studies is dedicated to fully enjoying yourself. If you’re mixing work with leisure, then you may burn out and will not be able to work effectively. 


Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep is essential to rest your body and keep your mind fresh for the next day. If possible, try to get 7-8 hours of rest a night. Pulling all-nighters is less productive than studying consistently. Include sleep in your schedule and you can gain huge rewards.