Distance learning has many benefits to offer, with the major advantage being the fact that it allows a student to choose where and when to study. This flexibility makes distance learning convenient for students as they can organise their timetable according to their preferred schedule. A flexible study schedule can help a student fit his or her studies around his or her regular responsibilities.
However, the demand and intensity of these courses should not be underestimated. Distance learning can become overwhelming, as you will have to balance between your studies and your personal commitments. Luckily, you can strike a balance between distance learning and your personal commitments through organisation, discipline, situational leadership training and most importantly, time management. Here are a few time management tips to consider as a distance learner.
Get a Head Start
Ensure that you are thoroughly acquainted with your course before starting, so that you can come up with a personal schedule. Find out about exam dates, deadlines and factor in your personal commitments. Tell your close friends and family members about the course. These people can support you through stressful periods especially when you will be very busy. Consider your priorities before you start distance learning and prepare as much as you can.
When Should You Study?
The answer to this question depends on your personal circumstances. It is a good idea to learn when your mind is in its most active state and when there are few distractions around the place where you will be studying. If you feel that you will learn better in the morning but the problem is that you have to go to work, go to bed early and get up earlier than you usually do. However, if this does not work, consider taking a break after work before your studies.
Self-Assess Your Time Management from Time to Time
It is good to ask yourself on a regular basis whether or not you are using your time effectively and efficiently. There are times when you will feel like you have not learned anything all day. This mostly happens when you are easily distracted or when you procrastinate. To manage your time more effectively, make to-do lists on a daily basis either in the morning or at the end of the day. Cross each thing out as you go along.
Keep Up to Date
When it comes to distance learning, keeping abreast of any changes like the syllabus or due dates is very important. The best way to keep abreast is by checking your emails every morning, afternoon and evening. Remember that things can change all of a sudden, so it is good to keep abreast of any change. Remember to use your phone whenever you are away from your desktop and avoid switching off during your holidays. This will help you avoid returning to a catalogue of unopened, urgent emails.
Break Up Your Assignments
Diving into your assignments or waiting until the last minute to do them is a bad idea. Instead, break your assignments into different parts: research, planning, writing, editing and finalising. Each of these stages should be allocated equal portions of time and effort. Also, remember to prioritise tasks to avoid wasting your time on things that don’t add value to your studies.
When you study at home, it is easy to be distracted. So, for successful distance learning, turn email notifications off, switch your phone off and keep it out of sight and earshot, log out of your social media sites (unless you use these sites for study purposes) and try to coincide your children’s studies (if you have any) with your own. Don’t allow personal commitments to eat into your study time.
Take Time Out
Taking regular time is very important as it gives the mind a rest. If you realise that your creative juices are not flowing or you find that you keep coming up against a brick wall, take a break for a while. Doing this will divert your attention and make you feel refreshed and ready to study. Ensure that the things you choose to do during your breaks are healthy and positive. Avoid watching a movie or having a nap during a break as it will make you feel tired. Consider going for a walk or doing exercises during breaks to freshen your mind.