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Managing Your Time on a Distance Learning Course

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 16 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Online Education Distance Education

Whilst online distance learning courses do offer the flexibility which should effectively make it much easier to manage your online study time, many people have to juggle other commitments such as their work and family too. Therefore, it’s still necessary to come up with a plan for managing your time when it comes to your online classes. You have enrolled on a particular online course because it will further your career prospects or enhance your life in some other way so you do need to treat it seriously and make effective use of your time.

Allocate A Set Number Of Hours

Although you will not be attending classes each day, online education often requires you to complete coursework and online assignments by a particular deadline. Therefore, it’s important that you allocate a certain number of hours, preferably each day where possible, in which you are going to devote to your studies. Obviously, other commitments may prevent you from working on your online distance learning course at the same time each day but, nevertheless, you should set aside an appropriate amount of time each day to move along your online study.

Managing And Setting Deadlines

One of the beauties of online distance learning programmes is that many of them allow you to work at your own pace. In fact, this is one of their great appeals. Nevertheless, it’s very easy to become complacent when you do not need to attend college each day or see your tutors. Therefore, setting your own deadlines for online work can often be a very useful way of ensuring that you’re constantly moving your assignments along. By having a set date by which you intend to complete your online assignments, this will enable you to breakdown your online classes into more manageable chunks, as opposed to the fear setting in when you realise that you’ve got to have an online assignment completed within a couple of days, yet you’ve not even begun any work on it. When working out how much work to put in each day on your online education in order to reach a deadline, self-imposed or not, always try to come up with a schedule that enables you to hit your deadline with plenty of time to spare. There’s nothing worse than fighting a deadline which only has a couple of hours before it expires.

Use Some Of Your Free Time Effectively

In addition to allocating a set amount of time to your online study, one of the advantages of distance education is that most online course providers will grant you access to log onto their system wherever in the world you may be and at whatever time of day you choose. Therefore, whilst not suggesting you let your online distance learning course totally consume every aspect of your life, think if ways in which you might be able to incorporate a little extra time here and there away from your usual place of study. It might be that if you’re at work, you take your lunch in a place such as an internet café or another location which offers internet access. What about travelling home from work on the train? Things like USB dongles now allow you to access the internet wirelessly from virtually anywhere so instead of reading a book on the train to and from work, perhaps you can get out your laptop and set aside some time for online coursework.

Allocate ‘Dedicated’ Study Time

This is going to be the most important time of your online study. It’s the period you allocate in which, barring emergencies, is for online distance learning work only. This is where you need to take a firm standpoint and let family members and friends know that you’re not to be disturbed and that you’re not going to be available during this period. It requires you to show great self-discipline too. That means finding a quiet space at home where you can shut yourself away. It also means no distractions whatsoever. That includes turning off your mobile phone and anything else that could be a distraction such as a TV. It also might mean telling your partner and/or any children you live with that you’re not to be interrupted during this period, with the exception of emergencies.

Distance learning online and the flexibility it offers means that it’s often far easier to manage your online learning time effectively. All it takes is a little self-discipline, organisation and motivation. Nevertheless, it’s important that you don’t let it consume your entire life. Make sure that you keep a healthy balance between work, your online studies, rest, relaxation and fun, and, most importantly, that you don’t neglect family and friends. No doubt they will have made sacrifices also so that you can fulfil your own distance education ambitions. Therefore, it is important to set aside time for them too and to treat that time just as importantly, showing the same devotion to family and friends as you do to your online classes.

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