Online Study Tips: Making Schedules and Space
Setting a Schedule
“We are what we repeatedly do. Greatness then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Humans are creatures of habit. If you want to be good at something you have to work at it every day. The same goes for school. If you work on your coursework a little bit each day, you’ll get in the habit of studying and success will come easily. This is where a schedule comes in handy.
Look at the calendar and your daily routine to find the time you can devote to studying. The time you choose should be ideal for the task at hand. If you have kids who come home at 3pm, don’t set your study time for 4pm. If you are studying a complicated subject that requires more of your brainpower to concentrate, schedule your time earlier in the day when your mind is fresh. Everyone’s lifestyle is a bit different. Try to determine when you do your best work and schedule your study times accordingly.
If you have trouble finding the time, consider what other low-priority tasks (or distractions) you could cut out or optimize. Perhaps you could plan meals for the week ahead of time. Maybe you could listen to a lecture as you fold laundry. Are you willing to sacrifice your TV watching or social media time to study instead? Everyone will have a solution that works for them. Remember, you have to make time, not just find it.
Schedules are also helpful because they provide limits. Sometimes, when your brain knows that 10am to 12pm (for example) is your set study time, you can relax and focus in more easily knowing you’ll get back to your busy life as soon as you are done. It’s also easier for those around you to respect your study time and stay quiet during those hours. This structuring can also help you fend off the temptation of distraction. If you feel the temptation, you can simply tell yourself: “I’m at school right now.”
Considering how much time you can expect to spend studying for an online course, it is very important that you secure a comfortable and quiet space to work. Ideally, this should be a private, well-lit place with a desk, an ergonomic chair, and all the supplies you may need (pens, paper, etc). You might also want to decorate the space with some reminders of what you are working towards to keep you motivated.
While it may be nice to use coffee shops or libraries from time to time, having a designated space where you can do the studying you need to do on your terms makes practical sense. When it’s crunch time, you don’t want to have to run out and go find a place to study. Also, having a set study space makes it easier to sit down and study when you have a free moment.
The benefit of separating your schoolwork from your other responsibilities is that it helps your mind relax and focus on the task at hand. Having a designated space devoted to your study can signal to your brain that it is time to study. That way, you’ll spend more time focused on your work rather than whatever else you have going on in your life.
In the next section, we’ll explore how you can use goal-setting and visualization to help keep you motivated.