Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, more students have enrolled in an online school than ever before. Online learning provides many benefits for students who desire greater flexibility in their class schedules, but it also requires a different kind of focus to make the most of your education.
If you're used to a traditional school schedule, getting familiar with this new learning environment can take some time. If you find yourself having trouble staying focused on classwork, here are some ways you can build time management skills to make this your best semester yet!
ONLINE Students Need STRONG PLANNING
The freedom of online schools can be very appealing to students. You can study from anywhere, at any time, and on your terms. You're in charge! (But also...you're in charge.) It's an exciting way to learn, but a flexible schedule requires discipline to keep yourself on track. The first step in managing your time is setting up a consistent schedule tailored for you.
MAKING A SCHEDULE THAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU
The most important key to setting up an effective online learning schedule is to learn during the hours when you are naturally the most focused. Often, these study hours look different for everyone. You may find that you work best when you divide your hours up, or you may be the kind of student who needs to stay focused until all of the work is complete.
Students will see an increase in retention and productivity when they study at their ideal hours. Think about what kind of student you are and the hours you feel the most alert. And then, keep those times blocked off each day so you can fully engage with your schooling.
GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF
In school, studying requires a different mental focus for certain tasks. You can break your schedule down even further by discovering which hours work best for:
Active Listening: Active listening is making a conscious effort to hear and retain new information. Determine the times of the day when your active listening is at its peak. Then make a plan to watch your online classes during your active listening hours.
Study Hours: Complete your homework assignments during the hours you are most alert to process what you learned and put it into action.
When you figure out your learning zones, you can schedule your tasks according to when your mind is most alert.
IDENTIFY YOUR DISTRACTIONS
The world is full of distractions ready to grab up your attention. You can keep these distractions at bay by figuring out the roadblocks that most easily trip you up. Ask yourself these questions: Why do they happen? Where do they happen? And when do they happen? Maybe you're more easily distracted with your phone when there isn't a teacher around. Or a family member keeps interrupting your study time.
Identify your biggest distractions and the times they are most likely to tempt you.
BLOCKING OUT DISTRACTIONS
When you figure out why these distractions keep occurring, you can take the necessary actions to block them out. Here are some of the most likely distractions for students:
Entertainment: When we think about distractions, entertainment is usually the first area that comes to mind. Try eliminating these distractions by turning off any electronics and reserving them for your downtime. If you don't know someone is contacting you, it's much easier to ignore it.
Environment: It can be challenging to establish boundaries, especially when learning from home. But the good news is; online schools give the freedom to study anywhere with an internet connection. If your current location is too distracting, you can try to find a quieter place to help you dial in on your homework. It also helps to let family members or friends know the hours you aren't available.
Staying Focused: You don't have to set your schedule in stone from the get-go. It's a process of getting to know yourself, so re-evaluate regularly! If your original plan isn't working out, try making some adjustments to help optimize the best learning hours for you. It also helps to create a study space separate from your bedroom. We associate beds with going to sleep, so a quiet area at a desk can keep the mind more engaged on tasks.
Homework Resistance: Distractions can even pop up when we're trying to be on task. Whenever we're stuck on a homework assignment, we either stare at the page until the solution arrives, switch to another problem, or even stop altogether. Rather than being stuck on one problem, you can overcome the roadblock by seeking help from a teacher. The act of overcoming the problem is a boost to the mind and inspires us to keep pushing forward.
The key to good time management is to isolate the areas that keep you from completing assignments. As soon as you do that, you can take the actions needed to create the perfect schedule for you. It can prove rewarding as you learn more about yourself and the hours you focus best!
And a final tip: Don't forget to take breaks! Self-care is critical in any environment. Short breaks throughout your learning will help you be more focused during your study time. As long as you guard your schedule by sticking to the parameters you've created for yourself, you'll be able to make the most of your education at an online school.
If you're an Idaho student looking for a new learning environment, reach out to learn more about how ICON can help you!