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[Time Management Matters] 5 Strategies for Students Learning Online

[Time Management Matters] 5 Strategies for Students Learning Online

Time management is a critical skill for students to develop. Children—especially teenagers—have more demands on their time and attention now than ever before. Friends, phones, studies, extracurricular groups, social media, the general pressures and worries of being a child—all of these commitments, considerations, and simple distractions need to be managed. Effective time management skills help student accomplish more and achieve higher quality in less time. For students taking online courses, which require a higher degree of self-directedness and accountability, strengthening these skills is even more important.

Here are five strategies you can present to your students to help them evaluate and improve time management skills to ensure academic success.

  1. Determine the best time of day for you

Most of us work more productively at certain times of the day. When do you work best? Are you an early bird, night owl, or something in between? Think about times when you have been most productive, find your rhythm, and then put together a plan for maximizing use of that timeframe. Consider completing items that require more focus and attention at your personal peak time of the day, such as writing an important essay or completing a course assessment. When you normally feel a little less focused, use that time to watch a course tutorial or read through the resources built in to a unit activity. Develop a pattern (or schedule), and stick to it!

  1. Make a plan

Plan out the next day, week, month, or semester. Look at your course syllabus, and write down a plan that will work for you. This should be done daily or weekly as a best practice. Consider what you should include in your daily/weekly plan. What activities or projects need to be completed in the timeframe? Are there specific components of bigger projects you need to complete? It’s also key to think about how much time you have. What does your schedule look like outside of courses? Do you have work shifts, sports or extracurricular events, or volunteer commitments? Is there travel time involved in getting to these other duties? Be realistic about how much time you have and how much schoolwork you need to get done.

  1. Ask questions

Especially in the virtual learning environment where you’re not interacting face to face on a regular basis, your teachers don’t know you need help unless you ask them for it! So, don’t be in a fortress of solitude! Reach out to your teachers as questions or concerns come up, and work together. Think about setting up regular time to meet with your teachers so that they can help you stay accountable and on pace in your courses. And, don’t forget about your peers in your virtual courses—they are also available to connect with and work collaboratively with, and they can be a great help in keep you on pace.

  1. Find the right workspace

The flexibility to work when and where you want is one of the greatest benefits of taking online courses. But, the physical environment where you choose to work is still going to have a big impact on your productivity and work quality. Try to arrange your space, stuff, time, and technology so that they help rather than hurt you. Do your best to eliminate distractions. Whenever possible, it’s important to have a dedicated space for you to work on your courses. Set aside an area that feels like your own; it should not be in front of the TV and, preferably, should not be in a busy part of your home. If you have a specific area with all of your school equipment in one place, you will be able to work more effectively and be able to better manage your time throughout the day.

  1. Tackle big projects with “timeboxing”

Struggling to stay focused on course activities? Try timeboxing! Choose a self-determined block of focused time (referred to as a “timebox”) to work on anything you want to get done but could easily put off because it seems too complex, boring, or overwhelming. Aim to choose a task that is intimidating but also important. Determine the hardest part of that task, and make that your priority for the block of time. Set a timer for your chosen length of time, and work on the task until the timer goes off. This timebox does not need to be long! If you think you can realistically focus for 30 minutes, go with that. If 15 minutes is all that seems doable, start with that instead. The important thing is to focus for your set block of time and make incremental progress. Once your timer goes off, you may find that you’ve settled into a productive rhythm. If that’s the case, set your timer for another block of time, and continue working. If not, move on to a different task.

Making the transition to virtual courses is a big shift for students, and a little extra help from family never hurts. Check out these 5 Things Parents Can Do to Support Students Learning Online!

Jennifer.Brooks's picture

Jennifer Brooks has taught high school social studies for over 17 years, including the past 2 years as a full-time virtual teacher for EdOptions Academy in partnership with Global Education Solutions. Jennifer lives and teaches in Colorado.