Plan for your online studies and succeed

1. Your studies are as important as your job

You need to take your studies as seriously as you take your job because this is likely the one thing that could propel your career. Make a list of assignments, tasks, lectures, the volume of content you need to cover, and create a calendar or schedule, as you would with your job. Set some long-term goals as well as daily goals and create a checklist for those goals. A positive, self-motivated mindset can go a long way in helping you stick to your schedule and making a success of your online studies.

2. Manage your time
Time management is what could make or break your online studies. As important as time management is in your daily job, it is important in your studies. Make time to focus on them, but also make time for yourself. Although it is important to get through the content, it is also important to make time for relaxation so that you don’t burn out.

A proper schedule and environment will help you to keep your study time structured and to reach your goals, ensuring you don’t need to pull an all-nighter to get an assignment done. Make it easier on yourself and get into the habit of spending a certain amount of time on your studies every day.

If you pace yourself in your studies, you will have time to go back and make a correction if you realise that you weren’t moving in the right direction with a specific task. And when the time comes for revision, do it in smaller chunks to be sure you have absorbed the content fully.

Keep your family and housemates in the loop. They need to understand that you are serious and dedicated to your studies, you need to manage their expectations around the amount of time you will need to concentrate and focus on building your future.

3. Dedicate a space
Choose a space that will be quiet and available when you need to study. Try to choose an area that is free from distractions, well lit, has good ventilation, and where you will have access to all the tools you need, such as a desk or table, computer, and internet.

Make a point of explaining to family and housemates that the dedicated area is a quiet zone when you need to study and because you have a study schedule, you can tell them when this will be and for how long.

4. Limit social media
Social media is often the way we stay up to date or get information, but it often turns into a rabbit hole that swallows our time and attention. When it is time to study, turn off your mobile device and log out of social media platforms on your computer, this limits the temptation to have a quick look at what’s going on, only to emerge hours later.

Some people go as far as disabling their social media accounts during times of great focus when there are major assignments due or a large amount of work to get through.

5. Bite-sized chunks
A calendar that is detailed and breaks the bigger tasks into smaller, bite-sized chunks, will aid in your online study success. It will give you the base you need to achieve your goals. It is easier to retain bits of information at a time than it is to try and absorb huge chunks of information and it isn’t as time-consuming. Dividing your time and your work up in this way gives you the control.

It is also important to take breaks in between these bite-sized chunks to keep your mind fresh and your body energised. A timetable with one-hour study blocks and 15-minute breaks is a general measure, but everybody is different, you may need shorter study blocks and breaks. Make sure you have a specific goal for each study block so you can measure your progress.

6. Take notes
Write down the important things, as you would in a traditional classroom setting. Writing things down makes them easier to remember. Be sure to write down the date and the section of work you are busy with, so it won’t be a mystery when you start revising.

Bullet points are often easier to use than writing reams of copy. If you’re making notes from a video presentation, note the time on the video and write it next to your notes. Remember to take breaks, you do need them.

It is not ideal to sit and concentrate for hours, be it on a video presentation or text. A great way to keep notes is on a Word document, so it is easy to search for keywords in your notes, without having to read through everything to find what you are looking for.

7. Make study fun
Although having music on while you study is not for everybody, it could block out other sounds and help you concentrate, but this varies from person to person. Playing music can keep you alert and make studying more enjoyable. keeps me alert and in a good mood.

Keeping good vibes going while I study, make the studying go by faster, and much more enjoyable. Another tip to make study fun, is a good cup of tea or coffee, make it something to look forward to while you study. It is exciting and rewarding to study further, it is up to you to keep it that way.

8. Stay healthy
You need fresh air, nutritious food and snacks, water, and some form of exercise for optimum mental performance. The brain can only work properly if the body is cared for. Take regular breaks that involve exercise and fresh air, get enough sleep, and eat good food. Preparing a healthy meal or going for a run is not wasting your time.

When you take short breaks while studying, make sure to get up and stretch your arms and legs, looking away from the computer screen to give your eyes a break too. Something which is often ignored is the need for sufficient sleep. When the brain is asleep, the mind can think clearly and absorb what has been studied.

Rest is a must, and so is spending time with friends and family. It is crucial for your sanity, happiness, and maintaining good relationships.

9. Join a study group
Get some of your classmates together and create a virtual study group, where you can share ideas and talk about content. It will be a place to ask questions and discuss challenges, getting another point of view, helping each other, supporting each other, and building connections.

10. Beat the timeline
If you set a schedule for yourself and you stick to it, you may save yourself some time, hassle, and stress. Work towards finishing your assignments a day early, this takes the stress out of it and gives you time to sleep on it and make the adjustments you feel are necessary. For bigger pieces of work, it is advisable to set a personal deadline for yourself, two days before the work is due. This way, you can give yourself a bit of extra time should you need it.

Finishing work early means you have more time to ask questions or make improvements. The flexibility of online study should allow you to review and critique your work before turning it in.

Go on, make a success of your studies, and remember, we are here for you.