Managing your time is key to being a successful online student. Get our top tips for effective time management.
Effective time management is one of the most valuable skills you master in both your personal and professional life. If you’re looking to complete an online degree while juggling work, family and other commitments, it is essential you proactively plan the time you spend on various competing activities to increase your effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. That’s how thousands of other online students have achieved their goals – and now you can too.
If you’ve ever found yourself muttering that fateful phrase – “There just aren’t enough hours in the day!” – then it’s probably time you learned how to manage your time more successfully. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, yet it’s no secret that some people seem to use their time more productively than others. The good news is that with a little practise and focus, so can you and we’ve pulled together some key time management tips below to get you started.
Create a to-do list
To be a successful online student, you need to focus your attention. Whether you use a Notes app on your phone, traditional paper and pen or your Outlook calendar, the to-do list is a great way to become more organised, reduce stress and feel more in control of any situation. Listing each of the activities you need to get done can help you prioritise jobs by their importance or deadline. You can also break down a large task, such as an academic assignment, into bite-sized, more doable chunks, for example, identifying sources of research, conducting your research, developing your essay plan, and so on.
Rank every item on your to-do list
Each time you make or refresh your to-do list, consciously go through it and rank the jobs in order of their importance, particularly if they are time-constrained, as in the case of weekly seminar preparation. A review of your priorities can help you decide which tasks you need to focus on first and which need to be deprioritised for now. You can always create a separate non-urgent to-do list.
Complete your most important task right away
We’re all guilty of procrastination from time to time. However, as Benjamin Franklin once said: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today”. Whether it’s finding time to prepare your to-do list, taking a proper break from study or writing up your lecture notes, commit to getting your most important task done right away. The positive feeling once you achieve it will set you up for the days and weeks ahead.
Schedule similar tasks back-to-back
Ever think to yourself: “I’m on a roll”? That’s because productivity breeds productivity. When you’ve a certain mindset, it makes sense to continue the momentum. If you’ve been annotating one set of lecture notes, block out the next hour of your time to do the same for a different lecture. You can carry on using the same techniques with greater efficiency.
Plan your work around YOUR schedule
Only you can set and manage your time to best effect. The hours available for tasks may be impacted by full-time work, caring duties or social commitments, but you should also factor in your individual preferences too. Make sure you know your peak performance times and schedule in the tough work then. If you’re an early bird, get your most important work done in the morning. If you’re a night owl, make sure you have plenty of energy and mental reserves left come the evening.
Strike a balance between work and play
While it may have originated back in the 17th century, the proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is of equal relevance today. Without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring. Find a balance between coursework, your other obligations and downtime or you run the risk of losing all motivation, something an online student cannot afford to do. Set aside time to do something fun with friends and family or simply reward yourself, whether it’s getting a takeaway, watching your favourite film or a session at the gym.
Recharge your internal battery
Biological research on sleep and its effects on the body and mind has demonstrated time and time again that not only does productivity not improve when you don’t sleep, you actually become less productive over the long run (as compared to those who sleep the proper amount). Sleep is essential to rest your body and keep your mind fresh for the next day. You should try to get at least seven hours, the optimal amount of rest each night.
Are you ready to put your time management into practice? Studying online with the University of Plymouth gives you the opportunity to graduate from one of the UK’s most respected research-intensive universities without ever leaving your home country. In the last published national research assessment, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, over three-quarters (78%) of the University’s research was graded as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, the highest classifications possible.
Our 100% online master’s courses allow you to study at a time and place that suits you, alongside students from all over the world. Find out more about learning online with the University of Plymouth: