Learning efficiently: 6 steps to success in your online graduate education
The best thing about a self-paced program is that its self-paced. That’s also the worst thing about online learning. You’re a working professional, and odds are, you’ve worked from home before. Studying at home, just like working from home, is wonderful, convenient, and comfortable. It’s also easy to get off track.
6 strategies for success in online graduate classes
1. Turn off the distractions
It’s tempting to play music or have a television on as background noise, and for some people, it can help set a relaxing environment, but the minute you find yourself distracted by it – turn it off. It may also help to visually pare down your study environment. I also came across some distraction-free writing tools that were highly recommended.
Coffitivity is my very favorite tool to use to drown out background distractions.
2. Establish a study zone
If you can, dedicate a specific room of your house to become a “study zone.” Try to use this space only for working and studying, and as much as you can, avoid studying elsewhere in your house. This will help your study zone feel separate from everyday life – and will help motivate you to focus on studying when you’re there.
Check out these 13 clever home offices. The chair in the first office is my favorite, although it’s admittedly not all that practical.
3. Resist the temptation to be continuously connected
Studying at home is a good chance to focus with limited outside distractions. But if you find your willpower waning, and you find yourself veering over to your Instagram feed or quickly checking your Gchat, there are tools to help.
Ten tools to use for better focus is a fantastic article to use as a reference. One tool that stood out to me is called “Self-Control” – which blocks out distracting websites for a set amount of time.
4. Keep a consistent schedule
Try to start and stop studying around the same time each day, or create for yourself a time management schedule – and follow it. This will help you get in a “study time” mentality.
5. Have regular touch points
Set specific times to catch up on communication, whether that means logging in into Blackboard or a chat program or simply checking your school email. Most online courses have Sunday and Wednesday midnight deadlines, so it may be good to block off time on these days to make sure you have time to finish up assignments.
If you’re interested, you can find an example of an online class at UNE Online here: https://online.une.edu/blog/taking-an-online-course-at-une-online/.
6. Draw a line
Asynchronous classes, such as online graduate education courses, can put you in a constant state of feeling “on duty.” Make sure, at the end of the day, you disconnect from “study mode” however you can. Close the door of your study zone. Shut down your email. Schedule fun time. All work and no play – we all know how that goes.
Making a habit of good habits
All of these strategies used together or taken separately will help you work toward forming good study habits. And habits are the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.
If you’re looking for a good business book read/listen, Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, studies and analyzes the influence of habits in our lives. The narrative goes into how habits are essential to determining an overall corporate culture, but also discusses habits on a more human level, for example, how the author personally beat a 3:00 cookie habit.
Optimize your habits and watch your productivity skyrocket!
Got any more study tips and tricks you’d like to share? Share your secrets in the comments below!
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