Distance learning provides students with the flexibility to study where and when they like, but the intensity and demand of them must never be underestimated. For a large number of distance learners, the experience usually feels like a juggling act of responsibilities i.e. studies, family, work, and other personal commitments that all add up and may become overwhelming.
However, the key to achieving balance and attaining achievable goals as is the case with any situational leadership training course is keeping on top of your studies through organisation, discipline, and proper management of your time. Here are some of the top time management tips that you should consider:
Get a Head Start
Prior to the commencement of your course, it is important to be thoroughly acquainted with your timetable and come up with a personal schedule. Be aware of exam dates, deadlines, and important personal commitments that you will be required to work around. Tell your close friends and family when you are likely to be busiest so that they can offer their support during stressful periods. Consider all your priorities beforehand and be as adequately prepared as possible.
When Should You Study?
Your personal circumstances will dictate to a large extent when you actually study. Consider when your mind will be most active and when there are very few distractions around you. If you feel that it is in the morning but are still required to go to work, consider going to bed first and waking up earlier. If this fails to work for you, ensure that you take a break after work before you hit the books.
Self-Assess Your Time Management Frequently
You should frequently ask yourself whether you are actually using your time efficiently and effectively. You might feel as through an entire day has passed you by sometimes and your still have not learned anything. It could be because you are easily distracted or tend to procrastinate. It is advisable to prepare to-do lists, either at the start or end of every day and cross each item as you go along.
Keep Up to Date
Things change unexpectedly at times, which is why you should always check your emails every morning, evening, and afternoon so that you keep abreast of any major changes such as syllabus modifications or due dates. Use your phone when away from your desktop and never switch off completely when on your holidays lest you return to find a catalogue of urgent but unopened emails.
Divide Up Your Work
It is never a good idea to dive into assignments or leave them to the last minute. Break up assignments into different parts i.e. research, writing, planning, writing, editing, and finalising and approach them with due caution. Every stage requires equal portions of both effort and time. You should also prioritise tasks too and never allow yourself to be bogged down in work that’s less of a consequence to your overall grades.
If you study at home it will be much easier to get distracted. Switch off your phone or keep it out of sight, stay logged out of social media platforms, turn off email notifications, and try to coincide your children’s studies if you have any with yours. No matter how much vacuuming needs to be done or how many dishes there are to do, never allow it to eat into your study time.
Take Time Out
It is obviously important to take time out regularly to give the mind a rest, but if you find yourself coming up against a brick wall constantly or your creative juices are not simply flowing, take a break for a while and divert your attention, even if the break was not scheduled. Always strive to do healthy and positive things in your free time; don’t have a nap or watch an episode of the TV show you love since it will simply make you tired. A better idea would be going for a walk or working out. Later you will feel refreshed and ready to dive back in.