The advent of online education has yielded benefits almost too numerous to name. It's now easier than ever to earn your degree while also working full-time or raising a family, or even when you don’t live near an institution of higher learning. However, if you're attending classes from your living room or a coffee shop, it’s also easier to be distracted. South University recognizes the difficulties inherent in earning a degree online and has compiled some of the best tips and tricks for staying focused on your coursework.
Designate a Work Space
Tempting though it might seem to work from your couch or bed, you'll be more productive in a specially designated work space. Setting aside a work space reinforces the message that your coursework is important. What's more, an ergonomically correct work space can enable you to focus for even longer periods. When you're in your work space, focus only on work. If you don't have space in your residence, find a quiet coffee shop, public library or other space where you can work undisturbed for a good stretch of time. Establishing a space-related routine is almost as important as finding the space itself.
Allocate Time for Your Coursework
Much as you should designate a work space, so too should you set aside work time. Scheduling time for your courses and homework serves as a reminder that you're working toward your goals and need to dedicate appropriate time and effort to achieving them. Examine your current schedule to determine how much time you can budget for your courses and related activities. If possible, set aside smaller blocks of time each day rather than one large block of time per week. Meeting small goals (even like studying for one hour) is easier than tackling large ones.
Allow Yourself Breaks
If you think working non-stop is the way to get the most done, think again. Short breaks give your mind and body the much-needed chance to recharge. Once an hour, take a few minutes to get up, stretch, walk around, or check your email. Limiting web surfing to breaks makes the experience more enjoyable and helps you stay focused on the task at hand.
Enlist the Support of Others
Don't be afraid to ask for help! Share your goals with your friends and family and let loved ones know what they can do to make your journey easier. Don't be afraid to ask for help! If having a TV on near you is distracting, let your spouse or kids know. If you tell yourself that you would finish that paper but you have to cook dinner, order a pizza. Most people will be glad to help, and their generosity will encourage your further success.
Stand Your Ground
During your scheduled work time, do not respond to other requests or matters. Put your phone on silent (or turn it off), step back from Facebook, and let your family know that you won't be available for an hour or two. If necessary, hire a babysitter or ask a friend to watch your kids. Standing your ground will send the message—to yourself, your family, your friends and instructors—that you're invested in you.