Online courses have given us the freedom to set our own study schedules, learn in our pajamas from the comfort of our homes or favourite coffee shops, as well as allowed us to work at our own pace.
While this has made learning accessible during these times, there are unique obstacles that are important to consider when optimizing your online learning journey.
For successful online studying you will need to set goals, limits, and boundaries for yourself. You are solely responsible for meeting your objectives for the day.
Below we have curated 10 tips for you to be successful in your self-directed learning endeavour, that will help you to keep your study habits on track for optimal knowledge absorption and retention.
1. Optimize your Study Space
When choosing the are you will spend your time studying, consider an area that has these essential qualities:
- Light: Dark spaces or rooms with little to no natural light can quickly become depressing and claustrophobic. It will lead to faster eye fatigue and strain as well. Brighten up these spaces by adding inexpensive lamps for some indirect light sources.
- Ambiance: Whether you’re the kind of person that prefers total silence, some music or tv on in the background, or the hustle and bustle of a busy coffee shop – consider experimenting with different environments to see which works best for you, and which ones do not!
- Eliminate Distractions: Keep yourself immersed in your studying by limiting the number of distractions. Inform your roommates or family that this is time dedicated to studying and ask to not be disturbed, close any unnecessary tabs on your browser, and consider putting your phone away or just turning it off.
- Bring Snacks: Before you settle in to study make sure you have water, tea/coffee, and a snack. Having your provisions within reach means you won’t have to interrupt your studying to make a trip to the kitchen.
Keep the space clean and enjoyable, so you want to spend time there!
2. Create a Calendar Timeline
Online calendars and physical planners are an invaluable tool for keeping yourself accountable and on track. Using your method of choice familiarize yourself with the course outline and note down any due dates, exams, project deadlines etc. Be sure to also include any dates for which you have other plans: family, work, friends, appointments, etc. (Allow yourself some wiggle room for unexpected setbacks) From here you can determine the best time to dedicate to studying. It’s okay if it’s not everyday – find a time each week that you can realistically commit to studying and stick to it!
3. Make To-Do Lists
Whether you prefer detailed lists outlining each step or simple and succinct lists, compiling these lists will allow for faster and more efficient studying. Be sure to check off your tasks as you complete them! This gives your brain the happy accomplishment signals it needs to train it into keeping up the good work!
4. Set Healthy Time Limits
Long periods of time spent looking at computers can lead to eye fatigue, muscle soreness and restlessness. You can increase your productivity by forcing yourself to study in manageable increments of time. Set an alarm to get up and walk around and stretch your body while giving your eyes a break. This will help with mental stamina and boosts your studying efficiency as well. If you’ve dedicated 2 hours to studying consider setting an alarm in 30-minute intervals to take short breaks, return for another 30 of studying, quick break, and then settle in for the final 30 minutes of studying. Schedule these short breaks in however feels comfortable for you, if 15-minute intervals are easier to manage do that!
5. Prioritize One Task at a Time
Focus your energy on one thing at a time – multitasking splits your attention and decreases the quality of your studying. You will be more productive and retain more information if you dedicate your studying session to one subject.
6. Ask Questions
If you’re stuck on something and taking a break didn’t fix the problem – ask for help. Be proactive about anything you’re not understanding or struggling with. Consider having a study-buddy to message for help and remember that your professors are there to help you as well.
7. Take Care of Your Needs
Get a good sleep, drink water, eat healthy snacks, and make time for yourself. Taking care of yourself makes keeping on top of your responsibilities easier, and ensures you are giving yourself the best chance to succeed.
8. Take Advantage of Available Resources
Be aware of any resources your online school provides and utilize them! Ask classmates what they use to increase their own productivity. Explore productivity apps and adopt them into your routine to keep on track.
9. Review, Revise, and Repeat
Check in with yourself regularly. Identify what is working for you, what isn’t, and then make adjustments. It’s okay if some techniques aren’t for you, simply swap them out with something more suited to your learning style.
10. Reward Yourself
All work and no play make studying online no fun. Get out with friends, treat yourself, and allow yourself time to decompress. Reward your dedication and hard work regularly. Balance is key to creating an ideal routine in which you can succeed.
By following these study tips, you will be creating a fun and enjoyable online learning experience while simultaneously giving yourself the best chance at success. Remember that by taking an online course you are investing in yourself and your future!