Completing your college degree online may seem like a luxury. You do not need to commute, your refrigerator sits just feet away, and you can work on your own time. However, these same apparent benefits can be hazardous to your success if you are not careful. Distractions may lead to a loss of focus, poor time management, and lower grades.
Succeeding in an online learning environment requires strong self-discipline and organization. There is no one-size-fits-all blueprint for creating an effective learning environment at home, but the following tips can help you get started. Try them out to determine what works best for you.
Top 10 Tips for Learning Online at Home
- Keep a Routine: One of the easiest ways to make studying at home a successful endeavor is to make it part of your daily and weekly routine. Set aside adequate time in your schedule explicitly for schoolwork, and make sure the rest of the household knows not to interrupt.
- Complete Other Tasks First: Focusing on lecture notes is hard enough without worrying about laundry, meal prep, and other pressing tasks. If you can, manage other activities before you sit down to study. You will thank yourself after studying, when you can relax instead of diving into chores.
- Write Things Down: Do not rely solely on your memory or reminders from your professor. For longer-term planning, keep a planner for assignment and project due dates. For short-term tasks, write daily to-do lists of things you want to complete, even if they are small. You will enjoy a feeling of accomplishment each time you check off an item.
- Reduce Distractions: Our homes are full of potential distractions. To help you stay focused on your work, consider keeping your cell phone in another room or on a "do not disturb" setting. When logged into a virtual classroom on your computer, resist the urge to browse the web or check social media.
- Set a Timer: If the temptation to give into a distraction is great, utilize a timer to manage your time. Commit to working for a solid 20-30 minutes and then allow yourself a 10-15-minute break to do as you please. Adjust your timer settings as needed to accomplish goals.
- Utilize Available Resources: Online college students should take advantage of support services offered by their school. If your professor schedules synchronous office hours or discussions, make time to attend. Other common online resources include interactive tutoring, electronic library materials, and career advising.
- Designate a Study Area: Human habits are often tied to particular locations. This is why you should do your best to avoid studying on your bed or the couch where you regularly watch TV. Create a separate, designated area for studying. This may be as elaborate as a home office or as simple as a desk in the corner.
- Change Your Location: No matter how hard you try, sometimes it is impossible to overcome the desire to relax and unwind at home. When this happens, consider taking your studying elsewhere. The local library, a quiet coffee shop, or even a shady park bench might make a good alternative, depending on your goals for the day.
- Eat Well: Eating well can help keep you energized and focused on your work. If you feel like snacking while you study, reach for nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains. Junk food makes a great occasional reward, as long as you avoid habitually consuming high-sugar snacks and empty calories.
- Get Sleep: Perhaps even more important than eating enough healthy food is getting enough proper, restorative sleep. Properly timed naps can do wonders for alertness and memory recall, but they are not a substitute for a good night's rest. The CDC recommends adults get a minimum of seven hours of shut-eye per night.