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Time Management Tips for Online Degree Students

By Esther November

Students just beginning a college program often have trouble figuring out the fine art of time management. Online college students are especially susceptible to letting course work take a back seat to other life concerns. If you find yourself struggling to keep up with your college work or letting important assignments slip your mind, these time management tips will help you get on the right track.

1. Make a calendar of all your due dates.

Every class has a certain number of assignments due, and taking online classes means that no one will be standing over your shoulder to help you remember them. Make a calendar that maps out what is due when, in each class that you're taking. That way, you can see all of your assignments and when they're due in one place. Nothing will sneak up on you.

Part of learning time management in college is not procrastinating or waiting until the last minute to do school work. Procrastination leads to unnecessary stress and sloppy work, so know in advance how to budget your time.

2. Figure out how long it takes to complete tasks.

Attending an online college means that you'll be logging many hours in front of the computer, which can lead to all kinds of distractions. If you know that you have to check your Facebook once or twice an hour or you're addicted to email, take that into consideration when planning ahead. Because your boss wouldn't expect you to work an eight-hour day without taking a lunch break, honestly assess how long it will take you to do your college work if you allow yourself time for those breaks.

3. Schedule time for college work realistically.

While it's important to know how long it takes you to post discussion answers and write papers, it's also important to be honest with yourself about when you can do your college work. If your lunch break at work is frequently interrupted by friendly colleagues, you're probably not going to get much homework done. If you tell yourself that you'll do school work after the kids go to bed, be honest about whether or not you'll be awake enough to work at that point.

Sometimes the best time management tip for online college students is that you have to be honest with yourself about your own limitations in terms of scheduling. If the rest of your life is getting too hectic to keep up with school, you may find that you need to schedule an occasional babysitter or cut down on social activities.

4. Work ahead when possible.

As an instructor for an online college, I can attest to the fact that the software runs slower on assignment due dates when everyone is attempting to upload their papers at the same time. To avoid technical difficulties and wasted time, try to submit your assignments ahead of schedule.

If you find yourself with a weekend with nothing scheduled or an unexpected day off work, use it to get ahead of your coursework. The great thing about online education is that you can do the reading, post answers to discussion questions, and even write research papers when it's convenient for you. Working ahead means you won't run the risk of turning homework in late, and you can sit back and enjoy the class without stressing out about deadlines.

5. Use technology to your advantage.

College students who use iPhones, Blackberries, or other Smart Phones can use multiple applications to manage time and keep up with college work. Students can use their cell phones to program digital calendars with automatic reminders that go off close to due dates. You might even find that you can type discussion responses during your commute on public transportation or do research while standing in line at the grocery store. Attending college online means that you're already taking advantage of technological advances to get an education, so use your technical skills to help you get ahead.

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