The biggest goal of most online education students, like traditional university students, is to just get finished. However, online students are pretty much directing their own educational experience, by making their own schedule. Staying focused in a world of distractions online can be like running through a mine field. Keeping your eye on the prize of successful completion when there are setbacks or difficulties is essential for achieving goals as an online student.
Setbacks, discouragement, feeling alone, and distractions can all come in to try and rob success from online students pursuing a degree. Keeping focused on the prize of a finished degree is a matter of visualizing the ultimate goal while maintaining focus on the smaller deadlines. In the spirit of helping fellow online students, here are seven secrets to staying focused and motivated during online education.
1. Set times aside for school.
Actually write down on your calendar that it is class time, blocking out periods of time for school work to be completed. It helps if these are at consistent times, like every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7-9 p.m. This school time should be kept sacred. Just like you would not answer your phone in a traditional classroom, the ringer should be turned off and all your attention should be tuned in to the course work.
2. Outlaw computer games, social networking websites, email, and online shopping during school times.
While working on online coursework, it is easy to get distracted by all the ‘fun’ things to do on the internet. Keeping a strict policy of rewarding yourself with those things only after the school work is done will help you get more accomplished and stay focused. Some people go so far as to place blocks on these activities that they activate during scheduled school times.
3. Keep a calendar with reminders.
Keeping track of assignments on a calendar, in paper or an electronic format (like a smart phone or PDA) maintains focus and helps prevent forgotten assignments. Electronic reminders of goal deadlines and work times on your phone assist in bringing course requirements back to your busy mind before it is too late.
4. Motivate yourself routinely.
Before beginning a class, add motivational tidbits to your calendar periodically throughout course time period. Quotes from famous people, reminders of what your life will be like post graduation, thoughts about your future profession, etc. can be used to motivate you through your calendar. These will help you keep the big goal in mind.
5. Stay organized.
Having a place where everything for school belongs is important so you don’t waste time looking later. Have a shelf or file folder for paperwork in your home or business. Have a special file or area on your computer devoted to school and organized by class and assignment or project.
6. Schedule some down time.
The brain cannot produce quality work when taxed without relief indefinitely. Giving yourself some time consistently to rest and recharge is important for staying focused and determined until graduation. Getting the proper amount of rest is also important for your overall health. Preventing illness will definitely help you achieve your goals.
7. Share goals with others.
When you are the only person who knows you are trying to complete a degree online, it is easy to make excuses for yourself. When your family and friends are asking you how it is going, you are receiving constant reminders, positive peer pressure, and little jolts to keep you focused on the goal. Ultimately, it will feel so good to complete the online degree program, but that large accomplishment is filled with smaller deadlines which must be met.