Time Management to Make Most of Your Online Courses

Posted on September 19 2012

Have you heard about the story of the mayo jar and two cups of coffee? The story tells of a professor who goes into class with a large mayonnaise jar and two coffee cups. He first pours the golf balls into the jar. He then proceeds to put in small rocks into the jar. He gives the jar a shake. Then he puts it the sand. Each time he puts something in the jar, he asks the class if the jar is full and the class answered, “Yes”. Lastly, he puts in the two cups of coffee, effectively filling the jar to the brim.

The professor then proceeds to explain the lesson. If you start with the important things in life, you will have space for other less important things and still have room to have coffee with a friend. But, if you start putting the sand in, you will have trouble fitting in the golf balls. It is crucial to put the important things first. This is the essence of time management.

As a student of a virtual high school, the challenge is for you to stay on top of your studies, as well as everything else – your work, family, social life, hobbies and so on. Though with an online high school, you have more flexibility in terms of setting your own schedule, this should not be a reason for you to lag behind assignments and projects.

Here are some tips to help you manage your time wisely:

  • Say “no” to the good to say “yes” to the best. As in the story, there are many things that can draw your attention. It is important to get your priorities straight. There are a lot of temptations to procrastinate and put off assignments for later. Weigh other alternative activities with how it can affect your studies. Treat your study time as an important appointment, one that you can’t skip. There may also be times when you have to put off chores and other activities until a particular assignment or coursework is done. If you have things that can put off for later or assign to someone else, do so until the top items on your to-do list is done.
  • Write it down. It’s best to have a daily, weekly and yearlong schedule. Your daily schedule will outline the things that you need to accomplish for the day – chores, course work, taking care of your family, and so on. Your weekly schedule gives a list of deadlines for the week. You will get an extra kick out of crossing out the items in your to-do list as you complete them one by one.
  • Have a set time for schoolwork. Having a regular time for your coursework will reinforce the habit of studying. It helps condition your mind and body for learning. Of course, it will also be helpful for you to introduce variations to your routine, just to keep it interesting. Just make sure that you complete your set number of hours of study for a day. If you are able to finish even a small part of the lessons, you will minimize the need to cram at the last minute.
  • Get rid of distractions. There are a lot of things that can distract you – the television, your favorite video game and yes, social networking sites such as Facebook. It can be tempting to peek into the latest Facebook status changes, especially when you’re already in front of the computer. Resist the temptation. Remember, you’re there to study and not to play. However, if you’re spending a number of hours online, take a few short breaks in between, just to refresh your mind. Have a particular section of your house for your study area. This way you can minimize the distractions of people passing through or the ringing phone or doorbell.
  • Plan well into the future. Don’t just focus on what needs to be done today. Rather, what also is due in the future. It’s good to list down your assignments and projects for at least the next six weeks. Work towards finishing your coursework or homework ahead of time, so that any unexpected events will not greatly affect the deadlines you have.
  • Begin it! Sometimes, you are tempted to procrastinate because a project seems difficult. Even if you feel that way, roll your sleeves and get started even when you don’t feel like it. You may start having a “eureka!” moment when you have made the first steps towards completing the assignments.
  • Use technology and your free time wisely. With the advent of Smartphones and tablets, you can still stay connected and involved in your lessons even while you’re waiting for the bus, lining up at the checkout counter in the supermarket or riding on your way to work.