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Time Management for Online Learners

Strong time management techniques will lead to greater success for all students and this is even more important for online learners.

  1. Take a moment to consider your typical day; do you spend time on social media, watching television, and/or playing video games? Although these items can be a great way to relieve stress, they are also distractions that can waste a lot of our time. In an online learning environment this can be a particular challenge. Take this online assessment to determine how effectively you use your time:
  2. Consider how to minimize your time wasters. While logged into online classes (or studying or completing an assignment), block or silence these common online distractions: email, online games, internet surfing, social media apps, texting and phone calls just as you would or should in an in-person class.
  3. In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains that MIT researchers have determined that there is a neurological loop which leads to habits. Duhigg suggests breaking bad time habits by using the Cue-Routine-Reward strategy. For example, if I waste time on social media, I need to find the “cue” for this time waster. Most likely, the cue is the alert my phone sounds when a friend makes a post. If I change my routine by not checking that alert, I should give myself a reward. See more of his examples at
  4. Once you have identified your time wasters, it’s time to set priorities. One tip is to start each day by making an outline of your tasks. Although it might be important to vacuum your floor, it is probably more important to take the online quiz that is due before 11:59pm. Determine the most important tasks you need to complete each day and do those first - don’t leave the challenging activities for the end of the day.
  5. In order to complete your school work, spend time with your friends and family, complete household responsibilities, and have personal time, it’s important to set a weekly schedule. Consider completing a time chart that includes all your waking hours. Now that you are taking online courses, be sure to build in times for you to participate in the virtual classroom, study, and complete assignments. Start with a spreadsheet or table that has your waking hours listed. Click here for a template.