As schools remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students adapt to online learning. With health protocols restricting in-person classes, schools recreate the traditional learning setup on virtual platforms. Students face many challenges during these trying times, one of which is practicing effective time management.
Studying in the comfort of your own home sounds like a dream. But people tend to procrastinate because there are too many distractions at home---the TV, a cluttered workspace, or a noisy neighborhood. Without proper time management and commitment to your schedule, you will most likely put off your work until you realize you’ve done nothing the whole day.
We are used to a learning environment where our schedules are already set. In online learning setups, students are expected to take the initiative to study on their own. Getting used to independent study takes time. Practicing effective time management can help students take accountability for their actions and improve their attitudes toward studying.
Overall, effective time management practices can provide a more optimal online learning experience for students and help them:
Become more productive;
Stay ahead in their schoolwork;
Study smarter and more efficiently;
Get extra time for hobbies and rest; and
Maintain their well-being.
There are tons of productivity apps online that can be installed on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or PC. Have your calendars, notes, and to-do lists saved virtually and accessible right out of your pocket or bag. With productivity apps that feature multi-platform compatibility, you can have your schedule synced across all your gadgets.
As an alternative to virtual time-management tools, you can use actual post-it notes, to-do lists, and calendars instead.
Clear up your wall and place a big calendar where you can post notes and write your tasks. Place it at eye-level, right above your study table where there's good lighting. Use color-coded labels and highlighters to categorize and highlight essential tasks in your calendar. Write legibly to make everything readable and organized. You can check out tutorial videos on creating DIY wall and table calendars, notes, and organizers that can improve your study space.
Using your calendar, create a daily, weekly, and monthly plan, and set your academic goals for each.
Start with the day. Set around 7 to 8 hours of school time. Work on one subject at a time. You can use this format when managing your daily tasks:
8:00 am to 10:00 am - Finish problem sets for math class.
10:00 am to 12:00 pm - Attend synchronous meet for science class.
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm - Lunch break!
1:00 pm to 3:00 pm - Write an essay for a literature class.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm - Take a break.
4:00 pm to 5:00 pm - Have a quick review of your notes.
5:00 pm to 6:00 pm - Prepare your set of tasks for tomorrow.
After creating a daily plan, prepare a weekly plan next. Plot your deadlines and schedule to start at least two days before each deadline. Let’s say you have an essay due on Wednesday and an exam on Friday. Start drafting your writeup by Monday and start reviewing by Wednesday. For longer-term tasks and deadlines, use a monthly plan. Look for possible scheduling conflicts and adjust your plans accordingly.
Always planning ahead helps you anticipate the amount of work you have to do in the next days, weeks, and months so you can prepare yourself better.
Multi-tasking can overwhelm you, compromise your output’s quality, and decrease your productivity. Work on one task at a time. Focus on more urgent tasks first. Set aside tasks that aren't urgent at the moment, like a project due in three more months or a presentation to be presented when the term ends. Working on them earlier isn’t bad. But focusing on urgent deadlines will be a more productive use of time.
Eliminate possible distractions by turning your phone or email notifications off while working on a specific task, especially if they have nothing to do with your schoolwork. Muting them in the meantime can help you concentrate when studying and finish your tasks faster. It can also help you feel less overwhelmed and make you more focused on the task at hand.
Have a dedicated space for study only. Condition your mind and body to concentrate once you’re in that space. This can help you balance studies with leisure. Keep your schoolwork area well-ventilated and well-lit. You can use cool room lighting to help you focus. Remove unnecessary clutter on your table. You can go back to playing games or binge-watching movies after finishing your academic tasks.
Manage your work and break time by following the Pomodoro technique:
Work on a specific task (a Pomodoro) for 25 minutes without interruptions.
Take a 5-minute break (enjoy a snack, check your emails, listen to a song, etc.)
Work on another task for 25 minutes, uninterrupted. Continue your previous task if you’re not done with it yet.
Take another 5-minute break.
After four Pomodoros, take longer breaks. Use Twenty to thirty minutes to let your brain absorb new information.
To practice these time management tactics consistently, you need to:
Persist against procrastination;
Dedicate time to achieving your online learning goals;
Motivate yourself to stick to your schedules.