Studying via distance learning gives you the freedom to have full control of your time, and has the advantage of allowing you to decide when, how, and where you study. However, it also opens you up to the possibility of being side-tracked by distractions. You have to find a method that will help you avoid the distractions, and encourage you to devote sufficient time to your studies, as this will determine your success. To achieve this, you need to plan and manage your time carefully by designing a study schedule that suits your life.
Here are some tips on how to do this:
1. List all your course requirements and personal obligations
Before creating your study schedule, determine what needs to get done for your course as far in advance as possible. Figure out what assignments you have to do, make note of when your tests and exams will be taking place, and determine whether there are any other projects that are required for your course. Put these down in the date order they must be completed in. Once you have listed all the requirements and dates for the coursework, do the same with your personal obligations and fixed activities.
2. Create a timetable
Using the information you have gathered, you can start creating your timetable. Use a calendar with dates, and start by slotting in all your personal obligations like work, kids, and important appointments. Then add in the due dates for assignments and add in your test and exam dates. An important thing to do is to factor in activities like gym/exercise so that you can have a balanced schedule that makes time for other activities without taking away from time put aside for studies.
3. Set priorities
While everything that forms part of your course is important, you have to prioritise according to the time you have available for studying, the weight that an assignment or project carries in relation to your overall mark, and the amount of time required to complete a task. Remember to also factor in time for other important aspects of your studies, such as reading you may be required to do. You may not be marked on it, but it is important, and will come in handy during your exams. An easy way to help you track this is by colour-coding your study schedule according to priority and time needed.
4. Be specific with your time allocation
To achieve success in your distance learning course, you have to learn to value your time and to use it wisely. To help you master this, it is important that you are as detailed as possible when allocating your time. Don’t stop at simply carving out a specific amount of time for general study, but rather divide your time further, making time for course reading, for revision, for making notes, and for working on assignments. This way, should you miss something on your schedule, you will be able to pick up on the next item without feeling overwhelmed and losing too much crucial study time.
With the freedom and convenience that comes with studying via distance learning, there is also the responsibility of ensuring that you stay on top of your studies while you juggle work and your personal life. With the assistance of a study schedule, you are able to take control of your time and to use it wisely. Remember to take into account your study requirements and personal obligations, and ensure that you set priorities for yourself.