How to Manage Time as an Online Student

How to Manage Time as an Online Student blog header
How to Manage Time as an Online Student blog header

Those enrolled in Florida State University’s online Master of Social Work program can earn their degree at a manageable pace. With an asynchronous format, students can work on their assignments when it's convenient. Some may ask if the program is flexible then why are time management skills important for online students? 

Since there isn’t a set time to attend class, as an online student you will have to be on top of your schedule. That means getting into a routine of work, school, and personal commitments. Finding a balance can be challenging at times. In this article, we’ll discuss a few time management tips for online students.

Commit to a Schedule

While you may not have mandatory login times for your online classes, creating your own schedule will help you stay accountable. Identify what times are best for you to commit to coursework- is it during the morning before everyone wakes up, right after work, or in the evenings?

Don’t just rely on the weekends to catch up on everything. Dedicate time during the week to chip away at your studies. A set routine will also help you manage other parts of your life. Your time is valuable- In a recent study, 78.9 percent of online students reported setting a schedule for themselves as being one of the most helpful time management methods used.

If your routine varies and it’s difficult to set aside specific times during the week, try setting a goal for a number of hours or study sessions. For example, it may take you an average of 10-15 hours per week to read and complete assignments. As you find study time throughout the week, assess where you’re at with your progress and subtract time spent from your overall goal.

Minimize Distractions

Working efficiently is just as important for online students as carving out time for your studies. When you take the time to study, listen to lectures, or complete coursework, make sure that your study area is free of distractions. Put your phone on silent, keep your pets out of the room, and turn the TV off.

Your concentration is broken every time you’re distracted, and this time adds up. If soft music or white noise helps you concentrate, turn it on in the background to help you stay focused.

If you are easily distracted, there are plenty of online time management tools for students. Many computer and phone apps have been created to help minimize distractions. Some even monitor how often you are distracted and remind you keep stay on task, like StayFocusd or Rescue Time. 

Understand Your Environment

For students new to distance learning, the online format may be a bit of a transition. Florida State has an online orientation for new students, so you can familiarize yourself with the interface before classes start. You can even refer back to the tutorials for a quick refresher later. 

As you become familiar with the online format, make sure you know where to find resources that you’ll need. Learn where to check for assignments, how to post on discussion boards, and where to find alerts for other important tasks. Understanding how the online environment works early on will help you save time while learning your coursework.

Reach Out if You Need Help

If you don’t understand a topic or assignment, be sure to connect with your professor and seek clarification as soon as possible. You can also ask a question on the discussion board or review previous threads for an answer. Be proactive and understand what you’ll be working on for the upcoming week.

Florida State offers many resources for online students. Your Student Success Coach will support you until you graduate and will be your advocate during school. As an online student, you’ll be a part of an extensive community that consists of your instructors, student success coach, FSU staff, and peers- everyone can support you during your journey. Don’t wait to reach out.

Focused on Your Path

Time management skills benefit you as a student and as a working professional. Social workers that master organization skills early are better equipped to balance heavy workloads against other needs. Earning a Master of Social Work degree from Florida State’s accredited online program provides you with a rigorous curriculum to help you put your best foot forward.

If you already hold a Bachelor’s in Social Work, Florida State’s Advanced MSW program may be a good fit. If your Bachelor’s degree is in another field, the Traditional MSW program will provide you with the education necessary to become a clinical social worker.

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Roper, A. (2007). How students develop online learning skills.