In today’s competitive job market, lifelong learning is an essential part of any career plan. Online courses offer workers the freedom and flexibility to upskill whenever and wherever best suits their circumstances.
Yet, while online study is more convenient, it’s not necessarily easier. Studying online requires self-discipline, motivation and time-management skills. Here are five tips to help you avoid the pitfalls and take advantage of the good side of online study.
1 – Reach out
So you can avoid feeling isolated, take advantage of online communication tools. Join forums, online group activities and social media chat groups, where you can connect with fellow students.
Whether you’re swapping study tips, support or socialising with other classmates, who may become important professional contacts, reaching out to other students is a great way of realising you’re not alone. Similarly, don’t hesitate to contact tutors or professional mentors when you need assistance or clarification.
2 – Create your ideal study space
Never underestimate the power of a clean, quiet and organised study space when it comes to kicking study goals. Your ideal study space may be at home, the library or your favourite café, but no matter where it is, start your study time by setting everything up properly, so you won’t get up every ten minutes to get something you need.
What’s important is that you study in a place away from distractions, where you won’t be interrupted or tempted to multi-task. Have water within reach, turn off your phone and log out of social networks. Effective studying requires your full attention.
3 – Develop a realistic study plan
Are you a morning person or night owl? Do you work best in short bursts with lots of breaks or longer periods of focus? Recognise when and how you work best, and devise a regular study schedule around your peak performance habits. Designate daily study blocks and try to complete set tasks within set time-frames, which will help improve time-management and self-discipline skills.
Pin-up a calendar with important dates on it, like assignment deadlines and exams, so that nothing sneaks up on you. The key to successfully juggling work, study and life is effective planning, organisation and routine.
4 – Treat yourself
Whatever your reason for further study, the fact that you’re taking the initiative to go that extra length to further your knowledge, skillset and earning potential is no small feat. Be proud of your efforts, and don’t forget to reward and look after yourself. You’re a person – not a study machine – and socialising with friends, exercising, relaxing and eating healthy are just as important. Remember: frequent study breaks will also help you stay awake and focused.
5 – Stay focused
Don’t lose sight of the end goal. Do you want to develop skills to further your career? To change careers? To be a role-model to your children? To challenge yourself? Write it down, pin it above your desk or save it as the background on your phone or laptop. Remembering your long-term goal will help keep you motivated.
Interested in studying online? Find out which La Trobe University online courses can help you reach your goals.