Juggling school, life and work is a challenge for many online learners. When you combine being an online learner and the stress of the holidays, it can become overwhelming. There are ways to stay on track to find balance between school and the holidays without losing your mind. While using the same skills and techniques that make online learners successful, you can manage online learning and the holidays to create a place that works for both. The key is finding balance during this stressful time of the year.
Schedule Your Work Time
Keep your schedule updated! This will keep you focused and on task. Build your holiday parties and get-togethers around your academics. Be aware of upcoming due dates and holiday get-togethers that may conflict with your academics. Prioritize the holiday events in your life so you make take the time to do research for your paper or to complete assignments.
Take Advantage of Downtime
One of the greatest things about being an online student is you can work from anywhere at any time. The holidays can provide some unexpected downtime, most of which can be used in your favor. With holiday travel, shopping lines and last second changes to your schedule or others, there are opportunities to check in on your school work. You can utilize apps on your phone or tablet to submit work, ensure you have completed assignments, check in on your calendar for upcoming due dates or post in a discussion board.
It’s OK To Say No!
Know when it’s too much! Be mindful not to overextend yourself with requests from friends and family over the holidays. Keep them informed of your academic schedule and due dates. You might not be able to commit to all of your invitations, especially when they conflict with your upcoming due dates. Family and friends will be more accepting when you politely decline invitations when they are aware of school commitments.
Take periodic breaks from school to charge back up. Spending all of your time on your studies can add more stress to what can be a stressful time of year. Find a quiet place for yourself where you can relax and take a deep breath, unplug from your school, clear your mind and “just be” where your feet are. There are a variety of wellness apps that promote wellness and relaxation.
Impacts On Other’s Schedules
Be aware of University closures and holiday schedules. Your instructor and University staff will be unavailable to answer your questions since they too will be spending time with their families. Be sure to reach out to your instructor prior to the holiday to ensure you get a timely response.
Enjoy The Holidays
Don’t ignore school, but it’s the perfect time step back and enjoy this time of the year. Share time with family and friends and enjoy the holiday traditions!
There are ways of putting leftover Halloween candy to good use. Studies have shown eating candy can actually help you become a better student by increasing the effectiveness of your study time. Whether it’s increasing your willpower, enhancing your mood, improving your focus or relieving stress, candy can play a positive role. So, put that leftover candy to good use and grab a handful while studying.
If you think you’re doing yourself a favor by opting for the sugar-free version of your favorite study time snack, you might be wrong. As it turns out, just a little bit of sugar may go a long way in helping you power through to the end of your coma-inducing reading assignment. In fact, recent studies show that not only will you get to the end with a sugar boost; you’ll have focused better throughout. Now, rejoice and grab that bag of candy you’ve been eyeing. Anything with sugar will do!
Chocolate-Flavored Mood Booster
Ah, chocolate. The taste alone can help brighten even the darkest days, but did you know it contains a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA) that can actually enhance your mood? In fact, it’s proven to help relieve signs of depression. So, what does that have to do with your study time? You get to enjoy those M&M’s you’ve been dreaming about while writing your next paper, of course! But seriously, think of it this way – if you’re in a better mood, you’ll study longer. If you study longer, you’re bound to get better results on those papers and tests!
Having trouble focusing on the task at hand? Grab a peppermint! Studies at the University of Cincinnati show that you’ll concentrate better and even become more alert, not to mention the added benefit of having the freshest breath around. If a bag of peppermints isn’t your first choice for a sugary snack, try stopping by Starbuck’s for a peppermint hot chocolate or grabbing a piece of Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark for a mood-brightening bonus!
Gum-Smacking for Stress Relief
For many students, battling stress is an everyday occurrence. If you find yourself battling anxiety, try chewing a piece of gum to ease the pain. The repetitive nature can help release nervous tension, letting you focus on the task at hand. If you’re a little skeptical, check out a little research on the benefits of chewing, then pick up a pack of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum and start reaping the benefits. And don’t forget – none of that sugar-free stuff!
Source: North Central University
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Strong time management is perhaps one of the most important skills that online learners need to be at their best. You have likely seen and heard the 2-3 hour rule by now. For an average online student taking 8 credits, that is up to 24 hours per week. Take some time to develop a strategy if you haven’t already. Consider the following questions:
- What are my other commitments and priorities, and how do I work around those?
- What days and times will be the best for dedicated studying?
- What are some things I may be able to adjust, and what are set in stone?
- Who can I ask for help when I need a hand juggling it all?
Your syllabus will give you the most information up front about course expectations and commitments, and should be reviewed thoroughly at the start of each class.
One of our favorite tools is the Term at a Glance Calendar. As you go through your syllabi, mark down due dates and deadlines for all of your courses. Having everything in one place will help to plan ahead for weeks that will be busier than others, and this makes a great addition to your study space for quick reference.
The video below will give you some good things to consider as you adjust to online learning and develop your own prioritization and time management techniques.
This list provides some additional tools and worksheets. Take some time to explore and see what might be helpful for you.
Organizing your study environment includes a variety of aspects that allow you to maximize your performance as you concentrate on your coursework. Being mindful of the following questions will allow you to create a foundation for your online learning success.
- When Will You Study: When are you the most productive? Is it best to do your coursework in the morning or night? What other regularly scheduled commitments do you have? Although ideal, a set time to study during the day can be a challenge, especially for those who work full-time. Many students will take advantage of any break they can find throughout the day to work on their studies. By creating a weekly calendar you can provide the necessary structure that will allow you to effectively manage your time and priorities.
- Where Will You Study: Have you carved out a specific location where you can study? Do you have other locations where you can be free of distractions? When considering studying away from your primary location, is WiFi available and are electrical outlets accessible are just a few things to consider when creating your location. Many times you are never too far from a McDonald’s or Starbucks, both of which can provide free WiFi and electricity! If you venture outside of the home to study, make sure you have all of your power cords with you. Wherever you decide to study make sure you carry plenty of pens, paper, highlighters and any other study aids you may need readily available.
- What Will You Study: Have you read through your syllabus? When are your assignments due and will they overlap with other assignments? Be sure to have read your syllabus so you are familiar with your assignments and due dates. Being able to create a term at a glance calendar will allow you to see potential conflicts and allow you to adjust your study plan.
- How Will You Study: Are you aware of the differences between a visual, kinesthetic or auditory learner? Are you aware of your learning preference?
- Kinesthetic learners typically learn best by physically doing. These types of learners excel at physical activities, such as athletics and dance or hands-on methods. These learners tend to incorporate real-world examples or look up case studies to help them remember abstract concepts. They ask friends to quiz them out loud or perform the material themselves in front of a mirror. They get out and explore the possibility of field trips, hands-on labs, or exhibits on the topic.
- Auditory learners typically learn best by listening and talking out loud. They are using the Cornell Note Taking Method and focus on self-quizzing aloud, which has proven to be an effective strategy. Reading their notes or textbooks aloud has also proven to be beneficial. They create flashcards and quiz themselves aloud. Remember, out loud repetition will be most important for an auditory learner so they will need to find a time and place where they can comfortably talk aloud as they study.
- Visual learners learn best from what they see in pictures, diagrams, flowcharts, timelines, films, and demonstrations. They get more out of written words in conjunction with spoken explanations that allows them to visualize the concept. They often learn best when information is presented both visually and verbally. They rewrite notes replacing words with as many symbols, pictures, or drawings as possible. Creating visual study aids with multiple colors has also proven to be an effective technique.
These are just a few things to keep in mind as you begin to organize yourself as an online learner.
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