Becoming an online student will change your life. Before you can reap the benefits of your education, you need to make changes that will help you stay focused. When you make the effort to organize your assignments, your time, your space, and your notes, your productivity will soar and you will get the most out of your online classes.
Here’s four strategies to stay organized:
Organize your assignments
Print out the course materials ahead of time. The most important item is the course syllabus, which can often be accessed at least a week before the class begins. Take the time to read through the entire syllabus. Highlight each assignment and write down the date it is due. Seeing the course outlined like this will help you stay on top of your homework.
Use a planner or calendar to write down each week’s assignments and their due dates. Some people prefer a paper planner. Others like an online calendar. Either one is fine, as long as you are consulting it regularly and mapping out your priorities. For larger assignments, break them down into smaller tasks with respective due dates. For example, if a major research paper is due in Week 5, you may spend Week 1 researching a topic, Week 2 gathering resources, Week 3 finding quotes, and Week 4 writing a draft.
Set reminders on your phone, either using a Google calendar, your phone alarm, or a little help from Alexa. These can remind you to post your weekly forum discussions, to follow up with a classmate, to respond to the professor’s email, or to begin an assignment. It’s important to develop a system that works for you, especially if you are taking more than one online class at a time.
Organize your time
Schedule your work. Once you know the expectations for the class, you need to break down your weekly responsibilities into small chunks of time that you can commit to. A common schedule is to do readings early in the week, post to the online forum by Friday, and interact or reply to classmates throughout the weekend.
Are you someone who prefers to do homework at the same time every evening? Or will you do better sitting down for longer periods two-to-three times per week? At the beginning of each week, review your assignment and plan out the days or hours when you will attack each step of the homework.
Communicate with your loved ones. Some weeks in the semester will be more demanding than others. When you have big assignments due, make sure they appear on your calendar and take priority over other activities. Communicate these dates with your spouse so they can plan around you. They might re-schedule social activities or take the kids out of the house for a few hours.
Organize your space
Have a designated work space where you store your class materials and supplies. And no, we don’t mean the corner of the couch in front of the TV. Set up a quiet, well-lit area where you can do readings, take notes, and complete assignments with minimal distractions. Some people work best in a quiet room. If you have young children, that might mean going to the local library. Others prefer some background noise or music, such as a coffee shop. Wherever you work best, just make sure you won’t lose points on your assignments because your toddler ate your homework or your spouse moved your books when they were cleaning.
Organize your class notes
Microsoft OneNote helps you organize all your notes in one place. You can save notes you create yourself, notes from websites, and even the assignment instructions from the course syllabus. Information gathered in OneNote can be copied and posted onto other documents, which makes it easy for you to compile information or organize the course material.
Bookmark websites you use for research, or any site you find yourself visiting often. This will make it easier for you to cite your sources in class forums or papers.
Manage your inbox. Emails can pile up quickly, depending on your school’s system for online forum discussions. Create multiple folders to organize your school emails, and plan out time each day to check them and respond to any that are important. When you post to an online discussion forum, make sure to check the discussion thread regularly throughout the week so you can respond to comments from the professor or other classmates.
Create folders on your desktop to store all your materials for each class. That way, everything will be organized in one place. This is especially helpful when you take more than one online course. If you need to, create subfolders within each folder for research, notes, assignments, papers, etc. Use organizational apps. There are numerous apps and websites designed to help online students.
What’s your go-to tip for staying organized with your online classes?Read comments