Time Management

Be aware of deadlines. Make sure you understand the deadline for your course assignments. Check the course syllabus to find the instructor's policy about late work: are there any circumstances under which late work is allowed? If your instructor has a strict policy about deadlines (and that is the case with most online instructors), you need to be fully aware of this from the beginning of the semester.

Don't procrastinate! While there is a deadline for every assignment, this does not mean that you should wait until the day of the deadline to begin working on the assignment. There are no advantages to waiting until just before the deadline, but there are many advantages to working in advance. By working in advance you have plenty of time to accommodate unexpected problems, like trouble with your computer, needing help with the assignment, change in your work schedule, etc. If you wait until the last minute, and then some kind of problem comes up, you might end up missing out on the assignment entirely.

Be aware of the time it will take to complete each assignment. Instead of having to be in a classroom on a scheduled day and time, you have the freedom to choose when and where you will do the work for your online course - but in order to do that, you need to know how much time will be required! Unless you put in the time required, you will not do well in your online course. Your instructor should be able to give you a good idea about how much time each assignment will take. If you are not sure about how much time is involved, then ask! And if you find that you are spending much more time than expected on an assignment, check with the instructor: perhaps you have misunderstood the assignment. Work with your instructor so that you can be sure about just how much time you are expected to spend on the course work.

Create your own course calendar and weekly schedule. You will need to find regularly scheduled time, each and every week, to work on your online class. Check with your instructor: you may be expected to spend anywhere from 6 to 12 hours on your online course every week! Taking the deadlines for each weekly assignment into account, decide on your own weekly schedule for the course: choose specific days and specific times which are reserved for your online course work. Also make sure that you are aware of any major course deadlines, such as midterms or major exams. Include those dates on your personal calendar (whether that is a calendar on your wall, a datebook you carry with you, or an online calendar that you keep on your computer).

Log on to your course every day during the week. Even if you are not actually going to be completing any course assignments that day, it's a good idea to "check in" every day of the week, just to make sure you know what's going on in the class. Your instructor may send you a daily email, or maybe you will be asked to log in and check the News area for the latest information. Find out from your instructor what is the best way for you to check in everyday - either by checking your email, logging in to D2L, or both.

Focus on your work and avoid distractions. Make good use of the time that you dedicate to your course work! If you have planned to spend an hour of time, make sure it is a good hour - turn off your Instant Messaging, turn off you cellphone, turn off the TV, and turn off (or turn down at least!) the background music. It's definitely important to find a quiet and comfortable place to do your studying.

Taking notes saves time. It might be tempting to tear through the assigned readings as quickly as possible, not taking any notes. What you will find out, though, is that taking notes will actually save you time over the long-run. In a few days, or in a few weeks, you will need to use some of the information that you gained from that reading, and if you have taken some notes, you will have that information at your fingertips! You need to find a note-taking strategy that suits the content of the course: should you note down the keywords that you find in each assigned reading? write a short plot summary? make a list of standard values and formulas? make a vocabulary list and flash-cards? If you are not sure what kind of note-taking strategy would be best, check with the instructor to get some advice about that.

This document was modified from materials created by the University of Oklahoma.