How to effectively manage your time during online learning

Time management is an essential life skill, and it can help make online learning easier


Joya Haskin

Joya Haskin’s (‘21) color coded planner

You know those days when you have an assignment due, and you’ve waited until the night before to finally start it, but you realize that you don’t have the time to complete it? Or the days when that thing you are working on was actually due yesterday?

If you have found yourself in that sort of situation, you could probably touch up your time management skills.

Mind Tools defines time management as the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. Time management skills are important to make sure that you are able to get all assignments and tasks completed before their deadlines and that you don’t miss anything.

Time management is a skill that will also help later in life when you have a career, but it is best to build up the skill as a student.

When you are a full-time student, managing homework assignments and tasks can be difficult. It becomes even more difficult if you are taking more challenging classes, have a job, play a sport, etc. Not only do you have to manage the time that you assign to homework, you also have to include a work and/or sports schedule to ensure that you still have time to complete your assignments.

So, without further ado, here are some tips and tricks when it comes to organizing your time with online learning:

1. Get a planner. My preferred method of time management is to have a planner where I can write down all of the assignments I’ve been assigned and when they are due.  I will color code my classes to tell which class an assignment is for. Color coding my assignments helps me know where I can find the assignment, its instructions, the turn-in box, and the due date. When I sit down to do my homework, I will usually complete my assignments in the order that they are due to make sure that I can get them done in time.

2. Read the instructions. A good idea once you are given an assignment is to read through the instructions and requirements to get an idea of the time the assignment might require. Having an idea of how long something might take you will allow you to see whether you need multiple hours or multiple days and how you can plan around other assignments.

3. Develop a master schedule. Another way to keep track of time when doing assignments is to have a master schedule where you write down what assignment you are going to complete and what time you are going to work on it. This method will give you a timeline to visually see what you have to do so that you don’t end up forgetting about something. It is better to give yourself more time to finish an assignment than less time. If you overestimate the amount of time it actually takes you to complete something, you can use the remaining time that you scheduled for yourself as a break or a chance to work on something else.

4. Give yourself breaks. If you are constantly picking up your phone, it’ll take you a lot longer to finish everything. It’s a better idea to schedule yourself breaks where you can check your phone instead of stopping in the middle of an assignment. I myself am guilty of spending too much time on my phone instead of actually working on homework, but I’ve found that if I make deals with myself about when I can pick up my phone, I am able to focus on my homework.

5. Find what works for you. There are multiple ways to attack your assignment to-do list. You can start with the harder assignments that will take more time first and then end with the smaller and easier assignments. Or you can start with the smaller and shorter assignments first and end with the longer and harder assignments. A third way to tackle assignments is to alternate the assignments — go from an easier or harder assignment first and then switch level of difficulty for the next assignment. The first option can allow you to get the assignments that will take longer out of the way so that you can then quickly knock out the shorter assignments. The second option may result in higher stress levels if you have to rush to complete them at the last minute. The third option will allow somewhat of a mental break between the longer assignments as you complete a short assignment.

*Regardless of which option you choose to take, remember that it is a good idea to only try to complete one assignment at a time. If you’re chugging through a math worksheet, don’t type out your English essay in between problems. This can make you mix up information and can negatively effect your understanding of concepts later. Pick an assignment to complete and do it before you move on to another assignment.

6. Don’t forget to put yourself first sometimes. The most important part of time management is to make sure that you make time for yourself. Take days off from working when you can to hang out with friends or have some alone time. It’s important to take care of yourself, not just your grades. Social interaction and time to yourself is necessary to good mental health.

Have a great day and learn to manage your time, Mavericks!