5 Time Management Tips for Online Students

One blogger’s perspective on how to organize yourself and improve your time management techniques in the first few weeks of your online course work

My name is Jeanne Damon, and I’m currently pursuing my master’s degree in Human Resources and Employment Relations at Penn State World Campus. I’ve found the Penn State culture to be team oriented, with fellow classmates and professors sharing advice.

During my completion of two full-time semesters, I used helpful tactics to manage my time more efficiently. If you are new to the program or are wondering how to juggle classes with work and/or family life, I hope you will also find these tactics valuable:

1. Choose your courses wisely. Ask your adviser about which course should be taken before another. If you struggle with writing research papers or working with online teams, you may want to schedule courses that are heavy in these areas during a time of the year that will be easier for you to manage. Many of us find that certain periods of the year are busier than others for various reasons, whether family or business based.

2. Plan ahead. At the very start of each course, I take the time during that first week to download and save all of the articles that will be required reading; in that way, as the course picks up speed, I am not wasting time performing this task. During the first week, create a folder on your computer for your courses. In each folder, copy and paste the assignments for each week into a Word file and save this by lesson number. Working in a Word document is my personal preference, which saves me a great deal of time.

Dineshraj Goomany, Flickr

3. Leverage resources. You may want to check out the APA quick citation guide for referencing from the Penn State University Libraries. Additionally, check out this Citation Linker that is also provided, where you can check to see if the library has a particular article of interest for your research.

4. Be a team player. While working on team assignments, be understanding of others’ schedules and challenges. However, please be aware that you are also a team member, and your input helps the team to succeed. Communicate with your team if you need help.

Organize your team assignments with deadlines and ask team members about their ability to reach them. Organize the work throughout the weeklong assignment and don’t try to do everything in one day unless you absolutely must.

5. Get ahead of your assignments. One of the great aspects of working online is that you know the assignments and required reading ahead of time. If you have the time to move ahead one week, seize the opportunity to work on the next week’s assignment or the research paper. Reread the assignments and ensure that you answered all the questions before submitting your assignment.

Remember that the professors want you to be successful. You will probably notice one or two during your career that don’t necessarily connect to your style of writing. Don’t be discouraged; try to adapt if you can. Do your best and attempt to discern what is missing from your writing.

If you have some tips that should be added to this list, please feel free to write to me at jsr245@psu.edu. Good luck!