You’ve got a full-time job, a full house to take care of when you’re not working, and somewhere in there, you need a few hours of sleep. And when was the last time you had a night out to see your friends? Our modern lives are packed already, and it’s become clear that in order to get that elusive promotion at work, you need to get an advanced degree. But who has the time? This degree may seem completely out of reach until you discover the convenience of online coursework — you don’t even have to leave the house to get your degree!
Now you just have to find the time to do the work. It’s not impossible. It’s merely a matter of becoming efficient with your time and a master at saying “no.”
1. Know Your Needs
The first step is admitting you have a problem, and that problem is a lack of time. It’s easy to say there isn’t enough, but when you sit down and break down each day, you’ll discover where your time goes. How many hours do you sleep? How many hours are you at work? How many hours do you spend doing other tasks that are vital to food/shelter/security? How much time is left?
That number will be smaller than you would like, but that’s okay. It’s a start. Can you figure out a way to squeeze another hour out of that day? You might have to spend a little less time on social media or whatever time-wasting app you downloaded while you were standing in a slow line at the grocery store. Take that time back. Put it to better use.
2. Know Your Deadlines
One of the biggest hurdles online students have to deal with is the lack of a formal schedule. The greatest benefit of online courses is that they are structured so that students can do the work whenever it is convenient for them; naturally, the downside of this flexibility is that it is really easy to put off doing the work because there isn’t a pressing deadline. However, if you don’t keep up, you’ll find yourself squeezed at the end of the term with more hours of work than time.
Time management starts with knowing what is due, when it is due, and how many hours it is going to take you to complete the work. You can’t wait to figure out how many hours the coursework is going to take. Sit down when the class starts and make a plan to ensure you have given yourself enough time.
3. Don’t Wait
Just because the work isn’t due today doesn’t mean you can’t get started on it today. Your busy schedule will probably not allow you to cram a semester’s worth of work into one sitting and neither will your professor. If you expect the coursework to take twenty hours, and you’ve only got an hour every other day to devote to the class, then it will take you forty days to finish the work. If you don’t start today, it’s still going to take forty days to finish the work, and you’re now one day closer to the end of the term, or you’ve missed an important deadline.
4. Prioritize What’s Important
Time management is also about prioritization: deciding what is worthy of your time. You can’t do everything, and it is important to spend a little time each day deciding what is going to get done and what is not. Sure, your inbox might be full of people who want to sell you things or who have sent you a daily maxim for optimizing your lifestyle, but how many of those emails really need to be answered? How many of them really need to be read at all?
You have a schedule that outlines your goals. Any distraction that pulls you away is detrimental to your success. Distractions may not seem like they’re all that bad, but when you add up all the time you spend on them, it can add up to a significant chunk that you could be using more effectively.
5. Taking Care of Yourself
Your goals are important. They are the key to your future. Treat them with respect. Learn how to say “no” to people and activities that will take you away from your goals. As you become more effective with time management, you will be able to make progress toward your goals. An advantage of this forward momentum is a reduction in your stress and an improvement in your overall health. It turns out that managing your time also helps you manage your life.
Learn more about the LSU Shreveport’s online MBA programs.
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