Skip to: Navigation | Content | Sidebar | Footer

Time Management 101 for Online Students

Where can online students find effective training and practices for time management?

This question emerged during last week’s #IOLchat about the challenges of any time, any place learning, and while we all agreed on the importance of time management skills, we struggled a bit to name specific resources.

The pressure of deadlines and due dates is all around us and there’s no shortage of demands on our time, as we take on additional responsibilities and try to do more in our lives. Adding school to your already busy schedule can complicate everything else if you don’t have a handle on how to organize and use your time each week.

The University of Minnesota Duluth’s student handbook suggests that “time can’t really be managed” and I tend to agree. “You can’t slow it down or speed it up or manufacture it.” Think of time management as “managing yourself” and it can change not only your perspective, but also the strategies you select to improve productivity and reduce stress.

What can you do if you need help, but assistance isn’t available through your school (i.e., workshops, tutorials, academic strategies classes)? The following resources are low- and no- cost options available online to students (and instructors, too) interested in strengthening their skills. Each goes beyond a static list of tips to include multimedia presentations, interactive exercises, and printable/downloadable templates.

  • Study Guides and Strategies: This website has been one of my favorites for years, especially for new students, because it covers a range of study tips, including time management. Use the My Daily Schedule exercise to evaluate how you are spending time now, before trying any new techniques. Then continue to explore other items in the series to discover suggestions for organizing your tasks, creating to-do lists, avoiding procrastination, and developing self-discipline.
  • MindTools: This career skill-building site offers free (and additional fee-based) resources addressing “40+ skills … to help you become highly effective…and help you beat work overload.” The resources provided are categorized in the areas of prioritization, scheduling, time management challenges, concentration and focus, goal-setting, and self-motivation. Start with the self-assessment quiz to identify the specific areas where you may already be proficient and other areas where you might focus on improvement.
  • How to Manage Your Time Effectively: This self-paced course from OpenSesame features downloadable worksheets, including the Time Matrix tool that helps you examine how you are currently setting priorities and spending your time. Based on the popular and widely respected Franklin Covey approach, this short course “will show you how to distinguish between important things and urgent things in order to prioritize and invest your time where it really counts.” This one has a fee ($7.99 at the time of publication), but you can use the preview to take a quick look at the components of the course, before you decide to go forward.

Remember that it’s not just about finding time to complete your coursework, it’s also about managing your resources efficiently so that you do all of the things you need and want to do during the week – work, family, school, exercise, and even relaxing. And the resources listed in this post are just a start.

Becoming a better time manager takes, you guessed it, time to accomplish. Learn from the strategies you try, deciding which ones work best, and continue to tweak your approach. Practice will help you improve and develop these skills. Consider recruiting a buddy to work through the materials with you. Chances are a classmate or colleague is also interested in the topic, and studying together may provide both an incentive to keep at it and opportunities for sharing your thoughts and experiences along the way.

What is your favorite time management technique? Share your expertise with our readers here in the comments area.

Image credit: Alan Cleaver, Flickr, CC-BY