Cross-posted from Achieve Virtual Education Academy blog (http://blogs.wayne.k12.in.us/eaton)
Possibly the most important skill to success in an online course is time management. This post will prepare you (a virtual school student) with tips to assist you in balancing school, work, family, and/or your social life. If you are an administrator, teacher, or professional developer, these tips can be shared with your online school staff.
Determine what time of day you are most productive. Is it easier to focus in the morning or are you someone that will work better if allowed to sleep in some? Are evenings the best time for you to focus? Think about your daily habits. As you are working in your classes, notice the times of day that you get the most work done. Be sure to save this particular part of the day for schoolwork each day.
Use a calendar. With the assistance of a pacing guide, planning out the semester with a calendar is a good idea. Write down what assignments you will need to get done for each day to stay on track. Your teacher can assist you with this.
Create daily To-Do lists. Creating a quick to-do list at the beginning of each day listing what you need to get accomplished is a useful strategy. It helps you to identify what your tasks are for the day and helps you stay focused. Mark off each item as it is completed. It is a very satisfying feeling to mark things off a list!
Take scheduled breaks. Studies show that people are able to be more productive if they take short, scheduled breaks throughout the day. I suggest getting a timer (or using a cell phone or microwave as a timer). A good rule of thumb is to take a ten minute break for every hour of work. For this to be effective, it is extremely important that during that hour of work you are completely focused on your schoolwork. Free yourself from distractions. That means saving the texting, Facebook browsing, etc. for your break. Keep the TV turned off and anything else that might distract you from your work.
Ask a teacher for help. If you find that you are struggling with time management, please talk with your teacher(s) and the counselor. We are here to help you be successful. It is always a good idea to contact us as soon as you realize there's a problem to give yourself enough time to get back on track.
Take some time to reflect on these time management tips. In the comments, share your own tips or which of the above steps you find most helpful.