| by Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed., TPT Teaching and Coaching, 3/8/2021|
On the surface, online learning may seem like it is more convenient because students don't have to physically report to class and a cascade of unending online resources available 24/7 seem enough for academic performance. However, technologies move at the speed of light means students have to keep up with the same caliber. In reality, distance learning requires students to be more vigilant than ever before about time management in order to keep up with schoolwork thereby mastering the art of digital education. Because academic time has become more blurred and fluid within the virtual world, students need to adopt a far more sophisticated mindset and attitude towards time management to make the most of distance learning. I hope online learners will practice the following perspectives on time management to increase the quality of their education in these extraordinary times.
Mindset #1: You Need To Believe A Time Crunch WILL Happen.
When you adopt the mindset that a time crunch is bound to happen, you will see clearly the obvious benefits to begin tasks early. When you actually acknowledge into the reality that your 4 to-do's right now will turn into 8 to-do's tomorrow, you will quickly realize that the best solution to keep your to-do list short and make your life easier is to start working on tasks now no matter how far away the deadline seems or how seemingly easy the assignment appears to be, just because you are delaying doesn't mean your tasks don't keep multiplying day in and day out.
What can you do?
-Push study time and homework completion as early as possible in the day.
-Start on assignments the day they are assigned.
-Achieve small milestones for your assignments/projects every single day leading up to the deadline.
-Always aim to finish assignments/projects 1-2 days before their actual deadlines.
Mindset #2: You Need To Recognize The Minute You Start Wasting Time On Things That You Can't Fix/Don't Bring Results And Switch To Plan B Right Away.
Let's say you were in the middle of typing your rough draft, then suddenly the keyboard on your laptop stopped working. So you attempted to restart your laptop a couple times and it didn't work. Then, you googled to troubleshoot from your phone to see if someone had a solution to your problem online. After putting an hour of study time towards fixing your laptop, your laptop is still not functioning. You had written in your planner that the goal is to finish this rough draft in two hours; it doesn't seem like you will meet your goal since an hour has been lost to something else. When things don't go as planned, you need to think of another way to still achieve your goal for that hour. For example, for the scenario above, you can cut your losses by handwriting out your rough draft on notebook paper and type it out later. All the heavy lifting is in the writing; the typing itself is the easiest step. Always attack the heavy lifting part first and you will finish on time. After your study time is over and you have achieved your goal of finishing the rough draft in the allotted time, you can call Apple to ask for help or research other ways. That way, you don't waste time and not get very far both in your to-do list or fixing your computer.
What can you do?
-When things don't go as planned, come up with another way to still get your work done and meet your hourly goal.
-Switch gear right away when you feel something is cutting into your study time. Cut your losses.
-Always have a plan B. Think creatively.
Mindset #3: You Need To Understand That Having Too Many Organizational Systems Will Not Save You Time But Instead Create More Work.
Nowadays there are so many apps and planners out there for tasks management. The sky is the limit from colors to styles. More doesn't mean better. However, do remember that the organizational tools are just a mean to an end: avoid making the tools the end itself. The goal is not to skate away on a pretty planner and color code all day; the goal is to ace all classes. It is important to remember not to get attached with tools when you should focus on the tasks themselves. Therefore, choose ONE simple system to keep track of your to-do's, deadlines, and time allocations. If you have more than one system, then you will end up wasting instead of saving time because essentially many systems mean more work for you to maintain them.
What can you do?
-Choose ONE system to stay on top of your to-do's. If you like paper, then choose a planner. If you like tech, then Google calendar.
-Avoid taking too long to plan. Remember: planning is not the end goal. The ultimate goal is getting work done and done well!
-Plan each assignment out before diving in. Thorough planning saves you from execution mishaps.
-Dedicate at least 30 minutes each day to review and update to-do's.
-Always know one week ahead what your schedule will look like.
-Keep your system simple. Simple means time-saving.
The truth is we will never have enough time. We just think we will. If this statement holds the cup of reality, then I hope online learners will take steps towards being productive instead of just being busy. We can be busy with anything all day, but this doesn't necessarily mean we have been productive the entire day. Perhaps, the best question to ask when you are doing a task is, what am I getting for my time? Am I just getting entertainment or do I want something more? Am I just color coding away or do I want something more?
Happy time managing!
About The Author:
Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed.
I am a licensed professional educator, executive function expert, former tenured high school teacher and college instructor with 15 years experience. I am also a student success designer. I am able to recognize the missing puzzle in the student's learning and personalize that solution in a language that is unique to that student. I invent a new language for every child.