When learning from home, it's easy to get sidetracked by distractions. To be successful, plan and manage your study time carefully. According to the University of Oregon, you should plan for two to three hours of study time for each hour that you're "in class." For example, a class that has two hourlong seminars each week would require six to eight hours of study time a week, including the time you spend watching or participating in the seminar.
Setting a Schedule
Use a daily calendar that has blocks for each hour and fill the calendar with your non-negotiable responsibilities. This might include the hours you work at a full- or part-time job, doctor appointments, driving your child to preschool or distance courses you must attend at a particular time. From there, plan blocks of time for each course, accounting for both "attending" the course and additional study time. Though you might keep a standard schedule all semester, there may be times when you'll need to adjust it. For example, if you have a term paper due or a big test coming up, you might need to set aside additional study time for that class.
A realistic outlook on your life and personality will help you design your study schedule for success. You might technically have a three-hour window after your child goes to bed, but you may not be able to concentrate for a full three hours. According to the University of Victoria Distance Education Services, attention spans can wane after only 20 minutes. Schedule breaks and downtime into your plan as well. Being able to pause a lecture is one of the advantages of taking distance learning courses.
Freeing Up Time
At first glance, it might seem that you have very little time for studying, especially if you're balancing work, family and home responsibilities in addition to your studies. According to an article at the University of Oklahoma, distance learning may require even more time than a traditional course. Look for ways you can squeeze in a bit of extra study time and break up your studying into manageable pieces you can accomplish in these short periods. For example, you might be able to do reading during a subway commute, wake up a bit earlier to organize your notes or write a few pages of your term paper while dinner simmers on the stove. If you have a partner, speak up to make sure you both are contributing. You shouldn't shoulder all responsibilities.
When you've scheduled study time, stay on task. At home, other things can be distracting. You may find yourself promising to study after doing the dishes, taking a bath or tidying the living room, but by the time you finish those, no time is left. Social networking sites, blogs and other fun stuff online might distract you. Resist the urge to browse the Internet while "listening" to the professor's lecture. When you're studying, be focused on the task at hand. Work from a quiet space and block distracting sites during your study times.
- Jupiterimages, Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images