How to Stay Motivated While Studying Online
As the saying goes, learning is a never-ending journey. There’s always an opportunity to acquire new skills and knowledge, especially now with technology bridging gaps like time and accessibility.
Speaking of time and accessibility, taking online courses is a great way for adults with busy schedules to expand their skill set. Whether you have family responsibilities or a fast-paced career, you’ll find a wealth of online training programmes that will meet the demands of your time.
One big downside of digital learning is that it requires big doses of self-discipline. In addition, it can also be easy to lose motivation when you’re largely working alone and are unable (most of the time) to personally interact with your instructor and fellow learners.
If you’re having trouble staying focussed and motivated when you’re studying online:
Follow a Schedule
What makes traditional learning set-ups easier to get used to—and therefore stay motivated about—is that it has a fixed structure. With online courses, you have the liberty to choose your schedule. This makes it easy for you to fall into the temptation of slacking off.
The best way to counter this tendency is to plan your schedule and stick to it. Choose a specific window of time in which to attend your online class so it’s easier to build a routine. You can also make use of the built-in calendar on your phone or computer to set-up reminders. Last but not the least, don’t forget to allocate ample time for breaks, especially if you’re attending multiple classes or long sessions.
Set Realistic Goals
Goal-setting is an important part of every endeavour, whether it’s running a business or completing an online course. Some career coaches will tell you to “go big or go home.” However, the smaller, more realistic goals are just as important. In fact, completing multiple small tasks can help you feel more motivated because the progress is much more visible.
Create a Learning Space
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have had to get used to working from home. In fact, doing a cursory online search will yield thousands of results that share tips on how to convert your home or apartment into a conducive space for productivity. If you feel too much “at home,” you might not be able to work at all.
The same principle goes for online courses. Find an area that’s going to be your learning nook and always go there when you have to start class. Just like setting a schedule, doing this can help you get used to the routine and make you feel more prepared. There are also people who work better with the right ambience, so creating an atmosphere of learning can help a lot in getting you into the “zone.”
If you don’t have enough space, consider using different sides of a table. You may also want to rearrange any accessories you may have (such as pen holders or paper trays) to signify whether you’re in work mode or study mode.
Before logging in to your online course, it’s a good idea to put your phone on silent mode. You should also disable notifications on your social media accounts or log off completely for the duration of the class. The distractions can break your “flow” and you might not be able to get back to it for the rest of the class.
If you need help, you can download browser extensions that can block social media sites and even certain keywords. Just set these extensions to activate and deactivate at certain times to ensure that you won’t be distracted.
The old saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” fits perfectly here. Online courses have a self-regulation or self-pacing aspect to them, which in theory makes them perfect for busy adults. However, it can also be easy to lose track of time and get too absorbed. It might seem like a good thing at first—until you feel the effects of burnout.
Take breaks of about 15 to 20 minutes every 2 hours. Not only will this give your eyes a bit of a rest, it will also help refresh your mind and boost concentration.
Remind Yourself of Your ‘Why’
When you feel like giving up on your online classes, it’s good to remind yourself why you enrolled in the first place. Do you want a better chance at a job promotion? Are you preparing for a new career? In short, keep your eyes on the prize. This will work wonders in keeping you motivated, especially if the “prize” is something that you’ve been gunning for a long time.
Rewarding yourself for a job well done can serve as extra motivation for you to reach your goal. If you want, you can give yourself little treats to celebrate the small wins, and a big one once you accomplish your ultimate goal.
A reward can be anything, too! It can be something as simple as your favourite meal from your favourite restaurant, or something bigger like a gaming console. Think about what makes you happy and give it to yourself to recognise your hard work and accomplishments.
In the end, with a combination of determination, motivation, and discipline, you can succeed at anything you set your mind to. Good luck!