How to manage your time and work smarter, not harder
Our flexible approach to learning means you can fit in your studies around your life. But you’ll need to be driven and organized to make the most of your study time
Flexible learning has huge advantages. There’s no need to take time away from your existing career as you can manage your own time to fit it in.
And there are no expensive and impractical relocation challenges, or months spent away from family and friends.
But the flipside is that in order to fit in effective time to study, you’ll need to be realistic and proactive about your time management and planning.
It probably won’t surprise you that, according to this study in the Economics Letters journal, poor time management and little time spent studying is linked to poor academic performance.
But the study also finds that the students in their survey who struggle (divers) reported feeling more depressed and unhappy with their lives than the study’s thrivers (those performing well academically). So time management impacts more than your results. It’s crucial for your emotional wellbeing too.
While all of our programs are broken down into short chunks that you can fit around your existing commitments (read more about microlearning), you’ll still need to be disciplined.
When you study at Nexford, you’re constantly stacking up learning, and receiving credit for it, so the more efficient you are, the faster you can put your credentials into practice in the real world. That could mean impressing your boss and getting ahead at work, or showcasing your credentials on your LinkedIn profile to help you nail down a new role or promotion.
It’s in your financial interests too. The faster you complete your program, the less you’ll pay. When you study at Nexford, you pay your fees for as long as it takes you to complete the course. If you’re a pro at time management, and dedicated to making the most of your study time, you’ll pay less. Isn’t that great news?
Here are five ways to help you manage your time:
Personalize your schedule
Do you manage the school drop off first thing? Or work evening shifts? Or maybe you just know you work best at certain times of day. That’s fine! Some of us are at our best early in the morning, and others of us are night owls. Don’t mindlessly set your alarm for 5am if you know you’re not a morning person, and work best late at night. Similarly, if you know that you get tired early in the evening, consider setting that early morning alarm, and getting in a focused study session before your regular day begins.
When you’re tired, you don’t work well. According to Willis Tower Watson, two thirds of the workers they interviewed (66 per cent) said that tiredness negatively impacted their productivity. So think about when you’re at your most energetic, and plan in study sessions to match those times, fitting them in around your existing commitments. Be realistic about when you work best.
Make your environment work for you
Some people can work anywhere. A noisy cafe, on the train, or at home with music playing, they can tune out background distractions and get focused. But others need peace and quiet, and the idea of working anywhere other than their desk or a library is unrealistic. Consider what you need from your working environment and make sure you have it lined up. If you need quiet, don’t plan to plug your headphones in and listen to a podcast on your commute. Make sure you have a good home setup. You don’t need a separate study, use the space you have. But if you need to use the kitchen table, make sure your family or roommates are on board, and know to leave you in peace while you’re working. Minimize distractions, switch the radio off, and put your mobile phone in another room if you know you’re prone to checking Facebook or replying to WhatsApp messages as soon as they come through.
Use the tools we give you to connect
Your dedicated success advisors are there for a reason. They can point you to the various resources available – from a fully stacked library, saving you valuable researching time, to discussion boards where you can quickly get your questions answered by your peers/fellow learners. As Nexford’s Director of Learner Success, Glenn Brody Magid, notes:
Brody Magid continues: “No matter what they choose, all students need help understanding policies and systems, troubleshooting challenges, and proactive support and interventions to stop small problems growing bigger.”
Working remotely can sometimes be lonely. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, in a globally connected world, learning online means a solid support system is readily available to you. You’re one of a connected network of learners across the world.
Brody Magid adds: “Online educators can pool and distribute advisors and resources in novel ways.”
Fixed vs flexible
Planning a schedule from scratch can be daunting. So when you’re starting to create a timetable, look at your week and start with the things that can’t be moved, whether that’s your existing working hours or your children’s activities. Then look at your flexible events –leisure time or time you allocate for entertainment, and start there for beginning to create a manageable schedule.
Once you begin to sketch out your week, and see what can and can’t be moved, you’ll quickly get an idea of where your realistic gaps are to plan in time to study. You may need to make some compromises on your leisure time, but remember, the faster you finish, the less you pay. So you can make up for it once you finish your program!
Be realistic – break it down
There’s nothing worse than a task list that gets moved from week to week because your schedule is unrealistic and the same stuff isn’t getting done. Don’t just make lists. Break down your tasks into manageable goals, be realistic about how much time you’ll need to complete them and be flexible. You may not get it right first time, but you’ll soon have a clear understanding of how long certain pieces of work will take you. The more you break down your tasks, the more likely you’ll be to start ticking off sections, which in itself is satisfying.
The time you dedicate to your program at Nexford has direct impact on the time it takes you to complete.
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About the Author
Nexford staff, featuring Glenn Brody Magid
After working at Harvard University for seven years, Glenn Brody Magid made the leap online full time, becoming Nexford’s director of learner success. His career in higher education stretches back to his days as a graduate student at Harvard, where he spent years mastering academic advising.