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In my line of work, I often encounter colleagues and fellow professionals, and sometimes even friends and family that are studying online or have done so in the past… Of course, I’m always very curious as to how they manage to combine their study with their work, their family and all their many other activities. So, after speaking to many of them and asking them the same questions over and over I’ve come to a few conclusions. So, in my very first blog for ASEDU and for those of you who have finally decided that an online study program is ideal for you here are a few tips that may help you make the best of it!!

An Understanding Environment

One of the hardest thing about studying online, whether it is from the comfort of your home, during your free time at the office, or while sunbathing at the beach, is setting boundaries with the people you share your house, your office or your personal space with. It’s definitely easier to understand that you are not to be disturbed in an office, a classroom or lecture hall, then when you are in the back room studying on the sofa! So make sure to set boundaries from the first day you start your online study program. It will get some getting used to but your children, flat mates, siblings or parents and colleagues must learn to give you your daily study hours so you can meet your program’s deadlines!

Get help if you need it

If you have very young children, you will need to get help. With a 2-year-old clinging on to you and needing attention pretty much twenty four hours a day, it would be helpful to have another adult in the house, or to drop your children off at a daycare, or a babysitter’s to get a few uninterrupted hours of studying to yourself. During busy periods, you can always get a cleaning lady to help you organize your house. In other words, make sure you give yourself the peace of mind necessary to get your dissertation done!

Your Own Space

During free time at the office it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but if studying at home, it will definitely help to have a room, a workspace or at the very least a bureau in a silent area of the house. Here is where you keep your laptop, study documents like handbooks and reports, and your papers. Remember: this space is yours and yours alone!!

Discipline, discipline, discipline…

Depending on the time table of the study program you have chosen, you will be expected to deliver certain dissertations, term papers, and exams once in a while… The good news with online study programs is that nobody is there to watch over you… and… the bad news is that nobody is there to watch over you… (!) Think about this… Don’t ever consider that you can relax in front of the television for whole days or go to the stadium to watch your favorite football team week in week out and then try to catch up with your study obligations in a few short hours. Do it long enough and it will turn into an unwholesome habit and you will find yourself lagging behind in all your study materials. Self-restraint and discipline are key for the young professional who is studying to further his education and his career!!  Stick to a strict routine and enjoy yourself only after hours or on the weekends is what my mother always said.

Always Provide Results on Time

One thing that should always be in the back of your mind is that your productivity should not diminish when you are studying online at home or during your free time at the office or even on holiday in some far flung island in the South Pacific, as opposed to in a classroom or lecture hall at a university. Set quotas for yourself and discuss specific obstacles and/or problems that you have with your fellow online students and tutors while working on your degree. Consider joining them via skype or social networking to get things done!!

Get outdoors and be and stay healthy

Like any wise old man will tell you, moderation really is fundamental in all aspects of life. Studying alone online can be lonely but only because we are social beings. Thus, getting out of the house or office is vital. Go to the park, take a break at your local coffee shop, or go for a drive, anything that can help you maintain a clear mind after long hours in the books. The idea is to break the monotony of working with yourself and yourself only!

Like my doctor says, get plenty of fluids and eat healthy, and if you aren’t an aficionado of exercise, jogging, aerobics and the like, just try to move around whenever you can. This gets oxygen into your blood circulation which can be the cure to that monotony you’ve been feeling after looking at the screen all day. Relax with some classical music, some light reading or make a nice sandwich for yourself!

Whatever you do and whatever you are studying, keep it simple and fun, and always maintain focus on your objectives.

Until next time,

Yhoanna Botero van Haren.

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