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Take Control of Time: Tips For Crushing Online Classes

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

Many schools around the country have adapted to hybrid or fully virtual remote learning in the wake of COVID-19. Most students are now responsible for much more of their learning than when they were lead by savvy professors in stark lecture halls.

Managing deadlines, shifts between content area, studying by oneself — it’s enough to make anyone overwhelmed.

We spoke with Courtney Glashow, LCSW, owner and psychotherapist with Anchor Therapy in Hoboken, NJ, and Maria Sanders, LSW and PCI Certified Parent Coach, for their expert tips on managing time while distance learning.

Why Does Time Management Even Matter?

Well, it can make or break for success.

“Time management is probably one of the most important things you can focus on when it comes to your education. If you don’t have any time management then you could become extremely overwhelmed and unorganized,” explains Sanders.

She warns that it can lead to poor performance, including missed assignment deadlines and study sessions.

Two of the biggest detractors from online learning success are previously unheard of distractions and a lack of structure.

Siblings or other members of your household, games, iPads, video games and social media can really harm time management, says Sanders. And, “while attending school online from your home, you may be more in control of when you log in to do your schoolwork. If you don’t manage your time well and create a daily plan, then you may fall behind or find yourself doing schoolwork late into the night,” explains Sanders.

So with that said…

Get Time Back On Your Side

Making Routines & Taking Breathers

Having a firm daily routine can provide the structure you need to be successful. Wake up at the same time, work in the same area and have one, organized place to keep everything you use for school.

But for all that rigor, you’ll need some downtime during the day and after you’re all done.

“If you think about it, during your school day at in-person school, you usually take breaks by talking to friends, eating lunch, going to the bathroom, and in between classes,” says Glashow. “You usually also take some time after school to attend an afterschool activity or hangout with friends before starting your homework. You should definitely try to create a schedule that includes breaks throughout your day.”

Also, don’t underestimate the power of breaks—and your breath.

“Take moments throughout the day to check-in with how you’re feeling and make a conscious choice to do something that helps energize you and reconnect you with your goal to be your best self. As you check in, notice your breath. Your breath will be a good barometer for how you’re feeling and where you are with regards to your stress level,” says Sanders.

At the end of the day, Glashow recommends taking a a break from screens altogether. It’s beneficial for the mind and spirit, as well as the eyes.


Time Management From a Student's Point of View
There’s an App For That

“Alexa or other voice-enabled apps are great for setting timers, reminders and alarms. There are also several ‘to-do list’ apps that also have reminder functions,” says Sanders.

Calendar and timer apps also come highly recommended.

For students who like to handwrite their work, Sanders says to use Google to upload handwritten notes and then turn them into a PDF or editable document. For students who don’t like to type, she recommends an app like Otter to dictate assignments instead.

Even if you do most things digitally, having a paper-based planner or notepad to take notes, record assignments and track due dates can be a welcome break from screens and typing.


Create a Focused Space

Sanders recommends creating a workspace with ample light, sufficient space and quiet sounds for an ideal learning environment. Wearing headphones may also be helpful to tune out background noise, she says.

Staying connected to the present moment is also imperative.

“Sometimes we get out of our ‘time zone’ and instead we either focus on the past or we focus on the future. We need to stay connected to the present moment and attend to what we need and what we can do.”


And as Always: Self-Care

It’s so important to take care of yourself during these unprecedented times. A lot of teens and young adults have felt an increase in anxiety and depression since the coronavirus pandemic moved many colleges to conduct classes online, says Glashow.

“A lot of teens feel isolated and lonely. It could be really helpful to seek out a professional therapist to see who can help you one-on-one or who may have a teen support group that you can join so that you can manage this difficult time better.”

Author: Erin Nicole Celletti

Erin Celletti is a freelance journalist and the Director of Communications at Integration Charter Schools. With seven years of classroom teaching and leadership experience, Erin has a BA in Journalism from Quinnipiac University, as well as a M.S.Ed. in Childhood and Special Education from St. John's University, and a M.S.Ed. in School and Building Leadership from Wagner College. Erin lives in Hoboken, NJ with her husband, and baby girl on the way. Her work has also appeared in BRIDES, Teen Vogue, Allure, and TODAY Parents.