The Essential Hub for Distance Learners

Managing Time for Online Education

by edgab



The start of your fall online education is just around the corner.  Still thinking about summer? Of course you are! We all are! Summer is full of BBQs, pool parties, outdoor festivals, fireworks, and good times – who wouldn’t be thinking about summer?  However, in order to set yourself up for success in your online courses, you need to start figuring out how you plan to fit school into your summer, fall, and winter activities and responsibilities.  Online education, despite its flexibility, can take just as much time out of your day as attending an in-person, on-campus class.  Start your semester with a plan for how you will manage your time.  Here are 4 of the top time management strategies for online students.

Understand your Commitments

Before creating any type of study schedule, it’s important to determine the time you use for your permanent commitments. Permanent commitments are things you absolutely HAVE to do – things like work, caring for a loved one, etc.  They do not include things like watching TV, surfing the web, or hanging out with friends.  Use our worksheet to see the times/days of your permanent commitments as well as your “free” time you can use for school-related tasks. You may be surprised at the amount of time you dedicate to work or the complete opposite – you may realize you have a lot of free time to use for school.

Time Needed for Studying

 Figure out how much time you will need, on average, to study and complete your assignments.  This will help you map out when you will study and participate in leisure activities.  It’s super easy to figure out!

If you actually attend class via the web: Determine how many hours you are in class each week.  Take that number and multiply it by 2 (for easier classes) or by 3 (for difficult classes).  Example: Ryan is in an easy class for 4 hours a week. He would study outside of class for 8 hours a week ( 4 hours of class x 2 = 8 hours).

If you don’t attend class:  Here’s where it gets tricky. Without actually “attending” a class, the ratio changes slightly.  For more in-depth courses, such as Math, Science, and heavy reading courses ( courses that end in -ology, such as psychology or sociology), plan to set aside 12-18 hours a week for reading, completing homework and practice problems, and reviewing.  For easier courses, aim for 8-10 hours each week.

Remember to do what works for you. Each person learns differently and thus may take more or less time.  Use your judgement but don’t underestimate or your grades will suffer!

Create an Assignment Calendar

Log on to each of your course webpages to find a syllabus.  Review each one thoroughly.  Get a calendar and write down the due dates for assignments, tests, and quizzes.  Color code your due dates based on the course.  Doing so will make it easy for you to see what’s due and when as well as how much time you might need to complete the assignment.

Use Lists

 Even if you are not a “to-do list person”, try your best to become one! Having a daily or weekly to-do list for school will help you remember what you need to do each day or week.  If you are super busy or taking a lot of classes, create a to-do list every day.  It’s best to create it in the evening after you complete the tasks you wanted to get done for that day. Then, the next day you can wake up knowing what still needs to get completed.  If you’re not into the daily to-do list, create a weekly to-do list.  Create your weekly to-do list Sunday evening immediately after you complete the tasks you wanted to do for that week.


Improve your time management techniques with these 4 strategies. Have other planning tips you want to share? Let us know how you map out your semester in the comments section! 

Hey! Any thoughts?