If you are planning to take the plunge into online postgraduate study, it’s worthwhile to first consider your current schedule and commitments. Even though it may seem a little daunting at first, fitting 20 hours of study into your schedule is very achievable with a bit of careful planning and dedication.
The concern around fitting study time into a seemingly packed schedule is one of the biggest roadblocks for people considering a postgraduate degree. Many of us have ongoing family and social commitments, work full-time and often have professional obligations outside of regular working hours.
If you are planning to take the plunge into postgraduate study, it’s worthwhile to first consider what and how much time you are spending on your other commitments. Online study mitigates a lot of the concern regarding time spent getting to lectures and on-campus classroom environments, however it still requires students to put in the time to study. Despite some initial concerns, fitting 20 hours of study into your schedule is indeed achievable, with a bit of careful planning and dedication. Here are some tips to help you work your study time into your current schedule.
Balancing work with study
Full-time work demands a lot, let alone adding postgraduate study in the mix. To find the right balance between work and study, it’s important to be realistic with yourself as well as transparent with your manager. Keep your manager updated on your study commitments, and don’t be afraid to ask for support or study leave, if that is an option for you.
Just like in your work life, ensuring you prioritise your tasks, research and remaining aware of upcoming deadlines is critical to success, and will help you stay focused.
Strike during your commute time
The average Australian commutes for 3 hours and 37 minutes per week. If you use public transport to get around, that’s almost four hours of required reading, posting comments in online forums or watching course-related videos on your smartphone. The beauty of online education is that it allows you to study any place, anytime, so make the most of that flexibility.
Use social media much?
This may not be much of a surprise, but social media tops the list of major distractions and can cause several bouts of procrastination throughout the week. The 2015 Sensis survey found that an increase in smartphone ownership has driven an increase in heavy usage of social media, with more than one quarter of people now checking their social accounts more than five times a day. Sensis approximated that Facebook usage takes up 8.5 hours of our time per week. That’s a full work day wasted on Facebook alone.
Checking out the new hot spot for Sunday brunch or a pug dressed as a taco all seem very important (and great for a few laughs), but if you are serious about your professional future, opting to study your coursework, rather than your news feed, is an easy and effective way to help you reach your 20-hour study goal. This could mean turning off your phone notifications or limiting the amount of times you check these apps.
No need to stop the coffee catch-ups
Your friends and family are critical to your study journey, and they are there to support you. However, limiting the frequency of these catch-ups or re-evaluating when they take place is important. You could choose the work lunch break catch up, rather than the Sunday night dinner and movie every week. Again, it’s about prioritising and planning ahead – this is the best way of managing both your social life with your life as an online student.
By reviewing your schedule and planning your week more thoroughly, it’s possible for anyone to achieve the required 20 hours of study per week, with much more balance and in a productive manner.