Making the Switch to Online: How to Stay Focused When You're Stuck at HomeBy Ellie Walburg on March 26, 2020
For some learners, pursuing a degree online or working remote is a dream come true. You've got more flexibility to read and study for when you work the best. For others, the switch to online—whether temporary or permanent—may have come with some fear and apprehension.
Whichever mindset you find yourself in, know that you're not alone. Even if you're stuck at home.
Through an online learning management system, like Cornerstone University's Moodle, you can continue to connect with your classmates, instructors and supportive staff, all online, from the comfort and safety of your own home. You can get your work done on your—or your kids'—schedule. Online, you can keep moving forward, even during uncertain times.
We know a transition like this may not come easy. Just like an on-campus program, it takes time and intention. But there are some key practices you can set in place to empower you to thrive in this online season.
Five Ways to Stay Focused When Learning Online
Here, we share five easy yet powerful steps you can take right now to amp up your study and work practices while online.
1. Minimize Distractions
The laundry buzzer goes off. Your dog starts barking at something outside. You start thinking about what to make for dinner.
Distractions, whether internal or external, can cause us to get sidetracked in our work and what we're learning. Limiting or reducing distractions as much as possible can help you stay in the zone of writing that paper or completing that discussion forum.
Obviously, things are bound to come up. Your baby needs a diaper change. It's way past dinnertime, and your family's hungry. Your teenager just spilled his soda over the couch. Give yourself some grace to address those immediate concerns. Then get right back at it in the next opportunity.
When learning online, it may be more challenging for your instructor or adviser to know when you need help. But just because you can't see them in person doesn't mean they're not available to help.
Communication, in any relationship, really, is essential. Stay on the right track with your studies and voice your concerns when you need help. Connecting via video chats or phone calls with your adviser or instructor can get you the personal attention you need, even if through a phone.
3. Separate Your Space
Creating an intentional separation between work or study and your home life is crucial when doing all your work or study from home. Be intentional about separating your work and study from the rest of life's activities if you can. Limit how often you work on your laptop in your bed. Try not working in front of the TV, which can bring its own set of distractions.
If you have a separate space available in your house or apartment, take advantage of it and make it your dedicated study spot. Even if it's just a chair in a quiet room with an outlet for your laptop charger. Having a space that's yours and conducive to helping you focus can empower you to be successful as you continue to learn online.
4. Stay Connected
Learning online doesn't have to feel lonely. While the experience is different than in a classroom, there are ways you can still cultivate community through an online environment. Text your friends in your cohort to see how they're doing. Schedule an appointment with your adviser or counselor. Do a FaceTime with someone you care about who's encouraged you to get to where you are now. Sure, it's called distance learning for a reason, but you can make that distance feel smaller when intentionally staying connected with your team that will support you through it all.
5. Be Organized
When life throws us curveballs, it can be easy to want to drop our normal routines. But it's during these seasons when persevering and sticking to our goals is crucial. Keep track of assignments and readings like you've done before. Use resources you know are out there to maintain the success you've already experienced in your program and in other situations like it. Use a calendar, whether digital or paper. Record a task list for the day. Set a timer to ensure you get specific spurts of work done without getting distracted.
You can thrive in pursuing online learning, even if you've never done it before. With helpful tips like these, and others found in this blog, you can continue to pursue your potential when you're stuck at home.
How Can We Help?
At PGS, our team of advisers, enrollment counselors, faculty and financial services specialists are here to equip students thrive, in whatever season they may find themselves. With a supportive team to help you along the way, you can thrive online.