Managing online postgraduate study can be a complex and gruelling balancing act in between work, and life. The key to success is keeping mentally fit and agile with adherence to a few tricks that can help make the process not only rewarding but enjoyable.
Psychologists in the US suggest that approaching study with the right attitude can make a significant impact on the efficacy of your time and results. Simple measures such as choosing the right environment, keeping distractions at a minimum, developing a realistic schedule and even using memory games to stay sharp can change your study productivity and save time.
Adopt the right approach
Setting the right mindset is fundamental to studying ‘smarter’, as it can take the labour out of study and turn into something you look forward to. Learn to avoid studying when you are in a higher state of stress; for example, distracted by a relationship issue, involved in an important project or family commitments. Return to study when your mind can focus without distraction.
You can enhance your study mindset by thinking positively when studying. Focus on your skills and abilities and how you are developing them. Ditch catastrophic thinking, particularly ahead of an assignment deadline or exam. Rather than self-chastising for not devoting enough time to the task, adopt a stance of praise for intense focus and productivity. Try to avoid comparisons to others.
Location, location, location
Find a spot that is conducive to concentration with little chance of distractions. Your study time is precious away from family, work or social obligations, so guard it well in a focused environment.
Bring the essentials – only
The digital world makes distractions even more disruptive. Try and switch email programs off or make a deal to check once every hour while studying. Try and keep your phone off to ensure you are not drawn away by texts, calls or the biggest time-waster—social media. Be vigilant on your digital detox during study time.
Stick to the schedule
In our hectic lives, it is easy to relegate online study as the thing to do when you can squeeze it in, rather than making it a priority. If you treat study time in the same way you would a work meeting or a scheduled online tutorial or webinar, you will become more efficient and ruthless with your time.
Take breaks and treat yourself
It is easy to slip into the mode of seeing study as a chore, but if you see it as a privilege to be doing something that invests in yourself and your skills, it can shift your attitude and willingness to commit the time. Including rewards after every hour of study will help reinforce what you are doing.
Setting goals per study session with rewards, such as desert or a yoga class, can also help achieve discipline. Breaks can also include memory games, or mnemonic devices, which can help keep the mind sharp and fresh.
Health and balance is key
Juggling work and postgraduate studies can induce stress, but this can be soothed by ensuring that a balanced approach is taken with a strong emphasis on health and wellbeing. Try to avoid “binge” studying and instead integrate it into your daily routine in the same way you would a fitness program. Exercise, meditation and a good diet will also have a huge impact on your stress levels.
Be aware of course expectations
Every professor or course coordinator has different expectations from their students. In the online environment where interpersonal cues may be missing, it is wise to do some research on understanding the course requirements and expectations before getting stuck into the teaching period.
RMIT University’s online postgraduate programs offer the perfect balance of globally-recognised content from highly-accomplished academics with an interactive, intuitive learning platform. Discover more by speaking to one of our expert Student Enrolment Advisors today on 1300 701 171.