Taking online classes often puts you in a situation there are no other students around your physical space to help you stay focused or motivate you to work hard. Making connections online takes different forms and many online learners say they have difficulty staying self-motivated. Odds are, you’ll feel this way at some point during your online classes, so here are some tips to keep you going when the going gets rough.
Stay Calm, Even When Things Get Stressful
Staying calm in stressful situations is easier said than done and developing some basic coping strategies will pay off in the long run. Stress can actually be helpful because it highlights where your priorities lay—if you feel stress about something, it’s important to you. Changing your perspective to see stress as a positive instead of negative can change your entire direction.
Below are some easy-to-start strategies to help you cope with stress:
- Be aware that you’re feeling stressed. Often, when you worry about one thing, you get upset about other, less important things. When this starts to happen, step back and take an inventory about what’s really on your mind.
- Make a to-do list every morning (some even prefer the night before), starting with the most important things to get done, and ending with lower-priority tasks. If use a digital task list, you can empty your mind into your list, then easily arrange your priorities.
- With a to-do list, you can see exactly what needs to be done, and in what order, so you don’t waste time feeling overwhelmed by everything you should be working on crowding your headspace.
- Remember to tick off items from the list as you move through your day. This gives you a feeling of accomplishment and, at the end of the day, you can move anything to the next day that still needs to be done.
- Try to take 15-minute breaks for every 50 minutes of work. You can only focus for so long. Reward yourself with something you enjoy, like 15 minutes of social media, a short walk with your dog, or a phone call with a friend.
Eat Good Foods and Drink Plenty of Water
When we’re feeling stressed, eating junk food, fast food and easy-to-make meals often call our names. Avoiding stress-eating requires some planning, so realizing what’s likely to stress you out is key. It’s true: fruits, vegetables and whole grains will give us the brainpower we need to learn and retain knowledge, so it’s best to snack smart.
These four tips give you some ideas for fast, healthy go-tos:
- Keep pre-cut veggies and hummus, or other veggie dips available so you can grab a healthy snack quickly.
- Peanut butter on whole grain bread topped with berries or a banana is an easy breakfast that will satisfy you until lunch.
- Schedule lunch breaks. Working through the day without a break will take a toll on you. Take a lunch break and go outside, enjoy a good meal, or otherwise step away from your desk.
- Keep a full water bottle with you so you’re always sipping on water throughout the day. Add lemon, lime or other fruit infusions to keep things interesting. Sparkling waters add a kick as well.
Tackle Hard Tasks like a Pro
Procrastination is a beast. There are bound to be things we don’t want to work on, projects that seem to be looming over our head for days or weeks, and we aren’t motivated get started. These tasks aren’t going to go away, so how can you handle them without feeling overwhelmed?
Here are some recommended ways to overcome difficult tasks:
- If you’ve had a task on your to-do list for days and can’t make yourself do it, mark with JDI (just do it), and save all JDI’s for when you’re feeling calm, everything else is done, and you’re ready to tackle them one at a time. Sometimes getting rid of the little tasks first allows you the bandwidth to handle the big items.
- Getting started is often the hardest part, so start with just two minutes. Once you’ve worked for two minutes on a JDI task, you’ve already done the hardest part. You’re likely to keep working on this task longer now that you have momentum on your side. However, if you find yourself already burned out after just two minutes, step away from the task and try the two-minute method again at a later time.
- Break large projects into smaller, more manageable pieces. For example, if you have a research paper due at the end of a semester, create tasks that lead you to the finish line, such as: find source material, create an outline, start your rough draft. You’ll see progress and feel motivated to stay on track.
Use these tips to access the motivation inside of you. One final tip: don’t be afraid to ask for help. StraighterLine is wholly invested in your success and boosting your motivation to earn your degree. Your fellow students are likely struggling with similar issues, and your instructors are well versed in the challenges online students face, so even though they can’t physically sit with you, they understand your struggle. Be sure to take full advantage of StraighterLine’s online advisors to help with anything you need. We’re ready to help you to the finish line, so why not start today with a free trial?