Everyone likes to talk about all the successes they have had in life. Today I want to talk about one of my failures. I ended up on academic probation when I was going for my master’s degree.
From this experience, I learned that taking an online class is hard. It’s very different from taking a class when you’re in a classroom a couple of times a week in front of an instructor. You have to have self-discipline and be productive.
I want to give you the productivity tips I used to get ahead in my classes. Using these tips, I passed all my classes. Pair these productivity tips with the productivity tips in the article, [article name]. If you have not read that blog post, read it now. It will give you foundational principles for productivity.
Table of Contents
- Tip #1 – Create an action plan
- Step 1: Notate Your Due Dates
- Step 2: Write Down Questions You Have for Your Instructors
- Step 3: Create Your Outlines
- Step 4: Calculate the Time it Will Take to Complete Your School Tasks
- Step 5: Create a List of Course Resources
- Step 6: Create a Course Shopping List
- Step 7: Prepare for Worse Case Scenarios
- Step 8: Communicate With Your Instructor
- Tip #2 – Create Reusable Templates
- Tip #3 – Incorporate Instructor Feedback
Tip #1 – Create an action plan
The first thing you want to do is create an action plan on the first day of the semester. Create an action plan, so you know what you need to accomplish. When you create an action plan, you will take control of your time, be less stressed-out, and have more free time.
You can create your action plan using:
- a piece of paper,
- a word processing document,
- a spreadsheet,
- a planner,
- or an app like Todolist.
Create an action plan for all of your classes by following eight simple steps:
- Notate Your Due Dates
- Write Down Questions You Have for Your Instructors
- Create Your Outlines
- Calculate the Time it Will Take to Complete Your School Tasks
- Create a List of Course Resources
- Create a Course Shopping List
- Prepare for Worse Case Scenarios
- Communicate With Your Instructor
Step 1: Notate Your Due Dates
In the action plan, you want to notate the due dates of your assignments. You also want to include test dates and vacation days. Another date you want to notate is the last day of the semester. You can find these dates on your course syllabus.
Step 2: Write Down Questions You Have for Your Instructors
As you create your action plan, you want to write down any questions you have for your instructors. You want to have a full understanding of what you need to do to be successful. Leave enough space under your questions to add the answers.
Step 3: Create Your Outlines
Next, you want to create an outline for each assignment, class projects, tests. It is harder to procrastinate if you divide your tasks into easy-to-follow steps. It will also help you budget your time better.
On your assignment or project outlines, write down the word count and the prompt. You also want to indicate what chapters or resources you need as a reference. Determine how many hours it will take you to complete the assignment or the class project.
When you create the outline for your tests, indicate if the test is an open or closed book test. Determine how many hours you will need to study for the test. Also, list the chapters or resources you will use as a reference. As you write your outlines, remember to write down any questions you have for your instructor.
Step 4: Calculate the Time it Will Take to Complete Your School Tasks
Next, add the hours you need to work on your assignments, projects, and tests to your action plan. The hours you plan to work on each task need to stop one day before the task is due. By adding the hours to your action plan, you will know how many hours you will dedicate to your class each week.
Step 5: Create a List of Course Resources
Create a list of all the course resources you need. Bookmark any online resources such as YouTube videos, online books, or articles. Creating bookmarks will reduce the time it takes to access online course materials. You might also want to print out some of your reference materials. Referencing course resources as you complete your assignments will save you time.
Step 6: Create a Course Shopping List
You also want to write down a list of things you need to buy for the course. Adding a planner to the list if you don’t already have one. Other items you may want to include on the shopping list are:
- a new laptop or computer,
- a stapler,
- index cards,
- sticky notes,
- thumb drives,
- and course materials.
Step 7: Prepare for Worse Case Scenarios
Preparing for worse case scenarios is very important when creating your action plan. Decide how you will overcome the challenges you might face. For example, if you lose your internet connection, you can use the internet at a friend’s house.
Step 8: Communicate With Your Instructor
After your plan is complete, you want to contact your instructor. Ask your professor the questions you have written down and write down the answers. Communicate with your instructor by email or by participating in virtual office hours. Modify your plan based on the feedback from your instructor. Communicating with your instructors is an excellent way to understand your assignments.
Now, your action plan is complete. As long as you follow your action plan, it will be challenging to procrastinate. You’ll be able to keep ahead of your deadlines and stay in a positive or neutral mood. Staying in a good mood prevents you from being under a lot of pressure. In turn, you have a better chance of getting a higher grade.
Tip #2 – Create Reusable Templates
You can use reusable templates in multiple courses and for various assignments. These will help you complete course tasks quicker. It would be best if you did this during the first week of your new semester. Make sure to add this task to your action plan.
Creating reusable templates will prevent you from doing unnecessary repetitive tasks. For example, you can create a template for a paper that has to be in APA format. Each time you write an essay in APA format, you don’t have to worry about formatting. Instead, you can use your template. You can create templates for:
- papers in APA or MLA format,
- and discussion posts.
Online templates are a great source of ideas and inspiration. They will also speed up the time it takes for you to create your templates.
Here is a list of websites that provide templates for students:
Tip #3 – Incorporate Instructor Feedback
The last tip I have is that you should know your assignment grades its criteria. Keeping track of your course progress will let you know where to improve. Your course grades indicate where you’re productive and where you’re wasting time. What you earn in your classes is a measurement of your productivity.
If you want an ‘A’ in your course, you need to prioritize your tasks. You will know what to prioritize if you understand your professor’s course requirements. The only way to get a good grade in a class is to give the instructor what they want.
Also, review the feedback your professor provides. Incorporate the suggestions into your next assignment or test. Seek input from your instructor if you are getting low grades on assignments or tests. Do not wait until the end of the course to seek feedback. The longer you wait, the harder it is to bring up your grades.
To ensure you are studying the correct information, speak with your instructor. Ask your professor about the information that will be on the test. If you learn concepts that are not on the test, you are not productive. Reviewing the wrong information will not get you your desired grade.
Review your action plan. Your action plan is your course roadmap. Sometimes, you may need to go back and modify your action plan to improve your grade. Add a spreadsheet that functions as a grade tracker to your action plan. You will keep better track of your course performance. Use your grade tracker as a reference to measure your productivity.
I gave you three powerful tips that will improve your productivity when you take an online class. These tips allow you to manage your time better. You will also meet all your course deadlines and feel less stress while doing it.