University of South Florida St. Petersburg Campus MyUSF  |  My Library Accounts

USF St. Petersburg campus Guide to Online Learning

Time Management

Most online courses are asynchronous; in that there are no set times for "classes" which allows students to complete the content and activities any time throughout the week or semester. This flexibility is one of the great benefits of online learning, but it can be a hindrance for students who tend to procrastinate. You should expect to put the same amount of time and effort into an online course that you would with a face-to-face course.

Independent time-management is often a new skill that students need to learn upon coming to college. These tips will help you develop this skill; which will be helpful to you in online learning, face-to-face learning, and in life beyond college.

Time Management Tips

  • Find a calendar system that works best for you. This could be a paper planner, calendar app, bullet journal, etc.
  • Review the syllabus for each of your courses. Put all due dates into your calendar.
  • Set a weekly and long term plan for completing your work. Schedule time in your calendar to complete the work and stick to that schedule.
  • Check your email and course announcements daily in case any changes to the course schedule occur.

Here are some tips from Jeffrey Phillipe, an online student:

More Information

To be successful, an online student has to want to succeed. Online learning requires independence, internal motivation, responsibility, and a certain level of maturity. Successful online students must be self-disciplined and goal-oriented as they work to complete assignments, post messages, and work with their classmates. Online classes move quickly and instructors often will not allow students to "make up" missed online discussions or assignments.

Flexibility is one of the great benefits of online learning. It can also be a drawback for a student who procrastinates. Effective time-management skills have to be learned. Once you do, they will benefit you throughout your life. You should plan and develop strategies that help you:

  • Stay on schedule. Use course calendars to help you organize due dates. Develop a long-term plan for completing your major assignments. Make a daily "To Do" list. Have fun checking things off the list as you complete them.
  • Review communications daily. Have your course communication forwarded for convenience.
  • Post questions early. If you have a question, other students do as well. All will benefit from the shared responses.

It takes time to develop good habits, but you'll gain satisfaction from being well-organized and accomplishing your tasks.

See: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Another critical component of academic success is a good study environment. You will need a quiet place to work without distractions from things like television, family, or roommates.

  • Turn off your cell phone. Let friends and family members know the hours that you will be "at" school.
  • Set up good lighting and comfortable seating.Lighting in the room should be at least as bright as the computer screen to avoid eye strain.
  • Consider ergonomics. Adjust the height of your chair, keyboard, and screen so that you are comfortable. Forearms and thighs should be level and parallel to the floor. Wrists should not be bent while typing.

Many students new to online learning have the false impression that online courses are “easier” than classroom courses. Online courses are comparable to courses taken on campus. Though the delivery method has changed, the course quality remains high. You should plan 8 to 12 hours per week per course to include reading course content and interacting online. We encourage you to think carefully about your learning preferences and explore the online orientation materials further to determine if you will excel in this learning environment.