Time Management Strategies for Distance Education


  • No set class times; students must create their own structure.
  • Sense of “I don’t have to do this now; I can get to it anytime.”
  • No weekly class to remind you of what needs to be done.
  • New course format may lead to procrastination due to fear of the unknown or fear of technology.
  • Tendency to get distracted by other computer-based activities (games/ chat).

Strategies – Beginning of semester

  • Similar to a traditional course, plan to spend at least 3 times the hours per week as the number of credits the course is worth (e.g., 9 hours for a 3-credit course).  Be realistic as to whether you have the time for the course.
  • Create a folder on your computer with the course name and put all files for the course in it, to avoid losing time searching for files.
  • Get online (or into course materials) as soon as class begins to:
    • Make note of course requirements;
    • Note all deadlines on a semester-long wall calendar – to avoid missed deadlines;
    • Start work promptly;
    • Use all aspects of the technology for the course early, including how to submit assignments online.
      • If you wait until the assignment is due to figure this out, you may experience high stress which will compound the difficulty of the task, and, after 4:30 p.m., you will be unable to access technical support.
      • Despite initial anxiety about technology, students who start early figure out the technology on time to do well in the course.

Strategies – Throughout the course

  • Use a four-calendar system (semester calendar, master weekly, weekly, and daily) to record deadlines and schedule work.
  • Schedule at least 3 hours at the same time each week as in a lecture course.
  • Check in with the course daily to see urgent postings.
  • Download or print on-line course materials as soon as they are posted in case they are not available later (or you have a technical problem).
  • Read and “get your head around” an assignment as soon as it is posted.  Ask the TM any questions early to avoid approaching assignments the wrong way.
    • If you wait until shortly before the assignment is due to approach the TM, he/ she will likely be inundated with questions from your classmates and you may not be able to get your answer.
  • Find a “study buddy” or study group in the course to hold you accountable for regular movement through the material.
  • Take breaks (10 minutes per hour) away from your computer