My top tips for studying online

As we continue to adjust to world changes, news updates and emotional and physical boundaries, our study life is becoming the last thing to receive our attention. Here I want to pass on my top tips for studying online.

Before I get started, I want you all to know a little bit about me. My name is Nikki Sweet and I am a mother of four young children, my partner and I both work full-time 12-hour shift work (whereby our shifts are worked in a way so that one of us is always home with the children – albeit sleep-deprived but present). I have previously completed a Diploma of Health Science, Certificate IV in Business, and a workplace-specific certificate III and IV in communications.

While studying online, the most important thing to remember is

You can do this! Many people comment, “I could never study online; I am not self-motivated enough” and “How do you keep up with all the tasks?”.

My answer is: write lists! To-do lists are your best friend as an online student. Be methodical as you go through moodle, write weekly tasks out one by one, cross them out once completed and move onto the next. Have them on the wall in your study space so when you feel overwhelmed, falling behind or getting ahead of yourself, you have a visual reminder of what you have completed and what you are yet to complete.

Make sure you don’t forget how far you have come

Even as a new student, you have completed the application process, set yourself up with your study space, resources and found your way online. That is four steps ahead of where you were a few months ago. For those that are chipping away at their study – don’t forget that it is just as easy to catch up as it is to fall behind. All you need is a few solid hours of productive energy, tick a few things off your to-do list and BAM! There you are, back on track again.

To get yourself in the study mindset, remind yourself that it is normal to have bad weeks, weeks where you have done next to nothing, and lack motivation. Allow yourself a mental break (especially in these draining times), let go of the guilt and take full advantage of the day when all the stars align and you wake in the right mindset.

The best online study aid is… technology! 

Technology itself has allowed us to study in ways we have never been able to do before. We can download lectures to our phones and listen while driving, walking, shopping, waiting for kids to complete extracurricular activities. We can get online on our television and watch lectures from the couch. We can even play lectures through Bluetooth speakers and listen while cooking, cleaning and watching the kids out the back. Utilise the technology you have and adjust your study so that it works for you.

Do not allow parent guilt to hold you back

My tip for studying at home with children is to pick your study time wisely. I have a very busy home and work life, but studying is my joy and mental outlet. I study to remind myself that I am striving for better – not only for myself but for my children.

When they struggle with seeing me at the computer and wanting my attention, I remind them that I won’t be much longer. I distract them with colouring-in, copying words from my textbook, drawing a special picture or have them draw on the whiteboard. I give them a few uninterrupted moments of attention while trying to set them up with a distractor so I can finish the weekly task. Worst case scenario, for the older ones, I tell them to clean their room. Once they have finished, I will be finished as well. After years of study, I know that completing tasks this way allows me to have more playdates and park visits (excluding current times) with the kids, more happy moments without being overwhelmed with tasks.

On a more personal note

I remind myself that I was raised by a single mother who worked as a nurse for over a decade when they bought in the requirement for university education. I remember her sitting at the kitchen table with papers and textbooks everywhere, trying to write an essay while telling us to be quiet or play outside. From witnessing this, I am reminded as an adult that hard work pays off. I have a few memories of the papers everywhere, her being stressed and yelling, her being happy when she finished an essay, and I remember her wearing the gown and hat on Graduation day. That is it! The kids don’t remember all the moments… they just remember a few.

Don’t allow yourself to feel the parent guilt- utilise your time wisely, so you don’t fall behind, finish tasks on time and enjoy your semester breaks with quality, fun time with your children. Children learn so much more from our actions than our words.

You are not alone. We are all in this together. Remember, if you feel overwhelmed and are buried so deep in your feelings, call a friend or call Lifeline (13 11 14) or call BeyondBlue (1300 224 636). Call someone, talk your feelings out, remind yourself why you are doing this – you will feel better for it.

Feeling like you haven’t nailed studying online at the moment? We’re here for you. CQUniversity offers students counselling support to assist you with wellness and personal resilience.

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