One of the main benefits of pursuing your doctoral degree online is that it offers maximum schedule flexibility. You can tackle your degree's educational requirements at a time that suits you best versus rearranging your schedule to allow for both classroom and independent study time.
But how do you best manage your time so you are able to stay on course with your online doctoral program while still tending to your home and work obligations? These top seven time management tips can help.
#1: Create a Master Calendar
Creating a calendar that outlines when specific assignments, exams, or projects are due can help keep you on track with your doctoral-level studies. But if you want to make the most of this time management tip, you must consider your other obligations too.
Taking this approach helps you reduce your school load during busy times at home or work, which prevents you from spreading yourself too thin. Having a master calendar also gives you just one place to check daily, saving you from having to keep a few different schedules.
#2: Allow Time for Unexpected Events
Constantly pushing deadlines can be stressful and make for an unpleasant educational experience. So, when developing your master calendar, give yourself some wiggle room so you're not always studying or turning in work last minute.
If an assignment is due at the end of a specific week, for instance, schedule time at the beginning of that week to take care of it. That way, if something comes up—you get sick or a child has a school event they forgot to tell you about—you can still handle that situation without sacrificing your educational deadlines.
#3: Schedule Designated Study Blocks
When earning your doctoral degree online, it's tempting to think that you'll just fit in your studies here and there throughout the day. Although this approach may work for some students, setting aside designated study blocks does offer some advantages.
One, it prepares your mind to fully focus on the program materials. Two, it ensures that you have adequate time to handle your educational requirements. Aim for 2- to 3-hour study blocks when you can.
#4: Set Expectations for Family and Friends
If you study at home, friends and family can easily put a wrench in your plans. That's why this time management tip involves setting expectations for those around you.
Let the people in your life know in advance that you are off-limits when studying. By setting your expectations up front, you get to avoid the guilt that can sometimes come with putting your own needs first, which can be hard for students who are used to always making others a priority.
#5: Study in the Same Places When Possible
One of the major advantages of an online doctoral program is that you can do your studies wherever you want. If never studying in the same place is appealing to you, great. But there are also advantages to studying in the same one or two spots when you can.
Namely, it helps your brain recognize when it's time to get down to work and it also enables you to spend less time setting up your study space because it is the same from one session to the next. At home, this could involve setting up a study-only desk or sitting in the same spot in the breakroom when studying at work.
#6: Reduce Your Most Challenging Distractions
Everyone is distracted by different things. For some, other people are distracting. For others, it's music, the TV, or cell phone notifications.
Make a list of the things that have the capability of disrupting your study time and take proactive actions to stop them before they start. If you're easily distracted by social media notifications on your phone, for example, set the phone to silent or turn off the notifications during study times.
#7: Conduct Regular Calendar Checks
This final time management tip is based on the premise that even the best-designed plan will likely have to be changed at some point since life rarely happens the way we expect. By looking at your calendar every week or so, you're able to make adjustments along the way.
This tip also provides the opportunity to change the things that aren't working and try new things instead, which can make earning your doctoral degree a more enjoyable experience.
Saint Leo University Offers 3 Online Doctoral Degree Options
If you're still unsure which online doctoral program is for you, Saint Leo University offers three options:
- Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
- Doctorate in Education (EdD) with a concentration in School Leadership
- Doctor of Criminal Justice (DCJ), with a specialization in Education or Homeland Security
Ranked one of the top universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report, Saint Leo is a university that is founded on tradition while also providing students access to the latest advancements in their field of study.
Contact us today to learn more or to request information for the online doctoral program of your choice.