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How to Stay Organized While Taking Classes Online

How to Stay Organized While Taking Classes Online

A woman writing on a piece of paper studying for her online classes with a tablet, coffee, notebook, glasses, and phone on a blue table.

Last Updated March 5, 2024

Contrary to the beliefs of some students, online classes are not an excuse to take it easy. Online classes require just as much time and energy as on-campus classes, and it is vitally important to stay organized and on top of your assignments and exam preparations.

Furthermore, unlike in traditional classes, the responsibility for managing your learning environment and scheduling your time is entirely up to you, and can be overwhelming for students who do not take it seriously. For students struggling with ideas on how to get better organized, here are some tips that may help:

Create a dedicated workspace – Having a specific, well organized workspace can help your mind focus whenever you sit down to work. This space should be quiet and free of distractions, if possible.

Have a “Plan B” – If for some reason you can’t work in your normal workspace, it is important to have a backup plan. A list of local cafes or libraries, for example, can help give you a sense of your options if you need a place to study.

Organize your inbox – Emails can pile up quickly, especially as you start to be included in group correspondence. To avoid getting overwhelmed, be sure to schedule some time every day to check and, if necessary, respond to any emails in your inbox, even on days when you are not expecting to receive work from a professor or have something due.

Stay ahead of schedule While it may be tempting to wait until the last minute and do an assignment on the day before it’s due, students should try to have things completed earlier to allow for more flexibility. Ideally, assignments should be finished a couple days before the deadline. You may feel less stressed knowing that if something comes up, your important work is already finished.

Take regular breaks – It is also important to budget your time effectively so you can take breaks when things become overwhelming. We can only concentrate for so long before our minds need rest; try not to push yourself too hard and allow yourself time to step away and rest periodically.

Use bookmarks – As you get used to completing assignments, you may find yourself using the same websites again and again. To save time, bookmark these websites and keep them in a place where you can easily access them whenever you have work to do.

Set reminders – Using the reminder and calendar functions on your phone can be another way to stay on top of tasks. If you have an important assignment coming up, schedule it in a planner and try using a timed reminder to help keep you on track.

Create backups – Technology failures can happen at any time, even if you have a newer computer, and a crashed hard drive is no excuse for a late assignment. Try to make sure that you always have an up-to-date backup of anything you’re working on. A variety of free cloud-based storage solutions are available to help you keep everything in sync.

Have a Plan

With proper attention paid to your workspace and organizational strategy, transitioning into an online degree can be a smooth process. Remember to take things seriously: Working from home can be distracting for some people, and it is up to you to have strategies and backups in place if things start to get out of hand.