Taking an online class might sound like a cakewalk for even the laziest student but earning a degree or certification from home can require twice as much concentration and discipline than a traditional classroom. Online courses may offer more freedom and flexibility for the busier schedules, but with those benefits also comes greater discipline and responsibility to complete the required coursework. Here are some ways to help you focus on your schoolwork when your home becomes your classroom.

1. Set up a space free from all distractions

Any work done from home might make for a more relaxing and stress free educational experience but all the comforts of home can also become a major roadblock in completing your schoolwork.

The best thing to do is set up a place to do your work and studying that is completely out of the line of sight from the things that take you away from the things you need to do to get your assignments done. Make sure you’re in a room free from television or video games that can easily suck you away from your studies. Take your phone and put it another part of your house or set it to silent if you’re constantly tempted to call or text during your online classes. And most of all, make sure you’re in a quiet room so you can isolate yourself during your class times and keep your entire attention focused on what you are doing.

2. Use blocking programs to keep from surfing the Internet

Of course, even if you manage to set up an office in a soundproof cave that blocks all digital cable signals and only has enough electricity to run a computer and an Internet modem, you’ll still have to deal with the tempting distraction that is the Internet.

Thankfully there are several free programs available all over the Web that can not only block out certain programs to keep your attention but can also prevent access to websites that are known to suck hours of productivity out of the strongest willed people. They can help you stay focused on your class lectures and coursework and block out all of the goodies on your computer that can keep you from putting your best foot forward.

3. Start using a Day Planner

It’s easy to let times and dates get away from you when you’re not reporting to a class or a study group every week. You’ll need something to help you keep track of all your classes and due dates and unfortunately, just putting dates in your iPhone won’t cut it.

Having something that you can write down with a pen and paper will not only help you remember important dates and times better but it can also give you more space to plot out strategies to complete major projects and goals for important deadlines. Planner packages also come with extra pages to help write down important reminders and contacts that don’t come with a date and time.

4. Make time to meet your professor in person

Taking an online college class may offer more flexibility and interactivity than a traditional classroom but it can also be a faceless affair that can limit communication on certain levels that a computer and the Internet just can’t duplicate.

So you should make some time to meet with your teacher or professor every once in a while during the course of your course, even if just for a few minutes. Having face-to-face communication with the instructor, when possible, can help you stand out in the class and show them you have an initiative to complete the course efficiently and effectively. Meeting them in person also allows you to check up on your progress, get advice on how you can improve or refine your work and ask questions that can be answered more efficiently by talking to someone rather than responding through a simple email. Plus, it’s nice to know that you’re actually taking a class that’s being taught by a real human being and not a highly advanced robot.

5. Get yourself some kind of timer

Time is key to any class whether it’s in a traditional classroom or taken over the Internet, especially when it comes to studying. Sometimes simply penciling in an hour of study time isn’t enough to maintain your focus when you need it most.

Using some kind of timer to keep track of the time you are spending can not also help you measure your efficiency in your studies, but can also give you a chance to take a breather and collect your thoughts as your pouring over your notes and books. Most major cell phone brands come with some kind of stopwatch or timer and the Internet is full of free desktop timers that you can run on your Internet browser or computer desktop. You can even just grab an egg timer out of the kitchen, set it to the amount of time you need and get straight to work.

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