So you are a new online student. You have heard all the marketing materials about freedom to take your classes when you want and where you want, in your pajamas or from the poolside. But you are about to discover that with all that freedom and flexibility comes great responsibility. Now, you are in charge of your own schedule, and procrastination will be working hard on you to keep you from reaching your goal.

Don’t let procrastination win. Take matters into your own hands by getting right into it. You can get off to the ideal start by following these five tips:

1. Start immediately.

So you’ve enrolled and registered for your class. You’re excited by the thought that you’re working toward a better future. You’ve got some momentum going. While you’re still excited and you’ve got all that enthusiasm for learning, dig into your class work right away. Engaging in your coursework will only build upon that enthusiasm, giving you new achievements to celebrate. Procrastinating your new coursework will steal the wind right out of your sails.

So as soon as you get your course materials, don’t hesitate. Sit down and take that first lecture. Do an assignment. Whatever you do, don’t lose that momentum!

2. Set your own deadlines.

Most online courses can be completed anytime within a year of the date on which you registered. But a year is a long time for you to lose your way if you don’t set some deadlines of your own. These can be weekly or monthly deadlines, but they need to keep you on your toes. They can’t be so far away that you can procrastinate or forget altogether.

As you set deadlines and meet them, you’ll find yourself moving steadily toward your goal of successfully completing your course.

3. Tell everyone your deadlines.

As with exercise and dieting, it makes you much more likely to meet your deadlines if you tell someone else about it. This makes you accountable and puts the pressure. The last thing you want is for you to run into that person in a month and have to tell them you never took that exam you planned to. It’s strong social pressure to keep on your deadlines.

4. Set aside a regular block of time.

Telling yourself that you’ll get to your online studies when you get your other work done is a recipe for disaster. As we’ve mentioned in other posts, study time has to be set aside and honored. For example, you might commit to study between the hours of eight and ten every night. When eight comes around, you stop watching television, stop doing chores, and stop exercising, and you hit the books. This kind of structure will keep you from squeezing your studies right out of your busy schedule.

5. Finish early.

Rather than planning out your studies to finish right on the deadline, why not just get that course done while you’re still invested? This keeps you from flirting with your one real deadline and forcing yourself to cram at the last minute.

Are you preparing to start an online course? What are you doing to get ready? Tell us in the comments below!

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