With spring upon us and summer following soon after, my thoughts are on schedules. My husband always groans as the calendar pages turn to summer months because he knows that the pristine white squares representing the days from June through August will soon be filled with a mass of names, places, and times. I, on the other hand, delight in the calendar with its busy squares. You see, I adhere to the philosophy of Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He says, “The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities,” and during the summer, I have a lot of priorities!
Once you decide to advance your career by earning a degree, your education has to become one of your main priorities, and if you follow Covey’s thinking, that means you have to schedule it! While adhering to a schedule may feel like putting chains on your life, having one can actually give you a different kind of freedom—the freedom to achieve what you truly want to achieve. Instead of thinking of a schedule as taking away from your ability to do what you want at any given moment, think of it as giving you the ability to do what you want with your life and your future.
One of the benefits of earning your degree online is that you can do it at your own pace, fitting it around a full-time job, family time, and social commitments. However, that freedom can quickly become detrimental to your goals if you don’t make a point to truly incorporate study into your daily or weekly schedule. To find balance and ensure that you meet your goals, making a schedule is imperative. Here are some tips for creating a schedule:
- Mark the set parts of your day on your calendar. Set parts of the day include work and family commitments; they don’t include catching the latest episode of American Idol! Doing this can help you determine the time you have that is essentially "free."
- Schedule in time for yourself: eating, exercising, sleeping. You learn best when you are healthy, so take time for yourself!
- Next, consider your educational goals. Determine deadlines for taking exams and mark those on your calendar.
- With your deadlines in mind, schedule time to devote entirely to study. You may find it helpful to schedule study for the same time each day, preferably a time when you are most alert. Even if you end up only reviewing your notes for fifteen minutes, you are staying engaged with what you are learning every day.
- Make sure that you plan enough time to study throughout the week to stay on track and reach the goals you set for yourself. According to Carolyn Hopper, author of Practicing College Learning Strategies, you are more likely to remember what you study in the first twenty minutes and the last twenty minutes of a study session, so each study session doesn’t need to be long. You just need to make sure you have several study sessions spread throughout the week.
- Block out some time on your schedule where you can be spontaneous, flexible, and free to do whatever you choose! Everyone needs a little break now and then!
The most important thing to remember when it comes to creating a schedule for achieving success is that it must be realistic. It has to be something you can actually follow; if it isn’t, you can easily become discouraged and give up. Do realize that sometimes you will have to deviate from your schedule. Things come up and schedules take a backseat. Don’t let that discourage you! Just get back on schedule as soon as possible. If you find that the schedule you created is no longer working, make adjustments and continue on.
Make earning your degree with The College Network a priority and enjoy the freedom that can come with success!