The idea of learning in a lecture hall is slowly becoming dated as distance learning with PowerPoints and podcasts take over. Distance learning teaches you all of the information whilst also giving you freedom to absorb it in your own time. But this paradigm shift poses a host of new challenges.
The main problem with distance learning is structure, or lack thereof. No one likes trekking in for a 9am lecture on a dark December morning, but at least it gets you out of bed at a reasonable time and gives some structure to the day. With distance learning, this responsibility is all yours. But don’t fret – here are some quick tips to help you deal with distance learning distractions.
Let’s face it. Regardless of the time of day, sleep is always an attractive prospect; and once you’re tired it’s pretty difficult to say no to a nap. Dealing with this properly is going to take a bit of time because it’s just about adjusting your sleep schedule and getting into good habits.
Go to bed and wake up at regular times, and once you’ve woken up get out of bed straightaway and don’t turn back! Have a shower, a coffee, and a hearty breakfast then get out of the house and go to the library. This will ensure that your bed is no longer an option and you will simply have to do some work.
This is another tough distraction to deal with, and it’s going to require breaking some bad habits. If you usually do your work in the same room that you watch TV then you probably find yourself constantly flitting between the two.
Designate a working area in a separate place to your chill zone. I find that it’s easier to leave the work at the library, so once I get home I know it’s time to kick back and forget about it. A desk in your bedroom will do for a workstation if you’re strict with yourself, but I always find Netflix beckons in this situation. At least if you’re in the library you’ll feel guilty if you’re streaming shows, and library guilt is good for productivity!
I’m afraid the best way to deal with this one is to treat your degree like a job – keep your social life for evenings and weekends. Your housemates are the worst culprits because you can’t escape them!
Get up early and get out of the house, if anyone calls or texts you just tell them you’re not about until the evening. Even better, just be up front with your mates when you start your degree and tell them that you’ll won’t be free on weekdays. This has the double effect of letting them know your situation and convincing yourself that you’re actually going to stick to the plan! You may think it’s unlikely that you’ll be disciplined enough to stick to a daily work schedule, but if you start to plan the rest of your life around it then your hand is forced.
Family is usually easier to deal with – in fact they’re usually the ones pushing you to do the course in the first place! They can definitely get in the way of your work though, especially if you live with them.
This distraction can get a bit tricky but it’s all about balance: combine family time with other aspects of your life, like having a Sunday roast with them every week, or watching your favourite shows together. If you live under the same roof, then there’s bound to be friction so get out of the house in the daytime.
If you live further away, family is less of a distraction – homesickness is probably more of an issue here. When planning your work schedule for the semester, factor in a few trips home here and there. Not only will this break up your workload, but these trips will also act as little motivation boosters to look forward to.
The quintessential distraction of university life. This can be more difficult with distance learning as you don’t have the guilt of missing lectures to keep you sober in bed at a reasonable time.
Tell yourself that Friday and Saturday nights are now your allocated “going out” nights. Weekdays for work, weekends for play. You will probably be tempted to go out on weeknights on numerous occasions as well – and this is fine, you are (technically) at university after all! This just means you’ll have to make sacrifices elsewhere to stay on top of the workload. At the end of the day, distance learning is all about balance - everyone has their own priorities, just make your degree is numero uno!
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