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8 Tips to Successfully Take an Online Class

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8 Tips to Successfully Take an Online Class

Online classes are both similar to and different from regular courses. In principle, the goal is exactly the same: to successfully learn the concepts being taught. In practice, you’ll need to approach the course from a slightly different angle. Follow these tips and you will be on your way to a passing grade.

1. Read up ahead of time.

Your school is likely to grant you access to the online class up to a week before it starts (or more). This is a good time to familiarize yourself with the layout of the course, peruse the syllabus, and perhaps shoot an email to the professor. Getting the lay of the land early will prepare you for the months to come.

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2. Schedule it in like any other class.

Online courses are really easy to forget about because they don’t necessarily have a regular meeting time. The best way to deal with this is to pick a set day and time every week to sit down and do the class. Finish everything you are required to do, and then plan for the next week. Tell your friends and employers that you will be busy at this time, just like if you were physically in class.

3. Don’t put it off.

Life happens. You will probably disregard the last tip a few times during the semester simply because things came up. As soon as you take care of your obligations, get right back on the ball. If you can’t do it on Tuesday afternoon, do it that night. Don’t give in to the temptation to put it off.

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4. Consume everything the professor posts.

Do so regularly, and for everything. That includes every bulletin post, announcement, document, PowerPoint presentation, video, audio file, hyperlink, and so on. The professor will probably test you on all of this, so you need to be familiar with the entirety of it.

5. Interface electronically with the professor.

Let him or her know that you’re a human being, not just a name on an electronic list. Discuss your grades with him. Ask questions to her about the assignment. The more the professor is aware of you, the better your chances of getting a good grade. Doing so won’t automatically bump you up, but it can’t hurt.

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6. Go to office hours at least once.

This is important for the same reasons as number five. Your professor will now be able to put a face to a name. You inherently become more real to them from a psychological standpoint. As a bonus, you also get to understand who your professor is as a person, which may offer some insight on how to better complete the course.

7. Get ahead if you can manage it.

Many professors of online courses will post every homework assignment at the beginning of the semester. If you have the time and dogged persistence, getting a few weeks ahead almost never hurts (so long as you don’t do so as an excuse to slack off). This will give you time to approach your exams at a more relaxed pace, and perhaps review material on which you were not as clear.

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8. Talk to your classmates.

Your online class platform probably has a means to discuss the assignments with others taking the class. You may or may not need to utilize this feature, but it’s a handy one to have. Typical setups include message boards, social networking, and profile creation capabilities. Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, put your email address on your profile during week one.

Optional: Consider investing in a laptop.

Having constant access to your online class can make or break your grade. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere, unable to finish that test or watch that video because you don’t have a computer available. Consider purchasing an inexpensive laptop for this purpose. Many schools have promotions and deals specifically for students in need of a portable computer.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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