How to find time for distance learning while working full time

When you are working full-time and want to improve your education or gain some new qualifications it can be very hard to find the extra time to study.

When you are working full-time and want to improve your education or gain some new qualifications it can be very hard to find the extra time to study. Even with the benefits of studying through distance learning, which allows you to study when you want, finding the spare time to study can be tough.

However with a bit of planning, some small lifestyle changes and a bit of discipline you can make the time you need to study a distance learning course.

Firstly you need to get a diary or calendar and write down everything that you do in a normal week and the times that you do it. For example, Monday: Up at 7am, Shower till 7:30, Breakfast at 7:30 – 8, Leave for work at 8, etc. By doing this you will have a complete timetable of your daily life and will know exactly where all of your time is being spent.

Then you can start to find the ‘wasted times’ in your schedule. When I say wasted time I mean time that is spent either in-between other parts of the day or doing things that are not essential.

For example, the time spent travelling to work is wasted time, as is the time spent watching the television (a non-essential pastime). You will probably be surprised at the amount of time you actually spend doing mundane tasks or just doing nothing.

Next go through your timetable and highlight all your wasted times. Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up all of your free time, just highlight it all for now then you can slice some of that time off to devote to studying your chosen distance learning course.

Now on your timetable see if there are any patterns of wasted times, e.g., a wasted hour at the same time every evening, or 30 minutes at the same time each morning? It is always a good idea to try to set your study times to regular hours each day so that you can get into a routine.

To choose the times that you are going to devote to studying you need to first think about when you are at your smartest. Everyone is smarter at certain times of the day; some are smarter first thing in the morning and others late in the evening. You know when you are at your smartest as you will have better concentration and more ideas.

Once you know when your smart time is then check the timetable and see if you have any regular wasted times during these periods. If you do then great, you have found the perfect times for studying your distance learning program. Whatever you were usually doing in that time you will now allocate at least one hour of it, or all of it if less than one hour, to your studies.

If you don’t have any wasted periods during your smart zone then just choose whatever regular wasted time you have. Don’t worry if this study time is not in your smart zone, as long as it is at the same time every day then your brain will get used to studying at that time each day and will automatically become better prepared for it.

Now that you have chosen your main study times each day you need to re-arrange your schedule to fit in any chores or social activities that may have been lost. This may mean cutting down on some free time but you shouldn’t cut it out altogether, after all the one of the main advantages of distance learning is it’s flexibility.

As you do this you should see if you could cut down on the amount of time it takes to do certain things or do some things less often. Some examples are:

  • If you vacuum the house every day ask yourself if that is really necessary. You could cut it down to two or three times a week and save yourself a bit more time.
  • If you read a daily newspaper for 30 minutes a day then think about not reading it. You can find out the news headlines on the internet in a couple of minutes and would be gaining almost half an hour each day for studying.
  • Rather then spending hours each month sorting through and manually paying your bills you could automate your bill paying. By setting up direct transfers from your bank to pay your regular bills you would save yourself a lot of time.

Finally see if there are any more spaces that can be utilized for study. Even short 10-15-minute gaps can be used for learning. Such brief periods can be used for some quick revision, reading your notes, communicating with teachers or checking your online course’s website.

Once you have selected all your available study times and re-organised your free time then you can write your new schedule. Make sure that the schedule is workable and not too demanding. If you make the schedule too challenging then you may find yourself resenting your lost time and are more likely to give up quicker then if you had a more reasonable routine.

With your new schedule finished and your study times included you can now look forward to studying your distance learning program and earning your qualifications, without having to worry about how to find the time to fit it all in.

Guest article courtesy of Paul Smith, (website no longer active, link is to archived page)

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Author: ASG Kristin

Editor of Adult Student Guide to Survival & Success