Four tips for learning online

How to manage your time effectively


Woman and man sitting side-by-side at a meeting.

Students should explore options for support and take advantage of Mount Royal experts in learning strategies.



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Mount Royal University’s Learning Strategist team is used to working with busy students to overcome their time management challenges. Team lead Amy Yoshida advises students to follow four steps to manage their time intentionally and effectively.

1. Do a time analysis

Become self-aware of how you use your time. Take an hour to sit down to do a weekly reflection and analyze how much time you spend sleeping, eating, socializing, studying and attending classes. After the analysis, many students realize that they have more free time than they initially assumed and can allot that free time to getting ahead on projects, or to taking intentional breaks.

2. Figure out what you can control and what you can’t

“A lot of language around time has to do with being in control of it: spending it, using it, wasting it and losing it,” Yoshida says, and she explains that that’s not always the case. There are things you can control and there are things you can’t.

Attending classes, doing homework and studying for a test are what Yoshida refers to as “non-negotiables,” activities with set times and responsibilities you can’t control but need to do in order to succeed.

On the other hand, you can control how you find motivation, how you speak to yourself and how you manage your time. By scheduling your weeks and planning work and entertainment time, you will be able to rearrange your schedule if unexpected emergencies or opportunities arise without feeling too overwhelmed. Being intentional about how you plan and use your time puts you back in control.

3. Break down large projects into small, tangible deliverables

It can be overwhelming for many to look at a project as “The Project,” rather than the smaller, more manageable aspects of the assignment. Yoshida advises students to pair planning ahead with starting small pieces of the work early on.

“Sometimes people don’t start projects because they don’t know how. My favourite part about my job is helping students realize that they already have the skills and tools they need to get started,” says Yoshida.

She encourages students to create goals that sound achievable. For example, give yourself an hour to read 10 pages, rather than giving yourself an hour to read the entire chapter. “It’s the small chunk of it that’s really important. Every time you sit down, it’s easier to focus and you get a little more done, because that’s all you’re asking yourself to do: just a little bit more,” counsels Yoshida.

4. Be patient with yourself

Everybody will fall behind once in a while, but you can choose to either stay in those same patterns or you can change your approach for the next assignment by realizing that you have another chance to improve.

“If you miss a study night, or wait to start an assignment the day before it’s due, don’t be too hard on yourself,” says Yoshida.

By implementing the tools and strategies above, you’ll be able to keep up with your schoolwork and plan your time to be flexible with unexpected changes in your schedule.

“You’re not going to be perfect at it right away, but you’ll get better and better at it over time,” encourages Yoshida.

To maximize your university experience, students should explore options for student support and take advantage of MRU experts in learning strategies. For example, Mount Royal’s Sudent Learning Services offer webinars and workshops on time management and individual appointments to work on personal goals and plans. Student Counselling Services offer procrastination workshops to give MRU students strategies to change their habits for academic success.