Studying fully online has its advantages, but balancing work, personal life and studying demand planning and commitment. The greatest benefits of online learning include the fact that you don’t need to travel to attend classes, you can study in the comfort of your own home. But that is also one of the greatest challenges as this is where we have the most distractions. Here are some guidelines to help you make a success of your online studies. Plan your schedule Take into consideration family and social time, time for yourself, and work commitments when planning your schedule and stick to it as rigorously as possible. This will help you establish a routine that becomes second nature. Know your limits Before you start going through your study material, take stock of how much you need to get through and divide it up over time, prioritising the most important points. Let your employer know that you are furthering your studies to establish an understanding with them. Plan for the unexpected When setting up your schedule, allow for a buffer of time at the end of your course to allow a bit of extra time to finish work in case of unforeseen circumstances. This removes anxiety and stress if an emergency does occur. Don’t procrastinate It is important to stick to your study schedule without procrastinating, this only makes the work pile up and leads to an increase in stress levels. Keep people informed The people who share your space need to know that you are furthering your studies and that you need time, without distraction, to focus on your work. Let them know what your schedule is and that you will not be available during your study times. Create a workspace If you have space, decide on an area that you will use to study every time. This helps you enter a mind space of focus every time you sit down to study. Make sure it is a space that has enough light, a good internet connection and not in an area where people will be passing by and cause a distraction. Minimise distractions In the time we are living, many people get distracted by their mobile phones and the constant compulsion to check messages or social media. If this is one of your weaknesses, leave your phone on silent in a different location and set aside time during your break to check your phone, but implement a time limit. Other distractions may include noise from people or electronics. One way to solve this is to make use of headphones and to play the music that helps you to focus. Stay healthy Make sure to stay hydrated, eat regular nutritious meals, get some exercise and get enough rest. In the long run, this will help you keep your focus and have enough energy to keep up with your studies and other commitments. Do extra reading Read articles about innovations in your field, this will help to keep you up to date with advancements and can serve as motivation and curiosity. Stress management You know yourself best, decide what works for you to help manage stress levels. Some people find breathing exercises useful, others practice yoga, go for a walk or spend time in nature to relieve stress. Boundaries Studying is a financial and time commitment, and you must have boundaries around this. Some people may feel that what you are doing is not important, you know it is and you need to be able to say “no” when necessary. Reward yourself Decide on how you will reward your progress. It can be per assignment completed, per course you have done, the completion of the programme, or all of the above. Smaller rewards may include an outing you have wanted to do for some time, and larger rewards may include items you have wanted to spend money on but the purchase was not justified before. Furthering your education is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and we wish you great success.