Set goals and rewards
Try to set yourself specific and realistic goals for each study session. These can be simple goals (such as “read the first section of the unit and then complete the section’s self-test questions”) or something more complex (such as “brainstorm an outline for my first assignment”). Try to stay ‘on task’ and complete your goal within a time limit, and when you do, give yourself a reward. The reward might be a break, watching your favorite TV show, or phoning a friend.
Maintaining positive study attitudes is another important element in being a successful distance education student. You need to meet assignment deadlines and juggle a range of commitments and responsibilities, so it is natural that you sometimes feel stressed and anxious. However, you should try to build up your confidence and seek solutions to problems by:
Taking advantage of the support of family, friends, colleagues and tutors;
Setting goals and rewards;
Managing your time carefully; and
Noting and enjoying your successes.
Try also not to worry too much about ‘off days’. We all have days when we can’t concentrate or finish the tasks we set ourselves. When you feel like this, you might want to:
Start your work, but set a limit (maybe 30 minutes). You may find that once you ‘get going’, you start to feel better and keep studying.
Take a break and do something that relaxes or energizes you. When you return to study, you may feel more positive.
Work on something that has to be done but requires little thought (organizing your notes, formatting an essay).
Study with a friend or telephone another student. Studying can be lonely, and speaking to someone in the same situation is a great motivator. Sometimes listening to another person can also be constructive and give you fresh ideas.
Relax and exercise regularly
Finding even eight hours a week for study can be difficult, and you may be tempted to take time you would otherwise use for exercise, recreation or sleep. Relaxation is extremely important for maintaining your physical, mental and emotional health. Exercise, rest and sufficient sleep help you to function efficiently at work and study, so try to schedule these into your weekly routine.