It’s a well-known fact that students earning their college degrees –whether online or in the classroom — have a tough time managing both their coursework and their personal schedules, but what if you’re a stay-at-home mother (SAHM) or working-at-home mom (WAHM)? We know you’re bombarded by challenges at every turn, what with children to feed, meals to prepare, people to shuttle back and forth from school and extra-curricular activities, plus errands to run and bills to pay. And yet, there are scores of WAHMs and SAHMs earning their degrees online. How do they do it?
Here are six time management tips for SAHMs and WAHMs earning their online degrees:
Make a List and Check it Twice
You won’t survive without lists. Make a list of chores on paper so you can bring it with you anywhere. If you’re tech-savvy, use your phone or PDA device and sync it to your computer so that you get alerts whether on the run or at the kitchen sink. But also, prioritize those lists. What needs to be done ASAP? What can be put off for a later date? Concentrate on the need-to’s and you can let the less urgent tasks slide for a while.
Make a Schedule and Print it Out
Print out your daily or weekly calendar (depending on how busy you are) so that you can have your day mapped out at a glance. Make sure to note when your assignments are due, because no one else will remind you. Mark it on your calendar so you see all of your assignments in one place. For home chores, mark out only the most concrete of deadlines — those that absolutely have to be done on this day such as: mailing checks for bills, taking the garbage out, scheduling the repairman to come. If you fill up your calendar with things that can be done on any other day, you will soon find that less and less gets done which is a de-motivator. Sticking to the hard-and-fast deadlines keeps your calendar clean and do-able.
Procrastinate and You Might Fail
Procrastinating is something that young students fall into because they have all the time in the world. SAHMs and WAHMs don’t have any time at all. So waiting till the last minute to do a project or participate in online discussions will be deadly. Know how much time you have to accomplish a project and budget your time — a little every day is good.
Make Computer Time Distraction Free and Easy
You already have enough distractions from your children asking for snacks to the mailman asking you to sign for a package. So when you’re at the computer doing your school work, you shouldn’t be updating your social media channels or checking your email every few minutes. Turn them off! Or use a freeware tool like Dropcloth to black out the rest of your computer screen apart from the window you’re working on.
Find a Schedule and Stick to it
This all depends on how you work best. If you can do things in little blocks of free time during the day, then do so, and try to stick to a consistent schedule so that you get used to the rhythm. If you are better at doing things in long stretches of time, then plan to take your courses an hour or two before the children wake up in the morning, or during their nap in the afternoon, or after they’ve gone to bed in the evening. The trick is to find a schedule that works for you and to stick to it.
Submit Early and Do Advance Work
Deadlines are the worst time in the world to submit your projects or papers. Why? Everyone else is submitting as well, and the system slows down. So if you can, do your work early and submit it before the deadline. After all, you can do the readings, answer discussion questions, and write your papers at your own convenience. Why not try to do things ahead of time?