Tips for Staying Focused While Taking Online Courses

Don't lose focus while taking online courses.

Working toward an online nursing degree is a great way to continue your education, but you might find it hard to stay focused while working from home. Online education gives you the freedom to construct your schedule and plan around your busy life. However, work and other priorities could cause you to lose motivation. Don't let that happen by following these tips:

Be realistic when scheduling
You may want to finish your degree quickly, but if you have two jobs and a family to support, you shouldn't take on a big class load. Evaluate your current schedule and be honest about how much coursework you can handle. This might mean only taking a class or two a semester. The more comfortable you feel in your schedule, the more likely you are to stay on track.

Stay on top
Once you've created your class schedule, don't get lazy. You can stay on top of your assignments and tests by creating deadlines. Your teacher may have a few due dates for you when it comes to papers and such, but you should also invent your own. For example, you may commit to finishing a book by the end of the week. Set a timer in your phone to let you remind you of the deadline.

Login regularly
The pile of dishes on your counter may tempt you to abandon your online courses, but they can wait! Once you've designed your schedule you should honor it by logging in consistently. You may decide to go online Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:00 p.m. to mimic a campus-based schedule. Furthermore, the more you log on, the more opportunities you'll have to chat with other students and collaborate on projects.

Create a space
It's easier to focus when you're in a space that's devoted to work. Set up an office in your home that's free of distractions and has a good Internet connection. Let the other people you live with know that when you're working, you want to be left alone. 

Network with others
Keep chat lines and emails between peers open. Don't be afraid to contact your teacher and peers when you need answers or when you want to collaborate. Talking with others taking your courses will also help keep you accountable for your work.

Set and celebrate goals
Tell yourself you'll get your assignment done on time and then celebrate when you do. Reaching achievements actually produces dopamine in your brain, which makes you happy. 

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers online RN to BSN, BSN to MSN, and RN to MSN degree programs to working nurses who already have a current RN license. To find out more, please visit

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