Online Learning Success Strategies: Part 4

Nov 27, 2012   |   Success Tips
CTU Online Degree - Successful Students

By Jon Bottari, M.Ed. – Adjunct Faculty

This four-part series of success tips by Jon Bottari, M.Ed., is designed to help students get the most out of their online learning experience. Part three of the series focused on time management strategies. Today’s post discusses how focus and motivation can help you achieve your goals.

Goals provide the energy source that powers our lives. One of the best ways we can get the most from the energy we have is to focus it. That’s what goals can do for us; concentrate our energy.

Denis Waitley

Individual success hinges on the decisions you make to focus on what needs to be accomplished.  Motivation plays a key role in one’s ability, or lack thereof, to focus time and energy on a task. There are a number of theories that define this self-disciplined approach and discuss the factors that contribute to personal motivation. Becoming aware of what motivates you to focus is a critical step to achieving success. These final success strategies offer tips to help you focus your time and energy to achieve your goals.

Work Smart
Often when a deadline approaches we inherently feel compelled to work under pressure. This can cause stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed with a given task. Consider the Pareto Principle when completing your assignments– also known as the "80/20 Rule" – which is the idea that 20% of effort generates 80% of results. The point is that not all efforts are rewarded equally. For example, if you spend 8 hours studying while distracted you may have only complete 20% of your assignment. But if you sit down and focus your entire attention for 2 hours you may accomplish closer to 80%. These numbers are arbitrary of course. The point is to consider your available time and use it wisely to achieve the maximum of your desired results.

Actively Study
Whether you are a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner, everyone has a favorite method to retain information. Active studying or note-taking can be an effective way to get the most out of your time. The act of writing things down can help you to retain the information in your memory.  Use colors or arrows to make key aspects and relationships stand out in your study notes. Another active studying technique is to try to relate information being learned to a topic or content you are passionate about. For example, if you love sports and are learning about time zones consider comparing the difference between sporting event start times. Taking the time to study actively can help you get more out of your education.

Treat yourself
The phrase “light at the end of the tunnel” resonates with many students. It makes sense; rewards and achievements are fun.  For many it is tempting to skip the part of a project that will be the most enjoyable. Creating a set of milestones for yourself, complete with mini rewards, can be a powerful way to remain motivated to complete a task. You don’t have to roll out the red carpet and treat yourself to a Hawaiian vacation every time you’ve accomplished a task. Instead consider something small like have your favorite candy on hand or listening to your favorite song when you’ve attained a goal.

We have covered a number of strategies over this series to help you succeed as a student. To achieve your goals, it is important to make small adjustments along the way. Don’t get caught up trying to incorporate all of these tips at once to the point where you end up taking the fun out of learning.

How do you focus your time and energy to achieve your goals?

Image credit: Flickr/Jonathan Anaclet

As an adjunct professor of general education at Colorado Technical University, Jon Bottari, M.Ed., helps prepare new students for academic and career success. He earned his Master of Education degree with a specialization in Leadership of Educational Organizations from American Intercontinental University and serves as CTU’s Director of University Operations. See why he’s in.