We are all guilty of it: cyber dawdling. It begins innocently enough, usually with one amusing cat video. Before you know it, you’ve cyberstalked your high school sweetheart, pinned 25 images on Pinterest and have nothing to show for your study break. While it's natural to take a breather from online coursework, smart students use their out-of-class time to fulfill career or educational goals. Below are five (free!) time management strategies for online college students. Use them to make the most of your out-of-class online time. Each one is guaranteed to offer a longer-term payback than another crazy cat video.
Time Management Strategies for Online College Students
1) Build an online portfolio.
Resumes are important, but an online portfolio can help you outshine other candidates for jobs or school. Once the exclusive domain of artistic and design types, online portfolios at sites at Pathbrite.com give you a place to record your skills and accomplishments in a visually interesting way. It won’t take an online pro like you much time to set up a profile. Online portfolios are excellent tools to use when applying for internships, jobs or other opportunities.
2) Eavesdrop on new ideas.
TED talks at Ted.com are a fast, free way to explore new ideas and research from thought leaders all over the world. From recycled clothing to body language, technology to the environment, you can find a short (typically five minutes or fewer) TED talk on almost any topic that interests you. Who knows? It might spark your next breakthrough idea.
3) Develop a network.
You have classmates, co-workers, former employers and friends of friends. Use a site such as LinkedIn.com to connect with your contacts and the hundreds of individuals connected to your friends. What’s the point of testing out six degrees of separation? It's all about building connections. Networks are how people learn about job and career opportunities.
4) Spy on yourself.
Admit it. You’ve Googled your name before. But did you know that you can have an impact on what shows up in a Google search? At Brandyourself.com, you can take control of your online search results by using the site’s free tools.
5) Download a learning app.
Want to get an edge in class or need a little extra help? You can download free apps to learn everything from how to speak Mandarin to a review of the Periodic Table of Elements. Just visit the iTunes app store and search under the "Education" heading for your favorite topic. Although everyone needs a break from class to chill out, the next time you have a few free minutes online, try out one of these five time management strategies for online college students. Your future will thank you for it.
About the Author: Naomi Sandweiss is a freelancer and educator who teaches online writing courses from her hometown of Albuquerque, N.M. She is familiar with cyber dawdling, as she is occasionally known to find new ways to waste time online. Visit her website at naominnewmexico.com.