To Put This in Context:
For students working full-time who desire to advance their knowledge and career options, pursuing a degree shouldn’t feel like an impossible goal. That’s why an online program can offer the perfect balance of flexibility and expertise, even for the busiest students. But success depends on the ability to effectively manage time between work, school, and personal life — a best practice that can help you graduate and excel in your chosen career.
A 2016 survey of online college students revealed that 67% of graduate students and 45% of undergraduate students were employed full time while enrolled in their online courses.  Time management is already a high priority for most full-time employees, but it becomes even more important and challenging when you add starting an online program to the list. While online courses provide students with the flexibility they need to return to school while working full time, a lack of time management skills can work against that positive aspect and make it difficult to stay determined, committed, and organized.
Use these time management tips to take control of your busy schedule:
1. Review, track, and prioritize your time to find a rhythm
When you start an online program, you will need to quickly determine when and how study time is going to fit in best for your lifestyle. This can be accomplished by auditing your current schedule. Keep track of how you spend your time to understand how long certain tasks really take you to complete. 
Ditch your default mobile calendar for a free application that is more intuitive and customizable. Try using Google Calendar, Cal, or Informant to track day-to-day activity so you can build an exceptionally accurate schedule for yourself.
Whatever method you choose to track your time, make sure it is easy to access and has enough space to document all of your daily tasks. The results of reviewing and tracking your schedule may reveal that you have more extra time for schoolwork than you originally thought. If it doesn’t, then it is time to start reprioritizing. Not all tasks for your social, work, or school life should be a priority. Try assessing the value of your tasks and then identifying the ones that are urgent versus important. When adding online courses to your already hectic schedule, you have to decipher which daily tasks can be delegated and which can wait. There is no uniform way for students to schedule their week – your schedule should be tailored directly to your lifestyle.
2. Use “chunking” to your advantage
When you see a long list of tasks on your to-do list, your first thought might be to try to multitask, but studies have shown that can be a waste of time.  Instead, try using the concept of “chunking,” which is the process of breaking up time into smaller increments. This can be particularly helpful for an online student because you aren’t tied down to “in class” time commitments.
Since time is precious, focusing on minutes instead of hours can help you succeed in an online program.
As an online student, you should experiment with different “chunks” of time — starting with as little as 15 minutes. Whereas 15 minutes seems minor, several chunks of time can add up, which can lead to getting more done than you might envision.  Studies show that your brain actually does better creative work when you are tired, so don’t be afraid to use those 15 minutes before you go to bed to get started a research paper. 
Chunking can also refer to spending certain days doing only certain tasks. For example, Tuesday nights are for writing, Thursdays are for reading, and Saturday mornings are for taking quizzes. You can even plan for two options during a specific time, like following up course readings with research.
3. No, you don’t work better at the last minute
“Time is what we want most, but what we do worst.” — William Penn #stopprocrastinating #Context
The hardest part of completing a task is usually getting past the lack of motivation to actually start it. That’s how procrastination sets in. According to the American Psychological Association, between 80% and 95% of college students procrastinate on their academic work.  And by procrastinating, you fail to give yourself the proper amount of time to be successful at your task. Use online learning’s flexibility to your advantage by seizing any opportunity to push forward into forthcoming sections in your course.
The hardest promises to keep can often be the ones you make to yourself. So when you create your schedule for the day, leave very little room for negotiation.  Choose a schedule and stick to it.
Set your own earlier deadlines throughout the week. This will create the pressure you need to get going on the task, ultimately ensuring you meet the final due dates for your online courses.
4. Surround yourself with a support team
Since an online program is going to keep you busy, it’s important to respond to common distractions with positive reinforcement. Here’s how:
Use your phone to help block distractions like Facebook and Twitter. Choose a productivity application like Ourpact, ClearLock, or Freedom to help you stay on track to complete your tasks.
- Say “no” to any social activities or events that cut into your schedule.
- Develop an inner circle that supports your educational commitments.
- Reach out to your online coursemates for accountability and to trade time management best practices.
- Take advantage of university organizations and clubs. Often there are other students experiencing the similar time management problems.
Use your phone to help block distractions like Facebook and Twitter. Choose a productivity application like Ourpact, ClearLock, or freedom to help you stay on track to complete your tasks. 
5. Learn when to compromise
You can succeed in online courses without being a perfectionist on every assignment. It’s okay–and important–to identify tasks that can be prioritized over others. Once you select those tasks, you can set a maximum time limit on your allotted time. Life can be unpredictable. And students don’t always have enough time and energy to complete tasks as envisioned. Abandon perfection with the small things for a big-picture perspective of earning your degree efficiently. 
“Done is better than perfect.” — @Sherylsandberg #compromise #Context
6. Take care of yourself
Proper rest and a balanced diet can make all the difference in your online education success. Keep in mind these facts:
- Sleep often. Researchers have linked sleep quantity to academic performance from college students for some time, so if possible it is important to get a full night of sleep.  If you’re struggling to get a full night’s rest, take a nap. Studies show that naps can improve your memory and capability to learn by clearing information out of your brain’s temporary storage areas to prepare it for new information to be absorbed. 
- Ditch your desk and get moving. In the Spring of 2016, the American College Health Association – National College Health Assessment found that 52.8% of college students don’t meet the American Heart Association’s recommendations for moderate or vigorous-intensity exercise.  Researchers have found that exercising daily can improve cognitive function. 
- Balance your diet. Eating healthy to properly fuel your body boosts cognitive performance — which can positively impact your academic performance. However, most college students do not adequately consume the proper balance of food that research has linked to better grades. The 2016 ACHA – NCHA report found that less than 6% of college students consume the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.  A little planning and preparation on Sunday for the week’s menus can cut down on the struggle to find the time during the week to work healthy foods into your diet.
- Take breaks—even exotic ones. Don’t let work and your online program distract you from using all of your vacation time. Vacationing while you’re taking online courses is possible with the appropriate preparation. Make sure to map out your academic calendar as far out as possible so you can utilize your time off from school between semesters.
- Celebrate your accomplishments. Find milestones to celebrate on the path to your degree and be proud when you hit them.
If you follow these tips and develop time management habits that work for you early on, you can have a more efficient path to a successful online learning experience, with the ultimate prize: a college degree.