Lesson 5: Don't Procrastinate

Procrastination -- the act of putting something off until the last minute -- can be a much bigger problem in an online course than in a face-to-face course. With a face-to-face course, you know you have to be on campus at a certain time on specific days. You even have an instructor who can constantly remind you to keep doing your work.

This dynamic changes online because you choose when you want to log into your class. And although the instructor can post announcements and send multiple emails to remind you to do your work, if you don't check your email or log into your class often, those emails and announcements don't do much good.

An overlooked problem with procrastination is the inevitable technical glitch. Some students have missed due dates because they waited until the very end to complete assignments only to have their computer crash or their ISP fail.

Self-discipline can counteract procrastination, and you will need it to succeed online. Using your calendar properly can help minimize procrastinating. But it is only a start. If you have a tendency to procrastinate -- after all, you are human -- here are some strategies to get you on the right track:

  1. Set really specific goals. Instead of "Finish Module 1 tasks", write down "Complete email assignment, and complete discussion assignment."
  2. After you write down all of your goals for a day or a week, prioritize them.
  3. For assignments, such as research papers, that have due dates far into the future, impose your own deadlines for finishing specific parts of the assignment.
  4. Enforce your starting and ending times.
  5. Reward yourself for accomplishing goals.