When I started my first Open University module, I was nervous. Not full blown anxiety attacks, but nervous none the less. I started with the OU (for more information, click here,) because I had decided to work instead of get A Levels. At first I was like 'just one year of work full time and then I'll do my A Levels,' but that one year turned into four and then I was made redundant.
Typically, that should of maybe started some warning bells - this is the time, go back now. I had tried funnily enough when I was still in my old workplace (the previous year before redundancy occurred,) to go back and do my A Levels at my old school but it just riddled me with anxiety, I had been so calm starting mind you. However, at least it meant that particular route wasn't quite for me anymore. It would be one more year before I finally plucked up some courage and signed up for an OU module.
I didn't quite want to blabber on about my story though, I just want to share some 'wisdom,' that I've learnt since completing my first module (I'll be starting my second in October,) and this probably won't be limited to just Open University study - this can obviously apply to all varieties of study but especially distance learning where you don't have that face-to-face interaction to kick you up the bum!
1. Turn electrics off and lock 'em away. Pretty simple this one, but my most successful study and working sessions have been in my bedroom with no interference from electronics (mobiles, tablets,)with only books, paper and pen to hand. Obviously if you need your computer to study (which I will have to do in October,) there could be an option on your course to download a pdf file of what you're reading and then simply unplug the internet. Whilst I love the internet - it's really the pinnacle of procrastination and should be avoided whilst you're studying.
2. Keep a 'journal' and a diary. I had two notebooks when I was studying my module. One was for jotting down tutorials (when my tutor was going to be ringing,) any deadlines and particular areas of my subject I wanted to study on a particular day - that was in the calender. The other, pictured above, was more of a journal-diary and where I would write to do lists for the coming months/weeks so I could physically tick off a completed action and any questions I had for my tutor - that kind of thing. I am a huge believer in lists of course so this comes natural to me plus it's a nice reason to go stationary shopping. Guilty pleasures.
3. Remember why you're doing it. Someone said to me (someone younger than myself,) 'I don't know how you can do it, I'd just watch t.v all the time.' Which is a fair enough comment, but my little trick was to remember why I wanted to do this in the first place - repeating this mantra to myself of why was crucial because otherwise there was no point. If you're struggling for the motivation, remember why you're doing it and how amazing it will feel when you're done and (hopefully,) passed with flying colours.
4. Have some down time. I should add that I was working part time when doing this module (and hopefully will be for my second module, as long as my back plays ball,) and Josh was also at university too. I got into a routine of studying on the same days I had work (more or less four or five days,) so I would have two days down time to keep refreshed and get out into the fresh air and just do what I wanted to do (as opposed to need to do.) If you won't be working when you're doing your module/course - then set yourself four or five days that are your study days and think of them like a work week. If you have children, why not keep the weekend and Monday free (probably a day of rushing first thing in the morning?) so that you're fully ready come Tuesday for study.
These are just some of the ways that I keep on track, organized and importantly motivated. Every one is different of course, and what works for me (getting rid of electronics and shutting myself off,) may not work for you but I think the key factor to distance learning is keeping motivated - and my tutor also had a big part to play in keeping me on track - so you're really not alone!
To keep this post a little less boring, here's a little stationary 'wish list' to keep things colourful. ;)
I hope you didn't mind today's post but it's one I've wanted to do for a while now. If you have any study/motivation/organization tips do leave a comment below!