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Avoid Distractions as an Online Student

When it comes to education and learning, disciplined study habits are paramount to success. In a classroom setting, there are few distractions when the instructors are presenting material to students. In a traditional learning environment students can directly focus on their objectives. For online students, the setting is much different from a traditional classroom. Students receive their education and complete the assignments in a variety of formats and as a result, students must discipline themselves to avoid distraction. These distractions are not only from computers but can also stem from a student’s chosen environment. It all boils down to creating good study habits that will ultimately yield the positive academic results students strive for.

Tips for Avoiding Distractions as an Online Student

Get Organized:

It is a common myth that online learning is easier than learning in a classroom environment. However, students who participate in online programs are often faced with difficult obstacles that can present potential barriers to success. Because online learners do not have the same physical face-to-face interaction as “campus learners”, it is especially important for these students to develop a well-thought plan of organization while they work through their studies.

For example, prior to the start of your class, it is a good idea to create folders in your e-mail inbox that are specific to your courses and projects. This simple tactic will help alleviate any confusion when looking to reference email correspondence between your instructors and peers. If you have both a school email address and a personal email address, it may also be a good idea to consolidate the two and set up“auto forwarding” for all messages sent to your school email account. This tip will help make sure all information is being sent to the same place and is easy to reference.

Plan Ahead:

While you are preparing for your upcoming assignments, it is important to make notes and set frequent reminders of approaching deadlines, exams, and projects. Being aware of upcoming priorities will give you more time to prepare and assess the amount of time realistically needed to successfully complete your assignments. Additionally, allowing yourself extra time and planning ahead will reduce stress and, in the long term, will lead to more productive study efforts.

Set a Realistic Routine:

Before you begin your online program, set aside some time to review your daily obligations and assess where you can incorporate some time to dedicate specifically to your studies. Thinking ahead and setting expectations for yourself will leave you better prepared to resist procrastination and ensure that you have ample time to thoroughly complete projects and assignments. As you set your routine, remember the “Rule of Thumb” is to dedicate 2-3 hours per credit hour enrolled.

Aside from disciplining yourself, it is equally important to communicate your schedule with others around you. As your friends and family members get familiar with your routine, they will become supportive and be less likely to extend invites that may tempt or distract you from your work.

It is also important to realize that your schedule is not a permanent fixture and can change from month-to-month, especially if you are raising children, plan to switch careers, or take on additional roles and responsibilities. While focusing on your studies is important, you should constantly re-evaluate the effectiveness of your routine and make adjustments where necessary.


Work styles differ from person to person. What works for one person may be completely ineffective to someone else. However, many people have found increased productivity when they “unplug” from outside distractions. Turning your phone on silent, turning off your email, and lowering the television are common ways to avoid distractions while studying or working on projects. The next thing to do is to sit down at your computer and only open applications essential to your immediate lessons. With countless temptations just a click away, the Internet has repeatedly demonstrated that it can be one of the most powerful distractions.

When it comes to education and learning, disciplined study habits are essential when seeking success as an online student at Concordia University, Nebraska. Through proper planning, strong commitment and focus, online students can learn to develop and maintain effective study habits that are necessary to accomplish their education goals and enjoy long-term academic success.

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Cheryl Durheim, MHS Faculty
Master of Human Services