One calendar, one binder, and one week at a time is how I managed my online courses with Anna Maria College. Best advice is to pace your classes to suit your schedule and lifestyle. Be honest with yourself when considering your weekly hours of employment, other family member schedules, hobbies, rest, sleep, exercise, and downtime. Earning an online BSN degree will provide you with plenty of accredited busy work, such as reading, researching, and paper writing (did I mention APA formatted paper writing).
Having your own dedicated workspace with a computer/laptop is essential. For example, my workspace is in the formal dining room with my binder, laptop, textbooks, paper, pens and highlighters spread out all over the dining room table. My family has not eaten off this table in nearly two years.
You will spend hours on APA (American Psychological Association - a writing style most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences) formatted papers, posting weekly discussion topics, online researching, and textbook reading. It will take every ounce of self-discipline to not get distracted with family activities going on in the house.
Tips to Stay Focused
Calendar – using a calendar next to your workspace will provide a quick reference to upcoming projects due, tests, and current week of class all in one glance. Also, noting due dates and test dates lets you and family members know which days will be spent on the computer.
Binder – Only one, 1-inch binder with eight dividers: one for each of the eight weeks, kept me organized. At the beginning of each 8-week course I would print out the course schedule. The schedule has each week in its own column and a description of the assignments, readings, and discussion posts due for that week. Crossing off finished assignments or highlighting certain projects provided a sense of accomplishment and kept me in pace with the class. At the completion of the course I would clear out the binder, keeping the eight dividers and then add the new eight-week course schedule of the next session of eight weeks into the binder.
USB Stick – Having a dedicated USB memory stick for schoolwork allowed me to access working assignments and projects no matter where I was. Organizing the USB by course name (i.e. Professional Nursing 101) and further dividing files into weeks (i.e. Week 1, Week 2, etc.) made for easy, retrievable files and assignments.
Do not allow yourself to fall behind! Organization and prioritization is the key to successfully completing each eight-week session.