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5 Tips to Stay on Top of Online School & Avoid Procrastinating

Online school is a drastic change that can be tough to manage. Lost, confused, overwhelmed, are feelings I felt when the school year started. It can be very discouraging when you can’t find a way to manage what feels like an excessive workload. Personally, I felt as though my workload was heavier than traditional school, and no matter what I tried, I just couldn’t manage it. This decreased my motivation and led to procrastination. After experimenting, adjusting my schedule, and creating a routine, I can say that two months into the school year, I have finally figured out how to manage online school, get my assignments done on time, and avoid procrastinating. If you find online school challenging, you are definitely not alone. Here are 5 ways to stay on top of school and beat procrastination.

Start your day early!

Waking up early is the first step you can take in your day to put yourself in a position to achieve your goals. By waking up early, you will feel like there are more valuable hours in a day to get things done. Waking up early when you have no place to be at a required time sounds daunting. It can be a real challenge for some, but to combat this challenge, use an alarm clock and set the time 10 mins earlier every morning. You will feel very accomplished to start your day early and get things done sooner so that you can spend your nights resting your brain and relaxing. Waking up later in the day leads to a higher chance of procrastinating. When we see the sun setting and the sky getting dark, our body’s internal clock tells us that it is nighttime and we are less likely to get work done.


Planning your day is key to effective time management. We often have too many things in our head and they seem too overwhelming unless we write them down. Not writing your tasks down will pose one of two problems. One – you will not know what you have to get done because most likely you remembered 2 hours ago, but now you forgot. Two- you will feel like you have too many tasks to get done that it is impossible to get any done. Always plan your day by writing down what tasks you must get done throughout the day. You can do this by creating a monthly schedule, using a planner, or writing things down on a piece of paper. You can make use of apps as well. Personally, I create a list in the notes on my phone and erase things as I get them done. It doesn’t matter how you plan, just do something that works for you. Revisit your plan multiple times a day to cross things off or add new things. Keep your schedule or list simple and realistic. Prioritize things based on what is due first. Write down the tasks that you must get done, not what is due in 2 weeks from now. Also, leave buffer time because we often think we can get so many things done when in reality tasks take longer than we originally planned.

Pick a workspace and eliminate distractions

The ideal workspace for online learning should be separate from your relaxing space. Choose a space that is comfortable for you, but not too comfortable. If your goal is to get things done, being too comfortable will make your body go into rest mode, and you will find your eyes closing while you are trying to read, write, and/or interpret numbers. You should only do school work in a comfortable place, such as your bed, when you are reading, or brainstorming ideas for an essay or research paper. Don’t do school work in a place too comfortable when you are doing something where you are on a time limit and need to get it done, such as taking a test, or writing a paper. Your ideal workspace has to best suit what will make you get work done. Some like an open space with a window in front of it, while others like a confined space, which makes them feel like they are in a cubicle at Scott Library. In your workspace, eliminate all distractions. Your phone is probably your biggest enemy. One thing I do is put my phone in another room. When your phone is at arm’s reach from where you are sitting down, you will tend to pick it up without even noticing. If you are doing schoolwork on your phone, turn off social media notifications, and log out of all accounts that will be distracting.

 Identify the cause of your procrastination and work to get over it

The key to staying on top of school is to avoid procrastinating. Procrastination is a challenge faced by almost everyone. It’s a productivity killer that can cause tons of stress and harm the well-being of our mental health. In-order to solve the problem of procrastination, you must first clearly identify what is causing it. Fear is the most common cause of procrastination. Have you ever put off an assignment for days or weeks and when you finally complete it you realize, “That was not so bad.” “I could have done this earlier.” “I just did not know how to start.” Fear and self-doubt go hand and hand. Many of us feel as if we are going to fail before we even start. Don’t let your own mind hold you back. Realize that nobody is telling you that you can not do it. Think about the last time you procrastinated, and the feeling you got when you finally completed the task and realized, “that was not so bad.” If you take a deep breath and think about this fear rationally you will realize that your mind is completely blowing it out of proportion. The task that you are dreading is really not that bad.

Check & send e-mails often!

Checking your emails as well as your online learning platform daily will ensure that you are always up to date with your classes. Your teachers may email you certain changes to the class readings, due dates or even change the time of class. You want to keep up with these changes. Teachers are humans too, and they do make mistakes. Suppose they change the weekly reading because they had mixed them up in the class syllabus. You definitely do not want to read 28 pages of a book just to realize it is the wrong one. Checking your emails daily, in addition to your online learning platform will ensure that you are always up to date with these changes. Online learning, especially asynchronous classes, lack the ability for you to see your professor and ask questions for clarification during class. Emails are there for you to email your teacher with any questions (no matter how dumb you feel your question is). Don’t feel uncomfortable or afraid to email your professors. It is their job to help you.

Online school is new to you, which is why it is challenging. It will take practice and self-discipline before reaching success. If you are doing each of the 5 things outlined above, you should be one your way to a successful school year.
Saleena is in her second year at York University. One day she hopes to become a school teacher and an author. Her passions include schooling the world for an equitable future and rethinking human exceptionalism. She spends her free time eating, reading, creative writing, or exercising.
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