You’ve finally spent the time you need to get accepted to an online university and now it’s time to make it all worth it. You ordered your books and have even made yourself a wonderful study & class schedule. You are excited and ready to shine. It’s not the class work however that threatens your newly minted enthusiasm, it’s the potential pitfalls of distractions that threaten your ability to thrive.

Your habit for so long now whenever hopping onto your computer has been to check your email, hop on Facebook, update your status, see who’s having a birthday and before you know it a couple hours have passed by and 15 YouTube videos & 20 random websites later you come out of the “internet suck”. You didn’t plan on it, but it happens like that often. There has got to be a better way you tell yourself. I have got to stop doing this if I’m going to succeed online at school. But how?

It’s a masterful student who can stay focused on the task at hand without getting sucked into the abyss of the internet. Well, here are some tricks that I’ve learned over the years to help me stay on task and to not get lost online.

Have an internet plan. “What? I don’t need a plan!” you say? Well, that may be true, but if you’ve experienced the above scenario in any similar way (it may not be Facebook for you. It may be online games or checking friends’ blogs) then hear me out. Have you ever been to a grocery store when you were hungry and you didn’t take time to make a grocery list? I have. I end up coming out with bananas, eggs, bread (the staples) and chips or other junk food. What can I do with that?! I also have a tendency to wander around for a long time. Add to that talking to someone on the phone and my whole grocery trip is shot. I’m never getting out of there!

Now, what happens when you head on in with a grocery list, mute the call and have a tummy satisfied with good food? Yup, that’s right. You are more likely to get in and get out. You’ll come out with the things you need and the entire experience will be a positive one, assuming the cashier wasn’t ready to tear off your face. Well, in a similar way to having a grocery list, having a plan for your online time can greatly increase the odds of you arising from the experience with a mission accomplished.

Another thing you may also try is to write down what you need online, get it and disconnect the internet. You may not need this, but if you are having troubles surfing the web and not getting work down it’s a great way to set some small boundaries that can help you succeed. Having a buddy you can share your intent with too can help. Say simply, I’m going online for 30 minutes to grab my assignment for class and find and print off 3 commentaries from the web about JFK’s federal international policies. Then when you’re done report and let them know you’re off. This can help you develop confidence and trust in yourself as you keep these little commitments to yourself.

Set an alarm. I have a handy little computer timer that can buzz or play music when the time I’ve allotted has expired. This helps me keep from getting sucked into the internet coma and remember that I may have planned on only being online for an hour to get something done. Try it out, it’s called Xnote.

I know how frustrating getting lost online can be and how damaging to productivity it can be. But with some of these tips and tools hopefully you can get on track to fly high in your own online university experience.

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