Being able to earn an MBA degree through an online program offers considerable convenience. You work at your own pace with the ability to attend classes from the comfort of your own home. There are, however, some challenges you might face in an online MBA program. Among them, distractions can make it difficult for you to concentrate on your studies. Let’s examine some common distractions along with tips on what you can do to avoid them during online classes.
1. Social Media and Online Distractions
Taking an online degree program means you can’t avoid the Internet. It can be one of the largest distractions for online learning thanks to social media, games, forums, and other distracting sites and apps. You might find yourself checking social media much more frequently than you should or getting caught up in a game when you should be studying. Even if you tell yourself you are only going to check something quickly or spend a few minutes on a site, it’s often too easy to spend a much longer time on non-school-related online activities. This can prevent you from concentrating on your online class or getting schoolwork done.
Tip: Turn off notification for social media, games, and other apps on your phone, tablet, or computer to cut down on these distractions. If you think the temptation for checking in on an app or site is too great, consider temporarily deleting them while working on a major project or studying for an upcoming exam. It might also help to use a desktop computer or laptop for school only rather than incorporating your phone or tablet into your study time. That can help prevent the urge to check texts, social media, or other apps, as often.
2. TV and Movies
For those learning at home, it is a fairly common practice to turn on the TV as “background noise.” While you might tune into your favorite series or a recently viewed movie just for background noise, they can be distracting or even disruptive. It can make for a difficult time focusing on your studies. (It does not help that streaming services and on-demand programming have made it easy and simple to access the shows or movies you want to watch.) It is important to find ways to avoid these distractions, since they can cause you to not pay attention during class or do poorly on a test or assignment.
Tip: Instead of reaching for the remote, consider putting on soft, soothing music or even nature sounds instead. These noises can help you focus better than TV or movies, but make sure you turn them off right away if you find they, too, are distracting. Rather than watching TV or movies when you should be focusing on school, think about using these as a reward for meeting study-related goals. For example, treat yourself to your favorite movie or a few episodes of your favorite TV show when you complete an assignment or take a test.
3. Family Distractions
Having your family around can provide you with a support system for completing an online MBA program, but our loved ones can also create distractions. Family members may try to have conversations with you during your online class or when you’re working on assignments or projects. It can be difficult to ignore them. If you are a parent with little ones, they are typically vying for your attention but also want to be a part of what you are working on. Sometimes it could be mental distractions around your family, from worrying about the next day’s activities to financial stress.
Tip: Communicate your needs with your loved ones. Set aside specific times each day that are dedicated to working on your MBA. Find a room or space in your home where you will not be disturbed. If you are unable to use a separate room away from everyone else, use noise cancelling headphones and listen to music or meditation sounds.
4. Constant Organization and Overplanning
Distractions can be internal as well as external. For example, sometimes, you can focus your attention on planning and organizing to the point you actually forget to do the work. You might spend too much time coming up with ways to break a large project into smaller tasks, or you might focus too much on gathering materials for studying. These tasks can make you feel as though you’re being proactive, but there is no real progress, creating an additional distraction. When your primary focus is around organizing and planning, you can lose site of the primary goal of the project and eat into valuable study time.
Tip: When you’re in an online MBA program, prioritize good time management. Planning ahead is still important, just make sure you limit how much time you spend doing it. Set aside a short, specified amount of time for planning and organization when you have tests coming up or projects to do. This provides you with a chance to get these tasks out of the way without sacrificing the time you need to do the actual work.
5. Poor Time Management
A lack of preparation and organization for your MBA studies can be just as damaging to your long-term success as taking too much time to prepare for them. Poor time management presents a number of opportunities for distractions to enter your life and interrupt your studies. A lack of planning can lead to trying to juggle too many responsibilities at a time or falling into the inefficiency trap of multi-tasking. You can find yourself rushing from one task to the next without the feeling of accomplishing anything. It can affect your personal and professional goals, from exercising more to finishing your next paper.
Tip: A simple method to start improving your ability to manage time is to take it step by step: 1. Identify what is important. 2. Prioritize and choose one thing to work on. 3. Set aside a specified time to do it. 4. Do it.
This can work for your MBA studies, as well. Make a plan for how and when to study, set aside time for it and do it. Not sure how to start? You might try an efficiency app. There are plenty of digital resources that can help manage your schedule more efficiently so you can find time to do your homework, exercise, be with family and more.
Interested in earning your MBA online? The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga offers online options to earn your Master of Business Administration at your convenience. Contact us to learn more about all our advanced business degree programs and options.