Smilling Woman

Since I’ve written a couple of posts about finding a reason to start online courses, how to choose the best online course, and if it’s worth learning online at all, it’s time to talk about the ways to improve the learning process.
Everyone has experienced being tired and bored with things that seemed interesting at the beginning. So how do you stay motivated and committed to your goal?
Read these simple tips and let me know what you think.

Take things slowly…

Not being able to finish a course on time was my learning nightmare! Many people (including me) live relatively busy lives, and when things get hectic, it isn’t easy to stay on track with online learning. There are so many exciting courses and apps that I frequently commit to them even though later on, I am so swamped with work and my personal life that I fall behind and miss deadlines. Which I am unfortunately constantly reminded of through pop-ups and e-mails. So when I get another reminder from edx or Duolingo that I haven’t done what I should have, I feel like failing.

I prefer (and strongly recommend to keep on learning) a do as much as I can approach. Of course, if you start to use it as an excuse to do the bare minimum, the whole learning thing will not work. What I mean is: don’t be too hard on yourself. It is okay if you didn’t manage to finish everything on time.
Just keep going with the course whenever you can, and don’t give up if you are a little bit behind schedule.

You don’t have to learn everyday

This is something that bothers me, especially in apps with the “streak” feature. An app rewards you for doing specific actions every day. Am I a weirdo to believe that everyone should take a day off now and then? That we deserve to take some time off, clear our mind, and rest? Without apps and constant reminders that it’s time to review the vocabulary we have learned.

For me ending a 30-day streak is a turn-off and a discouragement from further learning. So yes – you don’t need to have a daily increase of skills and knowledge. You are entitled to have a day off. You don’t want to turn your strive for knowledge into another sad and exhausting chore.

Desk and notes
Desk and notes

You don’t have to be super-effective

Some of the learning apps have rankings of most active users, smartness gurus, and so on. For some users, it can be a significant motivational boost to use these apps more frequently and, in effect, get to know more.
But generally, these social comparisons will make you either jealous or lazy (“I will never be as good as him!”). You should keep your own pace, learn as much as you want, and are comfortable with it.  Don’t follow the necessity of being extra-productive.
Follow your flow and not get overloaded.

Try to have fun

Try to be relaxed when you study. Take your time. There are no scary teachers that will tell your parents about you. Don’t let yourself do things you don’t want to do. Zone out from the outer world and get curious about the subject of your studies – look for more information, scroll Google search results, watch TED talks and read informed articles! Of course, if you feel like it.

Try to connect and share

Encourage others to learn with you, study similar subjects, or talk to friends about your experiences. Maybe it is worth engaging in a course discussion which is frequently a part of online courses. Try meeting fellow students with similar interests, get to know more about the course’s subject, and hone your language or interpersonal skills – a win-win situation 🙂

You don’t have to anything at all

If you feel that learning German, coding, or playing the guitar is not for you, don’t force yourself into doing it. It’s ok to decide that you don’t want to waste time on something that’s not useful or particularly interesting for you. Of course, I am not encouraging you to abandon your study journey when a first obstacle occurs. Always keep in mind that learning new or enhancing existing skills shouldn’t feel like an obligation.

Blog photo credits: Brooke Cagle

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A psychologist who works in the IT industry. Interested in positive and social psychology and UX design. Fan of technology, Eurovision Song Contest, and Pepsi Max.
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