Be a Clutter Free Distance Learner
From David W.Butler,
Your Guide to Distance Learning
Home-based workers lose up to a third of their workday ferreting out lost
papers, searching for crucial information, and wading through documents,
says Greg Vetter, president of Vetter Productivity Inc., an Atlanta-based
organizational consultancy. Add the Internet, phone messages, faxes and
e-mail, and you've created an environment in which data comes in faster
than you can process and organize it.
Your virtual study hall faces the very same organizing challenges. Every
term, a student taking four courses must keep track of notes from reading
6,000 pages of learning materials and from attending from 150 to 200 class
sessions. Then even more notes are generated from Internet and library
research done for term papers and weekly class assignments. But there's
more. Distance learning courses rely heavily on electronic
student-to-student and student-to-teacher communication. Collaborative
assignments, where students must work together in online teams to complete
class assignments, alone, will easily quadruple the number of notes,
e-mails, phone messages, Web sites, that a student normally must read,
comprehend, and organize.
Distance learners often find that the "haystack" of class information they
are used to managing, becomes overwhelming. Not being organized inevitably
results in poor scheduling, missed meetings, missed deadlines or poor
quality work done.
It's no wonder that many educators feel that successful students are often
not those with necessarily the highest I.Q, but those who are the most
focused, and most organized.
Make your system fit your personality. Some people think alphabetically,
others think in categories. Some like to keep all their work out of site
until they need it, others need to keep current projects in their range of
vision so they don't forget the things they need to do. Before you start
to organize, figure out how you work, how you think, and what methods will
facilitate your work life for you. Sit down and work out your thinking and
working habits before you go and buy out the office supplies store. Once
you figure out what method will work for you, make a list of the storage
supplies you'll need and go out and buy them.
Always Be Ready to Change Your Organization Scheme.Experiment with
different methods for filing (e.g. filing alphabetically or in categories,
using cardboard storage boxes or metal file cabinets, etc.) until you find
one that works well for you. Try out different styles of desks, different
filing systems and containers, different storage techniques. Try anything
you can to best manage your paper piles.
Functionality Not Looks Counts here.According to Julie Morgenstern, author
of Organizing from the Inside Out (1), "Being organized has less to do
with the way an environment looks than how effectively it functions." Of
course, you want your place to look neat; but looks aren't everything. A
neat desktop may not be the best system for quickly finding what you need.