How to Manage Your Time in Virtual (Self-Directed) Learning

The landscape of virtual learning is radically different from in-person/seated instruction in a thousand ways, but nothing may be more significant than the expectations of students to manage their own time!
With in-person/seated instruction, students had:

  • A strict schedule,
  • Lots of routines, and
  • Lots of external cues, such as: bells, different classrooms, teachers, and peers to guide them through their day.  

In virtual learning, students have:

  • NO schedules,
  • NO routines, and 
  • NO external cues to guide them through their day.

With seated instruction, the prompts of: schedules, routines, and external cues are all things that simply required students to react.

REACTING requires almost no effort. The trade-off for that lack-of-effort is NO freedom. 

With virtual learning, the prompts of: schedules, routines, and external cues are all things that students must create.

CREATING requires effort. However, the trade-off of that effort is a LOT of freedom!

In our new chapter for study skills in virtual learning, How to Organize Time, we illustrate for students how the expectations placed upon them have changed.

Then, we help them understand what fuels motivation. (Hint: it is NOT “willpower.”)

Finally, we guide them through several lightweight “hacks” for their workflow and their work environment that promote their productivity, including:

  • Creating Routines (via the Anchor Points introduced in chapter v4, Schedule Time to Take Action)
  • Developing External Cues
  • Managing Distractions
  • “Chunking” & The Pomodoro Technique
  • Managing “Hyperfocus”
  • Sounds for Concentration

These are all of the most human-friendly productivity hacks we’ve been using in the “real world” for years. Now, they are made applicable and accessible to students.

These are HIGH-level skills of independence! They will not be mastered overnight. But they will be practiced, tested, and learned over a bit of time.

And let’s not miss that this adjustment is the MOST RELEVANT growth and learning for their future! The most important elements of their future success are not the math, science, social studies, or ELA standards, they’re currently learning. It’s the self-management “wings” they are currently getting an opportunity to stretch!

In SOAR Study Skills for Virtual Learning, we provide explicit instruction and scaffolded support for this growth process.

If you’re ready to teach your students virtual learning skills, we’re here to help!  We can guide you to explore the curriculum (for a sneak peek, click HERE), arrange for a trial, schedule a brief call, provide a quote, or all the above.  Simply contact us with any questions or requests you have.


Susan Kruger Winter, M.Ed.
Founder of SOAR® Study Skills

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