Keeping Your Nose to the Grindstone: How to Stay on Track With Your Coursework

Keeping Your Nose to the Grindstone: How to Stay on Track With Your Coursework

By: Des'ree Isibor
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Do you find it difficult to keep up with deadlines and stay on track with schoolwork? While taking online classes, I've been finding it even more difficult to stay productive and motivated.

Apart from not having that physical and direct in-person experience we desire, there is also the possibility of being unproductive and having many deadlines creep up on you. I can certainly identify with having struggles with remembering deadlines and not lagging on schoolwork. This led me to become proactive and more intentional about creating and finding tools to help stay on track with schoolwork.

One of these tools include a schedule I created called an Accountability Schedule. This schedule is designed to remind students about the different components of each course and their weekly obligations. For each course, you will have to attend lectures (asynchronously or synchronously), complete some readings or practice questions, and in some cases attend office hours. After finishing each obligation, I tick that box/section. Also, you could include details under each section which are important to remember.

I am love sticky-notes and having tangible reminders around me. Also, we do almost everything on our laptop these days!  So, I suggest that you have this schedule printed out for each week and place them in open/visible areas. However, if you would prefer having it on your laptops, phones, or any device, that is fine as well.

This schedule does not provide a 100% guarantee of staying productive. You also have to actually put in the work and be disciplined. I have had weeks where I carried over previous  tasks because I failed to do them when they were originally set. Regardless of this, make sure to tick as many boxes in this schedule and plan accordingly for each week.

This is my template for the Fall 2020 Semester. I would recommend customizing yours in any style you like!



There are also alternatives to the accountability schedule that could work for you better. They include the 'month at a glance' schedule and accountability partners:

A ‘Month at a Glance’ Schedule

Similar to the accountability schedule, this schedule can help prompt or remind you about your tasks. However, you can design it to include specific deadlines for each course throughout the month. I suggest that you create this schedule at the beginning of each month and go through each course to note all the deadlines. You can also incorporate other responsibilities into this schedule. It can look overwhelming at the start of the month, but I can attest to the amazing feeling of getting through all the deadlines at the end. Check out some monthly schedule templates here.

Accountability Partners and Study Buddies

Still on the topic of accountability, getting friends or family to help you keep track of schoolwork is effective. A friend and I formed this habit of constantly checking up on one another and how productive our days were. You can be as general or specific about your tasks/obligations as you want with your accountability partner. On the days where either of us felt unmotivated, the other person could be a source of encouragement. Try this out with friends who also share the same need to remain productive as you.

Reward Yourself After a Period of High Productivity

Being productive does not mean you don’t have any time to rest or chill. After studying hard or working so hard on that project or assignment, treat yourself to something you love. I found that on the days where all I did was study or get schoolwork without any rewards or breaks, I felt burnt out. Remember that ‘all work and no play make Jack a dull boy’. You can become counter-productive when you don’t relax and reward yourself. Watch a movie, hang out with friends, go hiking; get engaged in an activity that can keep your mental space healthy.

With productivity and discipline, it is a choice we have to make every day. On the days we feel unmotivated to be productive, remind yourself of the benefits you can gain, both in the long-run and short-run. We are all discovering new and more efficient ways to do better as we go along in this phase. Visualize your dream results or grades and constantly remind yourself why you have to be productive and stay on top of schoolwork.

You’ve got this!

Des’ree Isibor is a second year student with a major in Business Administration and hoping to minor in Communications. During her free time, you can catch her listening to podcasts, binging a crime-detective series or hanging out with her friends.


Beyond the Blog

  • Des'ree has written other posts on the OLC about remote working and studying that you should check out, including one about virtual networking tips and tricks.
  • It can be tough trying to keep yourself productive in the busiest times of the year. Check out Sughanda's article where she provides some great tips about productivity hacks and advice.
Posted on November 16, 2020