How to Stick with Your Online Learning Course Part 1: Create Good Habits

It’s a new year, and you’ve resolved to take an online learning course. How is it going for you? For some people, it’s easy to stick with online learning. But for too many, that online course is another resolution that quickly fizzles out. Not this year! This year, we’re going to utilize techniques that the most successful online learners use and stick with our online learning.

This is the first post in a three-part series on how to stick with your online learning. Let’s get started by creating good learning habits. By developing good habits from the start, we’re more likely to finish our online class instead of getting frustrated and quitting.

Start Small

Online courses require a lot of self-motivation and willpower. Luckily, researchers have found that you can build up your willpower and self-control over time. When we try to tackle big goals by radically changing our habits, we quickly push past our willpower limits, which leads to giving up on our learning resolution.

Instead, start small. If your resolution is to learn a new language, set aside 5 minutes per day to play in your language app. If your resolution is to learn to code, start with a simple coding game for 5-10 minutes a day. Gradually over time, you’ll find that learning is a habit instead of a struggle.

Create a Streak

You’ve set a goal to play in your language app for 5 minutes a day. Use a tool to track how often you complete your habit. This can be as simple as Jerry Seinfeld’s technique of marking red X’s off on your wall calendar, or you can use an app or online tool to track your progress. Some learning apps even have built-in streak tracking.

Once you start this streak, you’ll become focused on not wanting to break it. And if you use an app to track your streaks, you’ll often get rewarded in-app for your positive behavior.

Focus on One Goal That You Really Want

Now’s not the time to resolve that you’re going to change everything in your life. Don’t try to learn three new skills, start exercising, and tackle a new project at work all at the same time. You’re going to focus on one change, and that’s going to be your online learning. Make your learning goal your one new goal until it becomes a habit. Then it won’t require much, if any, willpower to keep learning.

If this is your first time taking an online class, start with something that you will really enjoy and that doesn’t require a huge time commitment. Let yourself build up your online learning skills. Once you’ve developed good learning habits, you’ll be ready to tackle bigger learning challenges.

Tune in for the next post in this series to learn how to set yourself up for success in your online learning through planning and creating a learning environment.


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