7 Ways to Stay Motivated During An Online Course

The first few weeks going through an online course can feel powerful. You have decided to invest in your future, you’re excited about the curriculum, and you are ready to soak in all the new knowledge that you can apply to take your next step in your career.

Then, life happens. Maybe you start to struggle with the material, or you start getting busy at work or home. Perhaps you begin to feel overwhelmed by the workload because it’s been a while since the last time you took a class. So how do you stay motivated while going through an online course?

1. Have the End in Mind

Being regularly reminded of your why can help you stay encouraged to get back on track. At NexGenT, we encourage students to make a vision board through sites like Trello and have a section dedicated to visually representing what our students are doing it all for. 

Did you take this course to completely pivot your career into technology, which you’ve wanted for years? Maybe you’re taking it to get that promotion that you want, to earn enough to buy the house of your dreams, or get your kids more opportunities. Whatever your reasons, write it down, add pictures to represent these motivators, and place this vision board somewhere you can see it regularly to keep you motivated. 

Screencapture of a student's vision board made on Trello

Screencapture of a student’s vision board made on Trello

2. Chunk it Down

If you have fallen behind on your studies, looking at everything you have to do can feel overwhelming, and every day you ignore your coursework, another assignment is due. Instead of looking at a long list of things that are yet to be done, chunk everything down to feel more manageable. 

Take a look at your schedule and how much time you have available each day to catch up. Then see how much time it’s going to take to do each class if it’s recorded, do an assignment and assign yourself one thing to do during your allotted time. 

For example, If you have 4 hours of course work to complete and two assignments to do that will take 2 hours each, take a look at your week and see where you have 8 hours throughout the week to dedicate to getting back on track. It may be 30 minutes here and 90 minutes there, but it feels much more manageable when you chunk down your time.

3. Reward Yourself 

A substantial reward system is an excellent way to self motivate, and who doesn’t love a great reward? After you chunked down your online course workload, think of a small reward you can give yourself that you would look forward to when it’s all completed.

Maybe it’s an hour watching TV or time working on one of your hobbies or spending some time connecting with people on social media. Whatever your serotonin booster is, reward yourself every time you accomplish your task for the day.

Even if the task was small, find small ways to celebrate to keep yourself in flow and excited to get the course work done.

4. Find an Accountability Partner

When you started your online course, who were the people that were the most excited for you? Who are the cheerleaders in your life? Tag them in to help you stay accountable to get motivated in finishing your online studies. 

This could look like a spouse who reminds you that you mentioned you had an exam coming up or a friend you check in with regularly who asks how your classes are going. While the responsibility still lies on you, having someone who is rooting you on can help give you the push you need to get things done.

5. Take Short Breaks

If you have scheduled long breaks during your day to work on coursework, it can feel daunting, especially sitting in front of a computer screen for too long. Give yourself a short break throughout this time to avoid fatigue. 

Try taking a 15-minute break every 45 minutes, and see how you feel when you come back to your desk. If that doesn’t work, try a short break every 30 minutes. Give yourself the space that you need to feel refreshed, turn your brain off for a little while, and be ready to take on more work when you get back to your computer. 

6. Give Yourself Grace – We Mean It

This one is regularly overlooked. If you have fallen behind or are feeling overwhelmed, you may feel inclined to beat yourself up. Don’t do that. Attaching those negative feelings is a sure way to take the joy out of learning something new. Give yourself some grace. It can be tough staying motivated for an online course when you don’t need to physically show up somewhere.

Think to yourself, “I may have fallen behind, but I plan to catch up, I can get where I need to be. I am doing my best” At the end of the day, doing your best is all anyone can ask for. If you’re falling short of your best, dust yourself off, take a breath and take one small step towards your goal. You’ve got this!

This next one is a good way to take your first small step forward.

7. Set a Short Timer For Yourself

“Hey Alexa, set a timer for 15 minutes.”

Sometimes getting back on track can feel like dragging your feet. That 2-hour time block you planned for Saturday comes around and it’s the last thing you want to do. Plus your couch feels far too comfortable. When this happens, shorten your study time to meet your current attention span where it’s at. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes instead and plan to only study for that long. This helps trick your mind into getting started and will help get you in the zone, often resulting in being motivated to last the full two hours.

And for the days where you really decide you’re done after 15 minutes, well, at least you took time for it! Set another short timer for the next day and see if it helps you get back on track to a regular study schedule. 



While these are 7 great options to try to keep you motivated in your online course, the only one that matters is the one that works for you. Keep trying different methods and rotate through these motivational methods to make sure you reach your goals and level up your life through your online program!


For more information about our Network Engineering and Cybersecurity programs, visit zerotoengineer.com



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