I have been a distance learning student for over 12 years, having completed various qualifications with UNISA and then with Milpark. I am a full-time bank manager with two kids and a house to manage, and my technique involved a monthly planner with careful weekly break-downs. These included time to rest, activities, family time and contingency (in terms of hours); study time would be spread across weekdays. I would leave the weekend completely empty so that, in unavoidable circumstances when I was unable to complete my task during the week, I could complete the number of hours over the weekend.
Start small. A day has 24 hours; sacrifice 10% of that, i.e. 2 hours 40 minutes a day studying without fail. Have a specific target to achieve per day, convert to a week and a month. This will allow you to manage unforeseen circumstances such as family, work pressure and other related matters. In so doing you will be able to manage any disruption during the week by covering any lost 2 hours 40 minutes over the weekend. Remember: it takes 21 days to build a new habit; so initially it will be difficult to put aside 2 hours 40 minutes a day but make sure that irrespective of circumstance you force this habit to be in place. The rest is history and good luck!
I would say it all starts with the conviction within you. You ought to be disciplined indeed stay true to your resolution to study. Unfortunately there is indeed a lot of sacrifice you will need to make, including cutting down on those parties and get-togethers. Read and consult on balancing work, life and pleasure (family) too. It ain't easy but it is doable – good luck indeed!
Nick van Rooi
Surround yourself with people who can motivate and encourage you. I almost wanted to postpone just before my dissertation, but received a lot of encouragement from my wife, friends and colleagues, which helped a lot. The main thing for me was that I found my studies very interesting and that kept me going!
After nine years of distance study I never take my focus off the reason why I am doing it. If the reason for studying is 'strong with you' (like the force in Star Wars!) then you will WANT to study and not feel that you have to study. Don't waste the time in the bathroom: you can hide in the bathroom from everybody and study for at least 20 minutes for ‘free’!
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