Online tech bootcamps, like the ones offered by Virginia Tech, are rigorous, accelerated career training programs designed to provide you with an immersive deep dive into highly technical fields. Due to the fast-paced nature of these programs, managing your time effectively during a bootcamp plays a key role in your success. With proper time management, you can reduce your stress while learning, increase productivity, and improve or maintain your work-life balance while gaining the skills you need to pursue your career goals. Here are some essential strategies and tips to help you manage your time effectively while attending a Virginia Tech online tech bootcamp.
Set Goals and Priorities
Before you start a bootcamp, it is helpful to determine or re-evaluate your career goals, life priorities, and why you are pursuing an education. Ask yourself what skills you need most to obtain the career you want, what are the big concerns in your life, and what is motivating you to take the steps to achieve your goals. The more clarity you gain on these questions, the more equipped you will be to maintain your focus and drive throughout your bootcamp experience. This will enable you to keep your "eyes on the prize" and help you develop the goal-oriented mindset necessary for success.
Select a Class Schedule That Works for You
Life is different for everyone, and each person has varying responsibilities and commitments. The ability to manage time effectively while learning may be challenging for some people without a class schedule that meets their individual needs. To better fit career development into your life, Virginia Tech offers part-time and full-time options for many bootcamps, as well as a variety of class schedule options. You’ll want to select a bootcamp schedule that will allow you to balance your academic obligations, work, responsibilities, and interests.
Construct a Personal Schedule and Routine
Gaining new skills can be exhilarating, but the learning process can be highly demanding, requiring students to manage multiple assignments and projects at the same time. To avoid feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, create and write down a realistic personal schedule that takes into consideration your classes, your job, study time, hobbies, and other commitments. Make sure you include time for breaks and relaxation in your personal schedule, as well as buffer time between tasks to account for unforeseen events.
You may also want to incorporate daily self-care routines into your schedule. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, when you practice self-care, it improves both your physical and mental well-being. Self-care activities, such as exercising, getting regular sleep, staying hydrated, and more, can also increase your energy and decrease stress.
Avoid Multitasking and Procrastination
Contrary to popular opinion, multitasking can lead to a reduction in productivity and a drop in the quality of your work or learning. You may experience stress, anxiety, and make more errors in your assignments when performing multiple tasks simultaneously. Instead, try to focus on one task at a time and break large tasks into smaller, manageable action items. This will also help you to avoid procrastination. Another great way to avoid procrastination and multitasking is to keep a to-do list of all of your tasks, sort the list in order of priority, and estimate the time needed to complete each task.
Stress, distractions, and negative self-perceptions are the most common causes of procrastination. Negativity and self-doubt can make any task seem impossible, causing some people to avoid priorities, wait until the last minute on assignments, or abandon tasks altogether. If you break down large tasks into small ones and take each one step by step, you can build confidence in your skills, abilities, and self, which can reduce procrastination.
Create a Dedicated Study Space
While a study space may seem unrelated to time management, it is an important factor for avoiding the distractions that may cause procrastination in an online bootcamp. A tip for creating an effective study space is to try to mirror some of the structure that comes with a professional space within a personal one for optimal efficiency. Find a study location that is comfortable for you, without clutter, and is separated from distractions, such as a television, gaming console, or front door. To avoid these types of temptations, make them inconvenient. Decorate your space with inspirational quotes, photos, and achievements to remind you why you’re pursuing your education goals in the first place. Another great tip is to put inspirational quotes, photos, and achievements throughout your space to remind yourself why you're pursuing education.
Use Time Management Tools
There are many time management tools and apps available online that can significantly enhance your productivity. Stay on top of deadlines, appointments, and to-dos with calendar apps, task management tools, and reminder apps. Some free calendar apps include Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, Fantastical, and Microsoft Outlook Calendar. Time-tracking apps may also help you improve your productivity by allowing you to see how you're spending your time.
Developing boundaries with people who matter in your life can help you manage your time more effectively. Let them know your goals, schedule, and how they can best support you while you pursue your goals. Be firm and clear, and remember your time, energy, and well-being are important.
Learn to Say “No”
Having a balanced life is important, but you must also learn how to say “no” to non-essential commitments that may interrupt your schedule. A big part of learning to say "no" is permitting yourself to say "no" and allowing yourself to say "yes" to your dreams and goals. Dedication now can go a long way toward giving you the foundation for a successful future.
Collaborate and Seek Guidance
If you are struggling with coursework or assignments, don't hesitate to ask for assistance. For clarification or guidance, connect with your instructors or peers, and take advantage of online "office" hours. Discussions and collaboration with peers and instructors can help you deepen your knowledge of the subject area since you can gain a better understanding of concepts and problems. This will allow you to better navigate your assignments and learn, as well as decrease feelings of being overwhelmed or isolated. Discussion and collaboration are also important skills in the workplace. In bootcamp, you can practice and refine these skills before you embark on your next career move.
Although attending an accelerated online bootcamp can seem intimidating, effective time management can help make it achievable and less stressful. Learn more out more about the Virginia Tech tech bootcamps including program details, the online learning experience, and payment options.