How I stay Motivated as a Self-Paced Student

Posted by Amanda Murphy on January 28, 2019

January has been a month where I lacked the steam I really needed, so I reshaped my approach when I sit down to work on class. I wanted to share what I do in the event it helps anyone else.

1) Figure out how much of the course you have completed.

Okay, so first off, go to your Profile, which you can find by clicking the circle image in the top right corner and selecting it from the drop down menu.

I’m not sure how the progress numbers work. I believe that “Lessons Completed” includes labs, so that is how I calculate my progress.

Small number / larger number x 100 = percent complete

Take the smaller number and divide it by the larger (695), multiply it by 100, and you have a rough estimate of the percent of the course you have complete.

This doesn’t tell you everything because some lessons and labs take longer than others, and it counts the portfolio projects as one lesson–these will likely take you a week or two. (I’ve only completed my first one, so I could be wrong there.)

2) Determine your weekly goals.

Okay, now that you have your completion percentage, subtract that number from 100, and that’s the percentage you have left to complete.

Figure out when you would like to complete your course, and how many weeks away that goal date is.

Percentage left to complete / number of weeks = weekly goal

Divide the percentage left to complete by the number of weeks you have to work. This is the percentage you need to complete each week to meet your goal completion date.

I’m trying to reach 75%-100% completion by March 23. This is a little chart I made for myself in Google sheets.

3) Make yourself a physical checklist to check off as you complete each module/chapter/lesson.

I made myself a goal board and wrote a blog post about it over on my other blog, Intercoastals, so click here to check it out.

I didn’t write out every lesson, but I have each module (that’s what I call the big chunks–“Welcome”, “Intro to Ruby Development”, “Git and GitHub”, etc.) and below it a box for each of the chapters (what I call the folders that contain lessons and labs.)

This helps me visualize my progress and what I have left to do. I also love checking off the boxes as I complete chapters, modules, projects, and blog posts.

4) Keep track of your progress each day.

I keep my progress on a sticky note on my screen that looks something like this:

On it, I have my current progress, my goal for the week, and how many lessons I have to complete a day (I work four days a week.) I have the number of lessons I need to complete to reach 50% and 75% completion.

5) Count the number of lessons in a module.

Below those things on my sticky note, I have the number of lessons/labs (combined) for each module and the percent increase that I will attain by completing the module. I can often times convince myself to finish a section chasing a percentage I want to complete.

6) Open up every lesson/lab you want to complete.

Something new I’m trying is opening every lesson/lab in a new tab I want to complete that day. I get to close out of them every time I complete a lesson/lab, and I’m less likely to open an unrelated tab (like my other blog) if I can see how much work I have left.

7) Save the review videos in a YouTube playlist.

Unless you’re really attached to watching the review videos when they come up, you can save them on your Youtube playlist to view at a later time. (I watch mine on my phone sometimes because I have limited computer time being a toddler mom who shares a laptop with a full time Master’s student.) This doesn’t work for codealongs, so don’t skip those for now

Also, if it doesn’t disrupt your learning, try speeding the videos up to 1.25, 1.5, or 1.75 speed. I can generally understand what’s being said even if it’s at a faster speed.

8) Broadcast your goals and progress.

If you post your goals on social media or just share your goals with your friends or family, that can often times hold you accountable. I’m currently trying that out with my LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

9) Connect with the Flatiron family.

Hop in the Slack channel, join a study group, or share your experience on social media. Being a mom with limited time, I’m often unable to attend the study sessions, but one thing that has really helped me is tagging Flatiron and sharing my experiences on my Instagram and Twitter.

I love how involved the school is with their social media, and find that I get a lot of affirmation and feel like I’m part of a community (even though I live in the middle of a cornfield in Indiana where most people have never heard of Flatiron, and think programming is sorcery. #muggles)

10) Switch it up.

I tend to work outside of my apartment and have found that changing my study location can really help me hunker down and focus. Try a new coffee shop, your local library, or even a grocery store cafe. Mine serves beer, coffee, kombucha, smoothies, and juices and if you get hungry or need to do some grocery shopping afterward, everything is conveniently right there.

If you’re having a hard time concentrating on your lessons, try writing a blog post or two, watch your saved videos, or switch into the career prep course and read about your future job hunt.

(I skip sections to the lessons I want to learn if I get really stuck, but I’m a bad student. Don’t be me.)

I hope these tips help!

Let’s graduate and get jobs this year!

Xx -A