Flexibility is a Blessing but Structure is Important

Many online students point to the flexibility of online study as one of the main reasons they chose to go to school via the internet.  It is true for folks who juggle work, family and studies, being able to allocate one’s own time and formulate one’s own schedule is invaluable to succeeding in all these important tasks.  Sometimes, it is necessary to get creative with the schedule in order to accommodate the incidental issues that pop up in life.  In these cases, you may find yourself pushing study time into the late night slot, or scheduling family breakfasts instead of family suppers.  This may be a useful ability to have, but recent research seems to indicate that having a more stuctured daily routine is better for your mind and body.  Follow me over the fold for a synopsis and links to the research in question. According to a new study just published in the journal Sleep, keeping a daily routine may be associated with a reduced rate of insomnia and improved quality of sleep.  Human beings have a biological clock that regulates the natural rhythm of their daily activities.  When to awaken, when to eat, when to rest – these are all things that our bodies regulate through something called Circadian Rhythm.  Wikipedia defines the Circadian Rhythm:
“A circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle in the biochemical, physiological, or behavioural processes of living entities, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria (see bacterial circadian rhythms). The term “circadian” comes from the Latin circa, “around”, and diem or dies, “day”, meaning literally “approximately one day”. The formal study of biological temporal rhythms such as daily, tidal, weekly, seasonal, and annual rhythms, is called chronobiology. Although circadian rhythms are endogenous, they are adjusted (entrained) to the environment by external cues called zeitgebers, the primary one of which is daylight.”
As is noted, the circadian rhythm is driven by the cycles of daylight to darkness at night.  Although our modern, 24/7 existence frequently finds us at odds with the day-night cycles (think working the third shift or having a newborn baby in the home), it is still better for us psychologically and physiologically to maintain a regular routine. So, keep this in mind when trying to manage your busy life while integrating your course of online study.  Structure and routine may make scheduling a little more difficult, but the extra effort may pay handsome dividends in terms of productivity and quality of information retention.

11 Responses to “Flexibility is a Blessing but Structure is Important”

  1. Gabby Wells

    I totally agree with you that we all need a schedule. When people become parents, we are told over and over again that children need structure. I see many parents throwing that out the door when they become teens. I know when most of us become adults we throw out routines just because we are now an adult. It is only when we either become parents or have to work an office job that we start to value this again. Going to school online is great but it is so freeing at first that I know I started to have no routine at first too. But as the months went on in this program, I have started my own routine out of shear necessity.

    • Maria Boyer

      I totally agree that keeping a schedule is the key to success. When I started with Allen school, I was still working, and had to work my schedule around work. Now that I am laid off, I changed my school schedule, to make it like a job. Get a good nights sleep, get up in the morning as if I am going to work; log into my computer, just like I would at work; and work for at least 2 hours; take a break; then get back to it. It would have been really easy to just let things slide by as I have a lot of extra time now, so I had to discipline myself for the goal that I had set. Great Article!

  2. Claudia (Pinki) Hoeppner

    Anthony, this was a good article. How I relate. As an online student and living in Arizona, we have way more daylight than we really need. So, as an online student I took full advantage of “reversing” my biological clock for the last nine months. With our high tempatures durning the day, it was easy for me to be flexible in structuring my study time whild the sun was down. The high heat can and does take a toll on our focusing abilities.
    I did not deny, nor will I ever, my sleep patterans. I think by having consistincy with our flexiability allows us to determine our own struture for sucess. Bodies can be quite adaptable as well as the mind if we give them a chance.


  3. Venisa Matin

    Working and studying online full time with the Allen School was a bit challenging in the beginning for me. However, I adapted to the online studies by making a to do list and prioritising my tasks. This enabled me to meet all assignments deadlines and be able to have a balanced work, personal and school life. I started with discussion answers on a Monday night, did quizzes on a Tuesday night, posted responses on Wednesdays and completed all assignments by Saturday for the latest. There are a many advantages of online studies such as 24 hours access to course materials, flexibility, eliminated transportation time and costs to physical campuses. It takes a lot of commitment, focus and time but having a set study structure will definitely enable one to successfully complete online classes and will undoubtedly be a valuable asset in the workplace.

  4. I totally agree with the flexibility of online study as a good reason for any student to go back to school. It is very hard for me to attend an on campus class, because of the many obligations that I have schedule on a daily basic. Being able to organize and manage my own time for education has been a blessing for the flexibility of study online.
    I have succeeded with an Associate Degree, and know a Certification in Medical Billing Coding through Allen School while attending an online course via internet. So I advise anyone that doesn’t have the time to attend Campus College, to try study online course, which is available in many colleges through out the United States. Good Luck

  5. Viviana Colman

    Hello Anthony, very interesting article!
    Nowadays with the advance in technology added to the job marked demanding for more skilled professionals, many of us have to find non-conventional ways to attend school again, like online classes. Agree that structured schedule as well as organization and determination is mandatory to be a successful online student. I personally think that flexibility is a must have skill when learning a new career or skill through online classes. You have to set your mind and create a tide schedule to be able to balance working full-time, school work and family or personal needs. I believe that there is a false impression in regards to online lessons. Many people had said that taking an online course is so easy if you know how to use computers, but the curriculum and topics are outdated and you won’t be ready to obtain a job or pass a certification exam after graduation. I just want to say that registering with Allen School online was a great learning experience; the Medical Insurance Billing and Coding program was very well structured and developed. We were using the latest coding and billing guidelines, the Instructors are knowledgeable and friendlier plus the student services staffs are great and promptly reply my needs. So if you have a flexible personality type the structured program of Allen School can fit your schedule to learn a new career, think about it.
    Thank you,
    Viviana Colman

  6. Dana Lewis

    It’s definitely hard to try and keep your Circadian rhythm in tact when in school and working full time. I have a 3 yr old to add to the mix. I work until 1 or so in the morning and she wakes up at 8. Let me just say, not much sleep is happening for me. My Circadian rhythm is definitely without rhythm these days. But, as this is my last day of school, I look forward to a little less stress and maybe some more sleep! I’m hoping my daughter and I can soon mesh our routines so there will be more sleeping and less yawning. I’ve noticed that my brain is definitely not functioning as well as it should be without enough sleep. So, hopefully, I will get more sleep before attempting the certification exam.
    Great article! Keep them coming!!

  7. Jenny Ortiz

    I agree with this post. Some people believe that going to school online is very easy and you have no stress. You do not know the effects of it until you have experience it. When I started in the Allen School online learning I too thought it was going to be easier than attending an actual college, that thought went right out the door very quickly. If you don’t have a schedule you will never survive. You need time aside away from the duties of the house, the children, and the husband in order to succeed. The time you spend learning online needs to dedicated and uninterrupted. In the end that time is all worth it.

  8. Peggy Brown

    When I first started my studies with Allen School, people would ask me how I liked the flexibility of the online classes versus the structure of a regular classroom. I would tell them that having the flexibility was the best thing for me because I could work at my own pace, take a break when I needed to, and tend to my daily responsibilities. Now that I am close to graduating I realize how much my studies have become a big part of my life and that I am going to miss it.

  9. Debra McClelland

    I agree that having a schedule is very important to one’s well-being. When I started this course back in April I was a stay at home mom with all the time in the world. As I got into the course it seemed like everything started coming at me at once and I found myself falling behind somewhat because I took for granted that I had all the time in the world to do everything. So I re-evaluated my schedule and came up with the solution to do all my school work for a certain amount of time each day. Then by Friday I was usually done everything I had to do and had my weekends free. If one day I had more time than the next I would do extra work that day to finish earlier. It helped me alot to plan and take the time to write my schedule down on a calendar so I had a visual reminder of what to do and when I had to do it. This is my last week of school and I have done a really great job with time management and getting everything done.

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