8 Productivity Tips for Online Course Creators
In the face of distractions sabotaging your concentration, the following tips can help you focus on building the best online course in a timely fashion.
Building an online course requires consistent dedication. If you want your course to be as good as it can possibly be, you will need to devote time to ensuring that all your materials are high-quality – this can be tough when you have a full-time job or a million other things vying for your attention. The following tips can help you to make time, and then make the most of that time to create your online course.
1. Capture your ideas throughout the day.
Ideas for online courses don’t always arrive while you are sitting at your desk trying to come up with them. Many online course creators have their best ideas when trying to get to sleep at night, while commuting to their day job, or while doing mundane tasks like cleaning dishes. Don’t let these flashes of inspiration get away!
You need to have a system in place that allows you to capture good ideas no matter when or where they come to you. The old-school method is to keep a notebook and a pen with you at all times, which is a good solution if you prefer to do your thinking on paper.
As you probably already carry your phone with you wherever you go, another option is to use a smartphone app to jot down ideas you want to develop at a later time. This could be anything from a simple note-taking app like Google Keep to a productivity organizer like Trello.
Whatever system you decide to use, be consistent. It is important to have all your ideas collected in one place. That way when you get some free time you can open up your app or notebook and immediately start working on one of your fantastic ideas.
2. Adopt a batch approach to production.
For every video in your online course, there are several steps that you need to complete. First, you need to outline the video, then write a script, record it, edit the video, and then produce any assignments that you want students to complete after the video to test their knowledge.
Each of these tasks requires different tools and a different mindset, which means that switching between them can be damaging to your concentration. A more efficient approach is to produce videos in batches. For example, you could shoot all your videos in one day and then set aside another day or two to edit them. This style of working allows you to stay focused on one task, such as editing, rather than having to switch between different tasks.
3. Set (and meet) mini-deadlines.
You probably already have a launch date in mind for your online course, but do you know when you plan to hit major milestones along the way to the launch? For example, do you have a date in mind for when you will finish shooting videos and start editing them?
Setting yourself mini-deadlines can help you to get your online course finished on time. Take the time now to put in place a realistic timeline for the production of your online course. Mark deadlines on your calendar to remind you when you need to finish each stage of production.
4. Reward yourself for meeting the deadlines you set.
When you work hard and meet one of your self-imposed deadlines, you deserve a reward. This can be anything from a favorite snack that you rarely allow yourself to have to a personal purchase that you have been putting off for a long time.
Be strict with yourself: if you miss the deadline, you cannot have the reward.
5. Turn off your email notifications.
Email is a useful communication tool, but every time a new email comes in it can break your focus away from the task you are working on. To protect your ability to concentrate, turn off email notifications while you are working on your online course.
Many people find it useful to check their email only at certain times of day. For example, you could set aside some time first thing in the morning to check and respond to emails. You could then check again at lunchtime and once more in the evening to ensure you do not miss anything important. In between those times, you can get on with producing your online course without distractions.
6. Block your social medial accounts.
When you come up against a difficult problem in your online course creation process, do you find yourself opening up Facebook or Twitter? Many people use social media as a way of procrastinating tasks that require a lot of mental effort.
Overcome the habit of looking at social networks by blocking them on the computer you use for work. On Windows, you can block a website by editing the hosts file in the System 32 folder and then restarting your computer. On a mobile device, you can use an app such as Stay Focused to block your access to social media apps during certain times of day.
7. Don’t worry about being a perfectionist.
When creating an online course, it is easy to get hung up on small details that are not really that important. While it might be tempting to re-shoot every video in which you stutter or make a slight mistake, you have to ask yourself whether doing so will actually benefit your students.
As long as your videos are easy to understand, does it matter whether the lighting on one of them is not quite perfect? Do you really need to rewrite an entire section of your course because you thought of a slightly better structure, even though the students you have asked for feedback had no issues with the original?
At some point you have to stop trying to make your online course perfect and focus on getting it out into the world. Set a target launch date and try to stick to it, even if there are still minor details about the course that you don’t like.
You can always update some parts of the course at a later date if you find that you really can’t stand the way your hair looks on one video or that you absolutely must eliminate your stutter on another. Often you will find that students don’t notice or care about minor imperfections as long as the overall quality of the course is high.
8. Outsource some aspects of your course creation if possible.
Depending on what your course is about, it might be possible for you to outsource some parts of the creation process. Working with the right video editor or freelance script writer could save you time without compromising the quality of your course. If you simply cannot find enough time to devote to your online course business, ask yourself whether you are trying to do too much yourself.
Creating a fantastic online course isn’t about making more time in your life, but about making the most of the time you have.
Even if you have a full-time job and a family to look after, you can still create a successful online course business. Wake up an hour earlier in the morning, or use 30 minutes of your lunch break. Pick away at it over time. Remember that it’s a process that should not be rushed.
In the end all you have to do is commit to making the free time you do have as productive as possible. Eliminate distractions from your life and focus on getting each online course completed in line with your target launch date.