Learning! It’s at the core of the 7th habit of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Effective People – Sharpen the Saw! You need to continually enhance your greatest asset, which is You.

The advent of MOOCs has revolutionized the learning space and has made it easy to learn. You don’t have to struggle to find good courses in the area of your interest nor do you have to depend on your employer to arrange training. You get to register for sophisticated courses from top universities in the world in just a few clicks and no money at Coursera. You will find many other MOOC providers if Coursera doesn’t offer a topic, albeit at some fee. Yes, we are indeed spoilt for choice. But this has created a new problem.

As easy as it is to register for a course, it’s hard to complete it with the ongoing juggle in our lives. We don’t have the luxury of time. In fact, we don’t even remember when we had it last! So, it’s not surprising if you have several incomplete online courses in your name. But it doesn’t have to be so. If you deliberately organize yourself, you could indeed complete the courses and enjoy their benefits.

So, here is a 7-step plan to complete online courses along with the juggle of your Life

  1. Make the content omnipresent – The first action must be to organize the course content so as to make it handy. This would mean a few things. Add a Bookmark to the course web page in your computer browser – preferably in the bookmarks bar. Also, let your browser “Remember me”, so that you don’t waste time typing your credentials to get in. If you have set your browser to share bookmarks across all your devices, you will have to do nothing to get the bookmarks in your Smartphone/Tab browser, but otherwise do it explicitly.
  2. Eat the elephant – The only way to eat an elephant is by taking one bite at a time! Do not wait for a shiny day, that you will spare to do this only one thing! The day will never come! It’s like trying to swallow the entire elephant. Be content with what you can achieve in smaller pockets of time. Thankfully these courses are already divided into small units.
  3. Grab those little unused pockets of time– Now that we have decided to consume the content in smaller, bits, the next question is, when? If the course doesn’t use a lot of presentation material, you could do it along with other physical rituals. Here are my top favorites – evening walks, chopping vegetables, and exercise sessions. Connect your headphone, start the unit and get on with the physical activity that requires no specific mental focus. The course starts moving inch by inch, each day! In short, connect the coursework to one or more of your existing rituals.
  4. Track the course completion – Most courses are expected to follow a certain order. In either case, prepare a tracking table where you could keep marking the completed units. This mode of tracking helps in a way to even pat your own back, on your progress and get motivated to push forward the work. Create a dedicated folder for this course on your computer to keep this table and everything you produce.
  5. Keep an eye on takeaways – After each section, you will have to ponder on the key takeaways. It would be best if you kept collecting those points while you are undergoing the course. Put them together section-wise in a document
  6. Get The Big Picture – Once you complete all the sections of the course, you will need to get a big picture of all the lessons together. It can come in many forms, but the one that I like is Mind Map. You could create a couple of mind maps that slice and dice the whole information and help to form your mind with respect to this knowledge!
  7. Let the Rubber meet the road – It’s one thing to gain knowledge and it is quite another to apply it. You should find avenues to apply the knowledge.  You should set some relevant goals and plan for them. Now, a train of elephants is walking toward your dining table! But you know now how to eat an elephant, so get all those goals and the steps required to attain them in your work management system and track them towards their completion.

Happy Learning

(Originally published in Times of India on July 31, 2022)