October 14, 2022

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room—carving out time to pursue any type of educational endeavor takes dedicated energy…and time.

If you’re an online culinary arts student, you may reap the benefits of a completely flexible curriculum in the comfort of your own home. For many, this is a major bonus—especially for full-time working adults who might also have kids to take to school or a small business to run.

However, in order to excel as an online student, it’s essential to practice exceptional time management skills and plan ahead—the two ingredients that can set you up for success. Here’s the skinny on time management for online students.

Identify Your Online Culinary School Commitment

Before diving into the best ways to manage your workload as an online culinary arts student, it’s critical to understand what the expectations might look like.

For online students enrolled at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, approximately 15-22 hours per week is spent on school related activities depending on program, credential, and personal pace. The online curriculum includes pre-recorded and live cooking demonstrations, live and archived video class sessions, cooking theory lessons, reading assignments, and labs with cooking assignments.

“I’d always struggled with [other types of] online school…So I was a little concerned. But [online culinary school at Escoffier] is so in-depth and so detailed.”*
Online Culinary Arts diploma graduate, Mike Harden

Students may manage this on their own time, as long as they meet their assignment deadlines and plan their weeks accordingly.

Pinpoint Your Time Wasters

It’s human nature to subconsciously search for distractions to avoid what really needs to get done. (Procrastination, anyone?) Before creating a time-management plan at all, it’s essential to identify any common “time wasters” you’re prone to that might hinder you from completing assignments.

Some of the common time-wasters may include:

  • Watching online videos
  • Binge watching television
  • Social media scrolling
  • Playing video games
  • Checking your email inbox
  • Tending to interruptions

Once you can recognize these time wasters, you’re more likely to bring awareness to these distractions when they’re happening, and nix them in real-time!

Map Out Your Week

The Escoffier online school starts on a Wednesday and runs through the following Tuesday. This type of schedule was intentionally designed so that full-time working students could utilize weekends, plan ahead, and ask Chef Instructors any questions about the curriculum.

Before the school week starts on Wednesday, you may want to carve out 1-2 hours to structure your week accordingly. This might include planning a trip to the grocery store to pick up any ingredients needed for your assignments. Many students prefer to map this out in a weekly planner, via a project management app, or simply on a notepad.

Escoffier baking & pastry arts student Katie Sualog is a dedicated mother of two and always strives to maintain a consistent schedule with a goal to graduate with honors.

Katie Sualog, Escoffier Austin Baking & Pastry Student“I wake up at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, and get out the door by 8:00 a.m. at the latest because my class starts at 10:00. After class, I pick up the kids, make dinner, and get whatever I need done for the next day, then start all over!”*
Katie Sualog, Escoffier Austin Baking & Pastry Student

Time Management Techniques

If you prefer a bit more structure when it comes to time management, here are some common methods to consider.

  1. Timeboxing: This intuitive method involves listing out tasks to complete on your calendar in “time boxes.” You can visually prioritize tasks that need to be addressed.
  2. Kanban: This common project management technique uses a visual board and columns outlining stages of a task. Once a task is completed, you move it to the next stage.
  3. Pomodoro Technique: After a 25-minute work session, you allow yourself a 5-minute break. In turn, you reward yourself for daily work output.

Tips for Time Management Success

Here are a few other tips and tricks to remember as you practice your new time management techniques.

  • Know your most optimal productivity times. Are you a night owl or an early bird? Be realistic about when you get the most focused work done.
  • Don’t bombard or overwhelm yourself by attempting to achieve too many tasks. Set yourself up for success by picking a few bite-sized things that feel attainable given your schedule.
  • Get into the right mindset before your week starts. Do something fun to recharge solo or connect with friends. Give your brain a break so you can be refreshed when you start your school week.

Complete Small Tasks First

James Clear argued in his book Atomic Habits that taking “small steps” each day instead of taking on this larger-than-life, “all-or-nothing” mindset might help you become better at something. It’s true—focusing on small tasks first can help form long-term habits that might help you achieve your ultimate goals (aka graduation).

Also, when we complete a series of small tasks first and watch these successes accumulate, we flood that reward center of the brain responsible for keeping our motivation up…and this means we can maintain that desire to achieve more!

Man holding a mug while using a laptop on the kitchen counter

Create a Reward System

As a full-time parent, entrepreneur, or simply busy working adult who’s also attending school, life may feel like a constant juggling act. Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, lose motivation, or even burn out.

When you build out your schedule, it’s best to carve out rest and recovery time or block out specific self-care activities. Think of it as a little “reward system” for your brain and a permission slip to recharge. This could mean taking a good snooze, hitting a yoga class, or grabbing coffee with a friend.

If you want to put your best foot forward as an online culinary student, this may be one of the best ways to keep the momentum going and stick to your schedule.

Lean on Your Support Network

Although studying at home might make you feel like a one-man show, you’re not alone in this process. Your Chef Instructors are an integral part of your support network at Escoffier—they can work with you if you need to discuss assignment deadlines or get help with a topic in the curriculum.

If you’re facing any obstacles along the way, you can always reach out to your Success Coach for support.

“I encourage anyone who wants to invest in their culinary career to attend Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts! Their online program is top-tier, and the staff work tirelessly to support students because our success is theirs, too. I worked 60 hours a week as an employee while simultaneously running my business and keeping up with my personal life while attending this school. Because of the support and grace from the staff, along with my determination to finish, I graduated from the Culinary Arts diploma program and completed my first semester in the Associate program. So if I can do it, anyone can.”*
Escoffier Online CA diploma student & General Manager, Leaf and Grain, Shamaya Williams Coats

Keep in mind that you can also build a vast peer network as an online culinary arts student, which is one of the best ways to talk through assignments or bounce ideas back and forth.

Aim to Thrive

Online Culinary School offers so many benefits for full-time busy working adults, especially when it comes to flexibility. If you really desire to crush it in the digital classroom, then you’ll definitely want to nail your time management skills and come to the kitchen as prepared as possible. Don’t wait to jumpstart your online culinary arts journey.

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*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.