Becoming an expert in any field takes years and years of work and learning. Even so, most subjects are complex, and it’s hard to keep up with new findings or trends.
When you’re a course creator, this becomes glaringly obvious. For example, you could feel super confident about your knowledge, only to find more and more information as you’re doing the research for your upcoming online course.
That’s why course entrepreneurs often find themselves going down the rabbit hole. The more you research, the more you want to add to your course and share with your learners. This is a natural tendency for most passionate and curious people.
However, if you find yourself stuck at this phase, you run the risk of pushing your online course launch date even further!
Other research slump “symptoms” include:
- Thinking that the next article, book or video that you stumble upon means you have to change your whole approach;
- Struggling to curate and choose the most relevant information;
- Talking too much about your course, but not actually doing any work;
- Procrastinating all day, especially when you should be researching or organizing your ideas.
7 Easy ways to get out of the course creator’s research slump
Anyone who has to work with a lot of information and data can go through a research slump, but there’s the added pressure that you have to deliver the correct information to learners.
That’s why today we’re tacking research slumps and seven ways to get out of it:
Renounce the “all or nothing” mindset
It’s hard to get things going again after days or weeks of doing nothing related to your online course.
Often, the “all or nothing” mentality is to blame. We live in a hustle culture that tells us how to do more and more without considering that we’re all just doing our best (and that’s good enough!). This type of thinking actually leads to procrastination because we seek perfection and want to cram many tasks in a single day. Of course, the more you procrastinate, the harder it is to motivate yourself, and so it snowballs into a bigger problem.
We need to normalize the idea that doing something every day, even for half an hour, is far superior to doing nothing for many days. Even taking two minutes to write something down is better than nothing!
Goals, goals, goals
Setting objectives and milestones is a big part of building your online course. They help you keep on track and act as motivators since checking things off your list is pretty satisfying.
However, they also help you choose the best content and topics. Whenever you feel stuck in your research, remember that you don’t have to cram all the information into one course! On the contrary, as long as you have clear learning objectives, you can weed out anything that doesn’t serve your course goals.
Additionally, if you like a subject that just won’t fit your course, save it for later use. You’ll be thanking yourself for planning ahead for whenever the next research slump strikes.
Organize your research
If you’re anything like me, you probably have a few post-it notes, notebooks, agendas, planners, and even digital notes scattered around.
Maybe that’s part of your process, so you don’t want to mess with it. However, having a good system for research, even if it’s your own, can be a lifesaver.
For example, what I like to do is keep a spreadsheet of articles and topics. This helps me save a lot of time. Plus, this simple method comes in handy for a course entrepreneur because you can categorize research content by learning objectives. If you have your course outline planned out, add content that you plan to use for each module.
Plus, consider scanning relevant ideas from your post-its and notebooks, and then you can add them to the spreadsheet as well!
Try time blocking
Plan your tasks as you would plan any other meeting. Set aside a time and place to do something and actually show up for it!
Many entrepreneurs and work-from-home people prefer this time management method because A. it works, and B. it allows them to schedule fun things to do in addition to work.
This means setting a time specifically for research or organizing research. Time-blocking takes some pressure off your shoulders because it gives you “the permission” to stop working on this after an hour or two and move on to other things. Did I mention that there are breaks involved? If you want to read more about time-blocking for online course creators, check out the link below.
Do specific research tasks
If I were to write “research” in my calendar, it would get me nowhere, or worse, down the rabbit hole again.
However, if I write “research Marketing tactics for Employer Branding Strategy Module,” that could get me somewhere.
Work sessions, even brief ones, to work on accomplishing concrete goals, are so much better than jumping from one thing to another, even if you’re reading a book chapter or hitting up your friends for advice.
Prioritize research before repetitive tasks
If you’re like most people, you’re at your best when you’re not tired. Plus, even advanced researchers can’t focus on reading journals and deciphering data when they’re wiped out.
Now, there are two ways of thinking about the perfect time of the day for research. Some say you should start with small and repetitive tasks such as checking your email to get the ball rolling. This isn’t necessarily bad advice, but it can become a major time waster if you do small tasks during your most productive hours.
Of course, the “most productive hours” are different for everyone, so it’s up to you to figure out when they happen and do the most important things during that time window. Remember that one hour of focused research is better than three hours of unfocused work.
Don’t do it alone
As The Beatles used to sing, “Don’t you know I’m gonna make it with my friends? (Ah, with a little help from my friends)”, we all need a little help sometimes.
If you’re in a slump, it’s worth reaching out to your community. Maybe you know other course creators or small businesses owners who can help you out. They’ve been through the same things as you. Perhaps you have a friend who can hold you accountable to stick to your course launch deadline!
Or, it can be as simple as working alongside a friend, face to face, or via web conferencing. Organize research sessions in which you sit at your favorite coffee shop and get.things.done!
In a nutshell…
It’s easy for any course entrepreneur to go down the rabbit hole in research for the perfect answers to their learners’ needs. However, avoiding the “all or nothing” mentality or organizing your research process can help you get out of research slumps and avoid derailing your online course launch.
Ioana believes that learning doesn’t stop when school stops. When she is not writing about learning and ed tech, she can usually be seen reading a book and drinking lots of coffee.