Learning new massage techniques and ways to expand your practice from the comfort of your home sounds simple, right? You’re in your own element, and you don’t have to worry about nodding off to some mundane, monotone speaker in a room full of people you don’t know. Heck, you can even “attend” class in your pajamas if you want. And no one is going to judge you.

But be careful: The allures of home study also have their hidden demons if you’re not prepared.

When you’re at home, distractions abound, and those who are fond of procrastinating can be more than happy to do their entire spring cleaning in one night if it means putting off studying.

Home study takes a great amount of self-discipline. Here, no one is looking over your shoulder to make sure you complete your coursework.

Before you embark on your home-study course, make sure you check with your national and state licensing bodies to make sure the courses you select are acceptable for your continuing education credits.

When you get that crossed off your list, make some goals—and stick to them.

Here are a few tips that might help along the way:

Set a schedule. Determine how much time is needed to complete the coursework you have selected. Divide that time into increments that are manageable for your already busy schedule. During this time, also let those who may live with you know you are not to be disturbed. Distractions lead to procrastination, and that doesn’t help move you toward your goal.

Study on your clock. Only you know when you function and learn best. Are you a night owl, or do you like to be an early riser? Home-study students should try to study when they are most alert. It’s during these times where you will be able to process and retain information most effectively.

Create a study zone. Find a quiet place in your home to create your home-study work station. It should be a place away from distractions that allows you to focus on nothing but your massage home-study classes. Within this zone, you should be able to keep your notebooks and other study materials. And when you’re in this zone, you should always be in a study mode.

Eat healthy. Studying on an empty stomach will get you nowhere fast. By eating a healthy diet, you prepare your mind and body for the rigors of home study. Have a light, healthy snack to quiet the grumbles and to achieve optimal brain function during study time. Studies have shown that students who have a proper diet retain information better during studying sessions.

Reward yourself. So what’s the fun in setting all of these goals without a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? When you complete simple goals throughout your course, give yourself a treat and a hearty pat on the back. There’s no need to get extravagant, but a little something to reward yourself for doing a good job makes the process better for you and your learning.

—Jeremy Maready

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