Taking a massage home-study course is nothing like being in a classroom or lecture hall. With home-study courses, you’re on your own. There’s no one looking over your shoulder or telling you to pay attention. The only person you will hurt by not doing the work is yourself.

If taken properly, a massage home-study course can be a rewarding professional experience. Taking one of these courses, which can easily be found on the Internet, can be a convenient way to further your professional career as a massage therapist while working around your demanding schedule.

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

Prime study times. First ask yourself, when do you function and learn the best? Do you like to stay up until the early hours of the morning? Or, are you an early riser who works best with a cup of coffee at your side? 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.

Set a schedule. Everyone has a busy schedule these days and juggling work, family and even pet responsibilities can be daunting. But by determining how much time is needed to complete home-study coursework, you can work it in to your other obligations. 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.

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 no where 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. It’s like the carrot on the end of the stick for the donkey–give yourself something to work toward. Set incremental goals throughout your home-study process. And when you reach that goal, eat the metaphorical carrot. 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