Do you buy lots of online courses when they are on special, or you get a two-for-one? Maybe it seemed like a great opportunity at the time, but then life happens and well you just get too busy to watch them?

know I have done it myself. I write down tutorials I’d like to read or watch and sometimes I start, but I get pulled away by other matters. There are some I get so engrossed in I cannot stop, but others not so much. Online classes, tutorials, podcasts … there are a lot of them these days, not to mention what you’ll find here on Photofocus and The Artists’ Notebook.

How do you make the most out of the courses and content that you want to watch?

Make a list

Go through all your classes and make a list, then work out what is for fun and what is potential for profit. Maybe you have self-improvement, technical questions or techniques you want to improve. Things like learning new skills for the studio, or when you’re out and about. Maybe there are business improvement classes. These days the list of what is available online is endless.

Make a plan

Once you have a list you can then make a plan. Perhaps you want to spend three hours a week on improving your skill set — one hour on lighting, one hour on learning a new technique in Photoshop or even learning better meditation skills or breathing exercises. Perhaps you want to learn how to use your camera better.

The list is, again, endless. But once you start to make a plan you can start to get enthused again. It’s like reading a book — it seems easy, but you can fall out of the habit and it can take a while to get back into the groove again.

Set realistic goals

Don’t say you want to finish every class in a month or a week. Decide on a few hours a week and stick to it. Set yourself a time and don’t go over it. Leave time for other ventures, like spring cleaning your website, and perhaps some much needed family time. Don’t lose sight of the big picture, but make sure there is ample time to concentrate on the task at hand

Follow through

If you need to practice what you are learning, then don’t forget to follow through with that too. Often online classes open the door of opportunity to explore other avenues, so make sure you give yourself time to do that too.

Finish one class before you move onto the next. Jumping from class to class and subject to subject can leave you at times frustrated and confused and this can lead to not finishing the class.

Learn to say no

Perhaps you have tried to complete a class again and again, but just cannot settle into it. Then perhaps it is time to say “No.” Maybe that educator is not the one for you.

Sometimes you need to try out different educators to see what clicks. Some people are naturally born educators and some are not. Perhaps the class is not what it was advertised to be, then perhaps it is time to request a refund. However if you have had access for quite a long time, that may not be possible and you may need to cut your losses. It is not the educator’s fault that you purchased the course and then sat on it for six months (or even longer).

What if you have no classes lined up?

Don’t panic — it’s perhaps the perfect opportunity to go find some. ThinkTAP Learn, Creative Live and others have so many choices. How about your favorite photographer? Do they offer classes or online tutorials? Many of them do. Is there a podcast on your subject of choice, or perhaps something you might find interesting outside your field of expertise? Are you a member of some of the thousands of Facebook photography groups? Ask peers what they can suggest.

We are in the digital age and everything is online for the asking, want to learn how to fix your dishwasher? There is a tutorial for that. Want to take a cooking class, there are classes for that. Time to get to learning, what have you got to lose? Pretty much nothing but time, and that may be in abundance.

Be sure to check out these photography companies offering free educational content.