A degree takes a longgg time to achieve. You might start your studying journey fresh and perky and ready to learn. But that positivity and motivated attitude will sometimes abandon you and leave you struggling to drag yourself to your desk to study.
In this blog post you’ll discover:
- That low motivation is normal and doesn’t make you a bad student
- 13 techniques to help you stay motivated throughout your studies
- Some freebies!
I’ve created some motivational wallpapers for your computer or laptop. I’ve picked the five quotes that keep me motivated and inspire me to work hard. You can choose from 5 quotes in 3 different colours with 3 different sizes for different screen resolutions. Download them below to try them for yourself.
1. Accept feeling unmotivated is normal
Even the most driven, hard-working people experience times when they CANNOT be bothered to do anything. Just because you sometimes feel like this it doesn't mean you’re a failure or a permanently unmotivated person.
For example, I’m super excited about my business. I enjoy the work, I have lots to do and a plan to achieve it. But sometimes I sit down on the sofa for a minute thinking about what I have to do…and I just cannot drag myself up.
You need to accept that sometimes you won’t want to study. You’ll have to find techniques (like those in this post) to help you feel more motivated so you can push through.
2. Write down your reasons for studying
Take 5-10 minutes and think about your reasons for studying. Take some paper and see if you can answer the following questions:
· Why did you start studying?
· What do you love about learning, the subject or your course?
· Do you have a dream your studying will help you achieve?
· Are you trying to prove something to yourself?
· Are you studying for someone or in memory of someone?
Write down at least 2-3 reasons and keep this sheet of paper near you when you study. You could stick it above your desk or in the front of a notebook. Any time you feel a little crappy or unmotivated, look at your list and remind yourself why you’re doing this.
If some of your reasons are future related (e.g. I’m studying to pursue my dream career), try to visualise yourself in this future state. Picture yourself at your graduation or going to work in a new job or career.
Visualising your future success may help you stay motivated in your present.
3. Recognise your achievements
Hands up who’s heavy workload often means you start working on the next assignment as soon as one is submitted?
As a busy student you may forget to recognise your achievements but this is so important if you want to keep your motivation to study high. As well as keeping a to do list you could also create an achievements list. Note down every task you complete so you can look back at the end of your study session and feel proud of the forward steps you’ve made.
You could also download my free study planner below which has a section for you to note your achievements as you study.
4. Try to stay on track
Do you ever get that feeling where you have so much studying to do and you feel so overwhelmed…that you do nothing and have a little lie down instead?? *don’t say it’s just me!*
If you fall behind with your studies you can start to feel overwhelmed and unmotivated, which can result in you falling even further behind.
On the other hand, if you try to always stay on track or even ahead of schedule you’ll gain momentum in your studies and feel more motivated to keep going. Check out this post for 13 ways you can catch up on your studies if you’ve fallen behind.
5. Find some motivational quotes
We need two things to get shit done: motivation and action.
If you are lacking motivation you may struggle to take any action and choose to procrastinate instead (we’ve all been there!). Likewise, you may get obsessed with finding motivational quotes or watching inspirational videos…and forget to use this motivation to do something and make progress.
Zig Ziglar explains the value of motivational quotes...
‘People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.’
So I would recommend seeking motivation or inspiration every day. Keep your eye out on social media or in books for quotes that motivate you. You could create a small list you can refer to when you need a boost. You could (quickly) look for a quote at the beginning of each study session and write it on a sticky note to keep next to you. Whenever you’re lacking motivation, read the quote, embrace the message then crack on.
To help you stay motivated I’ve created some laptop/computer wallpapers you can download here. I’ve included some of my favourite motivational quotes that will hopefully help you too.
6. Reward your hard work
You will be more motivated to study if you have something to look forward to after. Plan a reward for the end of every study session. This could be an early night with a new book, a hot bath, your favourite chocolate, or anything. It doesn’t have to be a big reward, just something that will make you happy and more motivated to study right now.
Download my study planner which prompts you to choose a reward for each study session.
There are other times you might want to plan a study reward. To stay motivated throughout your studies you could plan a reward for every week or month you are on track and complete your work on time. You could also plan rewards for after big assignments or exams.
7. Time will pass anyway
Never give up on something or postpone starting something just because of the time it will take. You may have put off starting university or you may be putting off signing up for your next module because studying takes so damn long. But remember, the time will go past anyway so you might as well spend it developing yourself and improving your life.
If you put something off for a few years those years will go by nonetheless and you will have missed out. It can be hard to stay motivated when you think about how many years of studying you have left. But don’t postpone doing something you know you want to do and that will improve your life.
8. Just 25 minutes
We’ve all had times when the thought of having to study for a whole evening just makes you want to groan (or cry). So one technique to help you be motivated to study is to tell yourself you’ll just study for 25 minutes. Anyone can study for such a short time.
Work out what small task you’re going to work on, get rid of any distractions around you and set a timer for 25 minutes. Work your butt off for that time and don’t allow your attention to switch to browsing the Internet or daydreaming. After those 25 minutes you’ll have completed one Pomodoro (yay!) and, hopefully, you’ll have completed your task. If you study knowing you can stop after 25 minutes, you’ll normally find you feel you can carry on. The short intensive burst of studying will have helped you gain momentum and hopefully you’ll feel motivated to continue. If you do, try another 25 minutes.
9. Find less taxing study tasks
Sometimes you know you have to study but you just don’t want to. Maybe you don’t feel that great, your tired or your brain just doesn’t want to work. Just because you’re lacking motivation does not mean you can get a free pass to ditch studying and relax.
‘You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days you feel good’ – Jerry West
Instead, find some study tasks to do that are less taxing on your brain. Click here for 15 things to do when you don’t feel like studying.
10. Disrupt your pattern
Have you ever sat on the sofa knowing you need to get up and study, but you can’t move?
Sometimes the only way to break out of an unmotivated funk is to disrupt your behaviour. Rather than forcing yourself to go to your desk, try to summon the energy to do something different. Go outside for a walk, even just round the block. Take a shower or put some loud music on and sing loudly or dance about for a few minutes. These small things might be enough to disrupt the lethargy and get you motivated to get some work done.
For more ideas for how to study even when you’re tired, check out this blog post.
11. Set realistic study goals
I used to write daily to do lists with 15-20 tasks to complete. This was setting myself up for failure as 90% of the time I finished the day with uncompleted tasks remaining – even if I was crazy productive.
So I’ve learned to be more realistic with my study goals. If your study tasks are regularly taking much longer than you expect then perhaps you need to adjust your expectations? Rather than feeling crappy and unmotivated that you only did three out of the five things on your list, why not just set yourself the task of three things?
Now this isn’t an invitation to slack off and achieve less each day. You want to make sure you’re stretching yourself and working hard, but setting unrealistic goals will just leave you feeling unmotivated e.g. trying to complete twenty hours of reading in one day. Instead, start paying attention to how long tasks are taking you and use this knowledge to plan your study goals in future.
12. Eat the frog or quick wins?
There are two different techniques you can use to gain momentum and motivation at the start of each study session. You need to work out which one will be the best for you, and this may change depending on the situation.
The first technique is to ‘eat the ugly frog first’. If I told you at some point today you have to eat two frogs, how would you do this? Some of you might say you’d leave it to the end of the day, but then those frogs are hanging over you and could leave you unmotivated to do anything else. So instead, you should ‘eat the ugly frog first’ to get it out the way. If you have a large or difficult study task to do this method explains you should tackle it first. If you do this you might realise the task wasn’t as bad as you thought and you should feel more motivated to tackle the less tricky tasks next.
The second technique is the ‘quick wins’ method. If you really struggle with staying motivated you might find it more effective to ease yourself into your study session. If you do a super easy task first you’ll gain satisfaction from ticking something off your list and you’ll hopefully feel more motivated to tackle the rest of your tasks.
So which method do you choose? If you’ve got a big task you keep putting off and is distracting you then tackle that first with the ‘eat the ugly frog’ technique. But if low motivation is really crippling you, try for a ‘quick win’ instead.
13. Make a task smaller
If you look down at your to do list and see the task, ‘write essay’ you’re likely to feel overwhelmed and thus unmotivated. Instead, split your large tasks up into smaller sub-tasks. Doing this will allow you to see progress as you complete and tick off each task which can help you stay motivated to continue.
So some possible sub-tasks of writing an essay could be:
· Create your essay document
· Brainstorm some ideas
· Plan your essay sections
· Draft your introduction
For help on starting your essay the right way, check out this blog post.
You should now know:
- 13 simple but effective ways to stay motivated while you study.
- Feeling unmotivated is not a one-way ticket to failure or an unproductive day. You CAN turn it around with these techniques