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June 13, 2011

Study motivation

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Written by: Kyle Raffo
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happy studying

Skipping lessons to stay in bed? Here’s how to avoid sleepwalking through your course, and get motivated.

If you’re hoping to give yourself a kick up the backside, begin by understanding why you’ve lost momentum in the first place. Only you can decide what’s behind your work-shy attitude, but here are some of the main offenders:

  • Lack of focus – any long-term goals, like graduating, don’t register
  • Lack of interest – your coursework leaves you cold
  • Lack of drive – you’re not good at working under your own steam

Other factors can include stress, depression, the break-up of a relationship, or problems withdrink or drugs. The key is to highlight what’s holding you back, in order to take steps to overcome the situation.

Share the problem

There’s no shame in admitting you’ve been slacking. In many ways, it takes courage to admit the only time you get your head down is when it hits the pillow. What’s more, people will want to help. Whether it’s a good friend, a course tutor or your student welfare officer, they can help you get back on track. But first, of course, you have to want to help yourself.

Prepare to change

So you’ve worked out what’s gone wrong, and taken steps to sort any underlying issues. With nothing to hold you back, you need to look at ways of firing your enthusiasm. There are several strategies, outlined below, but first establish the willpower to make them work for you. That you’ve identified a problem with knuckling down is an important first step. It shows you want to make a change. The key now is to build on it.

Motivation made easy

Get the work done properly, and you can kick back with a clear conscience. Here are the only four steps you need to achieve it:

  • Create the space
    Wherever you live, from a hall of residence to shared accommodation, establish an area for you to work.  Even if you don’t have a desk, restricting a small area for you to open your books will help to create boundaries between work and play.
  • Ditch the distraction
    Consider your working environment, and cut out anything that tempts you from the task at hand, such as the telly or even music. If you just can’t work in silence, go for tunes without vocals or anything so complex you feel compelled to shut your eyes and listen. Review the state of your social life too. Instead of going out late through the week, consider staying in until the weekend, when you’re free to party with a clear conscience.
  • Establish a work schedule
    Often a fear of the workload ahead is enough to tempt many into work-dodging habits. The run up to exams is a case in point, and at no other time is it more crucial for you to get a grip. The way forward is to break up the slog into more manageable sessions.
    So, if you’re faced with six hours worth of work, for example, why not split it into three two-hour sessions? You’ll feel like you’ve achieved something faster, which is a buzz that’ll keep you going.
  • Create regular breaks and rewards
    There’s nothing like the prospect of a treat to keep you focused, so be sure to pepper your sessions with them. Five minutes free time every hour, for example, will help to maintain that spark and drive. Use the opportunity to leave your working environment, get some fresh air, or do something that is rewarding to you.
    Also think on a long-term basis, and line up something really special for getting through your exams or academic year. As for the moment that you graduate, if you can say you’ve worked your hardest then you’ll be guaranteed to enjoy the rest and relaxation that follows.


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