When you think about writing that term paper or preparing for that exam, it feels like you’re facing an insurmountable task. You can’t get yourself to start working on it. You do anything else except study in the meantime: you clean up the room (twice), catch up on that Netflix show, and deal with all DMs.
But the clock is ticking. And you know you should be studying instead of doing all that.
Does it hit close to home? If so, you have a motivation problem. But don’t give up: motivation isn’t a muse that you have to wait for until she hopefully decides to grace you with her presence. You can take the matter into your own hands and make yourself motivated. Here are seven ways how.
Disclaimer. Every person is different, so some tips may jumpstart your motivation, while others may not. It might even happen that none of them work. If the latter happens, don’t panic: you can always get it done. For example, if you’re struggling with a homework assignment, there’s professional essay writing services that you can turn to. There’s always a way out!
Dismantle Your Task into Smaller Chunks
If your homework feels more like an insuperable mountain than a doable task, there is something you can do about it. The secret is simple: break that task into as many smaller chunks as you can. Then, commit to finishing one or several of those chunks in one sitting.
This ties in with one truth about studying: you shouldn’t cram. Ten hours of studying in one sitting won’t do you any good. It’s better to space out all of that in one-hour chunks throughout a couple of weeks.
Tip. If you still struggle to get started after breaking down a task into smaller ones, here’s a trick. When you’re about to kick off your study session, start with the easiest task on the list. It’ll be an easy win – and that rewarding feeling of accomplishment will help you move forward.
Study With Someone Else
Positive peer pressure can make you more concentrated and productive, too. When you’re not alone in your studying journey, you feel a certain level of responsibility towards others. So you’re less likely to find yourself procrastinating or slacking off.
For example, if you’re a member of a study group, you have to show up for its meeting – and you have to do all the reading and/or writing you’ve promised to do. Otherwise, you’d be letting other people down – who’d want that?
In case you’re struggling with a particular subject, you can also turn to a tutor. You won’t just have the motivation to do your homework before the two of you meet. You’ll also have someone to help you wrap your head around difficult material.
Find Your Reward
If you know you won’t enjoy working on that paper, you have to find a way to sweeten the pill. Promise yourself that if you finish this or that, you’ll go out for a walk, watch another episode of a TV show, or treat yourself to some takeout.
But such rewards can only go this far. They’re a good short-term solution, but they won’t work in the long run – all because they fall under the extrinsic (external) motivation category.
So, if you have a chronic problem with motivation, you’ll have to go on a self-reflection journey. It’ll help you define your intrinsic (internal) reasons to study.
Here are three questions to help you kick off this journey:
- What goals will good grades help you achieve?
- Why did you decide to take this class or declare this major/minor?
- How can this knowledge help you achieve your life goals?
Get Rid of Distractions
This won’t make you more motivated to study per se, but distractions are one of the main motivation killers. So, getting rid of them will help you muster – and hold on to – your motivation, especially if you’re distance learning.
Here are four basic tips for having a distraction-free study session:
- Put your phone in silent mode and put it somewhere where you won’t see it;
- Install an impulse blocker like Cold Turkey or RescueTime on your laptop or PC;
- Find a quiet place – or put on noise-canceling headphones;
- Work where you know you won’t be disturbed by your roommate(s), flatmate(s), or family member(s) – or warn them that you’ll be busy.
Come Up With Your Own Study Routine
Think back to the times you were in the zone while learning. What do they have in common? Can you identify what helped you get laser-focused and highly productive?
Perhaps, it was a certain playlist blasting in your noise-canceling headphones. Or, you found the right spot for yourself. Or, you had a cup of coffee by your side.
Whatever might have kicked off your concentration, make it a part of your routine from now on. It’ll change your attitude to the process itself, too: you’ll think of it as more enjoyable and rewarding.
Aim to Be an Active Learner
Here’s a common reason students have this “Why bother?” or “Ugh” attitude towards studying: passive learning. If you’re a passive learner, you consider your main task to be memorizing all the information thrown at you, reproducing it during exams, and forgetting it afterward.
Active learning is the opposite of that. It means creating links between new information and what you already know or have experienced. That way, you won’t just be more successful at retaining knowledge – you’ll also feel like you’ve learned something useful.
Here’s what active learning can mean in practice:
- Figuring out how you can apply this knowledge in your life. For example, if you have your own venture, see how what you learn can improve it;
- Researching case studies to see how this knowledge has already been put into practice;
- Participating in group projects to come up with a practical application of the theoretical information.
Just Get Started
Think about your homework this way: you’ll have to do it anyway, either now or later. So, why not just get it over with? The sooner you do that, the sooner you can exhale with relief and stop stressing about that task.
So, once you catch yourself procrastinating, remind yourself of that – and start working on the task.
Sounds easier said than done? You can use these two techniques to trick yourself into getting started:
- Promise yourself you’ll work five or fifteen minutes on something. Chances are high that you’ll get so caught up that you won’t even notice how you pass that time limit!
- Set a five-minute timer. If you don’t want to start right away, this timer won’t let you turn those five minutes into fifteen and then an hour.
Learning to get motivated to study is a continuous process. You probably won’t nail it on the first try. You’ll have to experiment with different approaches, like the seven above, and see which ones work for you.
Then, once you figure that out, turn them into habits. Incorporate them into your learning process, and you’ll have a whole system to get yourself studying whenever needed.
But remember: whenever motivation fails you, turn to self-discipline instead. There will be times you won’t feel like studying, and none of your usual tricks will help you. In those cases, you’ll have to rely on your willpower and organization skills – and that’s just part of life.