As students, most of us enjoy conquering the challenge of routine and mandatory study. Once we start a study task, we are usually motivated to see it through to the end. However, it is often the actual starting of the task that is the most difficult point to get to. Motivation can be the missing link, the spark to start you off or that kick up the bum to remind you what you should be doing. So how do you find motivation? And more to the point, how do you keep hold of it? Our research suggests that strong and long-lasting motivation is not a feeling; rather it is based on a series of habits. These 7 habits of highly motivated students are what you need to fire you up to get on with study tasks. Read on to find out more.
1. Motivate your body to motivate your mind
It is easy to forget that your brain needs exercising just as much as other parts of your body like your muscles. In order to look after your brain, you need to ensure that the rest of your body is healthy. How you do this is up to you but you should consider developing routines for:
- Aerobic exercise which stimulates the hippocampus which is responsible for learning and memory
- Calming exercises such as yoga, which helps control stress
- Healthy eating which gives the brain the required nutrients to work effectively - for example, you should always eat breakfast before you start work
2. Recognise procrastination for what it is
Procrastination is the archenemy of motivation and wastes precious time. Never has it been easier to find excuses to delay studying. Many of us run our busy lives through our computers, so even if we sit down in front of them with study in mind we are distracted by everything else that's on our screens. Once you have recognised procrastination, forming habits to avoid it is not as difficult as you might think. Here are some ideas:
- Close all programs and shut your computer down each night - that way you will have a blank screen in front of you to start the next day
- Choose a study space for studying and a relaxing space for relaxing - be strict with yourself about using these for the appropriate tasks
- Turn off all social media and email alerts - any type of alert, even if you ignore it will add distraction and raise your stress levels
- Allow yourself ‘official’ breaks - write the times of these down beforehand then if you need to check social media or perform other distracting tasks, you can do this during your break
3. Use media to motivate
The internet is packed with motivational memes, images and videos but it doesn’t have to be something that somebody else has created that motivates you. Pick a selection of songs, images and quotes and have these available for times when your motivation starts to fail. You might want to mock-up a picture of yourself wearing a graduation hat, or find a photo of the dream house you’ll be able to afford once you secure that dream job with a new qualification. You might find that music helps, create a playlist of motivational tunes and allocate times at which you will play them. One word of warning though, be careful your motivational media gathering doesn’t become an excuse for procrastination, be organised and assemble it at least a day before you start studying.
4. Maintain your mantra
A mantra is a phrase or saying that we use repeatedly in given situations. Originally related to Hinduism and Buddhism, mantras are also used in yoga. Repeating a phrase that means something to us can be useful in all kinds of situations. Find a quote or write a slogan of your own that you can repeat when study becomes tough or you feel motivation slipping away.
5. Record your progress
If you have ever used a tracking device to count the miles left to travel on a long journey, you will know that doing so gives you little milestones of achievement that you can celebrate. Far more positive than setting goals and being disappointed if you don’t achieve them, progress tracking can be as good a motivator as looking back down a hill that you have just climbed.
It is up to you how you record your progress. Some people enjoy mathematical representations such as charts or spreadsheets, others like to write their progress into a log. You could even phone a friend or have a cup of tea every time you reach a milestone. Once again, be careful this doesn’t become procrastination.
6. Be sociable about your study
When you are studying alone in your room, it’s easy to forget that there are other people out there who are going through exactly the same thing as you. Even if you are studying online courses, there are internet groups that will help with motivation - like Upskilled's student facebook groups. Talking to a friend or family member about what you are doing is also a good idea. Even if they don’t understand your topic, they’ll be able to listen and give ideas. Set aside as much time each week as suits you to engage other people in dialogue specifically about your study but don’t be tempted to stop mid-assignment to chat.
7. Stick to a plan
The key to putting all this into action is sticking to your guns and staying on track with a plan. Write everything down that you need to achieve and tick each task off one by one by following a logical order. It's a good habit to stick to and visualising your tasks and achievements is a simple way to get motivated and stay motivated.
These habits will all help you to find the motivation to succeed in your study but maybe the most important way to boost your motivation levels is to remember your goals. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in individual assignments but there is a bigger story to everybody’s study and it does us good to recognise ours when times get tough. Study was not designed to always be easy, it wouldn’t be worthwhile if it was, but there are ways that we can boost our motivation, so hopefully these habits will help you.
Perhaps some of these good habits could even become apart of your New Year’s resolutions?
Use these tips to help prepare for any upcoming exams
Or perhaps your motivation could be helped by choosing the right qualification