10 Ways to be Self-Motivated while You Study
No matter what post-secondary program you take, you'll have trouble studying every once in a while. Your tiredness, distraction, or personal obligations will get in the way before a test or an assignment, so you'll neglect to study. Then, when your grades come back, you’ll mentally berate yourself for your negligence.
Don't let this happen to you. Even if you feel tired or distracted, you can still set aside some time to study. And if you can't make yourself focus, you can use strategies to boost your motivation. We've included some of those strategies below.
1. Adopt a Positive Mindset through Visualization
A negative attitude can prove fatal for your motivation. As dread and anxiety build, your ability to focus suffers. Before you even think about looking at your study materials, prepare yourself by adopting a positive mindset.
Like most people, you probably can't just decide to feel positive about long hours of studying. However, if you use visualization, you’ll beat that negativity fast. Simply visualize the future opportunities and experiences you'll have once you complete your program. Imagine all the things you'll learn and the people you'll meet. You just need to take this small step and study so you can make that vision a reality.
Visualize repeatedly until you have a good attitude about studying. Then you can progress to the strategies below.
2. Take a Walk
Exercise pumps oxygen and nutrients to your brain, improving your concentration. Take a 15-minute walk before you study. Even a five-minute walk will do if you can only spare that much time. Just make sure you get your heart rate up.
3. Have a Drink and a Snack
Once you return from your walk, drink a large glass of cold water and eat some healthy snacks. This will pump even more nutrients to your brain, so you'll concentrate even better. Healthy snacks include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Low-fat dairy
Fruits and vegetables will keep you hydrated, while the protein in nuts will keep you energized throughout your study session.
4. Prepare an Isolated Study Space
Find a quiet, isolated space in your home or apartment. You can choose your bedroom, or you can opt for an office or living room if no one will disturb you there. Once you've chosen a spot, prepare it:
- Clean all clutter so the area looks neat.
- Create a comfortable place to sit at your desk, on your bed, or on the couch. This could mean that you add a bunch of cushions, or it could mean that you simply drape a jacket nearby in case you get cold. Just add whatever will help you stay comfortable.
- Gather all your study supplies. You may need note paper, pens, pencils, a calculator, a highlighter, etc. Just make sure you have everything so you don't have to get up to fetch anything else.
- Place more water and snacks nearby, but use caution as you stock your study area with goodies, as you don't want them to become a distraction.
- Once you've made all your preparations, shut the door and all the windows. This will keep other people from distracting you.
5. Get Rid of All Distractions
Distractions can come in many forms. Sometimes scarves or ill-fitting pants can turn into a distraction, so wear clothes that fit comfortably so you won't fiddle with them.
Electronics can also turn into distractions. Turn off your phone so you won't feel tempted to call or text while your study. If you won't use your computer while you study, turn that off as well. But if you will use it, just make sure you stay away from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. These websites can turn into a huge time-suck that keeps you away from your studies.
6. Listen to Music
Few things motivate as well as music. However, just as your phone or computer could turn into a distraction, your music player could as well. Create a motivational playlist beforehand so you don't spend time switching through songs.
7. Set Goals
Many students find that goals help them stay motivated. When you sit down to study, write down some simple goals. Your goals could look something like:
- If I study for 20 minutes without stopping, I get to eat a snack.
- If I memorize 15 of these terms, I get to go on Facebook for 5 minutes.
- If I finish my studies in the next two hours, I can go to the movies.
You can make more elaborate goals if you want, but simple goals will do just fine.
8. Reward Yourself for Meeting Goals
If you decide to make goals, make sure you follow through with your rewards. If you don't reward yourself for the sake of time, your brain will feel tired, and you'll associate more negative feelings with studying. Give yourself rewards so you stay happy and motivated.
9. Take Breaks
If you keep your nose to the grindstone for hours upon end, your brain will get tired and stop learning or memorizing the way it should. Take breaks to rest your mind and body. Close your eyes for a few minutes or spend a few minutes reading, doodling, or doing something enjoyable. You'll feel energized so you can continue studying.
10. Don't Procrastinate
Whatever you do, don't put off studying. Studying may seem arduous, but it serves as a gateway to your life and career goals. Use the strategies above to stay motivated as you study.