Staying Motivated When Studying Is The Last Thing You Want To Do
Studying and motivation are often found on two different planes of reality. You would much rather watch another episode of The Flash or American Horror Story than crack open the books (or laptop) and learn, right? I know there are times I feel that way. In order to be successful, though, you have to teach yourself to show up and do the work, even when you don’t want to and feel like you just can’t. That’s why 4Tests has put together a list of seven tips to keep in mind as you struggle to stay motivated. Let’s get started!
1. Remind yourself of the stakes (both positive and negative).
The first thing to do when you’re dangerously close to those four dangerous words — “I’ll do it tomorrow” — is pause and consider the repercussions. What is the worst possible thing that could happen as a result of you not being prepared? Maybe you flunk out of the course, raise the ire of your parents, descend into a steady hole of failure from which you’ll never be able to escape? It never hurts to scare yourself straight. But at the same time, try to consider the POSITIVE outcomes that might occur if you succeed in what you’re setting out to do. You could pass the test, earn more trust and respect from your parents, take the first step in a path that will lead to a very lucrative career? Reflect on both sides of the coin, and you’ll find plenty of motivation.
2. Create micro-incentives.
If you’re not feeling all that imaginative, you might try this technique. Create micro-incentives for yourself by saying things like, “Okay, you can go to the bathroom and get a cup of coffee if you are able to put in one hour of uninterrupted study time.” From there, find a quiet place and start crushing it. If you need to study more than an hour, repeat the process with a new micro-incentive and keep going for however long you have to to feel comfortable with the material.
3. Establish pre-rewards and post-rewards.
Rewards are important if you want to stay motivated because they give you something that you can really look forward to outside of that bathroom/coffee break in item two. The great thing about the rewards system is that it can work regardless of your work ethic. If you’re the type of person who needs to get the work done — a “go-getter,” you might say — then a post-reward system is your best bet. That is, you only get the reward if you do the work first. If you’re a procrastinator, you can mobilize your ability to work by using a pre-reward system: “Okay, you can watch one episode of Arrow, but after that, it’s time to hit the books!”
4. Bring in a friend, who will hold you accountable.
Have a friend or a good acquaintance, who will be studying the same material? Someone you know will put your feet to the fire and not get sidetracked by your shenanigans, musings, and ramblings? Hang on to them for dear life! Give them a call and be upfront about the situation. “I don’t trust myself to study on my own, but I’m sure you can keep me focused.” They’ll likely be flattered you thought of them, and you might end up teaching each other!
5. Find a podcast or audio that deals with your topic.
Sometimes a great podcast or audio book on the topic is just the thing you need to approach the material in an effective and non-intimidating way. By hearing someone else reading or speaking to you about a topic you need to be studying, you greatly improve the chances of learning by osmosis. In other words, some things are bound to sink in, even if you’re not actively studying. And the more things that do sink in, the more likely it will be you find the motivation to continue on your own.
6. Seek help from a teacher and/or tutor.
No one can keep you focused like a teacher on a time crunch or a tutor. Some schools have free tutoring by other students, but if you’re paying for it, all the better! By getting someone knowledgeable who is capable of reading you and patient enough to stay with it until you get it, you’ll have a much better chance of learning no matter how much motivation that you lack.
7. Do it for ‘The Gipper.’
You’ve heard the old saying, “Win one for the Gipper”? Sometimes it is people who are the best at motivating us. If we have a friend, family member, or mentor that we greatly respect, we’re apt to try harder and take the commitment of study time more seriously. Ask yourself: do I have a “Gipper” in my life? Is there someone that I would hate to disappoint? Determine who your Gipper is, and let them lead you toward making the right decision.
Manufacturing motivation is difficult. In fact, it’s probably an inability to do so that leads to so many failing grades and test scores. But if you’re aware of the problem, you can start finding creative solutions. By incorporating some of the ones that we’ve shared above, you’re bound to find one that works for you. What are some things that you do to stay motivated? Sound off in the comments section below.