Sometimes it’s really hard to find the motivation to study. We might be feeling tired, unwell, or maybe just apathetic.
But, whether we feel like it or not, the work still needs to get done.
So, this week’s study tips are all about ways you can boost your motivation.
#1 Set a Direction
Most of us find it really hard to do things for no reason.
Think about it. You’d probably find it hard to save money just for the sake of saving it. But, if you were saving up for something in particular, you’d find it much easier.
Setting yourself specific goals is a great study habit that provides incentive and motivation.
It also gives you benchmarks to keep you on track and accountable.
If you set out on a long journey, without knowing where you are going or how long you’ll be travelling, you’ll soon start to feel unsettled and weary. Breaking the trip down into shorter blocks, planning rest stops and specific destinations will help keep you alert and motivated.
The same applies to your study.
When we achieve a goal, we feel positive and more determined to finish. The body releases a little shot of dopamine which gives us a further chemical motivation.
Even if you don’t have a long-term goal and know what you want to do after you finish High School, it’s a great habit to set yourself medium and short term goals along the way. What marks are you wanting to achieve this semester or this term?
Setting a goal for each short study session gives you a focus so that you don’t waste time. This helps you make the most of each session and ensure that each study session builds on the previous one and into the next.
#2 Find an Incentive
Take the time to sit back and use your metacognitive skills to consider what motivates you. Are you internally or externally motivated? Do you respond better to the idea of reward or punishment?
Many young people are externally motivated, doing things because other people ask them to do so, rather than taking the initiative themselves. As we grow older, it is important that we become more internally motivated, setting ourselves tasks and goals and providing our own motivation to complete them.
If you respond well to rewards, be sure to set yourself a reward for each study session.
If there is something that you want to have or do, tell yourself that you can only have it as a reward for completing your work. This will provide you with the incentive to knuckle down and study in an effort to gain the promised reward.
For many people this is enough of an incentive to get the work done.
But for others, the work involved may be seen as lesser value than the reward, and therefore not worth the effort.
Or, you might have little willpower and know that you will give in and allow yourself the reward even without completing the task first.
One way to counteract this issue is to take the opposite approach and focus on punishment rather than reward.
If you don’t complete the task, what will you lose? Often having to lose something that is of value to us is more of an incentive than gaining something we never had in the first place. We can often convince ourselves that we didn’t really want it anyway.
But losing something we already have – especially if we have already worked hard to achieve it – will provide far more incentive.
Again, if willpower is a big issue for you, ramp up the challenge.
Rather than having to sacrifice something if you fail, make the sacrifice before you start, to spur yourself on to win your prized possession back.
This works particularly well if you give the object to a sibling or friend who you know will never let you forget your loss and their gain.
Doing it this way means that not only will you have the determination to complete the task, but when you do so, you will have the added satisfaction of completing the task and reclaiming your possession from your rival!
#3 Avoid Perfectionism
Many of us don’t start the work, because we need to find the perfect way to start. You can have the best study strategies and study habits in the world, but you seriously struggle to get started because you can’t think of the perfect introduction.
But who says you have to start at the beginning?
Sure, if you were baking a cake or something, completing the steps in order might be important. And for some subjects, such as design, this might not be negotiable.
But for the majority of your tasks, if you’re struggling to find a way in, just start wherever you can.
When we complete a jigsaw, most people start with the border to help them sort some of the pieces and give themselves a point of reference. But there’s no rule that says this is the way jigsaws must be done.
If you just want to look through the box and find pieces that seem to match each other and start with a piece in the middle of the picture it really doesn’t matter. You will still get the jigsaw done and the final image will be identical. In fact, once you’re finished, no one will ever know that you went about it all ‘the wrong way’.
You should always come back and edit your work after you finish anyway. At this point your writing can be refined and tightened so that you say exactly what you wanted to say.
If you start the process and get really stuck, you can also ask for help. Teachers will always help students, but they can’t help you shape or improve something that doesn’t exist!
Besides, often we find that the task is far bigger and harder in our heads than it is in reality. Once we actually stop making excuses and knuckle down and start it’s actually not that hard. Or time consuming.
You just need to get started.
#4 Forget the FOMO
Sometimes we don’t want to do schoolwork because we are afraid that we’ll miss out on something more interesting.
Remember, while you are in school the majority of your friends will also be students facing a similar workload and deadlines.
If you have friends who don’t value study and constantly try to entice you to slacken off and hang out with them, focus on the long term.
Yes, you might have to miss out on a good party now. But when you get the ATAR you need to start the career of your dreams you won’t mind missing that party. In fact, you won’t even remember that you did.
Life is all about compromises and you will have to make plenty of them. Just be sure to remain true to yourself and follow your own dreams rather than giving in to other people’s ideas.
Knowing who you are and what you want will not only help you improve your study, but will help you go far in life.
For more tips on boosting your motivation, or other effective study techniques, check out our Youtube videos of study tips.