Staying motivated

Maintaining motivation can be tough especially when that mid-semester slump hits. Learn some strategies for maintaining motivation, as well as ways to get help. 

How to stay motivated

You may start the semester feeling excited and enthusiastic about your study but find that as time goes by, staying on track becomes more difficult. There can be a few reasons for this. Maybe you find a particular topic boring or difficult or are feeling overwhelmed by how much work you have to do. 

Lack of motivation happens to everyone but when your motivation starts to fade the tips below may help: 

Focus on the positives

Despite the rigours of academic study there are always some positives you can focus on. It may be:  

  • The prospect of getting your degree. 
  • Having the skills and knowledge to get the career of your dreams or as one student puts it “Knowing that I am working towards making myself as resilient as possible, career-wise.” 
  • Passion for a particular subject or discipline.
  • Spending time with uni friends .

Have end goals in sight

Be clear about your long-term goals.

  • Why are you doing this course?
  • What do you want from your study? As one student puts it: “the satisfaction of improving yourself (plus money earning in the future).” 
  • What transferable skills do you want to gain?

Set short-term or interim goals 

An end goal can help with motivation but may not sustain it for the duration of your degree oprogramme.  You will also need to set interim goals. 

  • Break down big tasks into small achievable. goals. For example, if you have a test coming up in 3 weeks and need to revise two topics you could spend 30 minutes a day reviewing each topic. At the end of each week, you could test yourself using an exam from a previous year. 
  • Brainstorm to get started.
  • Start with something easy 
  • Perhaps, most importantly, make sure you reward yourself on achieving your interim goals, e.g., going to gigs, picnics with friends. 

Take things one step at a time 

It is easy to get overwhelmed when deadlines and assessments start piling up but focus on: 

  • Prioritising and planning based on assignment due dates and the workload needed for each assessment. A 40 % assignment will require more time and planning than a 10% one. 
  • Set a daily and weekly plan and stick to it. This can stop you worrying about what is coming up because you know you have it under control. Time management is key.

Figure out what works for you 

 It may take some time to get into a study routine and figure out what works best for you. Try to figure out: 

  • What environment works best for you e.g. Do you prefer working alone or with friends? Do you like to study at home or on campus? 
  • What type of study activities help keep you motivated? Active learning  techniques may help here, particularly when you are finding a topic hard or boring. 

 Set up a study routine 

  • Set up a study routine. It is much easier to stay motivated if you have a regular study routine and study becomes a normal part of your everyday life. 
  • Make sure your family and friends know about your routine, so they leave you to study in peace. 
  • Set up your study area to avoid distractions. Turn of your mobile devices and social media. 
  • Reevaluate your schedule regularly to make sure it is manageable and still fits your study needs. 

 Surround yourself with people who motivate you 

  • Studying with unmotivated people can decrease your own motivationLikewise, studying with very intense peers can add to your stress.  
  • Surround yourself with motivated like-minded peers 
  • Consider forming a study group. This can help share the load and help you stay focused. 

 Don’t let failure derail you 

 It is easy to feel demotivated if things don’t go as planned. No one is perfect so try to keep a positive mindset and don’t give up. Instead of dwelling on failure, look at this as an opportunity to: 

  • Learn and see where you went wrong. 
  • See how you can do better in the future. 

This also means that you don’t need to compare yourself to others as you are on your own learning journey. 

 Balance your time and energy 

 Study can sometimes seem all-consuming but remember it is just one part of your life. 

  • Schedule time out and activities you enjoy. 
  • Spend time with friends and family. 
  • Maintain a healthy body and mind. Selfcare is really important. Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. 

 Ask for help 

  • If you’re unsure, ask your lecturer and tutors – especially if your lack of motivation is due to a lack of confidence to complete the task. 
  • Confiding in friends and family can also help you manage stress when you are feeling overwhelmed. 
  • Check out University Health and Counselling for other support services.
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