A question I get asked a lot is how you can stay motivated so that you are more productive when studying. If I am honest, studying when you do not particularly want to is harder than what a lot of people make it out to be. Or maybe that’s just me? The first misconception a lot of people have is that it is a breeze to stay switched on all the time. This is definitely not the case with a lot of people and the one thing I want everyone struggling with motivation to revise for exams over the holidays to take away from this post, is that it is okay to have ups and downs in your drive to work.
Building a habit of working hard is pretty crucial. A perfect example of this would be my own experience with extracurricular activities. I take pride in being a hard worker, so when I have nothing else going on in my life, I bury my head in my books to grasp concepts that would take other people half the time to understand. This means that when I am in my stride of working hard, I get a LOT done! But, as soon as something else is added in (the most recent being the Just Bollywood dance competition), this drive diminishes and as soon as the activity is over, I struggle to get back into the habit of studying efficiently. This goes to show that building a habit of studying hard on a regular basis really helps with keeping your motivation up.
Doing this is easier said than done. But I have found that improving my routine by carefully planning out exactly what I need to get done really helps. I mean, is there anything more satisfying than crossing off things on your to-do list…
Studying techniques are hugely important. I used to scoff at teachers that told me to reflect on how I study and whether it was efficient or not. Why waste time on figuring out whether the way I am studying is the right way for me when I could be putting that time to good use by working instead? But trust me when I say that identifying how you work most efficiently really does help.
Over the past few years, I have been using the pomodoro technique. Sounds fancy right? But just bear with me and it will all make sense. I am not the type of person that can study for hours on end without a break. The technique traditionally uses a work interval of 25 minutes (I use 30 mins because I can never get enough done in 25 mins) with a 5 minute break. After 5 work intervals you take a longer break of 15 minutes. What I find really useful about this technique is the fact that you can train your brain to stay focused for a short period of time; and as soon as you feel your mind wandering off to thinking about what you are going to have for dinner, it is time for you to take a break! I use the Be Focused app which you can download on all apple devices. They have a free version but I have bought the app for my phone and iPad; annoyingly it does not cover MacBooks with the purchase as you have to do that separately!
A post like this would be incomplete without talking about my faith. Reading the bible daily really helps me stay focused. In the busy lives we lead these days, making excuses for not making time for God is out of the question for me. Stepping outside the comfort of one’s own home, the sight we see around us involves individuals across generations with their eyes glued to technology (myself included!). For me, I use technology to strengthen my faith. It is not easy carrying around a bible that weighs a tonne. Instead, I use a Bible app by YouVersion. It is free and literally my saving grace! There are so many things you can do on this app such as highlighting, adding comments etc… But what I love the most is that you can choose to start reading plans that last from a couple of days to a whole year. Also you should check out this post for bible verses that have really helped me during my time at university.
The final point I want to make is a little cheesy. One of the things that really works for me is visualising success and failure. So whenever I feel like I am losing the will to live when sat in front of a large pile of work, I think about how I would feel if I did really well in the exam and then I think about how it would feel to fail. It is clear that the first feeling is better than the second and that in itself is a big motivator for me.