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4 Top tips for staying motivated throughout the year

20 October 2021

You may find the nature of your degree challenging at points over the course of the academic year. To help keep you motivated, UCL student Isabelle Osborne gives her 4 top tips.

Student studying in the library wearing a mask

1. Take regular breaks

With deadlines on the horizon, it can be tempting to power through work without taking well-deserved breaks just so you can get to the finish line. 

If you make perpetual working a regular part of your routine, you’ll soon find that you are unable to maintain your energy levels and will struggle to concentrate. 

Try taking regular study breaks to combat this. Resting during your working day - either by stepping away from the screen for five minutes at intervals that suit you, or completely shutting the books and doing a relaxing activity for a longer period - will help you refocus your concentration and, crucially, reduce symptoms of ‘burnout’. 

You should also make time within your week to completely step back from work and rest. Treat this time as time for yourself, and time when your brain can rest and rejuvenate after long hours of studying.

2. Turn a negative into a positive

Your motivation may diminish when you come across an academic path that doesn’t quite take your interest or you find too challenging. 

The nature of a degree - in its vastness - means there’ll always be something you must study that you don’t want to, and it is in these moments you may experience lower energy levels. 

Rather than turning away from these assignments, try and see the positives in them. 

Is there a particular critical standpoint that you can apply to your interpretations of the material? Is there a specific theme that you enjoy exploring in other areas of your degree that can be located within this area of study too? Can you cross-examine this particular topic with another topic of greater personal interest and provide a comparison? 

There’ll always be something positive in the aspects of your studies that aren’t your cup of tea, so try applying your own interests to the topics and modules you don’t find as engaging to keep your motivation for the subject high.

3. Create a vision board 

It’s easy to focus on the challenging moments of your degree: the missed grades, the long hours in the library, the overwhelming panic that comes with exam revision. It is in these moments that our motivation to carry on can slide away. 

One way you can combat this is through vision boards. Remind yourself why you came to UCL, why you’re studying your degree, and how these challenges will benefit you in the long-term once you graduate. 

Cover the board with motivational quotes from people who inspire you, images in connection with your dream graduate employer or career path, and overarching visions for the future. 

4. Vary your routine

A final contributing factor to reduced motivation is boredom. Sticking to the same monotonous routine day after day, week after week, could lead to a general loss of motivation to keep going on the same path until the end of the academic year. 

Keep things engaging and exciting by changing up your routine. If you usually go to the gym on a Monday, why not try going on a Tuesday for one week? If you do your seminar preparation on a Thursday afternoon, why not schedule it in for a different time? 

Make time for different social opportunities to break up your studying and try something new every week so that there’s always a unique moment that you’ve not experienced before.