10 ways to motivate yourself to study
13 November 2015
This is the time of the year when papers are due before Christmas and for most of you this means 2 or 3 deadlines in the next month.
It can be overwhelming because together with the studying can come a wave of questions where you doubt yourself on a personal level with thoughts such as:
'Do I even understand these readings?'… 'Am I going to be able to write something interesting and relevant?'… 'Am I going to do the right thing?'… 'Am I good enough to do this?'… 'Others seem to be more on top of things than I am'… 'What if I do badly?'
These thoughts are subtle but can lead
to difficult feelings that interfere with motivation. So to generate that
motivation you could try some of the following:
1. Acknowledge your resistance and difficult feelings with motivation
It may be helpful to write these feelings or thoughts down and then leave these on the side so you can then study.
2. Do not run away
Avoiding work can make
you feel deflated. This is emotionally more draining than having to go through
the frustration of reading for your paper.
3. Do not blame yourself for procrastinating now and then
Try to become aware of the habit and gently make
yourself to go back to the task sooner rather than later.
4. Try to understand your studying style better
What will make it easier for you to work? We are all prone to pleasant
experiences and it is natural that we tend to avoid uncomfortable, dry chores
and duties. So try to make your study experience as interesting as
5. Don't question your abilities
yourself down by comparing yourself to others.
6. Visualise yourself starting
yourself sit down and work even if this is for just 20 minutes. See starting
as a parallel process like a plane on a runway. You may start slow but you will
still take off!
7. Focus on the task at hand
the most important tasks and avoid multitasking.
8. Communicate to others any difficulties and/or what you intend to do
This can help you engage with the process and identify
the important tasks. Communication / externalisation can help you to commit
with immediate goals and you could also find out others points of view and
9. Take a time limited approach in which you schedule your tasks
Ask yourself 'how much can I achieve in the next 2 hours?'
instead of 'Can I complete all tasks?' In this way you do not get as
easily overwhelmed by the volume of study you need to do.
10. Remember that studying can be challenging and take you out of your comfort zone
Think about the hiking of Mountain Kilimanjaro; it is not easy and can even be uncomfortable but the pleasure comes when you begin to see the view from height, feel the fresh air and when you reach the destination you get a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Focus on the outcome and not the struggle to get there!
Zoi Kontakou, Counselling Psychologist, UCL Student Psychological Services