How to be motivated to study?
It is not easy to get motivated to study. Students know this. The reason is that our brain is trained throughout evolution to avoid hassle and pain. Thus, our mind hates responsibilities and challenging undertakings.
Is it really hard to study? Actually not. Before I became a teacher, I was a student who faced the same problem. But I am proud to say that at least, I managed to fight against my greatest enemy – my mind.
For most students studying is the most boring thing to spend time with. Most students don’t study not because studying is hard but because it is boring. So they end up watching TV or YouTube videos, scan their social media accounts, or talk with their friends on the phone.
Unfortunately, these habits are unproductive. If you continue to spend your time in these activities, you won’t make any progress in your academic journey. This is the reason why most students become stressed when exams are fast approaching.
If you are a student who wants to make difference in your academic journey, you should start to pursue a new path. You should be fighting against procrastination. In this post, I will be sharing with you the effective secrets on how to get motivated to study at school. Say goodbye to procrastination. So let’s start.
1. Understand procrastination
Before you can come up with an effective solution to a certain problem, you need to understand the problem first. This principle can be applied in this case. In order to defeat procrastination, you need to discover the reasons why you lose motivation to study.
In most cases, you have no idea why it happens to you. This is because procrastination is a complicated behavioral problem. It involves several causes. The following are the common reasons why you procrastinate.
First, you procrastinate because you believe that you cannot accomplish your homework alone.
Second, you think that studying is boring and it’s better to do something else instead.
Third, you think that there’s a perfect time to study or start your school projects.
Finally, the project overwhelms you thus you don’t know where to start.
You need to realize that understanding these reasons is the first step to overcome procrastination. The truth is that these reasons aren’t true. You simply underestimate your capabilities. Or, you are just allowing your mind to control your body.
The ultimate way in overcoming procrastination is by controlling or reshaping your line of thinking. You are more powerful than you think. There’s more you can do to complete any task given to you at school.
2. Divide the task into smaller pieces
One of the reasons why students procrastinate is that they tend to do all things at one time. This is overwhelming especially if the task requires a lot of time and effort.
The best solution to this challenge is to break the assignments into smaller pieces. Then schedule a certain time of day to accomplish every little piece. The smaller pieces are easier to be done and less stressful.
For instance, if you were given a reading assignment, instead of reading the book in one day, you can schedule one page or chapter a day until you finish. However, the scheduling in this regard depends on the time you have. Calculate the time before the deadline and chunk the task inconsonant with the time.
In addition, to avoid becoming stressed, start early in your project. This is the best practice I can share. How early? Well, start your project as you receive it.
3. Reward yourself in every small accomplishment
Reward or reinforcement is a powerful tool to keep yourself motivated to study. It could be anything from eating your favorite food, watching your favorite TV show, or a short break for relaxation.
Every time you finish a little part of your project, give yourself something that makes you happy. Have a break for a couple of minutes. Go and watch TV or eat your favorite snacks.
This technique will not only get you motivated but also allows you to maximize time especially when you’re studying.
Research shows that a five to ten minutes break helps your brain hold all the information you want to retain. This is because its ability to focus only lasts for 25-30 minutes. So studying more than 30 minutes is futile. The solution is to have an interval. Every 25 minutes or so, you should stop reading and then relax. Then go back later after several minutes.
4. Develop an effective study habit
The reason why students fail at school is not that they are less capable but because they lack effective study habits. The good news is that you can be anyone. What I mean by this is that as human beings, we are capable of designing our own identity and behavior.
With that said, nothing is impossible. You can decide what kind of student you want to be. You can decide what type of study habit you want to implement to yourself.
When I was a student, I had a habit of reading my books and notes whenever and wherever I could. It was effective for me but may not work for you. You are the only person who can determine what works for you best.
But like developing any type of habit, trying to be an effective student is not easy. You have to put it in your consciousness first before it becomes an automatic behavior. Practice is a key. But it takes time. One research suggests that it takes 21 days or more of practice to develop a habit. Beyond that time duration, a behavior you previously think difficult becomes automatic and easier.
5. Be clear about your academic goal
Before you can achieve anything, you need to figure out what it is you want to achieve. This is true at school too. Before you can achieve a high grade, you have to be very clear how high a high grade is.
This is called clarity. Tony Robbins says that clarity is powerful. It is easy to get motivated if you know your specific goal. And goals that are clear are easier to achieve than the vague ones.
Once you’ve figured your academic goal every semester, you will be enticed to push harder until you get it. Believe it or not, your success in school depends on the standard you set for yourself, not on your IQ.
However, the higher the standard you set for yourself, the harder the work it requires. You have to be willing to embrace the hardship. Accept the fact that what you are going to do is not easy. It is really hard. This is the reason why only a few students do it.
Ultimately, if you stuck or feel ready to quit, pause for a moment and remember all the reasons why you badly need a high grade. You want to do it because you want to:
- Develop a better version of yourself
- Achieve the high level of success
- Be a more competent student
- Have a bright career in the future
- Prove that you are capable of achieving your goals
- Live your life to the fullest
Remembering these reasons when you lose motivation can reignite the flame inside. The new breed of motivation will arise that fuels you to take another mile.
6. Create a mind map to organize the topic
What makes studying difficult is because it requires attention and focuses on multiple information. If you are not an organized person you will find it overwhelming. One way to manage and organize all the information is by making a summary.
If you summarized a large topic into a small list, it makes you feel comfortable to study and less intimidating. So the topic becomes easier to remember.
But aside from this traditional way of organizing materials, you can also have a mind map. A mind map can be more powerful than the traditional way of organizing the topic that you’re studying.
There are many ways you can create a mind map. You can use the pen and paper method or on your phone and computer. There are apps online that will allow you to create a mind map. It’s the personal preference that matters here.
7. Love your subjects
It is easy to get procrastinated when you hate your lessons. And you hate the lessons simply because you are not interested in them. In this case, the best thing you can do is to trick your mind. Instead of hating your subjects, why not love them?
Well, this is not easy. But you can absolutely do it. You just need to remember that your mind tricks you. So your feeling towards the subject is just the mind doing its manipulation.
If the problem stems from your thinking pattern, one way of changing it is through the mind. Challenge your belief about the subject. Instead of instilling hate, why not cultivate love and passion?
Reversing the feeling will have astonishing positive result in your behavior. What you need is just a pinch of reverse psychology.
8. Do not memorize
One of the greatest mistakes that most students do is memorizing without understanding. This is called rote memory.
Rote memory is useless because it is not helpful in retaining the information you need. Reading without understanding is not studying at all. You will surprise later how much information you miss. When this happens, it is easy to believe that you are less capable. But it’s not.
The truth is you don’t implement the right study strategy. Instead of memorizing, understand the topic. This is the best practice. Because once you understood the concept, you’ll never get confused.
The problem with memorizing without understanding is that once you miss the piece of information, the sequence will break. Thus, your mind will not know how to proceed. So don’t memorize. Understand what you’re reading.
9. Teach what you’ve learned
One way of examining whether or not you’ve already understood the topic is by sharing it with other people or friends. Try to explain the topic in your own way. If you can tell them what the topic is all about without difficulty, then you really got it. If not, then you might not fully understand it.
Doing this technique will not only make you sure you get it, but also help your mind refresh the information. Remember that the brain works better with constant stimulation. This is the reason why a behavior you constantly engage with will become easier than the first time you do it.
Practice makes perfect as you might already hear from others. But what it really means is that constant practice strengthens the neural connection in the brain making the information easier to retrieve whenever you need it. A habit, for instance, becomes automatic because it is constantly rehearsed.
10. Study smart, not hard
This may be against the conventional advice. But to succeed in school, you need to be smart. This does not mean that you are lax with your study. Of course, hard work is part of the process in attaining success in school or in real life.
However, you might be surprised to know that studying for long hours a day is not effective. That’s right. A two-three hour of non-stop reading and memorizing is not effective. In fact, it will only cause burn out. Your motivation will just drain.
Clearly, what allows you to succeed in school is not the long hours of studying but short and intermittent study sessions. The brain cannot absorb all information in a single shot. It needs rest. As mentioned earlier, the brain needs relaxation.
Planning is a key ingredient to get motivated to study all the time. You don’t have to study for long hours. You just need to implement effective study hacks to maximize your energy, time, and resources without getting burned out.
11. Realize that motivation will not last forever
Although I am talking about how to be motivated to study here, I cannot discard the fact that motivation will not last forever. What this means is that no one can be motivated all the time. Everyone experiences the decreasing level of excitement to get a certain task done.
This is normal. It happened to me many times and it will happen to you too. But instead of punishing yourself by not being motivated, you need to accept the fact that it is normal to feel that way.
But here’s what you can do. Instead of relying too much on motivation, develop a habit of accomplishing things even in times when you don’t feel good doing it. Read your books or write the essay even if you’re not motivated to do it at the moment.
Waiting for a motivation to strike again before starting a task is simply a waste of time. Remember that in school, everything has a deadline. The only way to finish your project is by making progress no matter how small. So don’t rely on motivation alone. Develop a self-discipline.
12. Always sharpen your brain
Your brain is like a muscle. It becomes more efficient and effective if you constantly exercise it. Never allow your brain to lax. Stimulate it all the time.
Most students just wander around after a major exam or after a semester. Indeed it is the best time to relax. But it does not mean that you stop sharpening your brain.
Read books or solve puzzles even when you’re camping. This will train your brain to be more flexible and powerful.
A physical exercise can also boost your memory and overall cognitive ability. Studies show that a simple running or lifting weights trigger the activation of the brain regions resulting in high cognitive functioning ability.
Aside from physical activity, nutrition also plays a very crucial role in brain training. The brain needs fatty acids. Eat fruits that are rich in fatty acids such as nuts, avocados. Salmons is also a rich source of fatty acids.
A healthy and active brain gives you so much advantage in school or in real life. The combination of a healthy mind and effective study habits will surely lead you to success. You will never ask how to be motivated to study again because you already loved studying.
13. Schedule everything
Time is the most precious resource that gives you the freedom to accomplish anything. But time is not without limit. In school, the greatest enemy of students in finishing their projects is time.
Because time ticks unceasingly, you need to maximize every minute of it. You can only do it if you follow the schedule for all your activities.
The best way to be guided accordingly is to create a list of priority tasks. You must be certain what task should be done first, second, third, and so on.
Every successful person knows the importance of scheduling. It helps them succeed more and perform more.
14. Study with your classmates
If you are a student who easily loses motivation to study when alone, then study with a group. Studying with a group can be helpful especially if there’s something you did not understand in the class discussion. You can find an answer to your question.
But you need to realize that not all the times a group study is helpful though. If you are going to do it, make sure that the people you’ll get along are the right people.
What I mean by this is that not all your classmates are into a serious study session. As long as possible, find somebody who has the same purpose in doing a group study.
The second concern is the size of the group. The large group may not be advisable. It could cause distractions than fruitful study sessions.
Sure enough, if you have the right people to go along, a study session can be exciting and makes you motivated to study your lesson.
15. Apply what you have learned
Most students are simply learning theories but never apply what they learned. Learning without using what you’ve learned is simply a passive learning. You have to understand that knowledge alone will not get you anywhere in life.
So if you learned something, try to figure out how to use it. Here’s how:
- Find a situation where you can apply your knowledge
- Design a task to test whether the theory is applicable
- Try to implement the theory on real situations in your life
Whatever it is that you learned from the class, do not let it just sit in your nutshell. Using it in real life situations makes it easier for you to understand and retrieve whenever you need it.
16. Give yourself a break
Of course, spending all your time in studying is always a good idea. That’s why you’re looking the ways on how to be motivated to study. However, too much of a good thing is actually a bad thing.
Your body needs a break. Your brain cannot stand for long hours of reading and memorize without a break. Thus you need to find relaxation time.
After achieving your daily goal, you deserve a reward. Give yourself a break by doing your favorite hobby or eating your favorite food.
Or, if you’re an adventurous person, a walk in the park can be appropriate. Studies found that connecting yourself with Mother Nature will increase your happiness and inner calmness.
17. Practice a regular exercise
Procrastination is the result of an inactive body. A body that is not engaged in physical activity is weak. The brain also does not receive enough level of oxygen one of the primary fuels of the neurons to function well.
As a student, you need to remain active. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. A simple 30-minute walk can be enough to refresh your whole body. So don’t make excuses.
Sleep early and wake up early too. Push your body to perform simple exercises daily. This will give you benefits in your academic journey.
18. Fake it until you make it
This may sound strange especially if this is the first time you hear this. But this concept is not new. Psychologists called this the visualization technique.
Several studies in the past revealed that a simple mental visualization helped a person to accomplish a difficult task.
For instance, if you have a difficult task, the first thing you need to do is to imagine that you already have achieved the task successfully.
This simple mental visualization will allow you to accomplish the task correctly and with ease. Daunting tasks could become easier and less hassle.
So whatever it is that you want to accomplish on a daily basis, you need to spend at least a few minutes before starting. This technique will not only give you an idea of how to be motivated to study but also makes your tasks easier.
19. Remember that everything will pass
This could be the truest thing in life – everything will just pass away. It includes all the challenges we experience. So when you feel unmotivated and down, just remind yourself that the pain is temporary.
The difficulty that you currently have will not last forever. If you just continue to do what is necessary to be done, you will be absolutely okay.
Thinking this way allows you to focus on achieving the task and not on the obstacle. This is true not only in academic undertaking but also in the real-life situations. If you train your mind to be tough enough, sooner or later, you will reach the end of the tunnel.
20. Do not focus on the end result but on the process
One of the major reasons why most students fail in school is because they focus their attention on the end result – the high grade. If you really want to know how to be motivated to study, focus on every step, not on the top of the ladder.
My constant advice to my students is that whenever procrastination strikes, they must remind themselves to adjust their vision. The reason for this is that it is easy to get distracted when the end result does not come easily. Let’s be honest. There’s no easy success.
My analogy is that if you’re climbing on a ladder, do not look at the top. Instead, mind every step you’re making upward. If you do that, you’ll never know that you already get on the top. The best thing? You are not that tired.
The first step is of course to determine the pieces of the task and when those pieces needed to get done. If you need to read a thousand-page book, then read a certain number of pages every day. Don’t worry how long will it take for you to finish the book. Just enjoy every page. You’ll be surprised when you finished it without realizing.
21. Eliminate distractions
The best way to concentrate is by eliminating unnecessary stimuli. It is easy to get distracted by your phone. If you carry it with you, you will be tempted to go online. So to avoid being distracted, turn off your phone and put it in place out of your reach.
Studies show that a mere presence of a smartphone is enough for a person to be anxious by not checking the text messages and emails. If you want to gain control over your study session, get rid of your gadgets.
22. Start right away
The easiest and the best secret on how to be motivated to study lies on the immediate action. Really, to defeat procrastination only takes five minutes. If you understand what causes you to be unmotivated, you must realize this too.
Procrastination starts when you delay your action. For instance, if you plan to study at 7 o’clock or after dinner, make sure to start reading your materials at the time you’ve set.
This technique is powerful enough to condition your mind. And once you’ve started, it will be easy to continue to study throughout the scheduled time.
This technique works well if you have a timer with you. Set the duration of your study session. Doing that gives your mind a clue that there’s a timeline to beat. This will help you develop a sense of urgency. If you are aware of the time, you’ll focus all your energy on something you are studying.
This technique works well among writers. Some of them set a specific number of words or pages they should get done for a certain length of time. As a result, they were able to maximize their time and resources.
Students can do the same. I hope this will help you in achieving your greatest academic goal.
I strongly believe that all students have the capability to achieve their academic goals. But not all of them succeed. The reason is obviously not due to the lack of resources or intelligence. The major reason is poor implementation of effective study strategies.
You don’t have to study hard. You just need to study smart. Students who are able to use the right strategies are able to attain their goals without getting overwhelmed by the school work.
I hope that the strategies on how to be motivated to study mentioned above will help you to become a motivated student. If you want to learn more about the effective study hacks, you can read my book. It contains effective techniques that allow you to study less and achieve more.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.