Whether you're going to be a first-year undergraduate student in the fall or are a graduate student in a prestigious program, motivation can sometimes be hard to find when completing assignments at 2 a.m. (as I am definitely not writing this article at 12:45 a.m.) or fighting the urge to fall asleep in your online class.
But just as we can overcome procrastination in our everyday lives, we can overcome the loss of motivation that occurs in our academic and social lives, too. Here are some tips that helped me so far.
1. Plan ahead
As I write this article, a planner and a long list of tasks spanning over three days are sitting next to my computer. As I went from being a high school student to a first-year student in college, I realized that I couldn't rely on my memory for the vast amounts of assignments, exams, presentations, and meetings that would occur throughout my week.
Whether you enjoy planning out your week on your color-coded Google Calendar or on a physical planner like mine, planning is crucial in cultivating motivation. When you plan things out ahead of time by making lists or jotting down notes relevant to each day, you have these tasks in your mind and therefore are able to make plans on how you will succeed.
2. Break your tasks into smaller parts and tackle them one by one
As a student who is in more of a social science and psychology classes, it wasn't a surprise when the grade of my biology class began to drop a bit more than I would like it to. Rather than focusing on getting an A+ on the next exam, though, I focused my attention on doing well on the two weekly quizzes that are given after every lecture.
Because I focused on breaking the major task of getting my grade back up in that class up into smaller parts, I was able to raise my grade up a percentage point every week until I was back to the grade I wanted. The same goes for every daunting task, if you just focus on the major task of writing a paper or studying for an exam, you could feel less motivated to complete it.
By breaking them up into smaller parts, such as studying a certain topic each day leading up to the exam or writing a part of the paper leading up to the due date, it will be easier to find motivation. You can apply this idea outside of the academic world as well, whether your goal is to lose weight or get better at a sport, baby steps can lead to your success!
3. Make your bed every morning
This is a huge one for me. Now, when I wake up for my 7 AM shifts every Wednesday morning, I usually roll out of bed without any regard to fixing the sheets and pillows. But as soon as I get back from that shift, I make my bed before I do anything else.
Small tasks like making your bed can give you a sense of accomplishment that motivates you to complete bigger, upcoming tasks, like having an exam or preparing for an interview. Similar tasks that I like to complete that motivate me include doing the dishes, taking out the trash, vacuuming, or writing in my planner. By doing these tasks, I feel more organized and therefore, more motivated to do more important things in my everyday life.
4. Adopt a mantra or mindfulness exercise
I have found that throughout the past few weeks, completing a quick 5-minute mindfulness exercise on YouTube is beneficial in motivating me and making me relaxed enough to continue on in my day. Though most mantras are short and sweet, they can encourage you to do better in your day and start off on the right foot.
Here is a list of mantras if you're considering adding one to your daily routine!
5. Stop multitasking, start focusing
Not only is multitasking ineffective, but it can damage your brain. As much as I want to watch "New Girl" and complete my assignments at the same time, I know that I'll become distracted because of this multitasking. When we multitask, we are usually not doing multiple things at the same time, but instead are switching our attention back and forth, compromising our retention for each task.
If we focus on one goal at a time, we will feel less stressed and more motivated to complete the task we have our focus on. Sadly, rewatching "New Girl" for the fourth time will have to wait.
With my university's midterm season being in full swing, these motivation tips helped me through the seemingly endless assignments and exams that I had to complete during each week. By focusing on tasks in small increments, affirming your thoughts and actions through mantras, and creating an organized environment around you, you can find yourself more motivated in the long run!