Perhaps it’s the lack of physical activity, the repetitiveness, or the thought of having to sit in a quiet corner with a stack of books and readings, but studying can seem quite boring and therefore uninteresting. It’s hard to find the motivation to study.
To help you become motivated, we have compiled a list of the ten (10) best tips to help you get motivated and stay motivated. The tips below are not organized in a particular order.
Tip #1: Get enough sleep
Studying and resting might seem like opposite sides of a coin especially when you’re studying for finals and there’s so little time to spare. However, many studies have shown that in order to sit down, focus and work toward achieving your study goals, you must get enough rest. Make sure to get 6-8 hours of sleep so that when you wake up the following day, you are ready to tackle the topics and assignments for the day.
Tip #2: Exercise and eat well
Notice how you feel drowsy after eating foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates? How about falling into a bout of food coma after eating too much? To help you make the most of the limited time you have to study, make sure to eat a well-balanced meal that is portioned.
Avoid foods that are high in sugar, and make sure to eat just the right amount to keep you going. When you are busy and rushing to get as much studying done as possible, the last thing you want is to be fighting off sleepiness due to overeating or not eating the right kind of food.
A good diet should be reinforced with a regular exercise routine. You don’t have to spend an hour at the gym if your schedule does not permit it, but doing simple exercises and stretches either at the start of the day or at the end of the day will help keep your brain focused. Not to mention, exercising will help your body—specifically your hips, shoulders, and back recover from the extended hours your spend sitting while studying.
Tip #3: Get rid of distractions
It is so easy to get distracted by anything when you are not motivated to study. This is especially hard if you are supposed to study for a subject that you don’t particularly like or are not interested in. To help you focus, be practical and just eliminate distractions.
Put your smartphone on mute, log out of your social media accounts and block gaming sites before you start studying. Start with a clean desk: just your laptop, a book, notebook, a pen and highlighters. Do not clutter your study space with things that you do not need as you study for a particular subject as it can distract you for staying on-task.
Tip #4: Take a break
The mind can focus for a given amount of time, and your brain can only take in so much information before it starts to get tired. Symptoms of a tired brain include the inability to process and retain information, and difficulty focusing. To address this, you should take frequent breaks.
The Pomodoro technique is time management tool that aims to increase one’s productivity level, and is often used in studying. You set a timer for 25 minutes, and read as many pages of text as you can and stop when the alarm goes off.
Take a 5 to 10 minute break, then set the timer for another 25 minutes. You can adjust the “work/study block” for longer than 25 minutes. The idea is to use this limited time well and accomplish as much studying as you can.
The Pomodoro technique trains your brain to stay focused for a given amount of time. This strategy is popular because it allows the brain to have a designated break time. Breaks are important because it allows your brain to rest and process all of the information that you just took in.
Make sure that the break remain short otherwise, you run the risk of totally getting distracted and losing momentum. Think of this process as organizing your time so that you can cover as many topics as you can in one study session.
Tip #5: Explore other methods
In the process of forming study habits, you may find that what works for other people might not work for you. If you find that studying alone in the library does not work, then you can try to gather some of your peers and friends to form a study group.
Set basic guidelines: set a date and time, require everyone to have complete study materials, set aside time for individual studying and group discussion so that each one of you can help each other achieve your study goals.
Related reading: 9 Stress Management Tips for Online Students
Tip #6: Build a routine
Create a study routine that complements your class schedule. Work around your daily schedule. Attend your classes, determine how much time you have before, in between, and after class you have to study.
For example: eat a small meal and make sure that all of your study materials are setup in your study area before you actually get to work. When it comes to study routines and rituals, it is best to keep it simple. You should strive to make your study sessions as productive as possible because you have other responsibilities to attend to.
Tip #7: Be aware of your learning styles
Each person has a different learning style, they can be visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners. When you create a study routine, you have to take into consideration what your learning style is. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, then it might be best to find ways to learn lessons in a hands-on manner.
Likewise, it might be counterproductive for a kinesthetic learner to stay confined in a small cubicle and force themselves to read books. Visual learners benefit most from having organized notes and using visual aids like flashcards and infographics. Meanwhile, auditory learners can benefit most from podcasts, audiobooks and interviews.
Tip #8: The art of taking notes
Notetaking is an important skill that goes hand-in-hand with studying. Having good notetaking skills is one of the best study habits to cultivate as it helps you process and retain information. There are different type of notetaking: Cornell, outline, and mind mapping are just some examples.
Cornell notetaking is said to be good for organizing and summarizing notes. It is also helpful when it comes to extracting the main idea and key concepts. In the Cornell method, you have to divide the page of your notebook into sections: 1 column for main ideas, one for the explanations and another section for questions and comments. The downside of this method is that you have to section off each page of your notebook before class. It can also be wasteful of notebook space.
The outline method is good for putting a structure to your notes. Students are able to organize the lecture into sections and list down the key points that follow the flow of the lecture or class.
Mind mapping is best used for identifying key concepts in each lesson, and making sense of them by making connections. Each style has a purpose—it’s not a one-size-fits-all wherein you can stick to one style and ignore the rest.
Tip #9: Reward yourself
If you like getting rewards and prizes for accomplishing tasks, you can give rewards to yourself after achieving your study goals for the day or the week. Do you want an extra hour to watch your favorite show? An hour of at-home spa treatments? How about that chocolate cake from the neighborhood coffee shop? Allow yourself to kick back and relax after achieving your goals.
Tip #10: Begin with a goal in mind
Whether you’re studying to prepare for a test or you want to learn a new skill, it is best have a goal for yourself when you plan to study. This study goal will be something that will carry you through the entire study routine.
The ultimate goal could be getting an A for all of your classes by the end of the semester. To help yourself stay motivated in the meantime, you can set small, achievable goals like studying for 5 hours for 1 subject per week per subject. Hitting these weekly milestones will not only give you an excuse to reward yourself, it will also give you a sense of accomplishment knowing that you were able to learn more and accomplish important study milestones.
Studying is more than just a task that you have to do as a student—it is a process and a skill (much like cooking) that one has to keep practicing in order to be good at it. Studying will not just help you in school, it will also be helpful in your professional life. Studying instills the values of hard work and love of learning. Having these values will help you beyond the four walls of the classroom.
To be able to study well and to stay motivated, students and learners should put in the deliberate effort to studying: devote some time, create the ideal study environment and be prepared with the study materials. As much as possible, stay focused when you study so that by the time your study session is over, you can take a break and not worry if you missed anything. Studying should not get in the way of your pending quality time with your family and friends.