Boosting Motivation and Productivity
Emily Im provides her top tips for staying motivated while the university experience has been turned upside down
It’s 2021 and we’re still attending university in the middle of a pandemic. For most of us, ‘attending’ means rolling out of bed, switching on our laptops and deciding whether or not to have our cameras and microphones on during a glitchy online seminar. On other days, it means reading PDF files or watching pre-recorded lectures at twice their normal speed. And that’s it. That’s the current university experience, minus a few extracurricular activities, in a nutshell.
Clearly, remote learning isn’t always…fun. Sometimes it’s stressful, tiring, and backache-inducing. Ultimately, the motivation to do the work just isn’t there!
Remember, though, there are still many methods you can use to bounce back:
Motivation and your feelings are closely linked, so if you’re carrying a lot of negative opinions, get them out of your system. It’s better to acknowledge how you really feel! Talk to a trusted friend, family member or pet. Alternatively, if you don’t like talking, write. Do a Virginia Woolf and try stream of consciousness. Full of expletives. Whatever you want. Don’t hold back.
Do this post-vent or whenever you feel the need to ease your worries and anxiety to maintain a sense of calm. Popular apps for this include Headspace and Calm. I’ll add Medito to the list because it’s super varied, 100 percent free and contains zero ads.
- Change your study space
If possible, try creating a workspace that is separate from your relaxation space. Of course, if your bedroom is the most comfortable place for you to work, stay there. However, if it’s distracting, relocate to the living room, kitchen, or try sitting on the floor.
- Write out a term schedule/ To-do list
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the workload, note down your reading and assessments for the whole term. Download those PDFs; check the links to books in the digital library; save those videos on Box of Broadcast to a playlist. With all the study materials now accessible to you, these tasks can be sorted into smaller daily, or even weekly, to-do lists throughout the term. However, Don’t just put ‘write essay’. Dedicate a bullet point to ‘find secondary sources’ or ‘eat a delicious snack’. Write your list on a phone, sticky note, whiteboard, blackboard, your arm, leg, wherever is most convenient and visible.
- Write a ‘done’ list
At the end of your day, note down what you have achieved, no matter how big or small, and you might be surprised by how much you’ve managed to get through. Even if it’s not as much as you hoped, don’t feel guilty about it. It’s impossible to stay motivated and productive 24/7 and it’s easier to maintain motivation if you pace yourself.
- Use a focus app
Apps like Study Bunny allow you to record how much time you spend studying. The motivating factor is that simultaneously, you’ll earn coins (not real money unfortunately) to spend on your virtual bunny.
- Give yourself a break!
To avoid burn out and for the sake of balance, spend some time doing something completely unrelated to university each day. If your schedule allows it, take a day off in the middle of the week. Getting a degree is serious business, but it doesn’t have to consume your every waking moment. Know your limits. Life is more than what you study.