1. Set up a reward system
A former professor gave me the tip to set up a reward system after completing a goal as a way to stay motivated. I modified a system for myself, my rewards are nothing large or expensive, just small winnings that fit my needs. After completing my goals I reward myself with anything small from my favorite snack, to a sticker for my MacBook Pro case, sometimes a new plant or even a new book.
2. Keep a planner or calendar of assignments
Keeping a planner or calendar of assignments helps me stay organized. When a syllabus is released I enter all assignments. Your class has a meet and greet? Offers extra credit? Add it to the planner! Seriously, even if you do not need the extra credit in the moment, having it listed is just one example of how using a planner can help you stay on track in the future. Color coding is a huge help with keeping things organized as well.
3. Create a schedule and avoid multitasking
Map out a schedule for yourself and make sure to include time for your physical and mental health! When allocating time for schoolwork, block off time for tasks with a safety buffer. This will give you set and cushioned times to work within so that if you go over your limit, it will not throw off your schedule.
4. Set up your study space
In your study space, clean and remove clutter and keep supplies organized. I add plants, coffee/tea, water and a small snack to personalize mine.
5. Remove/avoid distractions
To stay focused I make a point to limit the distractions around me. One suggestion is setting your electronics to “do not disturb” which removes distracting notifications. If you need a mood booster, you can also plan alarms with motivational notes to take breaks from coursework.
6. Move around if necessary
I lose my focus if I stay in one area for too long, so I tend to switch between different workstations within my home. If I’m still struggling to keep my head in the game, I head outside. The change of scenery helps me focus.
7. Make your goals for the session and semester known and make sure they are measurable goals
How much? How many? Measurable goals allow you to track the progress and completion of a set goal. Share your goals with people you trust to help you grow, not with those who are negative and might hinder your motivation.
8. Take a break
Everyone has days where they struggle to stay focused. I take my dogs on a walk, meditate, garden, bake or anything that is separate from courses in order to recharge before jumping into my next academic task.
Even if a team isn’t required, creating a virtual study group can build a like-minded community of peers to help you stay motivated and focused.
10. Listen to music
Sometimes I find that listening to motivational music before I sit down to study or write a paper helps me stay focused! I’m one of those people who will start singing along while typing so I change my music to classical or instrumental versions to better focus. If not, my beautiful historical paper might include the lyrics to the latest Halsey’s track. Find what works for you and make it a part of your routine.