So, we've all enjoyed a long Christmas break full of relaxation, plentiful alcohol and lots of amazing food to gorge on. The idea of getting back into a routine at uni is not just scary, it is down right terrifying. The first alarm of the term is always the hardest and you begin to wonder how you ever functioned before 12 noon. But getting back into the swing of the things is not as hard as you might think!
• Define your goals and plan how you will achieve them.
Nobody said university would be easy. You have a whole lot of of essay-writing, researching, debating, revising and exam-taking ahead of you. Identifying your goals for the term ahead will make them seem more manageable, and therefore more achievable. Write them down and keep them somewhere safe so you can look back on them. But remember that achieving these goals takes planning, so write down your plans too. Again, look back on them when needed to remind yourself exactly what you need to do to achieve your goals!
• Remind yourself why you're here.
This may sound silly, but remind yourself exactly why you are at university in the first place, paying a hell of a lot of money to be here too! Write them down and stick them on your noticeboard, or bedroom wall. Write down the successes which led you to choose further education and the reasons you made that choice. Is there a career you are striving for? Is it the extra digits your degree will make to your pay slip? Are there opportunities your degree will give you? Importantly, be completely honest about why you are here and remind yourself why when you don't feel motivated.
• Small steps, one at a time.
Don't be scared of all the work there is still to do, but get excited about each piece of work. There is no point worrying, as it will get you nowhere. Break every task into small steps, and focus on each step one at a time.
• Reward yourself.
Just because you chose the university route, doesn't mean you can't give yourself little rewards to spur you along. Allow yourself a bar of chocolate, or a weekend trip or even a night out only (and I mean only!) when you have completed tasks, or the small steps towards them. If this doesn't motivate you, nothing will.
• Ask yourself motivating questions at the beginning of each day.
After you get over the shock of your alarm going off each morning (even though it is an almost daily ritual of pressing snooze as many times as you possibly can...) then ask yourself what you will be doing today, why you will be doing it and how you will do it. Again, buy some cheap post-it notes or a notepad and jot it down if it helps. Then you can go a bit deeper and ask yourself what you want in life and how you will achieve it. Aim high and reach for the stars - your life will be what you make it.
• Act as if you were motivated, even if you aren't.
If you really can't get yourself motivated then just act and do everything like you would if you were. Shower, get dressed, sit at your desk, open your notes, take a sip of coffee and you will be surprised at how quickly you begin to actually feel motivated. Laying in your bed in your PJs will not motivate you in the slightest to get that work completed.
• Toughest first.
This doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me. Get the toughest work out of the way first. Putting something off over and over again because it is the hardest notch on the to-do list is not productive in the slightest. Getting it out of the way will not only allow you to cross the task off your list, but will get you in the right mode to tackle the remaining, less difficult ones.
• Turn off the phone, tablet and TV!
Get rid of all distractions. Listening to your fave tunes on Spotify in the background will not help you work. Be sure to put down the Kindle before that book you are reading entices you back in and away from studying. Turn off your mobile before anyone has the chance to send you a text or Whatsapp you a message. That goes for your Tablet too! You need to concentrate on the task at hand and even the slightest distraction will hamper your motivation. Going back to one of the previous tips above, then include Spotify/Mobile/TV/Kindle/Tablet time as a reward you can do only when you have completed a task or small step!
• Enjoy yourself.
Most importantly, try (whenever possible) to enjoy the work. If you are given the choice, study/research/write about a subject which interests, and therefore engages, you. Don't just go for a topic which you think will impress your tutors; pick one you are passionate about. Studying, researching and writing about something you have a passion for will be more enjoyable, much more motivating and will enable you to write a better essay. Trust me, your tutors will pick up on this! If you don't have a choice and aren't passionate about the subject, focus on small chunks at a time, reward yourself more regularly for achieving each step and focus on the satisfaction you will feel once it is complete.
Written by David Heffer
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