How to stay motivated during lockdown

Emma Seton·11 February 2021·7 min read
How to stay motivated during lockdown

Staying motivated during the winter lockdown is a challenge for us all. Although lockdown is testing in any season, it’s easy to feel sluggish and like you’d rather sit on the sofa when the nights are drawing in at 5pm. You’ve probably had days when you just can’t motivate yourself to do that dreaded assignment or to do that final bit of reading that’s been hanging over you for weeks. If you’re struggling to motivate yourself to stay on top of your university assignments, at Accommodation for Students we’ve put together some handy tips to help you find some motivation.


Getting yourself into a routine is one of the best ways to stay motivated and to keep on top of your work. If you get into the habit of doing the same things every day, whether this is simply just waking up at around the same time in the morning, or whether you stick to a study schedule, this can help add some structure to your day. Sticking to a routine can help you to map out time to do the things you need to do; getting into a good routine can help give you the structure you need to stay motivated.

Break up your work:

Try breaking your work down into manageable chunks. Rather than sitting down at your desk and working through one long session, break things down into small sections. Try beginning with outlining a task that you need to complete, perhaps a section of reading. Once you’ve done this move onto the next task, perhaps to go through some lecture notes. Breaking things down can stop you from feeling overwhelmed and can avoid you from sitting for hours without really getting much done.

Give yourself a reward:

If we weren’t in lockdown, your reward for getting a week’s worth of work done would usually be your Friday night down the pub. Although you can’t socialise in the same way, it’s often good motivation to give yourself a reward for getting your work done. Perhaps you plan a games night with your flat, or you plan a movie night, or even just a takeaway. Whatever works for you. Giving yourself a reward is often a great way to get that final bit of work boxed off.

Make time to go offline and outside:

Although we’ve got to spend a significant amount of time inside during lockdown, this is often not only bad for your physical health but your mental health too. Take time to get out of your house, whether you go for a walk round the block or go to your nearest park, spending time outside can often give you the energy that you need to get things done when you get home. Going outside into nature also helps to reduce your body’s production of the stress hormone and to improve your overall mood. Moreover, when you do go for your daily walk, it may be a good idea to take some time away from social media. It’s easy to feel immersed into Instagram, Facebook or twitter so taking some time away can help you to relax and recalibrate.

Try to exercise:

If you’re feeling lethargic and unmotivated, doing some exercise can often help you find the energy that you need. Exercise also releases endorphins (the happy hormone) which can help to boost your mood. Whether you fancy going for a run, or whether you follow an online video from the comfort of your home, there’s many different ways that you can get some exercise in. If you don’t feel up to strenuous exercise, then perhaps try doing something like yoga.

Stay connected:

One of the reasons people can often feel demotivated is because they’re disconnected from their friends and peers. Stay connected with those people doing your course, keep in regular contact with your lecturers and other academics through office hours. Maybe take some time to do a group zoom call with your course friends and to regularly call your friends or family.

Try to focus on what you want:

During lockdown, it’s easy to feel like it’s going to be like this forever – it isn’t. Try and focus on your future, your career aspirations and where you want to take your degree. Focus on what you need to do to achieve your goals and remind yourself that every small bit of work you do gets you closer to that. Perhaps you don’t want to do anything to do with your degree when you graduate, in which case, focus on how every day is one step closer to graduation. Focusing on what you want is a great way to keep up your morale.


A great way to stay motivated is to plan what you’re going to do each day. Make a list of things that you need to complete in a day. Perhaps write down your tasks and tick them off as you go. This will not only create small goals but will help to give you a feeling of satisfaction once you complete them. This will also stop you from floating through the day and feeling like you’ve achieved nothing. At the end of each day, you’ll have a list of all you’ve done.

Do what works for you:

In lockdown we’ve all tried to stay motivated but try not to get caught up in productivity culture. If you want to do all your work through the week and have all weekend off that’s fine. Or if you want to do your work in bits and pieces throughout the week that’s fine also. If you start work at 9am or 1pm either is sufficient. Do what works for you; don’t mark your expectations against someone else’s productivity levels. We all work at different speeds and learn in different ways. This is something that you should keep in mind when trying to stay motivated during the semester. Be kind to yourself and do what you can.

There’s no formula for staying motivated during this difficult time. Try your best with your university work and allow your best to be enough. Even doing a small amount of work can often go a long way.