See this as a YouTube video: http://bit.ly/5waystomotivateyourselftostudy
1. Only do 10 minutes.
I have been at university for a while and I really enjoy being at university in general. However, I have to say, in all my time there I have never ever felt like studying: not even once. and that’s not to say that when I do end up studying I don’t enjoy it, it’s just that I never feel like doing it initially, ever. That’s why you have to trick yourself into getting started, and once you’re started you generally realise it’s not that bad. So I always tell my students to do this too and it typically works for them, and that’s to study for 10 minutes a day. If you tell yourself you will only do 10 minutes, you overcome that horrific feeling of anxiety you get when you are putting off studying and you just get into it. Often you feel like doing more, but if you don’t and you only end up doing 10 minutes, that is still 100% more than you would have done otherwise, so that’s really good. 10 minutes a day for 5 days is still nearly an hour, which is so much better than doing nothing. Even as a top law student I don’t study for 10 minutes a day every day, so doing that would make you ahead of most people even though it seems like such a small amount.
2. Do creative study
I find it’s really good to break up hardcore study when you are reading text books or in my situation cases with some fun and creative study. Creative study is super important because it’s time when you let the information mull around in your brain in a fun way and it strengthens your neural connections about the topic and your general understanding of it. It’s also great if you feel like a break as it’s chill and fun and so 100% more productive than doing something like Netflix.
Ways I creative study is by drawing out my notes in a really pretty way, even if it’s just copying information down that I already have. Or it could be drawing a concept you discuss in class or in my case I draw out the situations in law cases like a comic (I know super geeky). I personally find colour coding things and re-writing things just helps me mull over the information and engage with it in a chill way. I usually find I have good break throughs while doing this as your brain is in a relaxed and creative state, which can often allow your neural connections to join together and the information can start clicking. I also go on Wikipedia adventures and start looking up random words or if I’m reading a case I start looking at who the judge is and their life stories. Or I will look into a word or a Latin term I read and really get into. It could be seen as procrastination, but if you see it as a productive study break it is fun and a good way to keep engaged with the information while letting your brain relax.
3. Watch a motivational video on YouTube
This seems really cheesy but when I feel I have nothing left in the tank I usually look up a motivational video to get myself pumped. There are heaps of good ones on YouTube and it can really help you find a bit more gas in the tank.
4. Create a study schedule
The hardest part of university is that you are doing things in your own time and on your own schedule, so you have to stay motivated. When you’re working they have a schedule created for you – it’s usually 9-5pm. But when you’re on your own it can be a lot harder to stick to a schedule. If I know I have a lot of time during a day without much else on, like a whole day to study myself, I usually make a schedule where I break it up and give myself breaks. That way you don’t feel you have to perpetually study for the rest of your life, but you can have a 9-5pm schedule, or as my dad who is a pool builder and business owner calls it, a ‘tradie schedule’ where you start at 9am, have lunch and morning tea breaks and then knock off at 5pm. if you aim to study for 8 hours a day that is good, and you might only get 5 hours but that’s still so much better than not doing anything!
5. Forgive yourself – avoid a self-loathing spiral
And that leads me to my next point, which is to avoid self-loathing. Writer Mark Manson generally defines self-loathing as ‘feelings about your feelings and actions’, so it’s feeling bad for doing or feeling something. For example, you may have made a schedule or plan to study for an entire day, but you may end up watching Netflix and getting nothing done for the entire day. Instead of the next day thinking things like “I’m so useless I did nothing yesterday how will I ever be successful?” it’s best to just let it all go, wipe the slate clean, realise that studying is like sport and you can’t peak and be on form every day, and just try again. Once I started doing this my studying revolutionised as I stopped myself from going for weeks without studying and would end up just having days of no study instead. Even though I was the top student in law at my university last year I still had and have so many days where I can’t do anything except lie in bed and watch TV, and that’s totally OK when you are going that hard at something. As long as you forgive yourself, it actually isn’t a problem as it’s just one day. So forgive yourself and realise it’s normal to have breaks, just avoid self-loathing and you’ll be fine.
I hope you found this useful and if you have any more tips please post them in the comments. Also check out my YouTube channel for more tips on studying (link in 'About' of this blog).