10 Top Tips to Motivate Yourself While You Study

Finding the motivation to study is important in achieving success when sitting exams and in later life. The personal discipline and time management skills that you build through a good study routine set you up to have a solid work ethic and life balance when your studies are over and you enter into the world of work.

The key to remaining motivated during an intensive study period is to find satisfaction and even enjoyment in your work. If your studying is balanced with fun activities and your hard work ultimately yields strong grades, you create a positive feedback loop – more study leads to more success, which leads to more satisfaction in life.

Many students will say that they have no study motivation or that their learning style does not fit with the kind of revision demanded by certain exams. And they may well be right, not everyone is motivated to study and some exams are positively frustrating. But, like it or not, they still have to be done.

If you struggle to find the motivation to study, there are many tips and tricks you can use to make the process of revising as fruitful and effective as possible. It’s also possible to find ways to fill the space and time around studying with enjoyable and rewarding activities. We are going to take a look at our 10 top tips to motivate yourself while you study.

What are the top tips to motivate yourself while studying?

By creating a set routine that includes regular rewards and breaks, you will feel more motivated when you study for your next exam. It’s also important to set yourself achievable goals and look after yourself while you revise so you don’t burn out.

Let’s take a look at how you can put these tips into practice during your next study session.

Set goals

The process of setting and achieving goals works well if you’re still in education or in the world of work. The key to setting goals is understanding what is realistic for you and your working capacity whilst also ensuring that you set yourself a challenge. You should make a to-do list that aims at big, ambitious goals comprised of smaller, more digestible ones.

Setting goals works best when you work backwards. Let’s say you are working on an essay to be submitted by the end of the week. How many days do you have left to submit it? How many words is the essay? How long will you need once it’s finished to make edits and proofread?

If you set yourself a target of writing 1,500 words a day and your study day is 8 hours, you should aim to have 750 words completed in half the day. And that works out at approximately 200 words an hour. So set yourself the rule of writing at least 200 words an hour – or whatever number works for you – and ensure you hit that or more. That way, a difficult goal such as 1,500 words a day or 3,000 words in two days, is much less intimidating.

Give yourself rewards

Rewards work well for studying and revision as long as they remain rewards and not avenues for potential procrastination. With the right level of discipline and motivation, building rewards into your work should help you to avoid putting things off. What constitutes a reward is left entirely up to you and feel free to get creative!

Try giving yourself a five-minute break every hour and fill that precious time with something you enjoy. This could be as simple as checking your social media accounts, reading the news, or watching your favourite vlogger. Or you could choose to take a break from the screen and go for a short stroll, eat some chocolate, do some yoga poses, or make a nice hot drink.

When you have finished your full study session, give yourself a big reward if you have hit your target. Building in reward-based personal discipline works well for creating balance and productivity in your studying. It redirects the urge to procrastinate towards the habit of rewarding motivation.

Whatever you choose as your own personal reward, try to keep disciplined and don’t indulge when you are working. Make sure that rewards don’t become distractions.

Take breaks

Taking breaks is crucial to productivity. As well as taking short breaks every hour, you should aim to take longer breaks every few hours and completely detach yourself from screens or your textbooks. On top of this, try to have at least one day a week in which you work for less than half the day.

Any personal trainer worth their salt will tell you that resting in between physical exercises is as important as the exercises themselves. When you work out your biceps at the gym, the best thing to encourage muscle development is to rest your biceps the next day. That way they have time to recover and repair. The same is true of mental exercises, like studying.

Whilst you may not have the time to take many rest days, giving your mind the space and time to relax and recuperate will only give you more energy and motivation in the hours that you are working.

Create a routine

Building a daily routine that is well structured and signposted with clear goals is a great way to get the most out of your time. Routine also gets your body and mind into a rhythm that means knowing when to be productive and when to switch off becomes a habit.

Build yourself a timetable and study schedule that will leave you feeling accomplished whilst also leaving enough time to switch off and relax. Try to eat at the same hours every day and do some exercise in the mornings to wake your mind and body up and get them ready for work. Even a small amount of exercise will make a big difference, so try not to skip it.

Try to stick to your routine as strictly as possible. You should start and stop working at roughly the same time every day and try to schedule one day a week in which you spend less than half of it studying.

Vary your workspace

There is nothing worse than the feeling of dread you get when you enter a designated study space. Especially if you associate that space with feelings of stress or panic. Try to avoid using your bedroom as a workspace because research shows that the brain is quick to form associations with locations. Your bedroom should be a place of rest and relaxation, not hard work.

Equally, if you have negative connotations about a library or study centre because you associate it with work, you may find that you will begin to subtly feel stressed when you go in. Try and find different places that have the right atmosphere and noise level that is conducive to you working hard. Cafes are always a good bet, as are friend’s living rooms, or bookshops, as long as you can still concentrate. If you have a long period of study ahead, try varying your workspace every week to make sure you bring variability and range into your revision time so you don’t get bored.

Find (sensible) study buddies

Finding study buddies can be a great way to help you feel motivated whilst studying. They can also help make your reward time more enjoyable. Having friends who are motivated and hard working will boost your own motivation and encourage you to work hard. Working in groups also takes away the isolation and loneliness that can often be associated with long revision periods.

As long as your friends are sensible, working collectively will allow you to have more fun during breaks and reward times. After all, going for a coffee with a friend is always going to be more interesting than going for a coffee on your own. Just make sure your friends are as serious (or more serious) as you about working hard, as there is nothing worse than an excitable study group that becomes a distraction!

Try the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management practice that was popularised by an Italian man called Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. He developed the technique to help office workers to stop procrastinating by splitting tasks at work into manageable chunks. The name ‘pomodoro’ comes from the Italian word for tomato, which was the design of the timer that Cirillo used when he was timing his working periods at university.

The technique is simple, you choose your task, work at it as hard as you can with no distractions for 25 minutes and then take a five minute break. Each time interval is known as a ‘pomodoro’. Do this four times and at the end of the fourth pomodoro, give yourself a longer break of 20 to 30 minutes.

Sleep well

Getting a good night’s sleep is important in even the most relaxing of times. But sleeping well during a period of intense study can ultimately be the difference between getting an A grade or a B grade. Research consistently shows that sleep deprivation reduces concentration and that people who are underslept have slower reactions and a reduced attention span, even if they feel fine otherwise.

For many people, getting a good night’s sleep, especially during a period of hard studying, is easier said than done. Try to have at least three hours after working in which you can switch off. Avoid screens if you can, and do whatever it is you need to do to unwind.

Also, make sure you keep to a regular sleeping pattern. Waking up at the same time and going to bed at the same time is the best way to ensure quality sleep. Even if it takes you a while to get off, be sure to wake up the next morning at a regular hour. And avoid lying in bed doing nothing. Your bed is for sleeping and nothing else. If you simply can’t sleep then get up and go for a walk or enjoy a warm drink in another room and return to bed when you feel tired.

Eat well

When studying or working hard, it’s tempting to eat whatever is quickest and easiest during your lunch break so you can get back to work as soon as you can. And while quick and easy doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy, in reality, that’s often the case. Bad food can make you slow and sluggish or leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable the next day.

Try to eat a varied and healthy diet while you work to keep yourself fresh and energised throughout the day. Lighter foods like berries, greens, nuts, and seeds are all excellent sources of protein and have even been shown to increase concentration levels and help people to stay focused. Fish is always a better bet than meat and avoiding stodgy carbs such as bread and pasta means your body can work faster internally even while you’re sitting at a desk.

Look after your physical and mental health

If you spend your days hunched over a desk or a computer it doesn’t take long for your body and your mind to feel the toll. You should aim to do some sort of moving every hour and try to stretch, go for a walk, or at least get some fresh air at least twice during your study day. You should also do at least half an hour of strenuous physical exercise every day. If that means getting up or clocking off an hour early, then do it. Physical exercise will boost your motivation and increase your productivity during the hours you work.

It’s also important to take good care of your mental health when you are studying. Physical exercise will take care of some of your mental health needs, but you should also give yourself a good amount of time to wind down at the end of the day so your mind can fully recuperate. If you feel yourself getting stressed or anxious to the point where you are worried, then just stop and consider taking the rest of the day and the next day off. Remember, exams and essays are important, but your health should always come first. Once you have refreshed yourself your work will be all the better for it.