How to Stay Motivated in School

Summer is unofficially over. For many students, school started yesterday. For some, this would be their first school year. For others, they’re returning students. For others, still, they are already tired of school. Suffering from Senioritis? How to keep going and focused despite all of life’s temptations and real world opportunities?

First, identify factors that may kill your motivation.
1. Health – eat well and sleep well! Staying focused requires physical energy. Don’t deprive your body of the necessary rest and nutrition in order to function well.
2. Willpower depletion – willpower isn’t a skill. If it’s a skill (like playing an instrument), we’d be able to tap it reliably each and every time. However, you definitely have noticed that some mornings you can go for a jog while others, you just can’t muster up the willpower to get off the bed. Willpower is a finite source that can be depleted. Therefore, it may not be the best idea to go through a long day of school/part-time job and then start doing homework. Try to change up your schedule so you can work on assignments during a time when you can concentrate. Schedule your day around your body’s optimal times (when it can focus best). This involves some trial and errors.
3. Scenery – sometimes we’re stuck in the same rut and can’t be inspired. Sometimes, we just need external motivation like being among a group of people who are focused. For this reason, many people choose to study at libraries or coffee shops.

Focus on High-Impact Activities
The key to success in school is staying focused on your course work. Make a list to get an overall picture of your workload before you start to tackle any of it. Then, make a plan. Although it’’s tempting to do the simplest assignments first, those that take more time and effort to accomplish are probably the ones that you’’ll learn the most from. To determine what your priorities are, rank your assignments in the order of their importance. Then rearrange your time and devote more energy toward those that have the greatest impact on your course work and grades. For example, even though all homework assignments are important, studying for a midterm exam takes priority over writing a paragraph for English class.

Set Attainable Goals
If you’re having trouble writing a 25-page paper for class because it seems like such a big job, don’t focus on that final number. Break the paper down and consider each section of your paper individually. You can handle any project in small chunks. The hardest part of any task is starting it. Don’t psyche yourself out. Just break down a big task and start.

Find a Social Support Network
Create a group of people around you who want to help you succeed. Mentors can be teachers or family friends who can give you guidance and help you develop new skills. Counselors can help you with planning your courses and starting to explore colleges. You can also reach out to friends and peers who can motivate you by listening and sharing ideas. In Vietnamese, there is a saying that loosely translates to, “Near the light, it’s bright. Near the ink, it’s dark.” Surround yourself with positive, goal-oriented individuals and you’ll be able to soak in all that light. Avoid hanging with trouble makers or those who constantly express negativity.

Acknowledge Your Accomplishments
Give yourself a quick reward when you complete an assignment or task. Take a walk, send an email, or get a snack. Then, move on to the next project. We also recommend documenting your accomplishments and categorizing them. For example, did you do well on a class presentation? Document that. The next time you have to give a big presentation, you can refer back to your previous success as a motivator. There is even an app to track your big and small wins – Remember Win!

We Say
While there may be more exciting things in life outside of the classroom, don’t let your days slip by in a slump. Your academic performance can impact your future careers, so stay focused! For more tips on how to succeed in school, read our post on GPA Matters. Good luck with school and make this year your best yet!


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