How to get motivated to study has to be the one question I get on my Instagram account the most often. Over the years, I’ve done a few posts about it, but I wanted to write this article to collect all my tips on how to motivate yourself to work when you don’t feel like it.
Whether you need to study for finals or need a boost of motivation to study or get work done in the middle of the semester, this blog post should help!
Tips to Get Motivation To Study
1- Get ready the night before
If you know ahead of time that you will have a lot of work to do the next day, try to make decisions the day before. For example:
- Clean your desk so that it is beautiful and ready the next day when you wake up
- Prepare your work environment so that everything you need is within reach (hair ties, pens, paper, lip balm, charge headphones, etc.)
- Make a to-do list for the next day
- Choose clothes to wear tomorrow
The purpose of this is to reduce the number of decisions you need to make the next morning. Thus, it avoids getting tired of making decisions because it has already been done the day before. It’s easy to underestimate the power of this tip, but give it a try. It really makes a difference, especially on days when getting a lot done is essential!
2- Write a to-do list every day!
For me, having a to-do list for my day is essential. It gives direction and goals to accomplish. Plus, it’s so nice to tick the boxes when a task is complete!
I use different tools to plan my days. It varies according to how I’m feeling every day.
When I prefer to make a paper list, I sometimes use this pad:
When I use an app, it’s usually Things 3, Trello, or Taskade. I’ve also been experimenting with Notion lately. Try to write a to-do list using anything. Believe me, it will motivate you to study!
3- Block your time in your calendar
This time management technique can be overwhelming at first when looking at your calendar, but it can really help. For example, I suggest this technique to people who have difficulty estimating whether they have the time to agree to do a project or not.
After writing down a to-do list for the day, the next step can be to estimate how long each task will take and put them in your calendar. Thus, one can see whether the list is realistic or not. The more often you will do this step, the more skillful you will become at estimating how long each task will take you. The trick is not to underestimate and rather overestimate the time required.
Also, I often add a time “buffer” in my calendar (e.g. on Saturday in the image below). This time will be reserved for completing tasks that took longer than expected or even unforeseen events that always arise!
4- Watch live Study With Me videos on YouTube
Do you know what are “Study with me” videos on YouTube? These videos help a lot to motivate yourself to study! I wrote a complete blog post explaining what Study With Me videos are and why they’re useful. There are two types of videos in the study community: vlogs and real time study with me videos where you study simultaneously with the YouTuber.
For vlog-type videos, the viewer follows someone during their study day, where the YouTuber shares the tasks accomplished during the day. Seeing someone being productive is very motivating to do the tasks that we need to get done! Here is a video that I posted like this on my YouTube channel:
I also recommend Ruby Granger‘s YouTube channel, which always motivates me to study. For other YouTube channel suggestions, check out my list of YouTube channels to motivate yourself to study.
The other type of video, where someone studies live, aims to motivate each other to work. It’s like a study group of friends around a table, but virtually. Here is a video that I recorded but is still available on my YouTube channel:
5- Start with an easy task that you WANT to do
Some people suggest starting the day with a difficult task that is more important and urgent to take advantage of our fresh mind. For me, this technique does not work. I start my days with an easy task that I want to do, like a task related to my blog or my Instagram account. When I complete this task, I get a certain momentum, a sense of accomplishment and confidence that helps me move on to more difficult tasks that I don’t feel like doing!
Some examples of easy tasks:
- Reply or send emails
- Classify papers
- Any “life admin” task
6- Create a study routine and build habits
Creating a study routine is really important. I think it’s something that makes a huge difference in our motivation to study. When you are used to working a certain number of hours, it becomes much less difficult to study. It becomes easy.
I already talked about creating a routine more extensively in my post How and Why I Study For 8+ Hours A Day. This is what my schedule looks like (with some changes depending on life!) :
7 to 9 am: Wake up, take a shower, get ready
9 to 10 am: Breakfast and watch 1 episode of a TV show
10 to 1 pm: Study
1 to 2 pm: Lunch while watching another episode of a TV show
2 to 6: Study
6 to 8 pm: Dinner + Rest
8 to 10 pm: Study
Establish a routine that you would like to follow. At first, it will be difficult, but gradually it will be easier for you to stick to it. Don’t be discouraged at first if you are unable to keep up with it. If so, make your routine more realistic and easier for you to follow iteratively. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
7- Remember WHY you want to get these tasks done
What is the ultimate goal you want to achieve?
Do you want to study for the career of your dreams?
What makes you want to work? Make sure you don’t lose sight of the reasons why you are investing your time in what you are doing.
Open a notebook or text editor, and clearly write WHY you want to study today.
8- Use the Pomodoro method to manage your time and take breaks
The Pomodoro method is quite simple! It is a question of studying in blocks of 25 minutes. For example:
- Write a list of tasks, and get a timer (you can use a website like Pomofocus or an app on your phone).
- Start the timer for 25 minutes, and focus on one task until the end of the session.
- When the session is over, you have accomplished 1 Pomodoro!
- Take a 5-minute break.
- After 4 Pomodoros, it’s time to take a longer break, typically from 15 to 30 minutes.
On my end, I prefer to do 50-minute sessions instead of 25, with a 10-minutes break instead of 5. This change is mainly because I was always late and ended up taking more than a 5-minute break if I wanted to fetch water or a snack.
This method ensures that you have quality work time where you really focus on the task at hand without distractions. (If you want more advice, I also wrote an article on How to Study Without Distractions!)
9- Create a motivating poster in front of your desk!
Particularly during exams, I sometimes create a poster like the one you can see in the photo below! I write what I want to accomplish:
- Get a good grade in my machine learning course
- & in my linear algebra
And then, I add a motivational quote. This time it was: “If it’s easy, it’s not fun. Every expert was once a beginner!”
10- Make studying fun
Depending on your field of study, try to find techniques that could make your study more fun. Here are some ideas:
- Create flashcards (on paper or with Quizlet – the latter has a gaming mode to learn!)
- Watch online videos
- Create beautiful summaries as you learn the material
- Create mindmaps to remember the material
11- The 2-minutes rule
Most of the time, the hardest part is getting started! The 2-minute rule aims to get you started when you’re stuck.
Imagine you are sitting on your couch, trying to find the motivation to study (I know that’s what typically happens to me!). Then, talk to yourself:
“Ok, I know I don’t feel like studying right now. But, I’m going to get up, go to my desk, and work for 2 minutes. If I still don’t feel like it, I can stop working.”
As you can imagine, most of the time, once the 2 minutes have passed, it’s easy to keep working!
12- Track the time spent doing your tasks
Track your time with a tool like Toggl Track to see where you’re losing time and how much time every task actually took. It also keeps me accountable for some reason. 🙃
13- Quick 10 minutes of exercise
Sometimes, no matter what I try, I sit in front of my computer and look at it without moving. (Yes, really!)
When that happens, I go on a little walk, exercise, or do yoga. I often end up searching for 10 minutes of yoga on YouTube (like this video from Adriene) and try to go back to your tasks. 🚶♀️🧘♀️
14- Can’t find the motivation? Take a productive break
If you feel like no matter what you try to do, you can’t find the motivation, then take a productive break. Do other productive tasks that are not related to studying. That way, you’ll save time over the next week, and there’s a good chance you’ll have more motivation by then!
Some examples of productive tasks:
- Wash the dishes
- Wash clothes
- Going to the grocery store, shopping
- Prepare your meals in advance
- Clean your office, bedroom, apartment, …
However, we all get bad days where we don’t want to do a thing. It happens to everyone. When I get those days, I accept it. I sit on the couch all day and watch Netflix, and usually try to do easy tasks that would still help me be more productive, like scheduling posts for my Facebook page or my Facebook group, scheduling tweets for Twitter, etc. I’m able to be still productive while being on the couch watching a movie!
Read my Instagram posts about motivation:
- How to have more structure and motivation to study or work?
- What to do when you’re not motivated to study?
- How to stay motivated to study?
In conclusion, I hope this article has given you some useful tips to motivate you to study when it is harder to find the energy!
Do you have any other tips to share that you personally use? Feel free to share them in the comments!
Do you think it’s possible to self study to get into the tech field. I just can’t make it in college (various reasons), so I want to study coding myself.
Yes, I definitely think it’s possible. Many boot camps exist if you can afford that or you’re interested in that kind of way of learning. I think having projects to demonstrate your skills get even more important then.
Thank you very much for these tips. It really helps. Please don’t stop doing this blog, your IG and your YouTube channel. I feel you’re doing a service to the community. Keep up the good work. I wish you nothing but the best with your future endeavours! A salute to you from Sri Lanka!
Thank you so much for your kind comment. I really appreciate it. Comments like yours are honestly what keeps me going and working hard to create the best content that I can!
Thank you again,