Fun fact: the smell of text books can be used to anesthetize rhinos. I made that up. But, seehrusly, if you’re finding it hard to get motivated to crack the books without the aid of a car battery, jumper cables, and a pair of wet-sponge ear muffs, read on. I’ve got five –count’em, five! — techniques to get that class work done when you’d really rather run.

  1. Act Excited – Get pumped by acting pumped (especially when you’re so NOT). True story; you’re brain won’t know the difference. Well… part of it will, but the part that pumps out the happy hormones won’t. Your brain, thinks, “Hey. She’s jumping around and grinning like an idiot. Maybe we won the FRIGGIN’ LOTTERY! Oh, Yeah!!!!,” and then it fills you full of the body’s very own brand of over-caffeinated psychological joy juice–endorphins, baby. jump_for_joyDon’t believe me? Well, first, let me just say I’m a little hurt. I’ll recover. But still … hurt. Second, try this experiment and prove it to yourself. Set a timer for two minutes and grin like a possum eatin’ fish guts out of a wire brush until the timer goes off. I guarantee you, you’ll feel happier by the time the buzzer goes off, and that was just by fake-grinning. Fake full body celebration brings on an even bigger happy rush. Plus, it really amuses your dog; not a quality you normally find in .
  2. Chop Your Work into Chunks – Even the most masochistic students can get demotivated by a huge pile of work. When confronted with a monstrous mound of school work, we collapse into the fetal position and refuse to give it a go. So don’t think about the huge pile; think about one minuscule mole hill; just a tiny, very doable piece of the pile. You don’t have to read (for example) all seven volumes of the Giant Compendium of Skin Diseases at one sitting, as is outlined in your syllabus. All you have to read is that next page. Once you’re finished with that, pat yourself on the back, and then tackle the page after that. One step at a time.
  3. Make a Plan of Attack – When it comes to motivation techniques, this one’s a doozy. Know why zebras have stripes (no, this isn’t a joke)? It’s so they don’t stand out from the herd when fleeing from predators. A hungry lion sees a wall of kaleidoscoping stripes and can’t pick out a target. Our brains, when confronted with a big mass of work, can be like that lion. We don’t know where to start, so we end up not starting. The lion needs spray paint. A day-glo orange zebra makes an easy target. Do the same thing with your mass of work. Mark out chunks of the work load that can each be done in an hour or less. Writing “Term Paper” on your to-do list is a massive wall of work; chop it up in to day-glo orange zebra work chunks. For example, “1) Come up with term paper topic. 2) Find three resources in the library. 3) Read three chapters from first resource. etc.” Doing that makes it much easier to acquire your next work target and keeps you from sitting and spinning your wheels, wondering what to do next. BONUS; set an estimated time for how long it will take to complete each work chunk–a time that you will have to push to achieve. For example, on my to-do list I find that my past self has written, “Find three solid resources for your term paper in the library, in 30 minutes. If you can.” When I get to the library, I set the timer on my phone and race to see if I can’t beat the thirty minutes. “Got it done in 27 minutes flat. YES! Take that, past self!” Not only will you work more efficiently, you’ll develop an extraordinary sense for how long it takes to complete tasks. Plus, if you’re anything like me, you get very competitive, and past self is so smug. We hate’s ‘im, precious.
  4. Inspire yourself Read a magazine article, listen to music, or watch a YouTube video that gets your gears going. It doesn’t have to be about your topic as long as it gets you stoked! I personally will–confession time–watch a great UFC match. Totally. Gets. Me. Pumped. You might get jazzed by watching babies laughing or NASCAR or monkeys spackling tourists with … ummmm … monkey spackle. Whatever gets your motor running, watch it. Most students use more chemical–and less healthy–methods of revving themselves up for study. *cough*RedBull*cough* Stick with the all-natural method; watch monkey spackling videos. Motivation techniques that involve YouTube videos and ween you from your caffeine addiction have to be good, no?
  5. Prepare Your Work Area – I learned long ago that any excuse is good enough to avoid paying bills. “Dagnabbit. The checkbook is out in the car. I’ll pay the bills tomorrow.” I would put off bill paying as long as possible unless I had gotten together all the necessary tools; stamps, addresses, amounts, envelopes, pens, checkbook, etc. If it was all ready to go and all I had to do was sit down and start writing, I would get it done. This is one of those motivation techniques that will work for your studies as well. Make sure you have everything you need to get that study project done before you start. Lay out your tools, turn off all distractions, provide yourself with food and drink, and get crackin’. It’s much harder to shirk that work when you’re all prepped and ready to go. It helps you avoid those easy outs like, “Oh, fiddlesticks! … left my book up at school. I’ll remember it tomorrow and get started.”

So the next time you’re too mopish to move and your motivation has melted, try these five motivation techniques; pretend to be jazzed, do the next little bit, divide the work into chunks, get outside motivation, and prepare to prevail. Do these, my friend, and your motivation misfires will melt away. So what are your motivation machinations? Tell us in the comments!

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.


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