When exams roll around, no one really is excited for it. The stress from parents, teachers and even one’s peers can feel quite overwhelming to begin with. Who would want to deal with huge amounts of work on a regular basis?
But we all encounter moments where bad goes to worse, where we just don’t feel like studying though we have to. The motivation and desire to produce simply disappears and we cannot get ourselves moving. Such a scenario can be a death sentence for us, who simply cannot afford to run short on revision.
We need to break through this mental obstruction one way or the other. What can we do when we hit such a roadblock? The common answer is time management. But time management is no use when you can’t even get yourself to start working when push comes to shove.
What you really need is motivation: that mysterious feeling that pushes you to produce, to complete, to achieve. What one needs is ways to get motivated. To deal with this exam struggle, here are 4 tips for you.
Method 1: Segment your work
When we are going to study and look at our schedules, we are probably going to see a mass of deadlines, projects and tests. Such an overfilled schedule is the norm for students here, but such a big-picture viewpoint is likely enough to give anyone hypertension.
A student reading his planner, saturated with assessment followed by assessment, will freak out and begin worrying. How am I going to finish all this work on time? How should I best plan my study schedule? Is there a better way to revise and absorb all this necessary information faster?
Ironically, though the student might feel that this is an efficient mechanism in order to deal with his work, it is actually counterproductive. Sure, you might feel better having arranged the schedule to visually stress yourself out less, but how much time have you spent satisfying yourself instead of working and doing what you need to? In reality, doing all this is a result of having a chunked workplan.
Here’s an alternative: Prepare a timer and set it to, let’s say, 40 minutes. After the 40 minutes, stop studying for a bit and take a 10 minute break. Rest and relax. Go back to your work after the break and continue. This method works extremely well especially if the work given does not require extended periods of continuous attention
Not just segmenting by time, one should also use goals to segment one’s work. Instead of telling yourself to finish a Chinese essay right away, you could try to write 2 paragraphs with every session. This way, one can measure one’s own progress and will be more motivated to continue hitting these goals.
Method 2: Remove distractions
Everyone knows how irritating it can be to have a daydream interrupted by some external factor. However, when our focus on our work is disrupted by a notification from our social media, we gleefully jump into our virtual world of Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok and Whatsapp.
The pull of the apps on our phones is hard to understand and mystifying at times. The effects however are no mystery: Distraction, procrastination and unproductiveness are common foes of the social media connoisseur.
Though it might sound simple, this step is far more useful than many of you might think. Countless students think they can just remove distractions by turning off their phone and end up studying within earshot or worse, the arm’s reach of their phone. This never fails to reduce the student’s focus, unconsciously or otherwise.
What is the only way to avoid such distractions then? In fact, what might come across as brutal is the best strategy.
Shut off your phone and keep it in another room. Stow it away. In the worst case scenario, get someone else to hide it and only give it back once you are done.
Distractions do include your phone, but are far from limited to that. The TV? Study away from it. Keep your comic books or other such literary distractions in a hard-to-reach, deserted place to use only when the time permits.
Without distractions, your mind is not telling itself that it has anything better to do. It isn’t de-motivating itself at the very least and it creates an active motivation for oneself.
Above all, just stick to one task. This includes ensuring your mind does not spend too much thought on anything else.
Method 3: Reward yourself
Speaking of sticking to just one task, don’t feel guilty when rewarding yourself. After all, rewarding yourself is a task in a way! And of course, you should not worry about other things too much when rewarding yourself. Celebrate!
The guilt felt when enjoying oneself comes from the fact that many students unconsciously have signed a sort of agreement with themselves to complete an indefinite amount of work.
What should you do to overcome this stress? Renegotiate this agreement with yourself! Tell yourself, “Look bro, I’ve already done the work I set for myself earlier on. There’s nothing for me to worry about so long as I am disciplined enough to keep studying after this reward, so I will enjoy myself!”
Once you remove the guilt involved in rewarding oneself, it becomes a great way to motivate yourself to study. It is like a spring, launching you forward to achieve your goals.
Humans are desiring creatures. We are at our best when we are doing something to attain a reward that is both appealing and comes quickly. In other words, instant gratification can be wielded both to your advantage and disadvantage.
On the one hand, this gratification can distract someone while working, where the brain simply wants the reward to come sooner and sooner. On the other, the process of pursuing the reward with the appropriate level of discipline is essentially an expedient to the completion of your work. It boosts you.
Set yourself a small reward after completing a set amount of work. The distractions you removed from yourself earlier on? Feel free to use them now. Of course, you must control yourself in order to not overuse the rewards and abuse the system, postponing your study to enjoy yourself. This ends up being counterproductive.
Method 4: Make study enjoyable
The methods above need a decent amount of self control, and operate upon the principle that study and work are unpleasant or at least boring tasks and that the brain will do anything to get out of this task as quickly and efficiently as possible.
However, without the self control needed, the brain will essentially “short circuit” and bypass the work given entirely, preferring instead to remain in the realms of happiness and entertainment. An immature user may end up using these methods counterproductively.
However, the brain will not be tempted at all to “short circuit” if study itself is something it wants to do. The reason why this method is not the most recommended one is that we have preconceived notions of work that are difficult to change. In other words, there are practical difficulties to it
Furthermore, there is a fine line between making study enjoyable and doing enjoyable things while “studying” and really just getting distracted.
Despite this, it is one of the most rewarding ways to study when you can actually enjoy the study process. One of the best (albeit risky and logistically difficult) ways to study is to study with friends. If you can study without going off on a tangent and can coordinate your timings and place with your friends, it is an amazing way to collectively boost your productivity and vitalise the study experience.
Another way is to use an app (or even a personalised system!) to gamify study. Turn study sessions into “quests” or something similar which you don’t just do for rewards but also for the fun of them.
Enriching your learning experience is another variation. Delve deeper into parts of the subject you find interesting and perhaps, just maybe you will discover that you are truly fascinated by elements of a subject or even study as a whole
I hope you find these tips useful to you! Have a great learning experience this year!