Do you still treat studying as a chore? Do you do the absolute bare minimum and get online homework help to fill in the gaps? Can’t bring yourself to get started on reading that textbook?
Well, you’re not alone. Struggling to find the inner motivation to study isn’t a one-of-a-kind problem. So, don’t go on a guilt trip just yet: this lack of motivation just means that you’re human.
Studying can become something you enjoy doing – even though years of school taught you otherwise.
The good news is, you have plenty of potential solutions for rediscovering that desire to study. Here are the top 8 picks that are worth trying.
1. Ask Yourself a Bunch of “Why?” Questions
You know what they say. Understanding the problem accounts for half the solution. And when it comes to lack of motivation, you have to reflect on why that’s the case.
Let’s play word associations. What comes to your mind first when you think about studying? Is it a “chore”? Or “necessity”? Or just “ugh”?
Now, ask yourself: Why do you feel this way about the activity? Once you have the answer, keep asking why to uncover the root cause.
Here are 3 more whys you should ask yourself:
- Why do you procrastinate? What triggers it? (Why it’s useful: you can either work on changing your perspective or avoiding the triggers.)
- Why did you enroll in university or college in the first place? (Why it’s useful: it’ll serve as a reminder of why it’s worth it.)
- Why does this material matter for your future? (Why it’s useful: it’ll help you focus on your goals.)
2. Reassess Your Attitude Towards Studying
Humans are curious by nature. But, unfortunately, the education system doesn’t always reward this curiosity. Instead, it often crushes it.
If you want this to be more than a chore, you’ll have to rediscover that curiosity. Change the narrative in your mind. Go from “I study to pass the exam” to “I do it to learn something new”. It’ll do wonders to how you treat your next study session.
But this is just one way you can evolve your attitude towards studying. What you want your new outlook to be depends on your priorities and goals, too. You can switch to the “I learn to become a professional in this field” mindset, for instance.
3. Learn to Love the Process
Do you want to know the secret to effortless learning? It’s simple and somewhat banal: loving the process itself.
Think of it this way. Remember the time when you lost track of time and got immersed in that game or hobby of yours. That was because you enjoyed the process itself, right? Not because you had a life goal in mind.
It can be the same with learning. All you have to do is come to love the way your neurons fire up when you wrap your head around something new. (And forget about assignments and exams for a while.)
4. Dig Deeper to Find the Interesting Even in the Boring
It’s hard to change your attitude towards a subject that you’ve already labeled as boring. But it’s still possible – and the mental work you invest into it will pay off.
The most foolproof way to make it interesting is to discover how this or that material applies to practice. Here are several questions to ask yourself (and Google):
- How can this knowledge improve my practical skills?
- How can this theory explain why the world around me is the way it is?
- How can I use this material in my future occupation?
5. Treat Your Motivation Like the Sea with High & Low Tides
No one can stay motivated 24/7, not even the most curious learners. Motivation comes and goes. And while you can make some adjustments to help it come more often and stay longer, you can’t make it stay forever.
Instead of going on a warpath with yourself to force yourself to get motivated, go easy on yourself. Accept it if you don’t feel motivated and your usual routine doesn’t get you in the zone. If you can, postpone your study session and get some rest. You probably need it.
6. Have Someone to Share Your Progress With
Have you ever had to explain something you’ve just learned to another person? How did it feel?
Most likely, it felt awesome. And, what you explained back then probably got stuck in your memory for a longer while than the stuff you used only during the exam.
That’s because you cement your understanding of the subject when you teach it to others. (There have been a number of studies confirming it, too.) Plus, in order to explain something, you have to wrap your head around it first.
In a nutshell, this is what study groups are for. So, find one and join it! Or, make it a habit to share what you’ve learned with your friends or family.
7. Set Up Your Own Reward System
This tip is so old it feels like a cliché. But that doesn’t mean it’s useless. The reason it stuck around for so long is that it actually works. You just need to find your perfect rewards.
It doesn’t have to be anything material. It can be watching an episode of that new TV show after you finish with exam prep. Or going for a walk or to a party after you’re done. Or even twenty minutes of controlled procrastination on YouTube!
8. Remember: Where Motivation Fails, Self-Discipline Succeeds
But what do you do if the motivation is nowhere to be found but the deadlines won’t let you just go get some rest? Well, then you bite the bullet and get things done – because now you’re an adult and you have responsibilities.
Does it sound harsh? Probably, but it’s the truth. As mentioned above, you can’t rely on your motivation to be present every time you need to study. So, invest your time and effort into building up habits to support your learning progress. Here are a few tips for that:
- Schedule study sessions;
- Have a dedicated study space;
- Understand what helps you focus – and use it;
- Get rid of any potential distractions beforehand;
- Set a timer for controlled procrastination.
Plus, here’s a trick. Sometimes, motivation comes after you get started, not before. So, even if you don’t feel like it, open that textbook or write a couple of sentences for the paper. Your motivation may grace you with its presence in the process.
A Final Word of Wisdom: There’s No Silver Bullet
Here’s something you should keep in mind. Not every tip on this list will be perfect for boosting your motivation. That’s because you’re unique in your habits, attitudes, preferences, and mindset in general.
So, there’s one more tip left – and it’s the most important one. Experiment. Try these and other motivation-boosters and see which ones work for you. And if some of them don’t have any effect, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Good luck!