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Motivation is Key

As a freshman, I am still getting used to being in college. I’ve been staying up later each night than I ever did in high school; the work load is way worse than any of my four years in high school; and exhaustion eventually takes its toll on me while I am forcing myself to stay up and study during the wee hours of the morning. And I know it’s only my first year, so it is going to get a lot harder as my college career progresses. But I still find it difficult to stay motivated while studying for an exam or working on a paper due the next day – and I’m positive I’m not alone there. So here are a few tips I use to keep myself motivated while studying:

1. Breaks: Take lots of breaks! One way I find helps me be more productive is studying for about 30-45 minutes, then taking a break for about 10-15 minutes. It helps me clear my head from all the work I’m doing for a little bit, then I get back to business feeling less stressed out.

2. Chill music: I can’t study in complete silence; but I can’t study with the TV or upbeat music blaring. So I put on an artist that I enjoy, but at the same time doesn’t make me want to abandon my studying and start dancing (i.e. chill music). For example, I listen to The XX, Radiohead, Bon Iver, Death Cab For Cutie, Grizzly Bear, Regina Spektor, etc. often while studying. (These are also good options for Pandora stations if you want that style of music but some different artists as well). If I’m hearing relatively calm music, I’ll feel relatively calm, and therefore I’ll focus more.

3. Tea time: I make myself a cup of tea when I’m feeling overwhelmed with the work load I have. Along with the chill music, it helps make me feel less stressed out and sets the good studying vibe. (Plus, it’s good for you and tastes delicious!)

4. Bribe yourself: Whenever I’m studying, I say to myself something like the following: “If I finish studying for English by 10:00, I’ll allow myself to watch an episode of my favorite TV show on Netflix.” The motivation forces me to finish studying and then I get to treat myself for working so hard.

5. Stay positive: Remind yourself of this: You are smart. You are trying your best. Don’t let the stress overwhelm you and make you feel bad about yourself. Just know you are trying the best you possibly can and stay positive and if you try hard enough, your results will reflect your actions. Don’t get discouraged.

Things to avoid:

1. TV: For me, the TV is distracting and prevents me from doing my work; especially if something good is on. Just turn it off. (Side note: if keeping the TV on low works for you, go right ahead and keep it on for background noise. But keep it low, otherwise it might distract you too much.)

2. Dance-y music is for dancing: If you listen to upbeat songs that make you want to dance, you aren’t going to focus and won’t get anything done. Keep the music slower/toned down, but still enjoyable.

3. Don’t let your breaks be too long: If you take an extended break, you’re really just quitting on your studying. 10 to 15 minutes max.

4. Friends/roommates: As much as we love socializing with our friends and/or roommates, socializing can also be a distraction. If you have to, make it clear to your friend/roommate that you’re trying to focus and could use the silence (unless you’re studying together, then by all means discuss what you’re studying).

5. Don’t push yourself too hard: When you’re in college, it’s easy to feel the need to pull an all-nighter. For me, staying up too late trying to memorize a few more things for an exam the next day makes me miserable and stressed out and want to give up for just a few more measly minutes of sleep. Start early, take short breaks when you need to, and just don’t work too hard.

I hope these tips help you get better at studying!

-Sonia

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