Balance, General, Student Life, Study

Staying Motivated

A picture of Michael Scott from the office

I’ve watched so many episodes of The Office recently that the characters are basically my friends

Have you ever found yourself in the situation where you accidentally binge watched 12 episodes of The Office when you should’ve been studying for a midterm? I have, and it wasn’t too long ago… in fact, it happened just last week. Now, it’s worth noting that I am in my third year of university, and up until last week, I had maintained a strict rule of “no binge watching tv shows” to avoid that kind of scenario. For three years I had successfully exercised self-discipline to prevent temporarily prioritizing television shows over school. So what went wrong?

 

There were several factors that led to my careless procrastination, including lost motivation and poor choice of study space. Since then, I have worked to resolve these issues. However, if you find yourself in a similar situation where procrastination becomes tempting, there are a few simple things you can do to stay motivated and self-disciplined, such as implementing an effective reward system and picking a suitable study space.

 

As of now, we are just over 6 months into the 2016-17 academic school year. With midterms, exams, and assignments, sometimes, things can get a bit repetitive. And with repetition comes boredom. And with repetition comes boredom. And with repetition comes boredom. See what I mean? Boredom makes it easier to lose sight of your goals, and it makes you more susceptible to procrastinating (which is what happened to me). One of the most effective ways to combat boredom is to create a reward system for yourself.

 

A reward system is a powerful tool that greatly increases your chances of successfully reaching your goals by ensuring that you don’t lose motivation! Essentially, create a system that allows you to treat yourself to something meaningful and special each time you complete a task or stay on routine. If you already have a reward system, but you are still susceptible to boredom and loss of motivation, it’s time to self-reflect and revise it to increase its effectiveness! Make sure that you treat yourself with something you enjoy but wouldn’t normally have/do in your daily life to ensure that the reward actually motivates you. For example, if you really love partying with friends but don’t do it often, the idea of attending a party after a week of hard work is a great motivator! In fact, these “end of week parties” is how one of my friends motivates himself to stick to his routine during weeks bombarded with midterms and labs and assignments! A bad motivator, for example, would be to drink hot chocolate if you already drink hot chocolate for breakfast every day – this isn’t a good reward because, since you are already indulging in hot chocolate regularly, the idea of getting to drink hot chocolate after completing some hard work isn’t new and exciting, hence less motivating. For more information on implementing an effective reward system, read one of my past posts.

 

While a reward system is extremely important at helping you stay motivated, the study space you choose greatly affects your productivity. The day I binge watched The Office, I was “studying” in the comfort of my own room, in my pajamas, on my bed, under my blankets. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out why I got so easily distracted. Through past experience, I had concluded that I am most productive when I am studying at my desk at home. However, with my bed in proximity to my desk, I occasionally need to study outside of my house to combat the temptation of sleeping or binge watching shows whenever I run low on motivation… otherwise, distractions occur! In those cases, I usually hit up my local coffee shops or the UC Library – something I forgot to do last week! My point being, it is crucial to consistently assess if your study space is allowing you to function at your peak productivity, and if not, then ask yourself why. Can a new study space help you exercise more self-discipline? There are many different places to study, such as your room, living room, a library, a coffee shop, study spaces on campus, or even at a friend’s house. Each study space has it’s advantages and disadvantages.

A picture of the UC Library

The University College Library is one of my favourite places to study for midterms. Picture taken from: https://onesearch.library.utoronto.ca/library-info/UC_LAIDLAW

I’ll get more into what each study space offers in my post next week, so stay tuned. But for now, I want you to self-reflect. Do you have a reward system in place to help you stay motivated? Which study spaces are most effective for you? Do you have any “back-up” study spaces for when you get bored/distracted in your usual study atmosphere?