Whether you're studying for exams, preparing for the ACT/SAT, or trying to get a few college applications done, getting motivated can be incredibly difficult. With summer vacation starting, every time you sit down to start your work, you end up daydreaming about swimming, camping, skating, and just hanging out in the sun.
So, how do you keep up with your work? How do you finish strong? Here are six things you can do to stay academically motivated:
1. Make a to-do list
The first thing you should do is make a to-do list. Just write down everything you need to get done and everything you need to do to make sure those things get done. For example, if you are trying to work up the motivation to study for an exam, your to-do list might look something like this:
Complete review packet
Re-read chapters as needed
Review past tests and quizzes
Make notecards of important material
Putting all these things under the larger umbrella of "studying" may lead you to feel overwhelmed with all the work you have to do. Making a list of smaller to-dos will help you digest your task more easily.
2. Set goals
Once you have made your to-do list, it is important to set goals. Goals remind you of what you are working toward and why. Try to set a goal for each of the following areas:
In the case of studying for an exam, your goals might look like this:
Preparation goal: Complete all items on my to-do list. Study for 1 hour every day during the two weeks leading up to the exam.
Result goal: Receive a 92% or higher on the exam. Achieve an A in the class.
Deeper desire goal: Be accepted into my desired college.
Your preparation goal should be directly related to the task you need to get motivated for. In the instance of studying for an exam, this would be the actual studying itself. So, your goal is to complete all the to-do list items and to study for 1 hour every day leading up to the exam.
Your result goal should be related to the consequences of your efforts. In this case, you are getting motivated and studying for the exam because you want to get a 92% or higher on the exam and receive an A in the class.
Lastly, the deeper desire goal should be your number one reason for being motivated. In this case, why do you want to study, and why do you want an A? The answer could be that you want to make sure you get into your top college.
If you set goals on all three of these levels, you should constantly be reminded of what you need to do and why you need to do it. With your "deeper desire" at the forefront of your mind, you should have no problem pushing through periods of discouragement.
3. Set rewards
A great way to boost your motivation is to set rewards for yourself. Tell yourself that if you study for an hour, you can watch 30 minutes of your favorite Netflix series (just don't end up binge watching it). Or if you finish three college applications during the week, you can treat yourself to something nice on the weekend.
If you need a little help with this, see if your parents will make a deal with you. That way, they are in charge of the reward and will hold you accountable for your actions.
4. Plot your progress
Sometimes it isn't the motivation to start that is the issue, but the motivation to keep going. How many times have you been midway through an assignment only to end up playing video games and having to finish it the next day?
If you want to make sure you stay motivated throughout your work, plot your progress. Being aware of how much you have done will give you a sense of accomplishment that may just be enough to push you through your work.
5. Make it fun
One of the easiest ways to get motivated is to find a way to make your work fun. It seems impossible to make filling out applications or studying for a test fun, but there are ways. For example, filling out college applications with friends makes the work go by a lot faster. Instead of dreading the work, you look forward to talking to your friends and getting their opinions. As for studying, instead of quizzing yourself, why not grab a few classmates and play trivia!
If you can find a way to enjoy your work, you won't need motivation – or, rather, your motivation will be the enjoyment you get from doing it.
One last tip...
Take a break! Remember that sometimes you don't need more motivation; you just need a little break! If you've been working for an hour or so, take twenty minutes to relax and recharge! Watch a YouTube video, get up and run around, take a weird Buzzfeed quiz, do whatever you feel like. You'll come back to your work with a new attitude and a refreshed mind.