Keep Learning – Staying Motivated

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Remember your “why”

The same drive and purpose you’ve always had are still inside you, even if school doesn’t feel as important right now.

First, think about your why … why you are in school, why you care about your actions.

  • Think of the major or careers in which you’re interested. How does the school work you’re doing now help you make progress toward your career goals?
  • Think of what you value about yourself. Maybe you are creative, patient, detailed, the organizer of social gatherings, or comfortable working independently. How does this relate to how you want to act during this remote school period?

Now … imagine the future two months from now. This might sound like something you don’t want to do, but please try. What should you be doing for the next two months to achieve this reality? What can you do to feel proud of yourself? In control? Strong? Relieved? Hold onto these feelings and what you need to do to achieve them. Consider writing them down. If you find yourself having bad days, find this feeling again. Let these feelings be your motivation.


Set small daily goals.

Concrete and achievable goals give us direction. Set five daily goals or to-do items.

Start by writing a list of things you would like to accomplish this week. These should represent different areas of your life, such as academic, mental health, fitness, and staying connected:

  • What tasks are essential for each class?
  • What about self-care? Would you feel better with healthier eating, more exercising, and better sleep habits?
  • How will you stay connected with friends and family?
  • How can you unplug and relax while making sure to still accomplish your other goals?

Your daily to-do items should:

  • Keep you focused without causing unnecessary stress;
  • Keep you focused on making progress;
  • Include at least one personal goal (not school-related);
  • Each be small enough to accomplish in a couple of hours (if not break it down into steps); and
  • Make you feel productive and motivated.
  • Adjust your list for the next day each night before bed, so you wake up with an achievable plan.


Create a positive environment

Not everything you need to do is fun but you can set the stage.

  • Pick a comfy spot, light a candle (not on campus), play a song you love while studying.
  • Prepare a comforting treat that you only allow yourself to have while studying, like hot chocolate.
  • For video calls or classes, create a spot with a comfy chair and a pleasing backdrop.
  • Ask a friend to be a study buddy so you can talk through assignments or check in on progress.
  • Create a study group through


Build habits

Habits make it easier to accomplish tasks without needing to decide to do them over and over.

Your class schedule may give you more flexible time than in the past. But, this also leads to having to make conscious decision to do schoolwork. Break that cycle by making it more automatic to choose what you need to do and resist temptations.

  • Pick a daily or weekly time for a specific task. Set mornings for listening to videos and complete readings; set afternoons for working on assignments; and write your paper for an hour after lunch every day.
  • Eliminate temptations that might distract you from your goals. Unplug your television; remove Netflix from your iPad; sit at your desk to work to avoid falling asleep; close the door to your room and hang out a “do not disturb” sign.  For example, make it easy to say no to the TV by unplugging it. Choose a desk or kitchen chair to avoid a nap interrupting you five minutes into your homework. Close a door to signal to others that you’re busy.
  • Put your phone in the other room, to eliminate the temptation to scroll your feed, play a game, or watch a video.


As Elsa says, let it go

Taking a break can help you to refocus your attention.

  • Release any guilt for not being productive. Set a goal to be more productive later that day. Refocus your goals.
  • Consider each day as a chance for a fresh start.
  • Take time to consider the positives wherever you find them.
  • Reach out for support if you are struggling academically, personally, or mentally.
  • When you are ready, make a plan on how to move forward.