Study Motivation 101

Having all this work to do is hard enough without running into issues with motivation.

But then again, with this much work and time consuming information to absorb, it would be almost impossible to be motivated 100% of the time.

Not just when you’re in in medical school, but college/university too, and school in general I think the first tip right off the bat is going to be to not expect perfection.


Expect to get bored. Expect problems, and don’t get crazy once you fall off a bit.

It’s inevitable.

Just get back on the horse as soon as you can and don’t be too hard on yourself or start having negative thoughts about how it’s gone too far to get back on track. That’s a lie we often tell ourselves. Something is better than nothing, and slow progress is progress still.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to the nitty gritty! How to get/ stay motivated and get the study motion going and keep it moving.

  • Plan your course of action. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but making plans and making lists and visualizing goals…it gets me really excited to get started. It could be my weirdo ways, but when I make plans and know exactly how I’m going to make things happen, I always just want to get started. Even if the plan doesn’t work out as I expected, I sill like having one.

  • Get your supplies. By this I mean, have everything at the ready. Being prepared will make you feel like you can conquer the world. I know it makes me feel that way! Get your textbooks. Have all the paper you need. Have colourful pens and highlighters and other writing supplies. Have your flashcards at the ready. Get cue cards! You know, whatever works for you! I have a serious issue with my love for all things stationary. I don’t exactly know why, but I love coloured pencils and markers and colourful paper and….school supplies! All of it. Recently found Cutest…stuff…ever! Kind of pricey, but sooo worth it! Get your supplies ready, that’s motivation right there. 

  • Set the mood. Do you work well with music? Or do you need complete silence with zero distraction? Anything that works for you, you’ll need to set your mood. It will help you to get started if you have your own special space where you know you can go to get your life straight.

  • Watch motivational videos and join motivational social media. Okay, this is one tip that can go bad in a hurry. I know because it has happened to me! Sometimes you can get a little caught up in the ideas of getting your studying done, and never actually make it through to studying. So limit yourself with this one, and be cautious. There is no shortage of instagram and twitter accounts devoted to study motivation, complete with funny memes and study tips (ahem: @beautyfullifemd) [shameless plug :D] Join up and feel the good energy flow.

  • Block your distractions. Feed your focus. Sometimes you just have to drop off the grid to get stuff done. I had a friend in basic sciences who whenever exam blocks came around had me hold her phone hostage in my room and allowed me to(temporarily) change her facebook password so she couldn’t get on. There are apps that do that for you too by blocking websites that you frequently waste time on. Drop off until you handle business and don’t give yourself a choice. That way, all you have to do is work. Sometimes, it’s the only way!

  • Think about the consequences. Whichever side will help you get going. Think about how good it will make you feel to have your work done. You can chill and relax instead of freaking out, knowing that you’ve done everything you were supposed to. Conversely, if this is more likely to move you, think about what happens if you don’t do the work. 

  • Ask yourself what’s stopping you. Is it that you can’t or that you don’t  want to. Be honest with yourself. It’s often the easiest way to get yourself moving. Find the problem and work through it.

  • Create a reward program for yourself. Okay, so you figured out that you don’t want to actually do the work. How do you get around this? A reward of course! Maybe once you’ve done a few hours or finished a task, you can watch a show you love (guilt free). Or, maybe you want to go out next weekend, so you have your goals for the week ahead and if you get through, you get to go have fun. For me, reward systems work wonderfully because I love the rewards I set for myself. And I love not feeling guilty about it. It’s also a great way to give yourself balance.

  • JUST do it. Sometimes, all you need to do is just get started and the momentum will take care of itself. And suddenly, the more you do, the more you feel inspired! Just go for it…like NIKE…just do it. 🙂

Trying these might help you to generate some motivation that sticks. What do you do to get motivated?


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