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How to motivate your student mind

Motivation would be great to sell right now, because it is lacking in supply and this is a very stupid economics joke. That was an attempt to say “wow us students are TERRIBLE at the whole motivation thing.”

Like seriously terrible.

Awful.

But seriously, motivation is one of the biggest problems a student will face during school and for multiple reasons, which are rather subjective – yet – I want to try and help increase your motivation with this blog post.

Naturally, because we are wired the way we are, us humans like to do tasks that do not take a long time; short term tasks. For example, our instincts would rather say “Run away from that lion” instead of “Hmmmm, well, maybe, if we think about this right and go position over there, we could get this angle and…” *eaten by lion*. Another example of how we are wired for short term tasks is when we see tasty food, we think “EAT IT.” As a result, long term tasks seem intimidating and less appealing. In turn, reducing our motivation to do these long tasks. This is one of the non-subjective reasons I know that can be solved with efficiency.

If we prefer short term tasks than one simple solution would be to set specific pieces of work as short term tasks to tackle over a longer period of time. However this introduces another intimidating factor of tackling work over a longer period of time. Again we face the struggles of long term tasks. But I am going to solve this problem with something Cal Newport has taught me in his book ‘How to Become a Straight-A student’.

Things you will need:

  • A Calendar.
  • A journal/ notebook.

These can be physical or apps such as Google Calendar and Evernote which are my go to and free.

To be able to be to tackle these tasks, you must be efficient with your work. When you wake up and go about your morning routine, you should add a 5 minute scheduling task. Get out your calendar, note the times of your school and job etc and then set 30 minutes where you want to tackle a task . Once you have completed this you should leave an hour gap to compensate for reasons I shall explain soon (repeat if you have multiple tasks). Realistically, 30 minutes is not too much to focus on a task and so, you shouldn’t be scared of doing said task with a good amount of focus on your task and so you shouldn’t be afraid of your task, you know it has to be done even if you don’t like the subject. The times I suggest you do work are after breakfast and before dinner. Never before breakfast. Never after dinner. Before breakfast you are still waking up and after dinner, your body is powering down. To do your 30 minutes of the task, follow the 25 minute pomodoro technique I use. Here is the link .

Reflect on the work you have done in the 25 minutes of intense, focused, uninterrupted work and you will realise, you have done a lot of work; if you have truly committed. Here is my favorite source of motivation fuel and eventually, I end up just carrying on my work without taking the 5 minutes break that the pomodoro technique likes and I can actually tackle long winded work without really thinking about how much time I am devoting. Now you see why I leave an hour gap.

If you do not do a task you scheduled because of reasons, write it in your journal and then the following day, slot that into your schedule in your 5 minutes of scheduling. Committing to this technique is also a nice motivator even if you just give yourself the long timeslot of 1 hour after you have gotten used to the above. This is because you can witness how many tasks you actually tackle when you scroll through your previous weeks and looking at all the tasks you have managed to finish.

Do not fall for the same trap where you do all-nighter to all-nighter to complete your work. This will drain you for everything you have and creates such a huge impact on your attitude for school that you will struggle horribly to complete any task and find any motivation. Schedule your work, and use your focus times efficiently.

These are my suggestions to tackling motivation through the idea of efficiency. Of course there are other ways but I’m sure you have all heard the idea of “But remember you want to be in blank career/ university/ apprenticeship” etc. And as it can motivate some, I like adding a little scientific reasoning for motivation rather than pure passion. Because science has some sound logic that appeals to me.

,o/

The Pomodoro revision technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. This method split up the usage of time into intervals for 25 minutes of applied work, and then 5 minutes set for a break to split up the work. Each interval is known as a pomodoro.

The pomodoro technique can be used for any task and is my go to for any of my studies/ any form of studying. I use it for creating notes, I use it for reading some research, I use it for these blog posts. I even use it for creating videos on YouTube. I feel that the splitting up of concentrated work really helps me focus on the task. Then once my concentrated studying has finished, I am rewarded with a 5 minute break. I typically like to write down ideas for blog posts or an idea for a video on my YT channel. This short break also makes me reflect on all the work I had done in the 25 minutes and this lets me take a look at my work from a reader’s perspective and it is refreshing to see everything I had achieved in that 25 minutes. This step back is also a good motivator as I become more confident in my ability to focus and in turn, focus more in the following 25 minutes, creating a multiplier effect in focus.

As I like to look at stats on almost anything I can i.e. game stats, the specific character stats and my performance. I also like to see my stats on my studying. Using the app Clearfocus as my pomodoro timer, I can set the task name for my work and then it will save the time studying and display a graph in their ‘Statistics’ page. Other noteworthy apps would be forest that will show off your studying in a garden in which you have grown your own trees by following through with your pomodoro timers. Additionally, pomodoro timer would be another app, just typing pomodoro into the app store would find you many timers.

Once I started using my pomodoro timers properly, I felt this newfound tank of focus I can almost tap into. Focus is a very strange thing,  it varies between people and what I like to think focus as is a finite tank that you must tap into to drain and use. As a result, you can run out of focus and thus, be unable to sufficiently do any task you desire to do with an empty tank. Using this pomodoro technique, it felt like I had much more focus to tap into and I was focusing more efficiently. Therefore getting more done than I ever have before.

If you are a struggling student, I highly recommend you try and use the pomodoro technique to maximise your efficiency when focussing on tasks. Especially long winded tasks such as essays and research. And if you are already using the pomodoro technique, Godspeed you beautiful human.

Edit: Well, I took this from my blogger blog which was uploaded on the 19th of February and Thomas Frank has uploaded a brilliant video on the 20th so check that out here .
As a result, here is something I had missed when discussing the technique, note down any distractions that arise when studying to reinforce you are in a time of deep focus on studying and prevents you forgetting something you was interested in.

You are allowed to RELAX

As for many of you readers, it is the start of our week off for half-term. Take some time to reward yourself for surviving this far in to school, it’ll prove to be worth it soon. Once finished throwing your fist to the sky in your room by yourself, we can discuss the importance of relaxing and taking some me time to have fun when being a student.


Done? Awesome.


Yes that’ right, you are allowed to enjoy yourself while being a student, shocker. I joke yet this time is probably one of the most important things for you while strolling through the life of a student. This time prevents you from just being a work zombie, someone who mindlessly walks about mumbling to them self “…graddeess” like a lifeless corpse fuelled solely through the goal of achieving that A in gnawing on brains. I mean in Politics. Giving yourself time to enjoy a hobby or people makes you grow as a human being, you may learn about a new passion of yours that takes your mind off of the pressure of school and instead makes your personality glow in a light that catalyses the confidence and educates you more about yourself. 


Once you begin to understand your passions and maybe ideas for projects such as blogging (like me), you introduce a reward mechanism of something Thomas Frank calls High-Density fun. In his book ’10 STEPS TO EARNING AWESOME GRADES (while studying less’ he refers to fun such as gaming, reading and socialising etc as high-density fun, while other activities such as YouTube, Facebook and Reddit are activities supplying low-density fun. Low-density fun is an activity that will switch off your brain and you’ll look at your screen and on occasion smirk, these sites are often made in a way that will suck you in on a streak. You see those comments on YouTube where Terry420 says “Well I’m on the weird side of YouTube again”. This is first hand proof of how YouTube can just suck you in and in turn, wastes your time because in reality, your not having as much fun as you think. Where as high-density fun is something you are going to enjoy more and keep your mind a little more active than low-density fun. Yes when you have fun you may want to just turn off, but being “switched on” does not mean thinking about work. It just means actively thinking and preventing yourself getting in the mindset for procrastination through low-density fun. Back to the point, once discovering your passion/ favourite activities to do. It is a chance to reward yourself for doing sufficient studying and or, if it is an activity like blogging, you can have a lil’ smidgen of fun during your pomodoro revision. 


Rewarding yourself with some relaxation is probably one of the easiest ways to motivate yourself. However, it should not be your go to. You will begin to relate your passion with the your school work. You should only use this method when you have run out of your own motivation in your daily tank


As mentioned previously, you probably have a week off of school. For those who’s in their last year of College, I would take this week as your last week of literally being able to do nothing and get away with it; assuming you have done all the work so far up to the standard you desired. For those who have not, well you may need to sacrifice some relaxation time as you may not reach where you want to be in the future, YIKES. Also, for you unlucky sods who have coursework, I suggest you make a timetable to schedule some free time at home to take on your coursework. But back to those who feel like they are doing alright, you now have the opportunity to enjoy your passions and hobbies and not feel guilty. Overall, this will make sure you have motivation for the oncoming weeks that you NEED to get through the preparation and execution of your exams.


If you take away one from this post let this be it, you should allow yourself some high-density fun. This will keep you from losing your mind all throughout school, and you should prevent losing your mind.

Let’s get things started

Studying.

*Audible gasps*

Yes I know, terrifying. Yet if you are a student, I assume you are if you have stumbled here, it is a necessary punishment of existence duty you must undertake.

Studying is necessary for good results on your finals, yet does not require as much time as you think. What is important when studying is your efficiency with your time and learning of content, it is not necessary to stay up late every  day with your head in a book, that will not comfortably get you to the places you want to be.

This blog aims to teach you everything about studying and student life and eventually grow further into how to increase your chances of success beyond student life.