I'm sure you know the feeling, the one where you have no motivation to do anything? Well, the lack of motivation is incredibly common amongst many students, you are not the only one. It might just be because you can't study at night or can't study at home, finding the right study environment for you is key. However, you may feel that no matter where you are, the battle with your mind continues to rumble, and you end up with something known as 'study burnout'.
You're here because you wonder how to study when you don't have motivation, I've been there, so many times.
If you're just on the hunt for study tips for exams or just general study tips for university students, I hope this can be another tool to put on your belt.
Study motivation is an art, it's not something that just works without effort. it has to be encouraged and a developed. If you couple this with the best way to revise for you, you will have a fierce study skillset to tackle those exams!
Why Can't I Get Motivated to Study
The solution for each person could be very different, some may just need to have a study timetable, for others, they need to dig a bit deeper than the study planning phase.
Revision techniques are of course important, but if you're not in the right mind to use them...they aren't very useful!
So first, we need to begin with the inertia you feel. Your mind is blocking you from entering the realm of 'study motivation mode' and that's a serious problem.
The main issue comes from the story we tell ourselves, you may just 'think' of these or you may have you internal monologue repeat them every time you try to study. They often sound like this:
"I have so much work to do before 'this' time. How do I get motivated to study..."
"I need to study this whole subject. What is the best way to revise it..."
"I have all these questions to do."
"I should organise all this stuff today."
The dilemma here, is in the wording we use to quantify the task ahead, even though they are probably accurate ('so much', 'whole', 'all' etc)
You may have lots of work to do, in a short space of time, but your mind will resist the idea of tackling it because it's a hard problem that requires a lot of time and effort.
By 'telling' your mind this, you are forcing it to pursue a task that will introduce additional stress. Your mind will resist this, it doesn't want to go through work or be under stress.
So while in the pursuit of motivating yourself to study, this actually does the opposite of what you want, it discourages you from studying.
This is where my suggestion of a using a 'bluff' comes in, but we'll get to that in a moment!
Struggling with Motivation to Study
Now we have identified why we cant study well, we have to go through a small struggle. This is the hardest part of this study tip, because you need to fight the initial thoughts of your mind.
In truth, starting with motivation isn't a real thing, it's something that has to be brought out by something else - it's a product of previous actions and mindsets. So If you've ever wondered what is better than study motivation, it's the commitment at the beginning. With this, you can 'generate' motivation on demand.
Let's say you are sat at your desk, you have all of your equipment and study material around you. Your mind is foggy and you don't know where to start.
You know what you could do, but you don't really zoom in to any of those thoughts, they just float by the forefront of your mind.
The struggle is to consider what small things you could do. What are the 'easy wins' amongst 'all' of this work to do?
They could come in the form of:
The first few practise questions of a question sheet, they are usually easy by design (the one or two markers in the exam)
Past paper questions, only the ones at the top of each section (again, the low, but valuable marks)
Revising a section that you actually feel reasonably confident with, one you might even 'lowkey' enjoy
Reading the shortest section in your subject, or a section at the beginning.
If you only have the 'advanced' portions of your study notes to cover, again, go over the more consumable topics first to build confidence.
Now you have identified what you could do at the beginning, but this isn't the study trick just yet, that's up next.
How to Get Motivated When Studying
I have a few study tips for university students, this is one of my favourites and one that has benefited me greatly in my days of academia.
Here's the trick, you need to tell yourself that you are going to do a TINY bit of revision, only a tad, a 'smidge'.
This might come in the form of reading one page, tackling just one practise question or studying for only 2 minutes. There's another name for this tip by the way, it's called the 2 minute rule!
The point is, you're giving yourself an easy task. Not a difficult one. It might look like this:
"I'll just do these first 3 easy practise questions"
"I will read that section, I think I could do well on this section in the exam"
"I'll spend 2 minutes looking at the introduction of this section, and then I'm done"
"These exam questions are worth low marks, I'll make sure i can get these and then that's it"
Notice the change in language, you're identifying an easy task, making it consumable and then declaring that you will only do a small amount of it.
What comes next may be weird, even a bit funny. With hope, you'll find yourself wanting to continue past the point of where you planned to stop.
You will feel a sense of momentum gaining as you do the easy task and now you don't really want to stop, you may feel more confident and a natural sense of 'flow'.
This happens because you've broken down a big problem into smaller consumable problems, you've then said that you will only tackle one of those smaller problems.
But with the confidence accomplishment gained from tackling that small but relevant task, you are in a different mindset to consider the work ahead.
I find this particularly effective with practise questions, when you solve one, you want to solve as many as you can!
The study trick has worked! You've effectively deployed a bluff against your mind and it worked. Now granted, this may or may not work for some people, it's just another tool to try.
If it doesn't work, try it again and again, use music to help you concentrate and keep yourself away from people who may distract you.
One thing to make sure of if it does work, make sure that you have the ability to continue and study. You don't want to fall short when motivation is there so have all of your equipment and study notes to hand.
As for study tips for exams, I really like this one. Once you're aware of its efficacy you will use it again and again.
Having no motivation to study is normal, but hopefully now you might be able to connect the dots to why you can't study anymore.
I do have a few other tricks that may help you, take a look at "The Write-Off Principle" if you area really really struggling with burnout!
Free Resource Templates
If you're applying to university/work or struggling to study, you may benefit from some of the below freebies:
Personal Statement Templates
Cover Letter Templates
Study Schedules/Planner Templates
Head over to the FREE Resources page and you can download (to word) any of the templates shown there, new ones are released every so often, tailor them to what you need them for and good luck!
They will show you the structure and formatting of each document, along with suggested design ideas and possible wording techniques, take a look!
Thanks for reading