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The ability to get motivated to study can have a very positive effect on a student’s study levels and grades. A motivated student will find it easier to go the extra mile and do all the necessary tasks that need to be done to assure success. The right motivation will allow students to study a lot more focused and with more concentration. Motivating yourself to study is especially helpful when you feel a lack of motivation or face procrastination during your studies.

The following tips on how to study effectively will help you to become motivated to study and to beat procrastination!


Motivation

Effective motivation techniques for students

How to become motivated to study?

I. The motivational power of having a goal!

A very powerful motivational technique students can apply is to set themselves well-thought-out goals and objectives. These aims could be either short-term goals (e.g. about an upcoming exam) or long-term goals (e.g. about the achievements you want to reach during your studies in the university). Objectives and aims are one of the best sources of motivation, as they will keep you focused and enable you to “do whatever it takes” to accomplish your goals. Furthermore, cleverly chosen objectives will inspire you to greater heights, allowing you to reach your true potential. A very positive side-effect of an excellent goal is that it will drastically increase your perseverance.

Important tips for goal setting:

  • #1 Write your goals down
  • #2 Avoid vagueness, negations and necessities
  • #3 Split complex goals into main targets and sub-goals
  • #4 State how you intent to achieve your goal
  • #5 Visualize the accomplishment of your objective and what it feels like
  • #6 Gratification: reward yourself once the goal is reached

For more details and an in-depth explanation on the above named aspects of the best goal setting strategies, visit How to set goals effectively?

II. Gratification: Reward yourself!

Personally, I don’t consider the act of rewarding oneself – once a goal is accomplished – as a motivational technique for students per se. However, the positive effect that a gratification can have on your motivation to study is stupendous. Hence I have no other choice other than including the fantastic aspect of gratification into this article. If you feel the urge to become motivated to study, set yourself a goal (as discussed in I. The motivational power of having a goal) and determine an appropriate reward once the objective is accomplished. It’s really that simple, but so effective. By rewarding yourself, whenever a goal is achieved, your brain elicits positive emotions, leading to the realization that an effort results in a positive reward. Furthermore, you will – consciously or subconsciously – recognize that a high effort will result in an even more positive gratification. In accord with the formula {high effort + accomplishment of the objective = gratification} you start linking hard work with a gratification. Basically, you will associate upcoming challenges (and necessary efforts to reach a goal) as another chance to get rewarded (= positive emotions). Hence you increase your motivation to study which allows you to maintain your motivation on a high level, until the objective is accomplished. Also, your willingness to make an expenditure (e.g. studying) in order to accomplish the objective (e.g. an excellent grade) will raise, when having a reward in mind that you have desired for a long time. 

Please keep in mind that this method can only stir your motivation to study as long as you apply the simple rule: {demanding objective = glorious reward} and {simple goal = small reward}. Also, it’s crucial that you DO NOT reward yourself if you fail. If you were not able to reach the objective as determined you will not get a reward. Furthermore, the reward should be received once the goal is reached, not any time prior to this.

Important tips for rewarding yourself to become motivated to study:

  • #1 Set a goal & determine an appropriate reward for it’s accomplishment
  • #2 Associate the efforts you take with the positive reward
  • #3 Ambitious challenges require outstanding rewards
  • #4 Basic objectives should only be rewarded slightly
  • #5 Do not allow yourself to receive a reward if you fail
  • #6 Reward yourself subsequently after achieving the goal  

III. Just do it & start studying

I know that whenever you feel a lack of motivation to get started with studying there are a dozen other activities that sound by far more interesting than studying. Sometimes you would rather watch TV, an episode of your favorite sitcom, the new movie that has hit cinemas, listen to music or hang out with your friends. The simple trick to overcome this dilemma is to just get going. Start studying, no matter what. “Boost” yourself to get started with studying, no matter if you feel tired or if the teaching material isn’t interesting at all. You might have to force yourself, but it is worth it.

“It doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you get going.”

Why am I recommending “to just do it“, whenever you lack the motivation to study? That’s simple. Forcing yourself will allow you to free your mind from all kinds of negative thoughts about being lazy or lacking the right motivation. Basically, instead of wasting important time worrying about being unenthusiastic and lazy (in short: playing the victim) you take action. You will notice that once you’re getting started “just for a couple of minutes“, time will fly by and you will get used to your tasks. Once you got into the habit of studying, it will feel just natural after a while to remain on your tasks for longer periods of time.

Important tips to just get started with studying:

  • #1Force” yourself to do 15-20 minutes of studying for now
  • #2 Don’t agonize yourself by picturing the alternatives to studying
  • #3 Try not to procrastinate.
  • #4 The more you focus on your task, the faster you’re finished
  • #5 Imagine the negative consequences of prolonging studying
  • #6 If you’re tired, get up and jump on the spot, take a shower (or the like)
  • #7 Prevent distractions (TV, internet, email, telephone, smartphone)

IV. One step at a time – avoid prolonging

Let’s face it, one of the main reasons we students are not very enthusiastic about studying is the fact that we prolong studying for too long. As a result, we fail to grasp the subsequent teaching and learning contents, which forces us to become self-tutors that have to teach themselves everything that was missed. In the end, that’s a very time-consuming method of studying, and a direct result of prolonging. The alternative is to constantly keep up with your tasks in college or university on a daily basis. This – by all means – doesn’t suggest that you will have to study for hours each day. Instead, it means that you keep going one step at a time, which allows you to grasp subsequent contents and to stay ahead with your tasks. If it takes you 10 minutes each day to organize and revise the contents you learned in the present day, that’s fine!  That way, you will understand what’s being discussed, thereby you can avoid the accumulation of gaps in knowledge.

Motivation

Strategies for motivating yourself to study

At the beginning of your term, you could write down the specific goals you aim to accomplish (as discussed in I. The motivational power of having a goal). Consider this to be your letter of motivation for the upcoming semester. Whenever you feel a lack of motivation, or disinterest in studying, grab this letter and reassure yourself of the higher purpose on why you are studying. Realize that you have a “once in a lifetime” opportunity; you are young and entitled to study, so you might as well make the best of it by working and studying hard and by doing the best you can to get accepted at the destination of your choice. Otherwise, you might regret it at a later point in time.

V. Music – there is no easier way to get motivated

Music is a wonderful way to stir your motivation, as it elicits positive emotions. If chosen wisely, a song can get you powerfully motivated to study; it can cause a spirit of optimism which evokes the epic feeling of being able to do anything. When compared with other techniques to get motivated to study, listening to music is by far the simplest way to become excited of studying. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t opt for ballads, chill-out or lounge music. Instead, choose songs that you find motivating and inspiring, songs that immediately energize your whole body and make you smile from ear to ear. So, grab your headphones, turn on  your stereo equipment and listen to some fantastic songs, for instance Jorge Quintero’s 300 violin orchestra:


I really hope you like the song and if it stirred motivation then it’s even the better! In general, you can listen to any kind of music, as long as it energizes you, makes you happy and increases your motivation to “get going”. In the following, I’ve prepared a short list of suggestions for music that could help you to get motivated to study.

Suggestions of very motivational songs:

  • #1 Steve JablonskyArrival to Earth (Transformers Soundtrack)
  • #2 Daft PunkThe Game has Changed (Tron: Legacy Soundtrack)
  • #3 Hans ZimmerTime (Inception Soundtrack)
  • #4 Paul EngemannPush it to the Limit
  • #5 Nas ft. P. DiddyHate me now
  • #6 QueenWe Will Rock You
  • #7 Phil CollinsIn the Air Tonight
  • #8 ACDCThunderstruck
  • #9 BlurSong 2

Hopefully I covered a broad range of tastes in music, for further suggestions see The Best and Inspiring Orchestral Movie Soundtracks and the Most Motivational Songs.

VI. How bad do you want to succeed?

The foundation of all motivation – not only the motivation to study – will make or break with one question, How bad do you want to succeed?“. If you want something bad enough and you really want it to happen, you are motivated to the hilt. It’s as simple as that; you know it and I know it. The question is, do you really – thoroughly – want to succeed in your graduation or study? And if not, why is that? Get to the bottom of this question and find out what you can do to make you want to succeed in school, college or university. Focus on the higher purpose of your education, i.e. getting enrolled in your favorite college/university, earning a door-opening degree or being recruited by that top employer you ever dreamed of. If you want to succeed in life bad enough, some lack of motivation to study will not be a difficult obstacle to overcome, will it?

Important tips to increase your desire to succeed:

  • #1 Find out the reason why you are studying!
  • #2 What is your driving desire to succeed in school, college or univ.?
  • #3 Where do you want to be after finishing your education?

VII. A positive approach!

Your attitudes and mindsets about university/college can have a huge impact on your motivation! Having a mindset like: “University is a place where I face daily anxieties and get mentally tortured by all my professors” is not helpful and will not help you to get motivated. But if you have a positive attitude towards your studies (e.g. you see university/college as a chance to gain important knowledge, to develop yourself and to get ready to start your career) you will be able to boost motivation, just by having a positive attitude towards it. A positive approach towards your studies, your fellow students and professors will help you to keep your academic motivation on a constant high level.

VIII. Negative feelings can kill your motivation!

You will be confronted during your studies – every once in a while – with negative emotions such as anger, anxiety and disappointment. These emotions can decrease your motivation drastically, which means you will begin to lack drive with negative results for your studies. My tip for you is to not waste your precious time and energy on negative feelings/emotions and attitudes towards professors, fellow students or situations you neither can change nor control. A lot of professors can be a real pain (see: How to deal with difficult professor personalities). The constant pressure to perform or the lack in social skills of some can be very frustrating. However, you are not able to change them, so anger would be an unnecessary and inefficient reaction towards their behavior. Pay their negative behavior back with excellent marks, instead! Anything else is contra productive (for you). The “pay back” attitude is also an interesting method for those who want to transform their negative emotions into even more motivation to study.

IX. True interest!

Another very effective motivational element that helps you to get motivated to study is your interest in the subject. True interest! If you are able to develop a true interest in what you are studying it will help you in becoming very motivated! If you know the difference between a task you dislike and an assignment you enjoy you know what I mean!

Important tips to become truly interestd in studying:

  • #1 Get curious about the subject
  • #2 Read interesting books, magazines or articles on the topic
  • #3 Team up with others that are interested in the subject

X. Beat procrastination and distraction!

Procrastination – or any kinds of distractions – can have a negative influence on your ability to get motivated to study in general. Therefore it is important that you create a space to study where you do not get distracted by any means. Just by sitting in a room where you cannot procrastinate or distract yourself will help you to get started with your studies. Cut out any kind of distraction (TV, radio, mobile phone, internet, telephone, etc.) that could interrupt you while studying.

I hope the above mentioned motivation techniques Have helped you to understand how to get motivated to study!


The article “Ultimate Motivation Techniques – How to motivate yourself effectively” will show you 10 in-depth techniques that will boost your motivation!

You might also like the following articles:

Photo by Horia Varlan

The article How to Get Motivated to Study was presented by Success Blog.

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  1. Smriti (Reply) on Jun 5, 2015

    Sry…to be contd
    And everytime I wanna study I start day dreaming and though I make my mind for studying I read up few pages and I dont get Intrested in it anymore and start a new chapter and same with that again i lack motivation and everytime I make up a schedule I cant follow it and end up…I always end up and start over again but cant success in it.I really can’t find whats wrong with me.
    Sir could me help me out…plz!

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Jun 5, 2015

      First of all, calculate how much time it is that you have left until your exams begin. Then you could schedule about 1 to 3 weeks for familiarizing yourself with your study materials, or else one 10th of the time that you have left. This is just a stage to get familiar with but you have to study and to get a good overview about your material.

      The next stage is the usual study stage, which is also the most time-consuming phase of the whole preparation. You can plan a couple of months just for this stage, or about 6 to 7/10 of the time that you have left. During this time you repeat this study materials, you study it by heart if that is necessary. And if you have exercises, you can do it these exercises at the end of this period. Would you want to achieve is a constant confrontation with your subject which aids your memorization. Also, when you are doing exercises you see which subjects need further intensification.

      The last stage should be a much shorter stage during which you revise all your materials. Plan about 1 to 3 weeks, or 3/10 of the time that you have left. What you want to do is to fresh up your memory and get the study contents back in your mind.

      You say that you have to study and prepare for three subjects, so it would be advisable to do one day subject A, the next day subject B and the day after that subject C. This should allow you to approach your preparation in such a way that you won’t forget one subject during studying for another subject.

  2. Victor (Reply) on Jun 6, 2015

    Thank you for your reply Steve. I really appreciate your response and the feedback you have given me, I will take note and follow through with it. I went cold turkey on video games for over a month, I will try and quit again.

    I have another question thing is I use to enjoy going to the gym, I have a big problem with procrastinating with things because I am worried of failing. I don’t go anymore cause I’ve tried so many times over the last few years and I failed to achieve my goals. I am still unhappy with my body, but I’m more afraid of failing again than to even try. Also here I am sitting on my third day towards the exam, and I’ve fallen behind on my studies, I feel like I know nothing so I don’t even try. I know I am responsible for being in this position. I know I need to do better. But I’ve found myself in this position way too many times in the past. How do you not let your negative past influence your decisions? How do you deal with your previous failures?

    I still haven’t found a good strategy where I don’t lose interest of things quickly. My biggest problem is I always have expectations of things. I think if I put in effort I will achieve XY but instead I get no where near or I fail, so I end up getting down about it. Then it ends up being a vicious cycle. I feel like the last few years, its been a bitter struggle to increase my self confidence but I don’t get any where near.

    I know I need to be more passionate about life, and be more positive.

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Jun 10, 2015

      Hi Victor,

      I think I have already written an article that addresses some of the issues you speak of. It’s called stop worrying about failure.

      You write that you are afraid of failing, but always remind yourself that you have already failed if you do not try. Yes you can fail if you try, but isn’t it better to increase your chances of winning?

      Also remind yourself that some things simply cannot be achieved overnight. You write that you have very high expectations once you pick something up. But many things require a lot of effort and willpower until you master these things. So if your expectations are too high you will most likely decrease your motivation.

  3. Shrey (Reply) on Jun 10, 2015

    I have too many fantasies. I always try to set a particular goal but always fail and end up being confused with what i actually want to become in my life.
    I wish to be the stream topper of our school, be one of the best basketball players, a singer, dancer and a swimmer and every possible thing that i can learn. I am good in all of them and as per my wish, evrything goes good but ends up in my miserable health. Moreover, being introvert and not sharing problems with anyone makes it more difficult to come out of all these. Many a times, i overthink and demotivate myself. Any solution??

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Jun 11, 2015

      Focus on one thing and master it.

      Being an introvert is not so much a problem. Over time this can even change. Just try to be a little bit more open day after day. Talk with people. It’s just a muscle you have to train and use daily. Also, I have noticed that things can change pretty quickly if you throw yourself into a challenging environment.

  4. maisa (Reply) on Jul 21, 2015

    you see i have alot big goals that ive set for myself like doing an excellent result to get a good scholarship and get into a big university but procrastinationn is my bigget problem
    i ve tried everything to avoid it but it doesnt work for me
    i have my o level exams next year and need o study hard for them. All of my friends work hard and do well except for me ……….help please?

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Jul 21, 2015

      If you have a true goal, or even a vision, there will be nothing that stops you from doing what is necessary to reach that goal. Not even procrastination.

      Make yourself clear that you will not reach your goals if you are not able to overcome the procrastination obstacle. If you continue to procrastinate your ability to accomplish your desired goals will be highly affected. Don’t allow this to happen.

      But why do we procrastinate? One reason for this might be constant interruptions that keep us from starting. So if possible, try to eliminate all kinds of distractions just to avoid being interrupted. Secondly, you will have to force yourself to start studying. What it takes is this initial willingness to start and to continue doing what you do. It sounds easy, but the best advice is to just start and not to interrupt.

  5. Esther (Reply) on Aug 12, 2015

    Hi I just have a lot of trouble focusing on the cr part of the sat…
    Any helpful tips of managing my mind and time??

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Aug 13, 2015

      There are two aspects tool increasing your concentration. The first one is to eliminate all kinds of distractions as good as you can. Nothing should be distracting you at all when you study. Secondly it is also important to train your mind so that you can increase your level of concentration. This can be done through meditation or similar mind exercises.

      Regarding your time management issue, sometimes it is best to prioritize all your activities, so that you can leave out the unimportant stuff. Sometimes while you are in your exam preparation it is recommendable to put more of a focus on your study materials instead of your leisure activities.

  6. Ella (Reply) on Aug 13, 2015

    Hey, i just wanted to say thank you so much for putting the effort of posting this! I usually never comment on websites but damn yours is pure gold! It hit me in all the right places , so thanks!!!! Xx

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Aug 13, 2015

      Hi Ella, thanks for the thanks. It really means a lot to me to hear that people like article. Have a nice day.

  7. Rachel Akito (Reply) on Aug 26, 2015

    Steve

    This is brilliant. Teachers should should encourage their students to follow these guidelines. It is very well thought off and I appreciate you for sharing these ideas. I will highly recommend this article not only for students but for everyone to read.

    Rachel

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Aug 27, 2015

      Thanks Rachel, I’m really glad you liked the article!

  8. Hephzibah (Reply) on Aug 27, 2015

    Hey! I loved your article. I am presently pursuing English Literature and I really love my course but, the problem is that whenever I think of picking up a book, I am distracted by some or the other thing. In addition to that I have another weak zone which is my writing skill. I really wish to score well but my professors advise me to write answers in a structured form because of this I loose a lot of marks and I really want to get on with my studies as it is my final year in college. Please guide me, Thankyou.

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Aug 30, 2015

      First of all, when you study, do it in an environment that is distraction free. This means that in this room should be nothing else than your table and your study materials. No television no nothing. The second approach is that you need to train your mind to free yourself of distractive thoughts.

      About the second issue, always prepare a plan with a structure that details how you want to answer the question. Then address each individual point and formulate it.


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