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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. Vishal (Reply) on Nov 25, 2014

    Sir,

    Myself Vishal and age is 30.I have done my graduation and even i am married.

    The problem here is,

    1. I want to continue my education and do higher studies,but i am not able to focus or concentrate.

    2. The reason is i am married and even my brain is not able to concentrate.

    3.I am too much addicted to movies(all sorts) and for a week i try to distance from that but again i start addicted to it.

    4.Even though i know too much is too bad,i am not able to control it and it has become addiction to me.

    5.Nowadays there are lots of Negative Thoughts too.

    Sir,Please let me know how to control mind and focus on studies and get rid of Bad Habits and thoughts,as the Roots cause for all the problem is this Negative thoughts and Bad Habits.

    Regards,
    Vishal.

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Nov 25, 2014

      Hi, it’s very good that you have already identified what the problem is: watching too many movies. Now what you might not have considered is that the movies create a vicious circle if you so want. Because quite frankly when I watch a dramatic movie I have great issues in controlling my mind after wards. All kinds of thoughts will emerge and some of these thoughts are quite negative in their nature. So if you write that you are even addicted to watching movies this might even worsen in your situation, as watching many movies will decrease your concentration and also have negative effects on your mind control.

      In my opinion, the movie problem is the problem you will have to tackle in order to improve your concentration and ability to focus. It is difficult, because studying seems when compared to watching movies pretty boring.

      But if you make this effort and reduce the number of movies you watch drastically, you will be able to make quick progress. The only thing is that it will take a lot of will power to stop watching movies.

      Something that might also help you to strengthen your concentration is meditation, as this really helps you to learn techniques to focus your mind and to work lets go of negative thoughts.

  2. Vishal (Reply) on Nov 27, 2014

    Thanks a lot Sir,from now onwards i will try to reduce watching movies and even try to start practicing meditation.So that i can overcome these problems.

    Regards,
    Vishal

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Nov 28, 2014

      You’re welcome, I know that you can make it. Just keep going and never lose your goal out of sight.

  3. Mamoni. (Reply) on Dec 28, 2014

    Hi! I asked about my problem in another blog of yours. But i think i got my answer in this article. What i need is Motivation! Its so nice to control my mind & studying effectively. This tips are very helpful. I will definitely follow them.

    Thanks so much for the amazing writing.

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Dec 30, 2014

      You’re welcome, I hope the article can help you. But you can feel free to ask right away if you should have any questions left. I’m glad to help.

  4. ash (Reply) on Jan 6, 2015

    Whenever I start to study….. What comes to my mind is ‘I have completed just few pages but there are still sooo much left and not enough time!!!!!!’. I keep thinking about how much things I could have finished if I had started before…. This attitude of mine really nags me so much that I stop my studies . . I have big dreams in my life … I am motivated so much in my college…. But at home it is just the opposite…. Do give any suggestion to change this..

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Jan 9, 2015

      The solution to this problem is clearly that you need to plan a lot more time for studying. If you give more time then you will be able to avoid the problems that you describe. This will give you a lot more time for studying and in turn will decrease your fear of not being able to finish all the tasks you need to do. The other problem seems to be that you somehow have a environment at home that decreases your motivation or drive for studying. Now this is up to you, because you will have to look around and see what the cause for this problem is. Is it may be that there is something that distracts you? Television etc.? Then try to get rid of these distractions.

  5. ash (Reply) on Jan 6, 2015

    I have very important exam next month. I know I can do it but the thing is whenever I try to imagine the contents of what I read, all other sorts of fantasy come to my mind and I end up daydreaming. Also when I try to meditate this fantasy keeps happening . I had this habit from my pasts and now it seems interfering in my studies . I have a wandering mind…. Do give me suggestions

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Jan 9, 2015

      Regarding the fantasies that come to mind: that’s a difficult issue and I also have to face it many times. But in the end it is all about concentration. If you are able to concentrate these fantasies might come to mind, but they’ve been not distract you because you can easily turn them of again. Now you have to ask yourself the question what it is that distracts you so much that you begin with your daydreams. I have the feeling that when I watch a lot of television or spend a lot of time surfing on the Internet or doing similar activities, these kind of daydreams drastically increase. So what else for me is to try my best to concentrate myself on my studies, while neglecting those activities that cause my mind to be stirred up.

  6. ash (Reply) on Jan 6, 2015

    hi sir, when I try to study I end up daydreaming. I am motivated only in college but at home its the opposite . I find it difficult to start studying. also I find it hard to manage time . when I put up a study time table and at times(many times I dont) when I do not follow it I end yp closing my books.

  7. kindaichi (Reply) on Jan 7, 2015

    i am finding it difficult to concentrate while studying .i am easily getting distracted at home. i do not know whether it is overconfidence or laziness that is hindering my studies.

  8. ash (Reply) on Jan 7, 2015

    I am not able to focus my mind on studies. I am not even getting scared of exams…. I am 17 and my mind wander quite badly and I daydream a lot

  9. anni (Reply) on Jan 29, 2015

    i did 2year coaching for psu and then i got admission in m.tech. in m.tech,i am not concentrate on my studies. i want to study for government job(psu) but cant do.i have sufficient time. i m fully waste my time.tell me some suggestion what i have to do

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Jan 30, 2015

      hi Anni, first of all it’s excellent that you have enough time for studying. That’s something you can build on. Now we have to work on that time wasting issue. But don’t worry about that, with the right tricks you’ll be able to change that as well. Now think about it, you waste your time because there is something that distracts you. And these distractions keep you from studying. So my suggestion for you is to put all your focus on identifying these kind of distractions. What you want to do is to identify these distractions and then to get rid of them during the time you study. Your goal should be that you will not get distracted whenever you study. Now these distractions can vary from television to the Internet or your smart phone, but also thoughts can distract you. This means for you that you will have to apply a combination of willpower (not giving in to distractive thoughts) and self-observance (not allowing yourself to turn on the TV, switch to the Internet etc. etc.) while studying. This will be difficult at first, but it will pay off. Secondly, you could set yourself time periods during which you want to study intensively. Let’s say for the next two hours you want to study. During this time you will have to force itself to not allow any kinds of distractions too divert your focus away from studying. If you manage to put up with this you will be rewarded with a focused study session and after this you could reward yourself by allowing yourself to waste a little time. But only after you finished studying. I hope this helps so far, but few free to contact me again if you have any further questions.

  10. Joy (Reply) on Feb 22, 2015

    Hi I just read your article and realise I lack motivation. I have an important exam in two months time yet I can’t seem to concentrate,this is the third time am writing this exam and I think that is what us affecting my concentration and motivation please help me what do I do ?

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Feb 23, 2015

      Hi Joy,

      It is excellent that you have scheduled enough time for studying. This is a proper foundation we can build upon. So let’s face your concentration issue. First of all, let’s have a look at your study environment. There should be absolutely nothing that distracts you from studying. What you want is an environment that allows you to study in silence without anything that could drift your focus away from studying. This is also the reason why some students choose to go to their nearest library’s where they are not allowed to speak or use their mobile phones. If this option is not possible for you, try to eliminate every possible distraction in your study environment. This means that you will have to look away your smart phone, computer, television set and everything else that could possibly distract you.

      Once you have managed this, there is only one thing left that could potentially distract you: your thoughts. But if you have made it so far, this will also be possible to be overcome. Because learning to not be distracted by your thoughts white studying is possible. All it takes is that the first effort to just start studying, whether you want to or not. And once you have started you must continue studying, without allowing interrupting thoughts to draw your attention away. If you manage to do it is, your concentration will increase and it will be easier for you to focus on the study subject, if you’re not constantly interrupted.

  11. ashi (Reply) on Feb 23, 2015

    Hi sir…. I love your article. The problem that I face is the same as many others! I have been the topper of my class bt now I have started wasting time! I have become a procastinator and my position in class has fallen drastically which saddens me nd such other thoughts always come to my mind whenever I start to study! Can you help me out with something please?

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Feb 24, 2015

      Yes sure, I’ll see what I can do. I think it would be best if you exactly describe the situation and the problem so I can have a look at it.

  12. ashi (Reply) on Feb 24, 2015

    Thanks a lot sir for the reply and I must tell you I love your attitude towards things so much! You are a very positive person and I aspire to be like you. If I can get some tips please? :) and then my problem basically is with procastination and getting in that mood to study! I also waste a lot of time listening to music nd watching tv! I hope u will reply. Thank you:)

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Feb 25, 2015

      Hi Ashi,

      Thanks for the kind words, but don’t try to be like me, try to be better than me :-) in general, that is the best tip I can give you: look for a good teacher, learn from this teacher and try to become better than this teacher one day.

      But no worries, with concentration and a lot of focus you will also one day be in a position that you can help other students with your experiences as well.

      Okay, so you say that you procrastinate by listening to music and watching TV. Also you have a problem getting into the mood of studying.Watching TV is a vicious circle. Because it makes you lazy and reduces your ambition to accomplish something in life. When compared to watching TV, studying seems really boring and a non-rewarding activity, when in fact, it is the opposite.

      I will continue my response in the other articles that you have commented on, because I think I can combine it with what you have said in your other comments. You can find the article here.

  13. ashi (Reply) on Feb 24, 2015

    I wrote a reply and I have no idea where it has gone:/

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Feb 24, 2015

      No worries, the reply just needed approval. I will try to answer it tomorrow.

  14. ashi (Reply) on Feb 24, 2015

    It is still there!!Sorry

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Feb 24, 2015

      No problem, I will also answer your second question on the other article about time management for students tomorrow.

  15. ashi (Reply) on Feb 25, 2015

    thanks a lot sir:)

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Feb 25, 2015

      You’re welcome.

  16. divya (Reply) on Feb 25, 2015

    Hello sir,
    M preparing for my medical entrance xam which I ll be giving in may 2016. I have 3 subjects to go with namely physics, chemistry and biology! ! Can u plz help me to plan with my studies and finish the portion by December 2015 so that m left with much time for revision???

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Feb 25, 2015

      Excellent that you have enough time left for studying, preparing and revising your study materials. Many students do not lay this proper foundation, but as you have already done this, we can build upon this.

      At the beginning of your study schedule you should calculate how much time it is that he has 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.

      That is about it, you could also make sure to study in a distraction free environment, this helps you to maintain your focus, without distractions.

  17. ash (Reply) on Mar 1, 2015

    Hi its me Again. The solution to all these problems is to think there is none. Asking for advice in these ways just creates dilemma in us. We know ourselves better than other so its left for our intuition to do the rest of our work….

  18. shifa (Reply) on Mar 3, 2015

    sir.. i have only 45 dayz for my medical entrance. i havnt studied anythingg.. this is d 3rd tym i m writing dis exam.. right nw i m doing graduation in english literature due to parental pressure.. dis yr i had a brk up wid ma bf… i m really sadd.. dont hav enough tym for examzz.. really messed up

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Mar 4, 2015

      Well, it seems like you have a really ambitious goal. And these kind of ambitious goals require radical measures in order to achieve them. If you are willing to take these radical nationalists then you will be able to succeed. But it all depends on you, and if you are willing to make this effort for the next 45 days. I highly believe that you can make it, but the next 45 days might not be so pleasurable for you.

      First of all, establish for the next 45 days an environment that there are zero distractions for you. This means that you will have to eliminate all kinds of distractions that prevent you from focusing and study. Look away your smart phone television remote control. Anything that could distract you needs to be locked away. Throw the key away, because for the next 45 days you will only do the following: studying, eating, and sleeping. Now the very first days will be quite hard, because you might be used to distractions. But if you follow along with perseverance and willpower it will become easier and easier to pick up your study materials and start studying. Also, studying will help you to forget what is bothering you.

  19. dark (Reply) on Mar 4, 2015

    I have just 5 days for exam all I do is everything except studying……. The fear of me not able to finish studying is not allowing me to even start my revision……this is my 2 pu board exams!!!! I am indeed having anxiety problem as I cannot sleep for the 1st 3 hours at night. What exactly am I facing???

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Mar 4, 2015

      The answer that I gave in the above also applies to your case. The free to have a look at it.

      In general, this seems to be one big issue: you haven’t scheduled enough time for studying. Or alternatively, if you did indeed scheduled enough time for studying, but it were not able to start studying, then the big issue seems to be that you are procrastinating. Whatever the problem is, you will definitely have to schedule a lot more time for studying, if you want to avoid sleepless nights because of exam anxiety. The second problem that needs to be addressed is the procrastination issue. You will have to analyze very exactly what it is that makes you procrastinate. And once you have found what it is that draws your attention away, you will have to eliminate it. For some people this is television, there smart phone, music and other things that distract. Lock these things away so that they cannot distract you. For other people, they are distracted by daydreaming or their thoughts. In such a case meditation is advisable so that you learn to control your thoughts and that you learn to shut your thoughts down.

      If you want to avoid sleepless nights, you will have to force itself during the day to sit at the table and to open your books and to open your study material and to start studying. This of course has to do a lot with willpower, but you will have to make this effort in order to succeed at studying. In the beginning, you really really have to force yourself and start studying. This might be the best tip I can give you, to really just start doing it. Because once you have overcome this boundary it will feel a lot easier. And after developing a habit from it, studying will feel a lot more natural and will go a lot easier.

  20. Swetha Udayasankar. (Reply) on Mar 16, 2015

    It’s an useful thing for the people who does not have self esteem and positive thought. It was soon useful to my cousin sister. Thanks a lot…

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Mar 16, 2015

      Glad to help. I’m happy that you can manage to help your cousin sister with this article.

  21. Bradley (Reply) on Apr 4, 2015

    Hi Steve,

    I’m 34 years old and recently got sponsorship from my workplace to study my IT degree, part time, in modules. It’s relevant to my career and also I do regret never doing this when I was younger. Course is on-line with RDI.

    My problem is I am really struggling to get into it, studying and writing essays. My first assignment was due in Feb 2015, I deferred it until May (I can only do this once). I will be capped at a pass for this particular module however I have 30 days to go, 5000 words to write and the study material to read.

    I feel like I’m totally out of my depth and am struggling to get motivated to get stuck in. I find I’ll do any other task except that or go out with a friend.

    On a positive not I have today created my study schedule and it does look achievable over the next 30 days. I just need to get stuck in and get my draft done I guess.

    Looking for some words of wisdom.

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 4, 2015

      Hi Bradley,

      I have worked for five years straight before went back to university. So I know to a certain extent the difficulties you are facing at the moment. I believe the biggest issue is that you simply no longer used to studying. This is an awkward situation, as you are lacking the normal routine of a student. But with time and some effort you will grow into your new role, just as one can grow into a new job position.

      It is very positive that you have already created your study schedule, as this gives you an outline of what you have to do during the next 30 days. Now you only need to stick with this schedule.

      So let’s tackle your problems, one after the other. Not a first problem seems to be struggling to get motivated for this part-time study. You could apply various techniques from goal setting to writing down why this study course is so important for your career and your life. Maybe it helps for you to reassure yourself that you have gotten a very unique opportunity that not many people will ever be able to get. Studying alone is a pretty big opportunity. Studying with a sponsorship even more so. However, with this opportunity also comes the responsibility to yourself to make the most out of it. You write that you regret not studying this subject earlier. But imagine how much you will regret it if you do not seize this opportunity this time. Would you really want to tell your grandchildren that you missed this great opportunity just because of that lack of motivation at the beginning? Surely not.

      Just remind yourself that things always a little bit awkward and tough at the beginning. It simply takes time to grow into these things.

      Now to your second problem, which seems to be writing essays. As a general rule of thumb I never postponed or deferred anything during my studies. Not because I was so ambitious, but I soon realized that this would bring me into great trouble.

      Writing essays is another subject. Basically, what you could do is look up the standard scientific argumentation scheme and build your paper sentence by sentence. What you need to do for this is to identify the relevant keywords of your subject and to find relevant papers that these keywords on the Internet. Then you open these PDF files search for the keywords and build your arguments around these quotes that you have found. This is much easier than the regular way, which means reading paper and book after book.

      I hope this has helped you so far, but if you have any further questions, feel free to ask.

  22. Laurel (Reply) on Apr 7, 2015

    Hi!
    I m Laurel. My problem is that I know everything- every rule, every principle, every plan, every system, perhaps the best of every best. But I can never work unless I m under real pressure i.e. EXAM. If i could get myself ready be4 hand, i could b a topper quite doubtlessly, that is what everyone tells me. Help me out of this hell!

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 8, 2015

      First of all, it isn’t so bad as you think it is. Think about your future career. If you can perform under pressure that is really important. And you will always have pressure in some form in the work environment.

      But let’s focus on your problem. You somehow have to manage it in such a way that you increase your ambitiousness. You say that you could be quite a topper. But are you really striving to be a topper? Because if you’re comfortable and happy with how the things are at the moment, you will not be able to change anything in your situation. Become ambitious, set yourself high goals, do everything in your power to achieve these goals and most important of all reward yourself for your accomplishments.

      I’m trying to say that you need to become hungry, otherwise there’s no escape.

      If necessary, set yourself more ambitious goals so that you are under more pressure, hence you will have to start earlier with your preparation for the exam.

  23. xujip (Reply) on Apr 11, 2015

    Dear Sir,

    i am xujip. i was left my study before 10 years. Now again i want to join the collage for study and i want to be a Degree holder. Now a days i am trying to study hardly but i couldn’t. Frankly i want to say you that, i am in the habit of watching movies every night up to 11pm after coming home from my office. I can,t stay without watching movies. How often did i try to avoid this habit but i couldn’t. Every time i am trying to study but can not. Every time my mind is diverting to watch movies.This is my bad habit like a addiction.I want to study to get my success. please advise me, what i have to do to reduce this my habit?

    Extremely respect for you advise.

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 12, 2015

      Hello,

      Great that you have taken the decision to return to college again.

      Regarding your problem: always remind yourself that you are wasting time when you are watching TV. If you want to succeed in your studies you would have to develop the willpower not to watch TV, for as long you have not finished your study duties.

      And this is exactly how I would approach to problem. Make it a habit to study first. Your studies need to be your first priority. After you have completed all the tasks you need to do for your studies, you can reward yourself with a little bit of television.

      Know this, you have developed this habit over the course of many years. Your mind is used to watching movies. It elicits positive emotions in your brain, watching movies is a reward for you.

      Just as you have develop these habits, you can redevelop and change them. It will take time, courage and a lot of willpower. But if you stick to it and if you do not allow for excuses then you will succeed.

      But know this: your success at studying might be at danger if you do not change your habits.

  24. xujip (Reply) on Apr 12, 2015

    Dear Sir,
    Thanks a lots for your good suggestions and quick respond.
    I will obey your instruction always. If you don’t mind, could you please advice me, per day how many hours is the best for study?

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 12, 2015

      Well, this really depends on your situation. You wrote that you are working, so I believe that you are studying only in part time. It is really difficult to give a general advice on this. I say it is very useful to study as much as needed. Often times, there is no need to study anything. At other times you just need to do a quick revision or quick preparation. Yet, there might be other days when you will have to study extremely hard and make full use of the weekend. It really depends. Over time you will develop a good understanding what is necessary to study and when it is not necessary to study.

  25. xujip (Reply) on Apr 12, 2015

    I am very happy by your suggestion. Yes i am job holder position of purchaser. My office time is morning sharp 7 am to 3:30 pm. After that i will be free up to night 11 pm. I do physical exercise (body works out. From tomorrow morning i will make my daily routine and i will follow my daily life as per my routine. After your advice, I belive my self and now i have self confident that, i will give my first priority for my study.

    Appreciated your usal support and for you suggestions.

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 13, 2015

      This sounds very great! Have faith in yourself, I know that you can make it.

  26. Anand (Reply) on Apr 15, 2015

    Hi Steve,
    I am 28 years old and have a peculiar reading problem for the last 12 years. I really want to study but this problem of mine has been destroying me from inside which has affected not only my studies but also my confidence and spirit as a person.

    It all started 12 years back, when I was a student of class 10. I was good at studies and scored good marks in examination in proportion to my hard work. I always had the fighting spirit to cross any barrier to get to the top. But soon, I began procastinating myself to become a topper and thereby getting into this and that and that…….And soon I lost my mental focus in studies. My brain did not work the same way as it used to be earlier although I had the memory to remember at that time. I suffered from some reading problem, I don’t know what but my mind which was so photogenic earlier was no more the same.

    I have tried to improve since then, but I always get frustrated everytime I try to study. It has hampered me every sphere of my life.

    I want to read again in the same way as earlier but now it looks I don’t only have a reading problem but since my reading method was no more the same , I always had the inner feeling that nothing is getting into my head.

    Your suggestion to get out of this unhappy mindset will be always helpful .

    Thanks

    • Anand (Reply) on Apr 15, 2015

      And Sir, ” You have to read nicely to write the best”. My problem in short is reading is not good…so I feel really frustrated when I read.

      • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 16, 2015

        See my answer to your first comment. But another idea is that you might want to read a lot more. Replace reading with whatever else you are doing, if you’re watching a lot of television etc. It is possible that these kinds of distractions decrease your reading abilities.

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 16, 2015

      Your situation sounds to me like you had a flexible and well exercised muscle (your brain) that for some reason was not used as intensively as you used to, which led to its atrophy.

      Now it seems like you notice effects, hoping that all the restore itself and by itself.

      I think there are two possible ways to approach this problem. The first one is that you sit yourself down and read and read and read to train your brain. This of course takes time and needs a lot of willpower and perseverance.

      The other approach that might be extremely helpful, is to learn meditation. Basically, if you do it properly and if you exercise it for a longer period of time you will train your mind to focus on one aspect. Maybe the problems that you experience are a result of procrastination and mental wandering. This is the case meditation can definitely help.

  27. adi (Reply) on Apr 20, 2015

    Hi Steve,
    I’m an accounting & finance student. I’ve been in all rounder in junior as well as high school and have been one of the top scorers by putting in really less study time (say 2 weeks). But I’ve lost control of my mind in my most crucial years of education (college). My problems are a combination of almost every problem in this comment section, for which I’ve been taking help of psychologists, but to no avail.

    The thing is, I can’t focus for 5 minutes straight. I get distracted easily so i keep all distractions away. But I can’t escape the distraction caused by my own thoughts. A chain reaction of random thoughts run in my head all the time. But in whatever time that I do focus collectively, I can grasp faster and remember for longer than others, which explain my scores. I’ve never really had the habit of studying regularly, but at least I could focus properly in the last 2 weeks before an exam, out of fear. However in college, I couldn’t focus properly until I had less than 12 hours before each paper during finals !! Also, after studying for a month for my professional exams (which needs 3 months of studies) I started losing motivation to TRY keeping my thoughts in control, like I had been trying earlier.

    My college education wasn’t too challenging. I feel like my education begins now. I honestly want to excel in the field of finance, which requires a lot of book knowledge. My dream is to have immense knowledge, and thus I want to do all possible (related) professional courses in finance. And I can’t/won’t settle for less. I know I am smart enough to make it through if I study productively each time I sit down to read (and not daydream, which is about 70-80% of my study time). But at the same time, after all the efforts I’ve taken, I feel as though I can’t do any, simply because if I couldn’t even focus on my easy college education which didn’t need any dedication, how am I going to do other courses which require dedicated and regular studies, leave a person with no life, and are yet very difficult to clear. I’m already having a hard time studying for one, not because I can’t understand, but becuase I’m just not able to focus. But I’m so sure this is what my dream is, and this is what I want to do in life.

    I’m probably not strong enough to have and maintain motivation to keep my thoughts away and stay focussed. Please help me out Steve. Looking at your replies, I seriously hope there’s some way you can. Anything that helps me regarding this problem can help me achieve my goals in life and I’m more than willing to extend the relationship by doing something in consideration (monetary or otherwise). I hope I’m not being rude or asking for much.

    Thanks

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 20, 2015

      Hi Adi,

      (I address the concentration issue at the end of this article. I just find it important to elaborate some things first.)

      Let me ask you one question: what is it that you are doing differently now? You say that you are no longer able to focus properly, the first step is to find out where the root of the problem is. Not the consequences, but really the root. Analyze and question everything to find the root cause of this problem. What is different now? What has changed? Sorry for being so inquisitive, but I need your assistance as much as possible. Sometimes even slight changes can have tremendous consequences for your study skills. They go unnoticed at first, but their causes can be felt pretty heavily. I know there’s something. Let’s find it.

      You write that you were once able to focus at least a given time before the exams. Then you wrote that you have lost the motivation to control your thoughts. Please, try to go back in time and find out where the cause for this lies. What was there that made you become unmotivated? Was there anything that was more interesting than studying? Again, these questions might take some contemplation. But I think the answers to these questions might be crucial for your development.

      Another question, is there an activity where you do not daydream? Is it maybe that you only daydream during studying? But not during some more pleasurable activities? Is this an issue that is centered around studying or is it also when you watch TV or do something else?

      From what you write I can clearly see that you need, and I really want to stress the word need, the high pressure in order to get going. You are certainly not alone with this. Many of my fellow students are the same. Has the pressure decreased lately? Or since you have left college? Being a student who can only perform under pressure is critical. It is an excellent gift at the workplace, but not at university. The goal should be that you become a student who works continuously with great scrutiny and care. This however, takes dedication and the right motivation.

      This leads me to the next point, I want to congratulate you for having a vision. It sounds to me that you know exactly where you want to be. But let us talk straight, you will have to work your *** off to reach this vision. And let’s be even more honest, you will not be able to accomplish your mission if you’re not willing to do anything for it. Maybe it was easy for you to reach your college degree. Not all things come that easy. I think you are at a transitional point where you start to realize one thing. That you have to put in a lot of effort, which is new to you. Maybe this could have caused a mental blockage. Who knows. This transitional stage requires a change of your mindsets. It takes the realization that approaching things how you did approach them in the past does no longer work.

      But I also say this: if you have a true vision your focus will be razor-sharp. There will be nothing that can distract you from your mission. You want to achieve this vision so much that you are willing to make EVERY sacrifice.

      You have a really special gift. Not many people have such a photographic mind. There are people who are really smart, such as yourself. Up to a certain level things are really easy for these people (In regards to start). Then there is the other group, where not that smart but made it that far because of their eagerness and willpower. For them, things never came easy, in regards to study. I count myself to the latter group. But you know what, I am always astonished that I can perform just as well as the first group. In fact, I am often amazed that these people are not better. They have such a great potential, but they don’t use it. It is a tool that is left unused. However, it comes a time for the really smart group where they realize that they will have to invest more time. This is a completely new situation for most of them, but not for the second group, because they don’t know it any different.

      Don’t be someone who wastes his potential. You still have the opportunity to adopt, what it takes is practice and dedication.

      But let’s now focus on the real issue, your concentration problem.

      I could tell you now many many different strategies. As you write that you read some of the comments here I am going to assume that you already know these typical approaches. I say forget all of this. There’s only one that really helps, which is learning to control your mind. Once and for all.

      I ask you this, are you willing to invest half an hour or an hour of your time daily for your future success? There might be a way to approach and to tackle the concentration issue. This is an unconventional approach, but again it all depends on how much you are willing to sacrifice for your goals.

      What I want to suggest to you is that you practice meditation. Read up on it on the Internet, learn the techniques and practice. This is what will work the most efficient. I know that you are not convinced of this suggestion. But, as you clearly have realized you have an issue with your mind. An issue in concentrating and focusing. This is something normal. However, such an issue needs to be addressed at the root. Meditation is the proper tool to to do this.

      Sit down and meditate for half an hour or an hour each day. This is the only way you will be able to control your thoughts. Basically, what you want to achieve is a state of mind where no thoughts intrude. Over time and with a lot of practice it will become easier and easier for you to have more control over your thoughts. Basically, through meditation you learn how to focus properly. And this is exactly the skill that you need when you’re reading a book.

      But I am not going to lie to you, it will be difficult. At first you sit down and there are so many thoughts. But with continuous practice you will develop one very very important thing, which is willpower.

      I’m pretty tired now, but I hope I have given you enough food for thought. This is certainly not the ultimate solution, but if you want you can just get back at me and we will continue this conversation.

      PS: Thanks for offering me something in consideration, but that’s really not necessary. I am just glad when I can help. Plus, being a student myself I know how tough it is when one has to live from a small budget. The last thing I would want to do is decrease a student’s budget.

      • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 20, 2015

        In short, start tackling the problem. Sit down and do something about it. Don’t complain. Take action.

        Don’t focus on the problem, focus on the solution. Develop your own solution.

      • Adi (Reply) on Apr 21, 2015

        Hi Steve
        Thanks a ton for such a detailed reply. Also I genuinely hope I haven’t offended you in any way by my offer and my sincere apologies if i have. You were right about the budget, but if it helps me, it would never be an expense.

        My psychologist also suggested me to find a root cause. I don’t know where and how I need to dig in deep to find something. Apart from career, Im not really troubled by anything external. So I think it would be futile to look for a cause here but I maybe very wrong.

        My mind’s behavioral pattern is very contradictory in the following sense.
        1)I zone out intentionally/unintentionally & knowingly/unknowingly while studying and start thinking, but the same doesn’t happen while watching TV or playing console games/football (maybe because to study, I need to control my mind whereas while playing/watching TV, my mind is being controlled by external factors.
        2) I may be unable to focus due to this transition to a difficult level which requires planned efforts, but at the same time my mind couldn’t focus for a full day for my college semesters.

        I acknowledge my gift, but at times wonder whether it’s a boon or a curse. Because I’m unable to tap into my potential and people perform better using sheer hard work. Do I need to use techniques (like putting myself under pressure) to channel this potential or will meditation do the trick ?

        Also, before talking about meditation I need to reveal that I’ve grown up a brat. So I’ve always been a lazy person. This makes meditation difficult all the more. I know feeling bored is not an excuse that you want to hear, but that coupled with my inability to control myself prevents me from even pulling off a full session, let alone actually succeeding in controlling thoughts. I know I’m being a brat and asking too much but is there any meditation technique or solution for lazy, weak minded people like myself ? Also, I have an exam coming up in a short while and meditation takes time, so is there anything that can help me in case I lose focus ?
        I know a lot of it sounds stupid but please give me some insight on these issues.

        Thanks
        (PS- I checked out a couple of things on this website along with the about page. Hats off to you for what you’re doing here)

        • Steve Mueller on Apr 21, 2015

          Hi Adi,

          You haven’t offended me in any possible way. I am here to help and there is not much people can do to offend me, so it’s all fine just relax. No need to worry. Your offer was very kind of you and I respect you for this. Not many people would have done this, especially when they know that I generally help for free. But to make this clear you really don’t have to give me anything in return, especially when you are a student on a budget. However, if you happen to be in an extremely well-position financially (like a billionaire or something) we could talk about a little donation per email. But again, I will try to help you no matter what your financial situation. I’m trying to help anybody.

          I will address the rest of your questions tomorrow.

        • Steve Mueller on Apr 22, 2015

          Okay, let’s continue.

          I come from a European culture where we talk pretty straight with each other. So please always keep in mind that I do not want to offend you in any possible way. But I also think that is important to talk honest with each other. Your psychologists might not always want to do this, as you are a client, and they don’t want to lose you. In this context however, I believe that you can learn the most if we speak straight with each other. It does not help to try to be overly polite. Certain issues need to be addressed. So always keep this intercultural context in mind when we speak with each other, as we come from different cultures.

          It is excellent that you have addressed the situations during which you have no problems with focusing. You name watching TV and playing console games. This was a very important point. I want to highlight one thing: you are able to focus. You have the ability to focus all your attention on one topic, if you are interested. Naturally, watching a movie or playing a console game is tremendously interesting. I want you to realize this, as this is very important. You are able to focus. Because at the moment I have a feeling that you are walking around always telling yourself “I cannot focus, I cannot concentrate.” This is not true. Make yourself aware of this. You need to realize this point.

          So the true issue lies therein that you are not able to focus on something that is not that interesting as watching TV or playing video games. Understandably, books and studying is not at all that interesting. You might be ambitious, you might have your goals for your financial career, but for some reason the contents of the books you have is not that interesting to you.

          This leads me to the next problem: I believe you watch quite a lot of television and play many video games. These kind of recreational activities might be very pleasurable and I’m sure you love them tremendously. But from the perspective of your mind these things are poison. Now I have a better understanding why you have such great difficulties at focusing and concentrating. I also get problems at focusing when I watch a lot of television. In this respect are humans are the same. If you playing a lot of videogames watch TV you’ll automatically get problems at focusing. These things are poison for your mind.

          On average, I watch two hours television in one week. Not more, often times I don’t watch television at all. Most of the successful people that I know of to not watch television. They don’t play video games. All these people have understand the negative influence of these things. It wastes your time and as you realize they affect your mind.

          You write that you have an exam coming up. Why don’t we start right now? Let us take radical and uncomfortable measures for your growth.

          Stop watching TV. Stop Playing video games.

          Not because I told you to do so, but from your own realization that these things prevent you from accomplishing your vision. You will have to come to the conclusion that these things are poison for your mind. If you just stop watching TV because I told you so it will not work. You will have to be so angry at these things that you stop doing them from your own free will. But always keep in mind, they bring you no further. They keep you from achieving your goals. They are obstacles in your path and they can make or break your success. If you are not able to free yourself of this mind poison you will never be able to fully address the issue you have with your mind.

          So the very first step I would like to recommend you to do is to cease watching any television or playing video games.

          Make it a decision, and stick to it. Do not allow for excuses, do not allow boredom to drag you in front of the television.

          This will be very difficult, as you would have to change a well-developed behavioral pattern. But if you are able to stick to it your problem is solved to 80%. And I mean it. This is how great the impact is.

          This leads me to the second point. If you cease watching television you have a lot more time. You will be sitting in your room and boredom will come up as usual. But this time you are not allowed to satisfy this boredom with your usual recreational activities. So after time, what will happen is that this boredom will lead you to open your book and to be actually interested in its contents. It will lead you to the realization that there is nothing better to do for you at the moment and studying.

          The next point I want to address is that you often state that you are lazy person. This is a vicious circle, but a lazy person is too lazy to change something about its lazy situation. Do you realize this? Stop being lazy, become active. Telling yourself all the time that you are lazy is an excuse. It is the most comfortable excuse that ever exists. It leads you to watch countless hours of television. So what I want you to realize is that the root problem for this might not be laziness at all. You simply just want no struggle. You’re not willing to put an effort into something. Watching television is easy. It is exciting and comfortable. Studying is not. It is boring and painful. So your mind tricks you and lures you into all kinds of excuses. Anything that is pleasurable is rewarded by your mind. You feel good when you do it. But as soon as you start doing something difficult your mind starts to distract you, different thoughts start to show up offering you more pleasurable activities and studying. Do you realize that this is exactly your problem? This is exactly where the problem lies. This is the root cause why you are experiencing so much trouble. Read this paragraph over and over again until you have realized this point.

          We have come to the root of the problem.

        • Steve Mueller on Apr 22, 2015

          Okay so to sum things up, the next task is to cease watching television and playing video games. No excuses, no YouTube videos either.

  28. Adi (Reply) on Apr 22, 2015

    I believe I’ve misguided your perception of myself with my last message. So I’d like to clarify a couple of things which will only help you to understand my situation better. (Note- keep your first response in mind as it shows you to have a much better understanding of me)

    The television, console games/football scenario was only an ‘example’ of situations where I’m not distracted. I haven’t played console games in the last 5 years or so. I don’t watch much of TV either(no specific show/time to watch). I used to have games on my phone, but I deleted every single one of them long back to completely avoid giving in to temptation. Deleted my meme website apps and social networking apps too. Im very strict about that. I did mention in my very first correspondence with you, that I put away all my distractions. It’s only the distraction my own thoughts are causing that are inescapable. By lazy, I didn’t mean that I give in and switch on the TV or start playing. I don’t. I sit with my book for 12 hours if I have to, but my productive learning is worth 3 hours tops. Also, I have tried believing in myself, telling myself that I can focus etc. I know it’s all in my head, Steve. I’m not denying that. And I know I’m entirely responsible as well. Because if i can watch tv without being distracted, I can study the same way too. But you should also realize that I’ve been trying a lot (which is evident with all drastic measures that I’ve taken in the past few years to completely discard from my life those things which are distractingly pleasurable apart from rewarding myself once in a while). Yet I’m unable to achieve the required focus level. Being lazy while studying will probably amount to procrastination. And if I were procrastinate heavily, I’d know where I’m going wrong, so I’d say that my only problem is that I’m an idiot for wasting my time. But it isn’t the same when I’m sitting with the book for the same time as others, grasping a lot faster than others, yet reading much lesser than others, much lesser than I should. Reasons? sometimes I’m just not able to control my thoughts (which agrees to your statement that when I have to do something difficult, my mind will resist and give in to thinking about something else which is pleasurable), but at other times (hope you understand this part) I zone out unintentionally
    AND unknowingly. (I will get to this once you acknowledge and address this message or I might take the meaning and purpose of this message in a whole new direction and you might probably get it wrong)

    The laziness part comes in context with meditation. I’m lazy , or rather unable to control myself to sit myself down for half an hour straight for a session. I’m not sure if lazy was the right word used, but since I’ve had everything easy, I generally expect quick results. I know there aren’t shortcuts, so I will make it a point to dedicate some time towards meditation, because I think that is the last resort which is actually going to help. Also, since I didn’t really have to achieve the short term objectives you mentioned ( of not watching TV/playing games ) for my upcoming exams, is there anything else you can suggest for now ?

    Lastly, I need you to be straightforward, too. I don’t think there’s any difference in culture here. But if I finally reach a solution, it’ll be delightful even if it’s offensive, because of how desperately I need it.

    Thanks

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 23, 2015

      Thanks for your last reply, it helps me to understand your situation better. All I can do on my end is to troubleshoot for common problems and as soon as the television and console game issue was mentioned it raised some flags that I needed to address. I think this process of calibration and adaptation might take a couple of responses, until I finally understand your situation entirely, without having to rely on stereotypes. With your response in mind I will have to address you from a completely different perspective.

      Okay then, your response helps me to focus on another issue, which is zoning out unintentionally. Let us focus on this issue entirely then. We have ruled out that there seems to be nothing that is mentally blocking you. We have ruled out that there are no major distractions. If you reward yourself every once in a while with pleasurable activities that is just fine, I would even encourage this. Balance is important.

      If I understand it correctly, you’re facing two problems. The first problem is that you zone out, which leads to the next problem which is a low productivity.

      What we need to find is some kind of solution that helps you to remain focused on your study subjects. Possibly something that works really quick in your present situation.

      Let us make use of the brain’s capability to form a habit, if something is only repeated often enough.

      One trick that might help is that you take a Note card/index card. On this card write in really big letters the word “focused?” on it. Or anything that reminds you of your task (maintaining proper focus). What we want to do is to create an anchor here. We want to train your mind to constantly question what it is doing. For this to work, it needs to be repeated pretty often until a habit is formed.

      So let us assume that you are sitting on your table with a book in front of you. Put the card somewhere besides the book (or even better: use it as a reading aid). Just make sure that it is always somewhere close by and always within your range of vision. Maybe it might be helpful to switch cards every once in a while. Even better: place the card slightly below the line that you are reading so that you have to touch the card and drag it slightly down to reveal the next line. That way you are constantly in contact with your card, which helps you to be constantly reminded of your task.

      Open your book and read the first paragraph. After reading the first paragraph, look at your sign. Are you still focused? Then continue. Make it a habit to look at the sign after every paragraph. I have noticed that when I zone out, it is mostly due to losing the thread along the lines, where my mind switches from thinking about the subject to daydreams. This is exactly the habit that we want to break and to replace it with a new one. After doing this for a longer period of time you will notice that you no longer need the card. This is the stage where a new habit has been formed.

      As you can see, what we are trying to do is establish many little focus points on your path. Previously to this, you walked on your path until you zone out, leading to a really big decrease of attention. You fell into a very deep hole. Thanks to the aid of these focus points we want to avoid this big decrease. Instead, we want to push your attention continuously so as to keep it at a high level. Figuratively speaking this shall help you to build a bridge so that you no longer fall into the deep hole.

      I hope this idea does not sound too stupid.

      • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 23, 2015

        Continued.

        If you want to take this idea to the next level proceed as follows. There will be the time when you will zone out. This is normal. But as soon as you realize that you are no longer attentive I want you to immediately take action. Let us say that you have just realized that you were zoning out. This needs to be the moment where energy shoots through your body, just as if someone surprised you.

        Stand up and do something. For instance, jump around. Get yourself energized. Do anything you can to get the mental sluggishness out of your system. If you want, go to the bathroom and sprinkle really cold water in your face. This activates survival instincts that make you become more attentive.

        I’m not a fan of self punishment, but if it helps you can try a slight slap in the face with your open hand, but really in a very gentle manner without causing pain, which helps you to become a little bit more attentive.

        Whatever it is that you are doing, I just want you to get energized as soon as you notice that you have zoned out. This helps you to regain your focus. Getting energized does not have to take long, sometimes 30 seconds or 1 minute is enough.

        Again, this might sound ridiculous, but what we want to do is to break the habit.

        After you are energized, get back to what you are doing until you notice that you have zoned out again, in which case you will repeat the energizing process.

  29. Adi (Reply) on Apr 23, 2015

    Hi, did you get the next reply (My third message overall) ? It hasn’t been posted so I’m wondering whether it was sent properly from my end.

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 23, 2015

      Yes I did receive the reply, it was just waiting for approval. It seems that my commenting system has not realized that you have already been approved.

  30. Erwen (Reply) on Apr 26, 2015

    Hi Sir,
    I read through your blog and although I find it highly helpful, I still have problems studying. I come from Singapore where education is really stressful and students are highly competitive. But you see, when we students get competitive, we get targeted not only academically but socially too. One of my classmates do not exactly like me and so constantly gets everyone to gang up on and put me down. This really affects me and I can’t seem to get my motivation up for my studies. I have a goal I want to reach and it’s someone I want to surpass very badly, not only that, I want to let them see my grades and feel bad about it. But even though I try my hardest and force myself to sit in front of my work and do it, they constantly come to mind and it really dampens any motivation I previously had for studying. Is there some way to put this behind me and concentrate on studying? Thank you

    • Steve Mueller (Reply) on Apr 26, 2015

      Hi,

      The best tip I can give you is that you try to avoid this conflict. If that person is ganging up against you, try to ignore it as best as you can. I know this sounds difficult, but in the end your anger and your hatred will lead you nowhere. As you have clearly noticed the anger gives you a hard time focusing and concentrating. So try to avoid it. Try to let it go. Maybe you could even solve this issue that you have with the other person. If it is not possible for you to solve it, try as best as you can to avoid this person.


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