If ever there was a time to boot your procrastinating self into gear, now (read: a couple of months before exams kick off) would be it. Problem is, as much as we would like to wax lyrical about 4-hour study periods without merely a glance at the Daily Mail homepage, we are also realists, and we know that staying motivated is a tough gig. Especially when literally anything seems more appealing than that stack of past papers.
So, if you’re in need of some encouragement, here are our top tips to staying motivated through the holidays:
#1: Focus on your end goal
What do you want to have achieved by the end of the holidays? Are you aiming to have a full set of notes for each subject, or would you like to have checked off a few past papers? Whatever your goal is, make it a clear one and keep reminding yourself of what it is you’re working towards. If it helps to have it written down and stuck around your room, go for it. Heck, set it as your phone background, write it on your cereal box – just make sure you’re focussed on that endpoint, because – believe us – that’s what is going to get you through the next few weeks.
#2: Reward yourself
Once you’ve set yourself a goal, break that monster of an achievement down into a series of mini-goals. Us humans often do better completing the small stuff - we like ticking things off lists and checking boxes - so if a full set of notes is nausea-inducing, make your first goal, say, a set of notes for your first exam paper. Once you complete each goal, treat yo’self! Aside from the satisfaction of crossing a big chunk of work off your to-do list you could always scoff your favourite chocolate bar or take the afternoon off to chill with friends or sit in front of your favourite video game. Which leads us onto our next bit of advice…
#3: Take regular breaks
If you’re really struggling to get into the zone, get up, have a stretch, go outside. Since it’s ‘holiday’ time, chances are you’re cramped up in the house, studying all day on your own, so put on some loud music and dance around like a loon. Seriously. Increased movement = more blood flow to the brain. We’re not sure this is 100% scientifically accurate, but getting away from your study area and moving your limbs is a tried-and-true way of shaking some of that fuzz out of your head and it will make it much easier to keep going for longer periods of time.
#4: Look how far you’ve come already
Even if you’re miles off where you were hoping to be by now, chances are you know a damn sight more than you did at the start of the year (or maybe you don’t but that’s what we’re here for right?). Think about all the things you’ve already learnt – a good dose of perspective is a well-known antidote for frazzled minds, because our bet is that you’re not doing as badly as you think you are. That said, if you’re more consumed by what you don’t know than what you do, now is the time to…
#5: Keep track of your progress
You’ve got around three weeks to bash out some serious revision; you’ve got an end goal, and some reward-worthy mini goals, but sometimes it can feel like you’re just endlessly studying without really getting anywhere. Keeping track of what you’ve completed is an explicit reminder of the fact that you’re not, in fact, a useless bunch of atoms set to fail every exam you sit. You will probably also find that by the time you’ve completed the first quarter of your checklist, you’ve gained some surprising momentum - like we said, we’re a species that thrives from crossing and ticking stuff off lists.
#6: Partner up with a study buddy
We don’t know about you, but we reckon having someone clapping you down the revision finish line is the equivalent to the smell of bacon dragging your a** out of bed in the morning. It really works. So if you’re struggling to stay motivated, or anticipating that that will definitely be the case, make a pact with a friend that you will both have achieved your goals by the end of the holidays. Pick someone who has similar goals and subjects to you (that rules your mum out) and check in on each other regularly. Encouraging each other to stay focussed and keep on track is a sure-fire way to keep your mind from wandering. And if a bit of competition transpires? Great, channel that to stay motivated.
Above all, be honest with yourself and do your best. No one is expecting you to work non-stop every day of the holidays. If your brain needs a short hiatus, then you know the difference between taking a break that will recharge your learning juices and a break that will plummet yourself into a social-media rabbit hole. Keep your goal in mind and give it your all.