How to Motivate Yourself To Study: The Ultimate Guide

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Are you looking around for the best articles on how to get motivated to study online but can’t really find the best tips and tricks?

I’ve been there, I know what it feels like to not be motivated to study and just feeling like giving up. Unfortunately. There are no quick and easy solutions that can make us just jump out of our couch and start learning all day long with super motivation.

But, there are some strategies to increase your overall motivation.

Most mornings I wake up and start doing my work right away, which also includes a lot of learning as I have to research the topics and learn from others while doing so.

But my motivation to learn won’t be at the highest level every single day. To be honest, I’ve failed countless times to get myself motivated to learn and instead just started procrastinating.

I have bad days, everyone has, but these low motivation days don’t have to ruin our productivity completely. Sometimes it’s not just about motivation, but how we’re approaching our studies.

Today I want to show you some of the strategies that I use to get myself motivated to study.

How to motivate yourself to study before you start

The strategies we’re going to discuss here are :

  • Make motivation to learn a habit
  • Be clear on your motivations to study
  • Create a study environment
  • Break it down into chunks

Make motivation to study a habit

Motivation shouldn’t just be something that comes and goes, but it should become a habit. And I know that motivation doesn’t seem to be a tangible habit like waking up at 5 AM in the morning, but with this 3 step process that I’ve learned from James Clear, you might be able to make motivation a habit.

  • Step 1: You need to have a routine before you start actually studying. You should have certain actions that you take before you start studying.

    For example, before I sit down to write, I go and make myself a nice cup of my favorite tea. It’s so easy to do, but once I make that tea, my brain understands it will be writing time now.

    To be motivated to study, the biggest part is to just start studying. If you have certain actions you take every time you take before studying, then you’ve already made it easier for yourself to start.

  • Step 2: Start getting yourself to study, make a routine out of it. After you did the easy actions before studying, you should actually sit down and start studying. This will create a link between the action you took before and the studying. Your brain will make connections between the actions you took and the act of studying.

    Make the act of studying as easy as possible at first, don’t set over-ambitious targets, like studying for 6 hours. Just start small, study for 20 minutes.

  • Step 3: Reward yourself for studying. When you reward yourself with something you like after you’ve studied, you will be more motivated to study next time, but you’ve also made it now into a habit loop.

You’ve first started setting yourself up to study by, for example setting a nice cup of coffee and grabbing a tasty apple. Then you actually studied for a short while, and afterward, you rewarded yourself for the studying you did.

This is what Charles Duhigg calls the habit loop in his book The Power Of Habit.

How to motivate yourself to study

Be clear on your motivations to study

One of my best tactics for getting myself motivated to study is thinking about all the reasons why I want to study that particular thing.

We sometimes just swept away by wanting to do the actual deed of studying, but forget the reasons why we wanted to study it in the first place. If we become clear on what our motivations are to study, we will spark back the motivation we had before.

You should start making a list of all the reasons why you study. Just grab a list and start brainstorming of everything you can think of.

Here is an example of such a list:

  • I want to become more focused and disciplined
  • I want to become an expert in this field
  • I want to create a meaningful life
  • I want to have a meaningful career so I can provide for my family
  • I want to prove others wrong
  • I want to teach others

Whenever you start feeling that you’re motivation is getting low, one way on how you could get motivated to study is just by simple reviewing this list. And read it a couple of times to remind yourself of all the reasons why you really want to study.

Create a study environment

This may seem really obvious, but it’s crazy how many people forget to set up their environment before starting to study. Just opening the books and trying to motivate themselves to learn all the information.

Before you start studying, have a look at how your environment looks. What’s on your table, who is in the room, where’s your phone etc.

Is this the best place for someone to study? Or do you think you could improve your environment and start being more focused on the studies?

The most common things you could improve on are:

  • Cleaning up your desk
  • Sitting somewhere where it’s quiet
  • Putting your phone on flight mode or away
  • Use earplugs
  • Close all the tabs that distract you
  • Stay away from the tv

Even when you get started studying, it’s easy to get distracted by a lot of things. If you can’t really change your environment at home, try to study somewhere else like a coffee shop or a library.

How to motivate yourself to study

Just make sure you won’t bump into someone you know and get distracted by them haha!

Once you’ve created your ideal study environment, your brain will always automatically understand that you want to study whenever you set up your surroundings to study.

Break it down into chunks

Sometimes I feel really overwhelmed by the number of things that I have to learn and it’s hard to motivate myself whenever I look at the huge thing I have to study. This caused me to procrastinate a little bit too often.

The best way I found for feeling more relaxed about all the things that I have to learn, is to break it down in smaller chunks of topics.

If you have a couple of books to study, you can break it down by chapter or by page and set small goals each day to just get some manageable chunks done each time you study. Reading 10 pages a day of a book with 300 pages means you will finish that book within 30 days. If you don’t have a deadline, this might be a perfect fit for you.

A chunk can be reading a couple of pages, watching 2 videos or completing a section of a course.

How to motivate yourself to study

If you have a more complex material that you need to study and don’t know exactly how you can chunk it up in smaller pieces, you could start making use of a mindmap.

Try creating a mindmap by setting the main subject in the middle of the page and just brainstorm all the things you have to do or to learn to master this subject.

That way you will organize all the information you need to know for that subject, and it will help your brain to become calmer. Now you will have all kinds of chunks that you can attack one at a time.

Remember, don’t try to learn all at once, just one chunk after the other.

How to motivate yourself to study while you’re studying.

The next strategies are ones you can use while you’re studying and want to be more motivated.

They include:

  • Measuring your studies
  • Making learning more fun
  • Using studying techniques

Measure your studies

I’m really a numbers guy, I love seeing numbers grow and looking at all these amazing graphs that these numbers produce. And I feel that most people like seeing that the numbers they’ve produced, grow.

There is a quote that goes like: “What gets measured, gets managed”.

That’s also true with learning. The number one strategy on how I motivate myself is using different measurement strategies to measure whatever I’m doing.

I’m currently writing about 1000 words a day for this blog, and I didn’t just want to say that I would write 1000 words a day and just do it. I started to write the exact amount of words down on my spreadsheet. This will help me see the total amount of words I’ve already written, so I could see how much words I’ve already written to this very day.

How can you use it?

Try with tracking the amount of time you study each day.

If you track how much time you spend on each thing, you will notice a pattern and begin to be more conscious about what you do with your time. Another benefit that tracking your time gives, is that it will motivate you.

It will motivate you to beat your previous high score on most hours spent learning. And you will also be motivated to keep the ball rolling, and see the hours go up every day.

The time tracker that I use every day is TopTracker. It’s super easy to use with tons of features and most importantly, it’s completely free!

Make learning more fun

Learning shouldn’t be something you have to be dragged to do, it should be also be something you enjoy doing. By making learning more fun, you make it easier for you to do it because we as people love to have fun.

There are different ways on how you can make learning more fun, let’s have a look at a couple of them:

  1. Learn from different resources. There are many times when I’m learning something interesting, but the teacher is teaching in a dull way and It makes me less motivated to learn. What I do when this happens, is look at different teachers or resources where I can learn the same thing in a different way.

    For example, if you’re studying psychics now from the books you have, try to look at some YouTube videos from an instructor who can explain it in a more fun and engaging way.

  2. Listen to good music. Everything always is more fun if you listen to the music that you love. Try to listen to songs that you actually enjoy but are also helping you to focus. Some people are able to study with songs that have lyrics but that’s not for everyone. Have a playlist you really enjoy listening to and that will get you in the flow state of studying.

  3. Gamify your learning. There are many ways of making your learning into a game. Oxford Royale has a really nice post about how to gamify your learning.

    The way I gamify my learning is to give me points for every 30 minutes that I’ve spent on learning. I’ll set goals of the number of points I want to have at the end of the day, and will work my way to get to that goal as fast as possible.

    Whenever I have hit my goal, I can reward myself again with something I really enjoy doing.

  4. Try to challenge yourself. Normally I would advise to learn slow and steady and don’t go all in on something without regular breaks, but maybe you should try the opposite. Set a learning goal that’s challenging for you and try to achieve it, even if it’s really tough.

    You could try to see how fast you can solve a problem or choose a really difficult subject and see if you can teach this to someone within a couple of days and actually set out to teach. Try to find ways on how you can make studying more challenging for you.

Use studying techniques

There are tons of studying techniques you can use to study better. But some of them also help us to motivate ourselves to study more.

One of the more famous techniques are:

The Pomodoro Technique

How to motivate yourself to study

The Pomodoro Technique is quite easy to use, but don’t let its simplicity fool you, it’s an amazing way of studying better.

Here’s how you use it:

  • Decide what task or chunk you’re going to work on
  • Set the timer between 25 – 35 minutes
  • Work on the task for that amount of time
  • When the timer rings, take a break for 5 minutes
  • After the break, start studying again with the timer.
  • If you’ve reached 4 Pomodoro’s, you can take a break for 15-30minutes.

You can do it with your phone or just with an old fashion timer, but here you can find the best Pomodoro Timer app.

To make it more motivating, give yourself 1 point every time you reach a full Pomodoro cycle. And if you reach a certain amount of points, you can reward yourself.

The 80/20 principle

This isn’t so much a studying technique as it is a strategy to get more studying done in less time.

The 80/20 principle, also known as the Pareto principle, states that 80% of the outcomes come from 20% of the inputs. This can definitely be applied to studying, and improve your studying motivation

Whenever you will focus on the 20% of the most important tasks and will get quick results, you’ll motivation is going to spike. Your motivation to study will improve because you’ve created more results with less work.

How to motivate yourself to study

Here’s how you use the 80/20 principle:

  • Use your ‘’mindmap’’ to list all the material you need to learn
  • Identify the material that will move you forward the most
  • Choose around 1-3 best items
  • Only study that for the next few days or week.

Sometimes it’s hard to ignore all else, but making hard decisions is a skill all of us have to learn. I struggle with this myself daily, I want to do so many things at the same time but sometimes have to remind myself of what the important things are that I have to focus on.

Take a break

Sometimes our motivation just fades because we’ve just been studying way to long and our body is just craving to have some rest.

I have that very often, when I’m studying for something important, I have the habit of going all in and studying for hours upon hours at a time. After studying that many hours, my body just crashes and I don’t feel motivated to study anymore. So I take a break then, got to listen to the body right?

The problem what most people have when they take a study break, they use that time to sit on their phones or do something that still takes some brain energy and not really energises them.

Instead of just taking a break and doing random things that won’t improve your energy or motivation levels, do one of the next things:

Move

When you’re deep into your studies, it’s sometimes easy to overlook moving your body once in a while. You’re probably like me just sitting in a chair all the time and trying to study all day long, and maybe go to the toilet or grab some food once in a while haha.

It’s important to move regularly while you’re studying. Changing your physiology is considered one of the best ways to increase your motivation & productivity.

I’m not asking you to become a gym rat and work out 5 days a week for 2 hours. It’s actually not even about the big exercises, but the small movements you do in between your studies.

So what you can do is:

Between your Pomodoro Sessions, in your 5 minute break, try to do one of the following:

  • 10 push-ups
  • 20 jumping jacks
  • Dancing to a good song
  • Swinging your arms

Just chose one of them in your study breaks, and see how your motivation will be afterwards. I promise you that you won’t regret it.

Go in diffuse thinking

In one of my previous posts I’ve talked about the two types of thinking, the focused and the diffused thinking. I will shortly touch upon this topic here.

When we allow ourselves to relax, our brain starts freely making connections and improving the understanding of the subject we’re working on. This is what we call our diffused thinking, it’s the opposite of focused thinking.

This diffused thinking will help you to relax way more then when you’re just looking at your phone during your breaks.

How to come in the diffuse thinking:

  • Take a shower
  • Go for a short nap
  • Just sit in your chair, doing nothing.
  • Going for a walk

You’ll enter the diffuse thinking whenever you just let yourself relax and don’t focus on anything at hand, so no studying and no looking at your phone.

After you’ve relaxed, and gathered some new ideas from your diffused thinking, you can get back to studying with a fresh mind!

So where to go from here?

How to motivate yourself to study

Now you know how to increase your motivation to study when you struggle with motivation, but you should understand that not everything works for everyone. You should try some of the techniques and see what works for you!

I’ve already tried hundreds of different techniques to boost my motivation to study, by doing that persistently I learned what works and what doesn’t for me.

Now it’s your turn, how are you going to motivate yourself?

Also, don’t expect to feel motivated all the time. Motivation comes and goes, sometimes you just need a small break and you can come back after one day. Don’t think that there is anyone in the world that is motivated 100% of the time, so you also don’t have to be.

Just try to do whatever you can, and always enjoy the process.

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends! Also, let me know which of the above techniques worked for you and which didn’t. You can always leave a comment down below or just mail me at nick@brainiosity.com.

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Nick Colo

I’m a 23 year old psychology dropout currently living in Antwerp, Belgium. I’ve started a couple of companies all from scratch from my desk at home by the power of self-education. I have a mission to share my knowledge about self-education and help people create their desired life through the power of self-education.

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