Keeping yourself motivated to study and be creative is hard at the best of times, let alone when you’re stuck at home. So, I’ve compiled my top five tips (plus a few little extra ones) that I find super helpful for keeping me motivated to get up in the mornings and giving purpose to my days.
1) Plan your week
One thing I have found that helps give my days a purpose is to create my own weekly planner. It’s normally something simple so that I can jot down what it is that I want to achieve each day. This can help you split up your workload throughout the week and enables you to see little pieces of your workload, rather than the often overwhelming bigger picture.
I like to make my planner on a Monday morning and fill in a few days at a time. If I don’t achieve something that day, I just carry it over to the next!
When you have achieved a task – i.e you’ve planned that essay that’s in for next week, or you’ve practised that scale for techniques – you can tick it off. It’s so satisfying and so motivating when you can physically see how productive you’ve been!
I am not an artist – in fact, I’d go as far as to say I have about as much artistic flair as a wooden spoon – so my planner consists of straight lines and little squares so I can tick off my daily tasks. But feel free to get creative with it if you like and make it as pleasing to the eye as you wish. The very act of creating your weekly planner can give you something to look forward to every week.
2) Give yourself a break
It can be very easy to fall into the mindset of ‘I’ve literally got all the time in the world, I should be studying and creating every minute’. This is especially true if you’re in your third year. However, that thought process can be so overwhelming and a sure way to send your head spinning with worry and stress when you’re not feeling so productive.
So, remember to give yourself breaks and even plan them in. Whether it’s two hours of Netflix, baking banana bread or FaceTiming friends and family, give your brain a chance to rest and reset. If you’re having a hard slog of a day, and nothing is going in, don’t beat yourself up. Have a rest and try again later or even tomorrow.
I get it. You’re constantly asking yourself what day of the week it is, your sleeping pattern is non-existent, and breakfast, lunch and dinner have all rolled into one. Routine? What is this ‘routine’ you speak of?
Well, there are scientific studies that show how beneficial having a routine is for your mental well-being, so it’s worth trying to get back into one. Luckily, your brand new weekly planner is going to help you get that routine back!
Creating a routine can also really help with your time management. Having daily habits helps to organise your time during the day because you’re following a specific pattern of activities. Sorry (not sorry) to sound like your mother, but this means you’ve got to start going to bed at a reasonable time and trying to get up at the same (ish) time every day.
Make your own new routine, decide when you want to have your meals, when you know you’re most productive and plan your day around it. With a lovely new sleeping pattern and regular meals, you’ll feel great and your motivation will come bouncing back.
4) Get up and get dressed
Find your ‘work from home’ uniform, whether that’s smart-casual, jeans, joggers or your leggings. Just make sure it isn’t your dressing gown.
I don’t like sitting around at home in my jeans either, but if you stay in your pyjamas all day every day you won’t feel as if you’re ready to do any work. You’ll be subconsciously telling yourself that you’re ready for bed and your motivation levels will be low.
Wake up and get ready for your day as you usually would. Then, when your day of studying and creating is over, you can bring some differentiation by putting your pyjamas on. This way you’re telling your brain that now is the time to switch off.
5) Actively practice self-care
From moving from your couch to running 5k – or even running a bath – do something that makes you feel calm and happy. It’s important now more than ever to look after ourselves, so take the time to do so.
If you’re worried that you don’t have time – I’m looking at you final-term, third years – then plan it in. Get the bubble bath in after you’ve written the first 1500 words of your essay or finished the first 16 bars of your final composition. By taking the time to do something nice for yourself, you’re more likely to stay motivated and continue working.
If you feel overwhelmed with your workload and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, give yourself your own light by doing something you enjoy at the end of each day. Most importantly, do it just for you!
Try not to work from your bed
Whilst tempting, like staying in your pyjamas all day, this won’t help you feel motivated and productive. Get yourself a makeshift work station and leave your bed for sleeping.
Get some fresh air
Use your allocated daily exercise to go and stretch your legs and arms and breathe in the fresh air. A change of scenery can also help if you feel like you’ve reached a mind block.
Talk to your lecturers
This is especially important if you’re struggling. Just because we’ve now gone virtual, it doesn’t mean our support system has also socially distanced itself. All the support you would usually receive is still there, just virtually. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions.
It’s important to remember that you’re never alone in these times. If you need support or advice during this lockdown – or you just want someone to talk to – our friendly and experienced Student Support Team is here to help. You can reach out via your college’s dedicated Student Support email or send us a DM across our social channels.