on the quest for motivation

It’s exam season and I’m sick. I thought at first my throat was just blown from going way too hard at The Killers’ set at Wayhome. But now it’s been more than a week and I’m still feeling under the weather (read: coughing fits, phantom smells??, headaches, sore throat) so I don’t think I can blame this one on Brandon Flowers.

Couple that with general dread at the thought of final exams and you have one very unmotivated human who never wants to leave her bed. I’ve taken so many naps in the last week I’ve slowly become quasi-nocturnal. But that’s not conducive to a good finals season so in case you’re anything like me, here are some things I do to help find that elusive motivation.

Make checklists. Apparently, there are 2 approaches to making checklists. You either write down the big projects you need to complete or you break everything down into all the sub-tasks and little chores you have as well. Want to guess which I am? Okay, there’s probably also a third intermediate approach but we’re ignoring that for the sake of making a point. One of my friends claims the first type motivates him more (and I refuse to name him because I think he’s insane) but honestly – whatever helps you at the end of the day is what you should do.

I like the breakdown method more because it lets me check more things off my list and moves me closer to completing my goal. When I’m in a slump I like having my little chores on my list as well because even though I have to do them anyways I like the illusion of productivity.

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Get dressed and get out of the house. I’m so bad about this, especially once exam time hits and I have no real obligations that force me out into the world. I end up just staying in my pjs all day and I can’t resist climbing back into bed for a nap. Who am I kidding, I never even leave my bed some days. Luckily for myself, I’ve identified this as a personal weakness and my active steps to combat this involve putting on real people clothes and doing my makeup. I don’t want to waste a cute outfit just sitting at home so then I’m more motivated to go out to the library or a cafe to do my work. (See my Places series on suggestions for study locations.) As soon as I’m away from my bed I find I’m much more likely to actually get my ass in gear. Cute study locations don’t hurt either.

Give yourself a break once in a while. You’ve heard this one before. Studying nonstop for hours on end doesn’t work for me, I need a break once in a while – even if it’s to walk to the Chapters to buy myself a candle to cheer myself up. I’m also my own biggest enabler which means I tell myself that yes, I do deserve Milk Duds and chocolate bars while I study. I work much better with early mornings rather than late nights so once 12 rolls around I usually call it a night and unwind with something on Netflix before setting an early alarm for the next morning.

Be productive in your procrastination. I love this one. It ties in really well with me putting chores on my list of things to do once exam time rolls around because that’s usually what I’m doing to procrastinate my studying. Big fan of productive procrastination because at least I’m not just sitting on Reddit or Facebook all day. I don’t know what it is about me but as soon as it’s exams I am always cleaning or cooking or writing blog posts (ha!) in an effort to avoid the real responsibilities. This is one works especially well when you consider the fact that after I’ve run out of dishes to wash and clothes to fold, my environment is a lot more peaceful and conducive to studying.

Here are some of my preferred procrastination tasks:

  • cook enough food for 4 people
  • eat enough food for 4 people
  • obsessively comb through LinkedIn job postings
  • start a dozen blog post drafts

Okay and I don’t know how healthy or effective this last one will be for you but I’m telling you anyways. Find a friend who has their shit together and try to be like them.  Big ups to Hannah all this term who would be my #1 motivator in PSCI by telling me things like “I’m done my paper” while I was sitting at 0 words. For all I know she was just lying to me but it still worked. She probably wasn’t lying to me, Hannah is fantastic and definitely has her priorities straight.

Good luck on your exams friends, and let me know if there are other tips you have to help find motivation when all you really want to do is binge watch Stranger Things on Netflix!


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