If you’re anything like me, motivation comes in waves: there are days when you feel ready to tackle all the tasks on your to-do list, and then there are others when you don’t want to accomplish anything.
With college applications, essays, assignments, extracurricular activities, social life, sleep, work, and tutoring are all on my list of priorities, it can be a struggle to motivate myself to work hard and to maintain a consistent schedule within my life.
Whether you’re a struggling senior like me or a hardworking underclassman, here are my top tips to stay motivated throughout the school year:
- Be proactive.
Working on all your tasks early will help you tremendously in your quest to stay motivated. This doesn’t necessarily mean finishing your tasks early – you can be proactive by starting (not finishing) tasks early and giving yourself mini tasks each day in order to complete the entire project.
- Find your “why” and remind yourself of it constantly.
Just like how there is a motive behind every crime, there is also a “why” behind every successful student/employee/etc.
Find the reason why you want to succeed. Is it because you want straight As? Or does it have to do with making your parents proud? Do you want to showcase exemplary test scores to the Ivy Leagues? Are you pushing yourself to make it to the NBA one day? Maybe you want to work for CNN in the future.
What is your ultimate goal?
This may take a while for some people to find. For me, I didn’t even realize what my motivation was until my junior year of high school, which is to have a life I could look back on and say, “I don’t regret any part of my high school years – I did my very best, and that’s all that matters to me.”
Do some intrinsic exploration and discover the “why” to your success.
- Have someone in your life to keep you accountable.
There’s a reason why study groups are so effective – having someone (or better yet, multiple people) who can hold you accountable for your responsibilities gives you more motivation to get the job done.
When people are counting on you to do your part, you build your trust with them and feel more obligated to finish your work.
I highly recommend creating a study group with people you know you work most productively with (not just your best friends), getting together once a week, and studying together! You can study for your next final exam, the SAT, AP exams – whatever you all need to complete, do it as a group!
- Create a vision board.
If you like to visualize your goals and achievements, then try making a vision board!
A vision board is essentially a compilation of motivational quotes, photos of your dream career/university, pictures of people who inspire you, etc. that are posted on your wall. Place them strategically – such as next to your bed, near a place you study often, beside your kitchen, etc. – so that you can see the vision board on a daily basis and be reminded of your goals and aspirations.
I recommend adding more and more items to your vision board as time goes by so you won’t be bored of seeing the same photos/quotes all the time.
- Keep your organizational skills up.
Personally, when I have to be productive and my room is messy, I don’t feel like accomplishing anything. This is why it is crucial for me (and you) to stay organized, even if it takes a bit more effort!
Additionally, I suggest allocating a specific time for everything and sticking to that schedule. For example, if you’re scheduled to do homework at 5:00 PM and laundry at 8:30 PM, be responsible for what you schedule for yourself and follow through with your plans! Try not to fall behind on anything; it only ends up causing more stress.
- Limit your time on your phone.
This is super difficult – especially as a teenager in the 21st century – but sometimes, it is necessary to spend some time off your cell phone and work on what you need to accomplish.
Unless your schoolwork is on your phone, keep it out of sight so you won’t be tempted to stay on it for hours on end. Use apps that will help keep you accountable and will limit the number of time you spend on social media, such as “Offtime” or “BreakFree.” And don’t forget to silence your cell phone before you do your homework!
- Watch TED Talks.
Have you ever watched a motivational video and felt fired up to do your work immediately afterward? That is exactly what TED Talks can do for you!
TED Talks essentially spread innovative ideas by posting 15- to 20-minute talks on all topics (including motivation, education, money, and love) on YouTube. These talks are super inspiring and can help shape your thinking into a completely different way.
Personally, my favorite TED Talks are “The power of vulnerability” by Brené Brown, “The person you really need to marry” by Tracy McMillan, “My philosophy for a happy life” by Sam Berns, and “The puzzle of motivation” by Dan Pink.
- Find ways to have fun!
Life can be hectic and full of negative surprises sometimes – remember to enjoy the ride and to treat yourself for tiny milestones.
For every week, I always allocate one day in which I will not do any assignments. This helps me relax for 24 hours and allows me to take care of myself, something that I may not have time for due to my busy schedule.
It is also important that you save some time for those who you love and love you back. Many times we can be swamped with responsibilities that we forget to cherish our time with our family and friends who may miss us in the midst of it all. Aim to spend a couple minutes with your loved ones each day, no matter how small. It might make the hugest difference in your motivation levels.