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How do you stay motivated during a difficult assignment?
  • Sep 2022
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How do you stay motivated during a difficult assignment?

20th September 2022

The blank page looks back at you through your weary, red eyes. The book is unopened on your desk. No amount of coffee seemed to be effective. Does this sound familiar? It has to—you're a college student.

Whether you need to finish (or start) a paper, update your CV and send it out for job applications, or finish that challenging research project, you will most likely need a motivation boost along the route.

Here’s how to harness what motivates you to power through that tough assignment.


1. Take Care of Your Body

When you've gone over your flashcards for your test 83 times, your body immediately seeks the third cup of coffee or grabs those inexpensive snack items at the library as the clock approaches midnight.

However, when it comes to motivation, your physical health is crucial. Take good care of your physique. What motivates you will differ from person to person, but consider healthy activities such as going to the gym, sleeping an additional hour, or eating one of your favorite nutritious foods.

"It helps to just go for a stroll," said Geoff Montour, a junior at the University of Iowa. Regardless, treating your body better means treating your brain better, right?


2. Find the Right Environment

As simple as it may appear to tackle those difficult tasks from your apartment/dorm/house, being properly motivated in your own living space—with your bed right there, waiting to be slept in—can be difficult for even the most seasoned long-term students.

Because your surroundings have a direct and unavoidable impact on your attention, you should customize your study location to your preferences. What inspires you might range from the stark silence of your library floor to a coffee shop with decent background noise.


3. Write Out a Specific List

It feels difficult to even begin with the oncoming horror of that test or project. It will seem much more productive to highlight certain items on a list and complete the list faster. Rather than stating "bio paper," try outlining what goes into a paper, such as "complete outline," "finish citations," and so on.

"I prefer having many lists for all the different things I need to accomplish," said Megan Johnson, a student at Mount Mercy. You could discover that what inspires you entails accomplishing multiple minor chores rather than one large activity.

A tactile depiction of crossing it out might be much more motivating. This will allow you to complete your job sooner in the day and binge-watch Netflix all night.


4. Make a Game Plan

To avoid feeling aimless while starting a very long list, create an overview of what you'll do. This strategy will change from person to person since everyone has a distinct work ethic. However, this will make your list of goals much more achievable.

Set a timer on your phone or computer, or just keep an eye on the clock, and determine which section of the list you'll work on for a half hour, an hour, or even just 20 minutes.


5. Take Time for Yourself

When creating this game plan, be sure to include pauses in between tasks. After all, the human mind can only focus for so long before it wanders. In your given break, incorporate whatever would assist you to relax.

"I take an hour out of my day to relax, drive around, or listen to music," said Dillon McHugh, a student at the University of Iowa. If you take this time to relax, you'll be able to feel more energetic to finish that report or study session.


6. Find the Perfect Playlist

Speaking of music, creating a study playlist may assist boost productivity significantly. "I enjoy creating my study playlists," said Megan Bryant, a student at the University of Iowa. If you don't feel like being your DJ, you can always rely on the Internet.

What stimulates you may be found in the winds and strings of classical soundtracks, the joyful energy of Disney tunes, or simply sounds of nature or background noise such as rain or shuffling paper.


7. Unplug

One of the most difficult aspects of discovering what inspires you is resisting the temptation to become sidetracked by modern technology. A fast glance on social media or games may not seem like much time, but before you know it, a whole afternoon has passed you by.

Whether you choose to put your phone on mute, on Airplane Mode, or completely off, I can assure you that the world will not end by the time you get started on whatever you need to accomplish.


8. The Source of the Assignment

Many times, these tasks or tests might feel like nothing more than busy labor when you could be doing something more pleasurable or meaningful. However, by viewing it from a new angle, you may turn this into something meaningful.

Instead of considering your research project as another difficult assignment, consider it preparation for conducting genuine field research in your major or field of study. Instead of preparing for the test, view it as a collection of topics relevant to your interests or critical thinking.

When you apply these arduous to-do lists to the actual world, you give yourself a reason to accomplish it.


9. Look at the Big Picture

Did the last advice frighten you a little? Simply take a step back if this is the case. While achieving well in your schoolwork and extracurricular activities are important, you should also remember that other things count.

"Work hard and remember you're there to learn, but remember that a few bad exam results won't ruin your life," said Olivia Sun, a senior at the University of Iowa. That research or test, much as it might prepare you for what you want to achieve, will not damage your career if it is less than ideal.


10. When in Doubt, Ask About

Professors, contrary to common assumption, have suffered the same ruts and stress that you have, and they are unbelievably good resources. If the introduction to your paper appears to be lacking, or the reading isn't connected with your brain, you may always go through the curriculum to uncover their office hours.

"Office hours exist for a purpose. Teachers want their students to succeed, and you don't have to feel stuck or in trouble to come to talk to them," said Micah Fields, an English lecturer at the University of Iowa. Having a dialogue with an adviser or instructor outside of the classroom demonstrates that you care, and it may also help your work go the additional mile.



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