Motivation is a funny thing that often rears its head at the most inopportune moments, like on a long car journey or at 1 AM. Motivation does not care about deadlines and timetables, it’s doing its own thing
Of course, we should all be doing our own things, and following your heart should always be encouraged. Motivation doing its own thing, however, is not awfully helpful when you’re getting close to the end of the semester and are desperately trying to meet all those deadlines that pile up. As I have now officially handed in the last assignment of my BA, (stay tuned for a post about the last stretch on that piece!) I figured it would be time to share how I’ve tricked myself into feeling motivated (when I really didn’t want to work) these last three years.
This post will be split into three parts, and in this first part, we’ll just have a look at some easy ways to find (or make) motivation before you start writing.
1. Make yourself a workspace
My number 1 tip for how to be productive and get started with what you need doing, is to have a designated workspace. It might be difficult to differentiate between workspace and relax-zone, especially if you live in halls, where you eat, sleep, relax and try to get work done, all in the same room. Choosing a part of your desk that is for working only, finding a cafe you never go to for anything but work or a spot in the library, will often help kickstart your brain if it’s a bit sluggish and work-shy. Personally, I cannot work in my room. For this, the library has been my saviour these last three years. The amount of time I’ve struggled for days with assignments at home, only for the words to flow out of my fingers the second I’m sat by a library computer is ridiculous, but at least it means the work gets done. Having a designated workspace also means that you can take proper breaks by leaving said space, and I’m all here for the most productive breaks, as this means you can get back to work again quickly!
2. Make sure you have all your notes ready
Oh, how I’d love for my notes to look like this (I’m aware the notepad is blank, but I appreciate the aesthetic, okay?), but I’m pretty sure no one’s desk ever looks this clean while working. A girl can dream, though.
However, what I’ve found to be useful while “faking it ’til you’re making it” in the motivation department, is to make sure you’ve got all your notes and research ready before you start typing. Find all the books you need in the library, print out those essays (you can always plant some trees later), highlight and colour code your notes if you need to – just have it in front of you. Flicking through stacks of paper is less likely to have you switch your internet tabs to social media, something that might be tempting if you’re looking through online research while working. Also, colour coding makes you both look and feel prepared, which is never a bad thing.
3. Set your own mini-deadlines
I “found” this skill while working on my BA dissertation this year; make small, in-progress deadlines for yourself throughout your projects. There is almost always a correlation between the deadline and the workload; if your uni lecturer or teacher or whoever is assigning you work has given you a long time to finish a task that most likely means you need that time. Make deadlines for yourself, like when you want the idea fully formed and finished, when you want the first 500 or 1000 words done, or when you want your first draft complete so you can spend the rest of your time just reworking what you have. Making yourself a schedule with small deadlines as you go along can make a big assignment or piece of work seem a lot more manageable and easier to get started on.
Of course, these tips aren’t just for finding the motivation to finish assignments; it’s for getting all kinds of work done, for revising or studying, and for any sort of writing in general.
Question of the day: How do you find motivation when you need it?