How to Stay Motivated

There’s no doubt about it: there’s a lot to accomplish each day when you’re a college student. You’ve got classes to attend, papers to write, projects to finish, extracurriculars to participate into, and perhaps a job to work as well. Not only that, but somewhere in there, you probably want to make time for the Lord, set aside a few hours to hang out with friends, and protect a bit of rest and relaxation space for yourself as well.

Everyone responds to stress differently: some people go into hyper-accomplish mode, while others start feeling overwhelmed and tend to avoid completing the very work that’s causing their stress. If you find yourself in the second camp, then this article is for you! Try a few of these ideas, and see if it makes a difference in what you’re able to complete. Keep in mind that every person is different, and what works for your roommate or best friend might not work for you. Find your own style, but keep trying different things until you find something that works.

1. Make a list

There’s something incredibly satisfying about crossing out your to-do items on a list of your own making. Not only that, but it’s helpful to get everything out neatly on paper instead of trying to keep track of jumbled mess of tasks in your brain. Once you get it down on paper, you might realize that the work you have to do isn’t quite as cumbersome as you first thought.

Another plus to getting things down on paper is it can help you assign a date and time to complete each item. Make your list on your calendar if that’s helpful, and then try and only focus on whatever task is assigned to you on that day. You’ll limit stress by concentrating on only one thing at a time instead of worrying about completing everything you have to do all at once.

2. Prioritize

Think about your deadlines. What’s due first? Make completing the things that are due soon your first priority and move on from there. If you have a very large project that you know will take you several days (or weeks) to finish, break it into bite-size tasks, split them up, and assign them to different days. This makes huge projects a lot more manageable and can help you focus on what you need to get done by looking at one thing at a time.

Another way to look at prioritization is to tackle the easy things first. You’ll get a zing of that wonderful accomplished feeling when you finish something, and that will help motivate you to complete the harder, bigger tasks.

3. Pay attention to your emotions

Yes, stress certainly will come when you have a lot of work to complete, but it’s important to notice what you’re feeling about the tasks your doing. Are you truly hating the tasks your working on each step of the way? Or are you simply feeling a little lazy and dragging your feet? If you’re consistently feeling negative about the work you have to do, you should probably take a second look at the major you’ve chosen and the career field you’re pursuing.

Work is work—there’s no getting away from that, but there should at least be a few bright spots of enjoyment as you work on the tasks you’re assigned. If you’re hating it to the core each and every hour, you might want to consider switching majors.

4. Get some accountability

While it isn’t your friends’ responsibility to make sure you do your work, there’s nothing wrong with asking a friend to hold you accountable to getting your work done. This could be as simple as having them text you at the end of an evening to make sure you aren’t getting too distracted by Twitter or Netflix, or it could look like heading to your campus cafe and getting into the books together. It’s helpful to do work in community, so don’t be afraid to ask a classmate or friend if they want to go study with you. Chances are good that they have plenty of homework to work on as well and would be happy to take you up on the offer!