How to increase your motivation and tackle procrastination

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  • 1. HOW TO INCREASE YOUR MOTIVATION AND TACKLE PROCRASTINATION: A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR STUDENTS[Although primarily aimed at high school and university students, many of these tips and suggestions might help you too.]An external stimulus, such as a teacher telling you to get on with it might encourage you to try a bit harder but is rarely as powerful as self motivation. If you are to do well in life, finding ways of increasing your own motivation is a key element.By increasing your level of motivation we mean developing or increasing your desire to work harder in order to achieve your needs, wants, goals and ambition. In other words, you are trying to increase your enthusiasm and drive. If you are to succeed at this you must really want to do better and not merely feel that it would be good thing to do. You are going to have to make an effort and introduce some permanent changes in your life. It is not likely to work well if you only try for one week then stop and expect that things will be different and better from now onWith dieting to lose weight, or giving up a drug habit, if you are to succeed you need a change of lifestyle. Stopping for a short time and hoping that will be enough tends to result in failure. In the end, one just drifts back into old habits and the problem returns. Similarly, if you want to increase your long term motivation it means a permanent change in some aspects of your lifestyle. You will have to develop willpower and gain new attitudes to help you develop the determination to achieve and succeed in life. There are many tips listed below but do not let the size of the list daunt you. If you try only one or two tools to improve yourself and stick to them you should find that you gradually do better and achieve more. So do not be afraid to start.Going for you, is that once you develop an increased taste for learning, it becomes a habit and can become a desirable thing to do in itself. So it is easier to stick with the new regime and not slip back into routine aimlessness.When you decide to work on improving your motivation to study and learn, you can see this as an investment in your own future; you will be choosing to do something now that might be a bit difficult - and then reaping the payoff down the line and, of course, for ever.You can also see this as a trade-off. You are giving up your not very valuable present time, and ways of spending this time, and making the decision to study more. In return you will get much more valuable things in the future: the income, the good job, a high standard of living, running your own firm, enjoying the freedom that wealth can bring, or whatever you would like out of life. These future things are more valuable to you you selected them after all than what you are giving up. This almost makes it a no-brainer. All you need is to put in the effort and keep on putting it in. Once your new ways become a habit, then less effort will be needed and you might be able to cruise to success.That is for achieving a long term change in your behaviour. By contrast, short term motivation, or dealing with procrastination, is usually easier. It does not require such a major change in lifestyle, only something to encourage you to put your head down and come up with a quick burst of effort. If you are already attempting to increase your long term motivation, or have actually managed to achieve this, then it is easier to produce the quick burst of short term effort when you need it.There are many tools, described below, that can help motivate you. However, we are all individuals and not everyone responds in the same way to pressures and events. Of the many ways of trying to build up a persons self motivation, not every one will work as well for you. Some ways might turn out to be excellent; others merely reasonable; while a few may not work at all. I suggest you try all the different tools below, or at least as many as appeal. Then concentrate on those that work best for you personally. They are unlikely to be exactly the same as those that work for your best friend and this does not matter at all. 1

2. Long Term MotivationThere are two main approaches to increase your self motivation: these consist of the traditional stick and carrot. The stick consists of a push away from what you have now and the carrot is a pull towards what you want for the future. A lot of people benefit form trying to strengthen both of these. Working on one of them is good, but managing to do both would be better for increasing your general motivation (but see the warning and recommendations below if you are unfortunate enough to be one who tends to sadness and depression).1. The Stick Using Your Existing Situation to Improve YourselfYou have to want to change the situation you have now you might feel that it is not good enough, or maybe it is holding you back and you want to escape; you might even have come to despise it. If you are dissatisfied with your current situation and are determined to find something better, you are on your way to increasing your motivation and developing ambition. It is not recommended that you dwell on your unhappy existence and brood about it, for that can all too easily reinforce any unhappiness and possibly steer you into depression. However, if you do have feelings of dissatisfaction, you can at least use these for your benefit and get something out of your unhappiness.A sudden change in your habits as you start to study and work harder can surprise people around you, and some of them might well react in ways that will not help. It is particularly hard to settle down to studying, and continue even if you start to feel a bit bored or tired, while you are being criticised by family and friends. You might even get jeered at a lot of us have the occasional enemy in our peer group. Bullying is all too common at many schools and swots and nerds are a natural target for those unfortunate individuals who are thick in both body and mind. Unless you really need to succeed, you are unlikely to make much of an effort.So what is wrong with your life? What sort of things might you focus on that you want to get rid of? You might pick on your current level of poverty; not having any fashionable clothes; maybe lacking the latest gadgetry in computing, hi-fi, or motor cars; perhaps living in a tedious area of the country, or in an inadequate flat or house; or there may not be enough interesting things to do locally, so you hang around with friends feeling bored. Think about it! Whatever seems drab or unpleasant to you goes on the list. And I mean a list: grab a sheet of paper and start writing down all the things you can think of that you would like to change in your life. Keep this list safe; it is a valuable piece of paper and reading it later can help stimulate your motivation. That list will be a permanent reminder of what you wish to move away from. Making a list of what you want is a powerful process in itself it gets you thinking about what you want but simply writing things down seems to help strengthen the motivation for many.Then spare a thought for people you know or youve read about who have problems. Maybe they are stuck in a dead end job; or having to work at more than one job in order to earn enough to survive; or perhaps they get by, but lack the fashionable possessions that so often are needed to define a person as a fully paid-up member of a group. You probably do not want to follow in their footsteps. Add these if they seem relevant, and put down anything else that you can think of that might apply to you. You want this list to be a powerful tool to encourage you to do better.You may already find pleasure in working to complete an assignment for reasons of self satisfaction, of achievement, or of meeting a short term goal. Perhaps you just like getting the darn thing out of the way. If not, see if you can develop such feelings, reinforce them when they arrive, and harness them to help you. Next time you are supposed to sit down and study, write an essay, or whatever, remember how good finishing it felt last time think about it for up to a minute then tell yourself Lets do it again! An attitude of A bit of effort now and I can feel good about myself can only work for your benefit.2. The Carrot - Your Hopes for The Future And Your Preferred Lifestyle Can Help Increase Your MotivationYour second line of attack is that you want an improved version of life. This is probably the better of the two ways of motivating yourself and does not require much self analysis or depend on your feelings of discomfort 2 3. or unhappiness to work. The sort of things that appeal to you could be almost anything. You might want riches; or power; or a better and more interesting job than you currently have; or to travel and see the world; or to work abroad; or to own your own business; or simply to enjoy yourself in ways that appeal. Again make a list of whatever you personally want out of life. Make sure it is your own personal list, not simply the possibilities above. Put in a few details of about what and why you want such things. Then keep this list and glance at it regularly particularly if at anytime you find your motivation weakening or you feel the need to strengthen your resolve.Down to Practicalities: Here Are Some Tools You Can Use to Improve Your Long Term MotivationThese ideas can help you to shift your gears, change your life, and increase your effort at studying. These are all ways that have helped somebody to do better, but as we are all different individuals, not all may work as well for you. It is suggested that you try them all, or as many as you like the look of, and stay with your choice for some weeks. It takes time to change habits and patterns of behaviour and little can be expected to be achieved in a day or two. You have the rest of your life before you. Isnt it worth a little effort now to improve your life for ever? Make list of why want to get to university (or wherever you are aiming at) and put down as many points as can think of. Look at this list regularly as it can motivate you, particularly if you notice that you are slackening off and feel the need to try harder. Make list of why want a degree and what you can do with it; put down as many points as can think of. Again look at this list regularly, as it too can help to increase your motivation. Keep reminding yourself that if you work hard, get good grades, and finally get a good degree, you will avoid those awful dead end jobs you read about. You might even know someone in such a job. Is shelf-stacking or cleaning offices really for you? And for ever? Consider the time you are putting into studying, and think about the job you could have now instead. OK, the job might suck but its a job with a wage. You are giving up this income in order to have a better future. Dont waste this time! Think how you will feel if you slack off a lot and do badly, or even fail. Your family and friends will learn about it if you would feel an element of shame about this, harness this feeling to help you work harder. Put up small printed notices to remind you of your goals (I want to get to the university of my first choice! I want a really good degree so that I can get that job I want! Ive got to get out of this town!, A yacht, a yacht, my kingdom for a yacht!, or whatever you personally want.) Stick the notices on the wall, on a bookshelf, sticking out from behind a mirror, or anywhere else you will notice it regularly it. Leave such a notice in any desk drawer that you open a lot, as this will help remind you and reinforce the message. If you start not to notice the notes as they become familiar, switch them about and so introduce an element of surprise. Put up photos and pictures of what it is that you want in life. This can encourage you to study that little bit harder and longer (if you want to work in Italy a photo of the leaning tower of Pisa; if you want a fantastic sports car, a photo of your favourite one cut from a motor magazine; whatever turns you on might work.) You can add words of encouragement on a yellow sticky, such as A good degree will get me this!, again whatever words you feel will help you most. Always be positive and use encouraging words. You might try changing the words now and then: some people find the new words jog their brains into a more positive attitude. Think about that great new job you will get when you finish studying and what you can do with the money. Make a weekly timetable of your lectures, tutorials, lab sessions, and the like; then allocate the remaining time to studying for your particular subjects. Dig out the timetable and look at regularly it helps to focus your mind on the job.3 4. Find yourself a study-buddy, someone that you can work with on a regular basis. There are various learning games you can play with them, such as choosing a topic in one of your subjects, reading it up for, say, five minutes, then explaining it to each other. This is a valuable learning technique in its own right, as well as being a good motivator. When at university you will have a lot of free time in which you have no lectures etc. Dont fall into the trap of idling away your day but tackle this seductive freedom directly, using any of these tips that help you. The union bar might be a good place to relax, but it is a bad place to spend all your time! Working in the library will serve you better. If you have faith and believe in a God, talk to him, or her, and ask him to help you to be enthusiastic about studying and achieving. Any time you feel like giving up on an assignment, or not even starting it, remind yourself about your earlier conversations and ask for help again now. It works for a lot of people - but you do need to believe. If you are unlucky enough to fail an assignment, do not despair! Instead, use it as a spur to help you to achieve more in the future. Ask yourself why you failed: are there comments in the essay or at the end that can shed light on it? Think about how you could tackle any weaknesses mentioned or criticisms made. Then make a short note to yourself about where you need to improve and the different things you could try in order to succeed in that aim. Should you happen to enjoy puzzles and quizzes, treat this self-examination in a similar way, for this could make the task more enjoyable. If you can, go and see the marker concerned, take the essay etc. with you, and ask them how they think you could improve. Its best not to criticise their comments or mark but instead you could flatter them a bit about drawing on their experience to help you improve. Most teachers and lecturers are delighted to find a student who actually wants to improve and wishes to seek their advice. Consider your friends and the people you hang with: think about them objectively. If you think that they put you down in some way, and perhaps treat you in a negative fashi...


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