Whether it be at school or at work, you find yourself having a hard time focusing and your motivation has been fading lately. After all, it is that time of year, you’re burnt out by midterms, and all of your goals for the semester are taking a backseat to just surviving finals. It might seem like it’s impossible to drag yourself out of this rut, but don’t lose hope just yet! Getting through anything in life is tough, especially the months leading up to warmer weather, and it’s easy to lose sight of the goals you set in for the new year. But no matter what you’re aiming for good grades, getting in shape, or saving money it's not too late to make progress.
It’s tough to keep your mind focused on achieving your goals, and it’s normal to be super stressed out. But never fear, you don’t have to give up! Here are 15 ways to stay motivated and focused, no matter what you do.
15 Get a planner
If you already have a planner, but you’ve been slacking off when it comes to writing down dates and assignments, it’s time to dust it off and get organized again. And if you don’t already have a planner, it’s not too late to pick one up and start getting your life sorted out. Using a planner is one of the simplest ways to stay on track when it comes to studying, scheduling, and having some form of a social life. Make sure to write down EVERYTHING, no matter how insignificant it may seem. You don’t want to forget about a meeting or an important exam! Having a planner is most helpful when you make it a point to take it with you everywhere so that an event never slips your mind, and so that you can write something down the moment you find out about it. A planner is a great motivational tool.
14 Use a wall calendar
You may not think that you need a wall calendar if you already have a planner but think again. A wall calendar serves a totally different purpose than a planner, and it could be even more instrumental in helping you achieve your goals. A planner can give you a detailed idea of what to expect for your day or your whole week, but a wall calendar that displays your plans for the entire month gives you a good overview of long term planning. You can get a paper calendar and flip the page each month, or you can get a whiteboard calendar and use different markers to color code different types of events and assignments. When you look at your calendar, you can get a good idea of everything that you need to tackle for the upcoming month. This time of year, that calendar will probably be packed, but you can do it!
13 Download a helpful app
Your phone can be a huge source of distraction, but if you use it correctly, it can also help you stay focused on reaching your goals. There are all kinds of tools that come pre-installed on your phone in addition to apps that you can download that will help you conquer the rest of this semester. Don’t want to carry around a planner or buy a calendar? You can create to-do lists on your phone and use the calendar app. Want to work out but don’t have time to make it to the gym? There are plenty of work out and yoga apps that can provide you with work out ideas that you can do anywhere. Feeling stressed and need to find a little balance to tackle the rest of your responsibilities? Download a meditation app that will help guide you and relax your mind. Your phone can be a life saver!
12 Find inspiration on Instagram or Pinterest
Yes, Instagram can be an easy way to waste time, and Pinterest might seem like a mindless distraction. But if you use them correctly, they can actually give you a solid boost of motivation to accomplish your goals this semester. On Instagram, you can find hundreds of accounts centered on any topic that you could imagine, and yes, that includes studying! Following a few study accounts can push you to get your own studying done. As for Pinterest, stay away from the wedding boards and start a study or fitness board instead! Pin nice school supplies that you like, study tips, and organizational hacks. You can also find cheap, healthy recipes, fast workouts that you can do right in your dorm room, and helpful articles on managing your time. Try your best to stay away from the superficial stuff and use Instagram and Pinterest to find some motivational material over the next few weeks.
11 Start a blog
Starting a blog might also seem like a waste of time, but a blog can also be a great motivational tool. It provides you with a space to share your journey, and it can also help you connect with people who share the same goals and are facing the same challenges! It’s also fun because no one will be grading you or giving you due dates for posts. You can use your blog however you like, get creative, and express yourself! Plus, if your blog gains a decent sized audience, it’ll help hold you accountable for your goals. If you know that your readers are rooting for you and want to see you make progress towards your goals, you’ll want to make them proud and show that yes, you CAN achieve everything that you set out to do. Starting a blog can be a fun hobby that helps you keep working on your goals.
10 Tell your friends and family about your goals
Think about the people who know you best. Have you opened up to them about the challenges you’re facing? Your friends and family can be one of your best sources of advice and inspiration. If you’re having a rough day and getting stressed about an exam in one of your toughest classes, don’t hesitate to call your mom and vent for a little bit. She’s sure to have some kind words and tough love to get you right back on track. Furthermore, telling people about your goals and sharing your journey with them makes it easier to get up and face the daily grind. Think about it: maybe you really don’t want to study for that exam, but you know that your mom will be super proud of you when she sees how hard you’ve worked. The next time you just want to lay in bed instead of work, remember that your loved ones want to see you succeed!
9 Chart your progress
Whether your goals are academic or fitness related, charting your progress can help you stay motivated and focused on these goals! There’s just nothing more satisfying than crossing something off your to-do list or checking a box that symbolizes something you’ve accomplished. To achieve your study goals, you could make a daily schedule that includes a certain number of hours set aside just for studying, and if you stay committed to your notes for those hours, you can cross them off and call it a job well done. When it comes to staying in shape, you can make a weekly or monthly fitness chart that outlines how often you want to exercise. If you go to the gym on those days, you get to check it off, and when you reach the end of the week or the month, you can look back and see how well you were able to stick to your plan!
8 Reward yourself
Little rewards are absolutely essential when it comes to achieving your goals. Don’t wait until you’ve reached the end of the process to celebrate. It’s all about little victories! Focus on your goals and then reward yourself! For example, say that your goal is to get an A in your most difficult class. If you push yourself hard all semester and don’t let up, you’ll probably be able to pull it off but you’ll be miserable the whole time. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You need to recognize the importance of baby steps when it comes to your journey. Let’s say you put in a solid week of studying before a big exam. Why not treat yourself to a casual dinner out with friends on the night before your test instead of pulling an all-nighter and continuing to cram? It’ll help boost your mood, which might even benefit you when you sit down to take the exam!
7 Keep a journal
Starting a blog is basically like having a public journal, and for those of you who are very open and really like to share, it’s a great idea. But for those of you who like to keep the details of your life more private, you might want to keep a journal instead. Writing in a journal, ideally every day, can help you reflect on your progress and gives you a place to work out your emotions. Plus, at the end of the semester, you can read back through all your old entries and see how far you’ve come! Keeping a journal is a great way to stay motivated and preserve your memories. You can also keep a record of what’s helped you reached your goals and why. For instance, maybe you’ve realized that studying in a group has been consistently beneficial for you jot that down and keep it in mind when it’s time to prepare for finals!
6 Find a buddy
Finding a study buddy or a workout buddy makes it a lot easier to reach your goals and stay motivated and focused! Plus, you might get to really know someone new and make a great new friend! For each of your classes, you should try to find a study buddy. You can choose someone who you’re already friends with or someone that you don’t know very well but seems like a good student. This is helpful for a few reasons. First of all, if you ever have to miss class, you have someone that you can go to for notes that way, you’ll never miss any important material that might pop up on an exam! It also will be great when it’s time to get ready for finals. If you don’t know the answer to a question, your study buddy might. Finding a study buddy will help you stay in the loop in all of your classes.
5 Create a vision board
If you’re in a crafty mood, creating a vision board might be a lot of fun! A vision board is basically a board that you put up somewhere that you can see it every day with photos and quotes that will motivate you and keep you focused on what is important. You can make a vision board about any goal. For example, if you want to get a 4.0, you might want to put up pictures of school supplies, quotes about intelligence, learning, and personal growth, and photos of smart people that you really admire. You can also include photos that represent the career that you’re working towards. If you want to go to vet school, a few pictures of adorable puppies might help inspire you on nights when you’d really rather not hit the books! Keep in mind what you’re working towards after college and put it up on your vision board take a look at it every morning!
4 Find a role model or mentor
Is there someone working in the field that you want to go into that you really admire? Do you feel comfortable talking to your academic advisor or another professor from one of your favorite classes? You can look to these people for motivation. If you’re feeling stressed, your professor probably has open office hours don't hesitate to stop by and talk about whatever you’re struggling with. And while meeting with your advisor to talk about your future might not always be fun, it can be really helpful. They can help you figure out exactly what courses you need to take to stay on track, and they can also help you define your career goals which can help you define your short-term, semester goals! Finding an adult that you look up to who you also feel comfortable opening up to is really helpful when it comes to surviving college, so don’t be afraid to reach out.
3 Put together a pump-up playlist
Listening to music is one of the easiest ways to motivate yourself and keep you focused on whatever you're doing. It takes very little effort to put together a good playlist that has the power to pump you up. That kind of playlist is great for a marathon study session or intense workout. And when you need to wind down, you can also put on a relaxing playlist that will help you slow down and relax. Having a great collection of tunes to match any mood can help you survive even the toughest weeks of the semester yes, even finals week! Spend a little time browsing through Spotify and adding some new songs to your iTunes library. Whenever you need a pick me up or a little stress relief just turn on the appropriate playlist and lose yourself in the music. Finding some good, motivational songs can help you survive those long nights in the library, so put those headphones on!
2 Limit distractions
Netflix, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Snapchat...what do all of these things have in common? The main purpose of these websites and apps is entertainment which means they can easily turn from entertaining to just plain distracting! Using your phone for certain helpful purposes can be useful when it comes to studying, but usually, scrolling through your phone will only hurt your focus. When you have your notes spread all over your desk, your mind is racing, and time is running out, the last thing you need is to turn on your phone and start playing with all the new Snapchat filters! The best thing for you to do is put it on silent and put it away for at least an hour or two. You need a few hours with minimal distractions to really get a grasp on the material, and your friends can definitely forgive you for a few unanswered texts!
1 Take time for self-care
It’s difficult to find balance as a student, but the bottom line is that your mental and physical health are more important that anything else. When you’re in the midst of midterms and finals, trying to have a social life, networking, applying for internships, and everything else on the typical student’s plate, it’s tough to remember that. That’s why it is very important to find time for self-care no matter how busy your schedule is. You can’t let yourself burn out without ever taking a rest it will only hurt you in the long run, and you’ll end up struggling even more. Yes, you need that brunch date with your friends, even if you have a presentation coming up. Yes, you can afford a quick coffee break in the middle of a long study session. And yes, you can forgive yourself for going to bed early instead of pulling an all-nighter. Take good care of yourself you've earned it.