Ask Elliot: Missing Motivation

Elliot Hilden, managing editor

Dear Elliot, 

How do you stay motivated? 

Sincerely, Missing Motivation

Dear Missing Motivation, 

Finding motivation can be one of the biggest roadblocks to keeping up with college. For many people, this is the first time they don’t have someone motivating them to get their work done, and it can become a major struggle to find that motivation on their own. Fortunately, there are tons of helpful strategies to find the motivation you need in order to be successful. 

Make a plan. It’s never fun to rush to finish a big project the night before it is due. Setting a plan for how to break up the project into more manageable chunks can be incredibly helpful. It can avoid burnout, give opportunities for breaks and help you stay on track instead of getting behind. 

Find a buddy. For some people, having someone else around them can help exponentially when trying to be productive. See if your friends have time this week where you can go to the library and work on homework together. Alternatively, there are YouTube videos of people working on their work that can help make it feel like you are working alongside someone else, even if you are alone. 

Set up a reward system. Positive reinforcement is a helpful tool that changes boring work into a fun experience. If you need to read 50 pages, maybe every time you get through 10 you get to scroll on TikTok for five minutes. Just make sure that the reward is comparable to the work you put in to get the reward. Rewarding yourself with an hour of video games for ten minutes of work will only harm you in the long run. 

Celebrate small wins. It’s hard to give 100 percent all the time. When trying to avoid burnout, it may be helpful to give yourself grace, and celebrate when you get small things done. Maybe a reward every 10 pages isn’t enough, and you are still finding yourself struggling to finish your reading. There is nothing wrong with celebrating every five pages instead. 

Hold yourself accountable. While having someone else around to hold you accountable can be helpful, it isn’t always practical. It is important to recognize that if you want to stay motivated, you have to motivate yourself. This goes for both work and rewards. While you may not want to stop doing the fun thing and switch to the boring thing, it is your responsibility to put the phone away and get to work.

Finally, the most important piece of advice that I can give is to take a breath. While it may seem difficult now, once you find what works for you, motivating yourself and getting work done can turn into a breeze. Hopefully these tips will get you on the right track and mitigate the stress that works in tandem with a lack of motivation. 

Moving towards a motivational mindset,