When you’re too busy with work, how can you motivate yourself to study?

As I grabbed my belongings to go to the gym, it was just after 5 a.m. I noticed the light in my daughter Kinsey’s room was on as I walked down the hall. I decided to sneak inside to see what was going on because she isn’t usually up that early.

I noticed her sitting in bed with her laptop open and a puzzled expression on her face as I opened the door.

“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m doing some last-minute studying before I take my pharmacology exam.”
“Why are you doing it so early?” I questioned.
“I need to get it done before I go to work because I have a full day, and I won’t want to do it later.”

Kinsey is a great student, and she works full-time and goes to school, so I didn’t want to question her actions. Still, as she responded, it hit me. This was one way she kept her motivation to study when she was too busy with work.

I didn’t want to disturb her further, so I slowly closed the door and went on my way, pondering the question on my own, “how does one maintain their motivation to study when they are too busy with work?”

Motivation is an interesting topic that psychologists, sociologists, and scientists of all types have studied for decades. Countless books and articles have been written on the subject and continue to pop up each year. But what motivates us in certain situations? How can we stay motivated when we have so many other things on our minds like work?

The source of our inspiration is mostly determined by whether it originates from inside or without us. We all have a preference for one over the other, although this might vary depending on the situation.

Let’s take a look at the facts from my example circumstance and break them down to better comprehend them.

  • Kinsey works and goes to school like a lot of college students.
  • Kinsey was taking her exam very early in the morning before her usual wake-up time.
  • She was doing the exam before going to work.
  • She had a busy day of work ahead.
  • She acknowledged that she would not want to do it later.

This example provides some less apparent clues to ways that can help others like you. I’ve compiled the secrets inspired by these clues, along with some additional wisdom I’ve learned along the way to help you in maintaining your motivation to study.

To answer these questions, we first need to understand motivation itself. More specifically, the two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is an incentive to engage in a specific activity that derives from pleasure in the activity itself rather than because of any external benefits that might be obtained.[1] It sounds like, “I’m going to work hard to get that promotion so I can be more fulfilled at work.”

On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is an external incentive to engage in a specific activity, especially motivation arising from the expectation of punishment or reward.[2It sounds like, “I really want that promotion at work to make more money.”

Here are 11 tips on how to motivate yourself to study even when you’re too busy with work.

1. Have a Great mindset

It all starts here and having a positive attitude can help a lot. Believe that you can attain your goals and concentrate on the excellent things you’ve already accomplished.

According to research, being optimistic leads to higher productivity and improved mental and physical health. [3]

2. Visualize Success

The next stage is to imagine your success after your mindset is in order. Begin with a clear picture of what you want to do, and then enjoy the joy of achieving it. If you know you want to receive an A on an exam, for example, break down the steps to mastering the material.

3. Break Your Goals Into Small Attainable Tasks

A goal, such as graduating from college with all A’s, might often feel too lofty. Instead, think about your objectives and break them down into small, manageable tasks.

If you know you want to obtain an A on an exam, for example, begin by gathering the appropriate materials to study with, and then go on to determine what you require from each resource. Everything becomes attainable once you dig deep enough.

4. Reward yourself

As long as the rewards are healthy, they can help you stay motivated. Establish a little incentive for completing your objective once you’ve set it.

This form of external motivator can help you keep your motivation and push you closer to your larger goals, whether it’s a food treat or something greater like a massage.

5. Pomodoro for the Win

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique that encourages you to work with, rather than against, the time you have.

Divide the time you have to study into 25-minute pieces with 5-minute breaks in between. Each interval, or Pomodoro, trains your brain to focus and resist disruptions. The sense of urgency it produces will be a great motivation for you.

6. Measure Progress

You must measure everything once you begin to achieve goals and have successful Pomodoros. If you don’t track and report your progress, you’re probably not moving forward at all.

When performance is measured, it improves; when performance is measured and reported, it improves exponentially, according to Pearson’s Law.

7. Make It a Competition

Healthy competition is beneficial for keeping you moving and for increasing your enthusiasm to study. You can compete with others in a positive way to motivate each other to succeed. Set up a competition between yourself if you don’t have anyone else.

For instance, test how many Pomodoros you can complete without looking at your phone. Continue to raise the bar, and you will strive to meet it.

8. Find a Mentor

Finding a mentor is another strategy to boost and maintain your study drive. Having a mentor is a fantastic way to stay motivated and connect with someone you admire or who works in the subject you’re interested in. Having a mentor has two advantages: they can support and encourage you on your path to success.

9. Get an Accountability Buddy

While this is sometimes the responsibility of a mentor, you can also find an accountability buddy or partner who is studying the same thing as you.

With both of you focused on the same goal, you may exchange ideas you might not have considered and comprehend your friend’s point of view.

According to studies, publicly committing your goals to someone increases your chances of achieving them by at least 65 percent. Having a dedicated accountability partner boosts your chances of achievement by 95 percent.

While this is sometimes the responsibility of a mentor, you can also find an accountability buddy or partner who is studying the same thing as you.

With both of you focused on the same goal, you may exchange ideas you might not have considered and comprehend your friend’s point of view.

According to studies, publicly committing your goals to someone increases your chances of achieving them by at least 65 percent. Having a dedicated accountability partner boosts your chances of achievement by 95%. [4]

10. Find “Your” Time

Fast Times at Ridgemont High has an amusing passage in which a student disrupts class and the teacher instructs him to quit disturbing the class and do what he’s doing on his own time. “I’m here, you’re here, doesn’t that make it our time?” the student says.

Whether you study in a group or on your own, you must discover the time that best suits your demands and your brain.

For some, it’s first thing in the morning, while for others, it’s after they’ve decompressed after work. You can determine the best time for you by measuring your success and the efficiency of your Pomodoros.

11. Move

Taking the time to move is crucial to achieving your objectives. You need to move whether you are studying at a desk, in bed, or on the floor.

After each successful Pomodoro, take a five-minute pause to get up, stretch, and move your legs around. This improved blood flow will help you stay awake by supplying oxygen to your brain.

It’s time for a longer 15 to 20-minute break after you’ve completed four straight sessions. This is the ideal opportunity to grab some fresh air and do some light exercise outside during this break. This brief period of time will have a major impact on your motivation.

Final Thoughts

When used alone, any of the above suggestions can aid in the development and maintenance of motivation. Discover which ones work best for you and make them a habit. You won’t need external motivation once you’ve done this since you’ll be inwardly trained for success.

I’d like to think that I instilled some good internal programming in Kinsey, and her grades reflect that. She came into my office at 7 p.m. after getting home from work and asked if she might use it for a while.

“Sure,” I answered, “what do you need?”
“Please complete my pharmacology exam.”
“I was under the impression you took it this morning.”
“I planned to, but the exam’s opening time was incorrect, so it didn’t open until noon.”

“Oh, I get it now. Sure, let me get out, so you have peace and quiet.”

I closed the door and left her in the serenity of my cave, knowing she would get a good grade on her exam. I ended up being right about the grade but not about the source of her motivation to study that morning.

When she emerged from the office about 30 minutes later, she quickly turned on the TV. It all came down to the fact that she didn’t want to miss the season finale of The Batchelor. I guess it was more extrinsic than I thought.

Reference:

  1. American Psychological Association: intrinsic motivation

2. American Psychological Association: extrinsic motivation

3. NCBI: Optimism and Its Impact on Mental and Physical Well-Being

4. Entrepreneur: An Accountability Partner Makes You Vastly More Likely to Succeed

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