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Need Motivation To Do Coursework

Jodie: How to get motivated and smash out that assignment!

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Jodie completed her Graduate Diploma of Learning and Teaching (Primary) with USQ in 2015 and is now a qualified teacher passionate about holistic education for all children. When not hiking or otherwise enjoying the great outdoors, you'll find her relaxing with a good book or cooking up a storm in the kitchen.



I love to study and I love to learn, but let’s face it, assignments can be a bit of a drag. Yes, I enjoy the intellectual challenge, but the stress of getting the task done on time and demonstrating my knowledge adequately to the marker can sometimes get the best of me. I’ve successfully completed numerous assignments to date so I know it will be ok in the end, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling under pressure every time, right up until I hit that ‘submit’ button.

So, is all this pressure and stress worth it in the end? Yes! Your hard work and dedication will be rewarded by a great grade (hopefully!). But while the knowledge and experience you gain from putting assignments together are great motivators in themselves, I also love to reward myself further with unrelated rewards to keep me energised throughout the process of writing my assignments.

How rewards work

There is actually theory behind the benefits of using rewards to motivate yourself. According to neuroscientist, Schultz, rewards are ‘objects or events that make individuals come back for more and promote behavioural choices that maximize them’. What this means is that rewards reinforce behaviours or decisions. For example, you are more likely to work hard to achieve your goal because you want the reward you know is available upon completion of the task or work. Using a reward system as a motivational strategy also helps you beat procrastination tendencies (which I am often very guilty of) and helps you maintain energy levels when otherwise you might feel like calling it quits. 

Types of motivating rewards

Rewarding yourself don’t necessarily mean you have to spend money, your reward just needs to be something positive that you know will motivate you to do the hard work you need to. When selecting your reward, think of something that is of value to you. I like to do something I don’t have much time for during semester, such as catching up on my favourite TV shows (e.g. Orange is the New Black or Covert Affairs), chatting with friends online who live far away or reading a book I’ve wanted to get stuck into. You might prefer to go for a massage or spend the night online gaming – choose whatever it is that will motivate YOU!

Smaller rewards lead to bigger rewards

And if you’re really struggling to get your assignment done and that reward upon finishing seems like it will never come, reward yourself along the way. Break everything you have to do for your assignment up into segments or smaller tasks and plan smaller rewards for completing each of those. It could be a delicious mocha once you’ve got the basic outline of your assignment planned or a walk in your garden to stretch your legs after doing the necessary background reading. Again, it’s important to choose rewards that will motivate you. With these smaller rewards, aim to make them less time consuming – your ultimate goal is, of course, to get the assignment finished (and get that big reward).

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get to work and smash out your next assignment. Remember, those relaxing, fun and delicious study rewards are waiting for you!

 For more advice on how to stay on track with your study, check out Emma's 3 strategies to motivate yourself and achieve your goals!


Related:

Goal planner 

The 7 bad study habits and how to combat them

Does your motivation need a kick start?

  • 1

    Plan ahead to have free-time after school. If you have a study period, do as much of your homework as you can. The more you do while you are at school, the less you will need to do at home. Don't try to do everything at the last second.Try to do all of it in class (if time is provided), at lunch, or any other spare time you may have. This way you may also get help while at school, if you don't understand the work. Ask your teachers while they are available: they're there to assist you. Let them help you.
    • Put the hardest homework at the top of your list. Why? Well, this allows you to kick it up a notch! You can start, move on, and then continue re-thinking it (starting gives it a place in the "depths" of your mind -- an inventive part of your mind) and then going back to it, to do more, so you won't get too bogged down, but it will have priority for the subconscious mind to work on it! See, you don't have to get stuck in that problem -- that might take all of your time:

      Do a quick effort; make it a worthwhile try, then go onward to less demanding homework. Later, going back -- and seeing how you can improve the first one with fresh bits and pieces.

      Open "secret back-channels" -- just starting, even if you have to come back to finish, gets your creativity to kick in (this gets dark recesses of your mind to really work for you!). Creative juices can be inspiring, refreshing, helpful!
  • 2

    Break it down. Make piecework; quickly overview the topic: scan!

    ~ Read headings, intro, maps, charts, pictures, captions, bold or italic lettering, footnotes, and chapter summaries to get ideas and perspectives/angles for ideas to start yourself thinking.

    ~ Begin your answer to each problem and essay question, by doing parts! How? Make a first sentence or step, do any logical, little bits and bites (go step-by-step).

    ~ Add a second thought/step and another -- each flowing from the previous one. Going one phrase or sentence at a time makes it possible to write or do something.

    ~ Skip some lines, to leave room to fill in later -- if you need to move on to another area.

    To re-kick-start an answer: Read what you have already written/or have done to check it, and see what flows from there', to lead your thinking to your next thought/step, and so on.

  • 3

    Set goals and rewards. Once you've completed your goal and finished your homework, reward yourself with some little thing that you would find enjoyable and double after you finish. Save a special book to read when homework is done, or make plans to talk with a friend on the phone as soon as both of you have completed your assignments. Go on your favorite website, or even dedicate yourself to a great project you've always been wanting to do.
    • Take advantage of any holidays or vacations that may be coming near as a motivator. On a Thursday, remind yourself that it is almost the weekend, and the moment this homework assignment is done you'll be one moment closer. Remember that Thanksgiving, winter break, or summer break is nearing, and the moment your homework is done you can enjoy it to its fullest.
  • 4

    Avoid procrastination. The surest way to get over procrastination is to take care of a task as soon as you think of it - don't delay and tell yourself you'll do it later.
    • Think of it this way: if you procrastinate, you're spending time worrying about the task in addition to the time you actually do it. If you just take action and complete it as soon as you think of it, then you'll have more time to relax.
  • 5

    Work smarter, not harder. A fried brain absorbs little information. Break up your homework time into chunks. Take regular breaks. Set a timer; take a five to ten minute break for each hour you study. Get up, stretch, and move around. Drink water and eat a little fruit: water will refresh your system, and half an apple provides a better effect than a sugary energy drink.

  • 6

    Think of the consequences. What will happen, if you don't do your homework? Will you get a bad grade? Will your teacher be disappointed in you? If none of these things seem to apply to you, remember that homework is to help you learn, which everyone ultimately wants. In the real world, knowledge helps you master the rules of the game.

  • 7

    Think of the benefits. What will happen, if you do your homework? You'll probably get a good grade. Your teacher will appreciate your efforts. You have learned a great deal, and you'd be paving your way for a better life simply by putting your pencil to paper! Putting yourself in a positive state will reap in the benefits and ultimately surge you with the energy and hope to focus back on your work, and even enjoy what you're doing!

  • 8

    Find a place with less distraction. Set up your special study place. No friends, television, or other potential distractions should be present. Your homework place should also have a hard surface, like a table, to write on. If you need to do some of your homework on a computer, as many high school students do, make sure to avoid chat programs, unrelated websites, etc. If you have difficulty keeping focused, or awake, consider doing your homework at the library, at a table with some amount of foot traffic passing by it. The quiet atmosphere will help you focus, the surrounding mild activity will help keep you from falling asleep, and if you get stuck, there are those helpful librarians and references.

  • 9

    Straighten your desk/room. It's easier to concentrate on your homework when you don't have clutter in your workspace. Take five minutes to tidy up your immediate area before you get started.
    • Don't go on a cleaning binge as a way to procrastinate. Focus only on where you'll be working, and leave it at that.
  • 10

    Find a homework partner. Make sure this person isn't one of your crazy friends who'll distract you. Find someone to sit with who is quiet and focused. This will help you feel comfortable working, because someone else is working along with you. Just be sure not to end up talking more than working.

  • 11

    Create your own learning method. Everybody learns at their own pace and uses different methods to help memorize the material. Some find walking helpful, while others like to listen to music while they study. Whatever it is, experiment until you find something that seems to work well for you.

  • 12

    Listen to some quiet music (optional). Listening to music and studying does not work for everyone. If you are going to listen to music, try to listen to classical music or instrumental songs. Or if classical isn't for you, just pick quiet songs that you don't know, and start working, so you don't get caught up in the words.

  • 13

    Exercise briefly during each study break. It will help relieve tension, clear your mind, help you focus and make you feel awake. For example, walk around, stretch, do jumping jacks, or jog in place.

  • 14

    Make a routine. A routine will get you into doing homework as a habit. Schedule times and days so you are totally organized as to what you're doing this week, the next, and even the week afterwards. Surprises will occur, but at the very least, you know what you're doing!

  • 15

    Disconnect. Turn off your computer, phone, etc. that could distract you easily. Don't get wrapped up on the computer or phone on a break because you will not remember what you were learning about and it will delay your finish time. Stay away from them at all costs unless you must do the homework on the computer.
    • Put your phone, computer, and anything else that might distract you far from your reach. Then stay in a quiet room where you know you won't get distracted. Keep a timer for every 30 minutes to an hour, so you know how long you've been working and can still keep track of time.
  • 16

    Prioritize. Divide your homework according to your ability in the subject. If you're not so good, do it first. If it's an easy assignment, take a break and do it in 15 minutes or so, then get working again! If it's a long-term project, do it last. Not that it's not as important, but you need to save your time for the things with near-due-dates.

  • 17

    Get some success: you might prefer to get one or two easy tasks over-with at the start of a homework session, saving the hard stuff for last. Diving right into the hard stuff can be discouraging, and studies show that many people learn well when they start with easier material and work up to the harder stuff. Getting a few easy tasks done quickly can remind you of how good it feels to be productive. Some people, however are more motivated to dig into the hardest stuff first. It will make the rest seem like a breeze. Find out what works best for you.

  • 18

    Use simpler problems to find the steps to do harder solutions. Most problems can be broken down into simpler problems. That's a key to try on most math and science work and exams.

  • 19

    So what are you waiting for, get to your homework!!

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