What should a person do to motivate themselves to study harder?

Short answer: keep it simple. If you do, you’ll have a much better chance at succeeding.

Here are 3 tips that can boost your motivation to study harder:

  • Look at the big picture
  • Make a plan
  • Motivate yourself with one question

#1. Look at the big picture.

The key to keeping yourself motivated, no matter what you are doing, is to think beyond this moment, beyond today, beyond the textbook that is in front of you. For example:

  • Think about the short-term plans you have: finish the textbook, write up the notes, take the exam? Or maybe just complete that one difficult chapter that you’re currently reading?
  • Then, think about your long-term goals: Is your ultimate goal to graduate from college? Once that happens, who will you become? How do you imagine your life after school? What will you be doing? How will you become independent and where will you go next?
  • Why this is important: You need to make the connection between what you are doing today (no matter how mundane, hard, or impossible it may seem) with who you want to become in the future (the version of yourself that will benefit from all of your actions).

#2. Make a plan.

Now that you understand the big picture, you need to find out how you’re going to stay motivated in order to achieve your important goals. You can start with this:

  • Write down your top 3 study goals. It can be three classes you need to take in the next few months, or specific exams you’re preparing for this semester, or whatever is necessary for you to pass a course at school or university.
  • Under each study goal, write down 3–5 things you will need to do on a regular basis to make progress. For example: if your goal is to take three exams, then you should focus on what the professor has given as requirements for passing the course: covering the textbook, doing the quizzes, homework, taking the midterm exam, completing a group project, taking the final exam, etc.
  • Create a weekly plan to cover what you’ve identified as necessary for each study goal. Divide each day into hourly increments (outside of school obligations, commuting, and family time). Use a timer to schedule one hour to work on each task, and take breaks between sessions in order to concentrate better. For a super targeted study session, try the Pomodoro technique. And if you feel you’re running out of time at night, wake up a little earlier and study for 30–60 minutes while your energy levels are still high and your analytical brain functions more optimally.

#3. Motivate yourself first thing in the morning with this question: What is the one thing I am committed to completing today?

  • Why it matters: It’s a simple method and it encourages you to think strategically about your life, it keeps you focused on your goals, it forces you to prioritize what you really need to work on first, and it serves as a personal promise to yourself to finish something important.
  • How you can incorporate it into your day: Put it in writing. Write it in big bold letters on a sheet of paper and hang it on your bedroom or bathroom wall. Read it out loud as you start your day, and come up with an answer on the spot. Then, as you go through the day, make sure you’re working on completing what you’ve identified as your one thing.
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