For those continuing their studies straight from high school, finding the motivation to study can be relatively easy, because they are used to having to complete assignments and revise for exams and there is only their social life to distract them. As a mature student, however, you may well have family and work commitments to fulfil, so after a long day, motivating yourself to study can be a real chore. Fortunately, if you are prepared to put in the effort, there are some tips that you can follow to motivate yourself.
Draw up a timetable
If you aren’t careful, you could find yourself leaving your studying until the night before an assignment is due or you have to take a test. If you are constantly trouble-shooting to ensure that you complete your obligations, you are likely to find your motivation waning. As soon as you start your course, draw up a timetable so that you study at set times each week. Choose times that are convenient to you – these are probably going to be after the children go to bed or first thing in the morning. Once you can see that you are making slow, but steady, progress, your motivation levels are likely to be much higher.
As well as sticking to a timetable, you need to be organised in your studies. That means working out a way of getting through your tasks as consistently as possible, having all the materials you need to hand. If you constantly find yourself having to get up and find a particular book, or work out where you put your highlighters, you are going to be easily distracted by other things going on around you and will lose motivation. If you can’t get on with your studies until you have been to the library and have found the materials you need, then make sure you schedule in time to do so. Otherwise, you will find yourself making excuses not to study.
Find a quiet space
If you have many other responsibilities, it can be very hard to motivate yourself to study. Set aside a part of your home, or elsewhere, where you can study in peace. You may even find yourself looking forward to locking yourself away for a couple of hours so that you can get your work done. If you have children, try and study after they are in bed, or arrange childcare for a few hours. Alternatively, if you work, you could take advantage of an empty office or meeting room during your lunch hours and breaks. Just ensure that everyone knows what you are doing so that they don’t disturb you.
Go to all your classes
As far as possible, you should ensure that you go to all of your classes. This could be a challenge, especially if you need to arrange childcare or take time off work every time you have a class. However, once you miss one class, it is easy to be tempted to miss the next. Before you know it, you will have difficulty in following the course and your motivation levels will slump. If you know you cannot make a class for any reason, then inform the teacher in advance and ask if you can have a tutorial to catch up, or at least if there are any notes that will help you follow what you have missed.
Manage household chores more efficiently
You are going to feel unwilling to put in study time if there are a lot of chores that need doing around the house. Work out a way to get things done more efficiently. You may not be able to afford a cleaner, but you can almost certainly make the most of other family members by assigning them particular chores. If you usually spend a couple of hours a week shopping, then consider online shopping and delivery instead. It could save you a lot of time. You could also cook in bulk and then freeze meals so that you don’t have to cook every day. You can even do this with sandwiches for the family’s meals. If you feel confident that there is less to do around the house, you will be able to immerse yourself in your studies.
Remember the bigger picture
To really ensure that you keep working towards your goal, you need to remember the bigger picture. Remind yourself why you are taking the course, whether it is for personal gain, or so that you can get a better job and be more financially supportive of your family. If you just look at the here and now and how stressed you are, you may well lose the motivation to keep going and, before you know it, you will either have dropped out or not done as well as you intended. If necessary, write down your goals and put them somewhere so that you can see them every day as a reminder.
As well as timetabling your studies, don’t forget to schedule in some treats as well. This could be something as simple as a couple of glasses of wine on a Friday night, your favourite television programme, or a long, relaxing bath with no disturbances. You could plan something bigger for the end of your course, such as a holiday, or time with friends and family. Knowing that, once you have completed a part of your course, you can do something for you will often give you the motivation to keep on going, even when you would much rather just give up and go to bed.
Motivating yourself to study can be a real challenge when you have so much else on your plate. However, provided that you are organised, seek help where necessary and remember your reasons for studying in the first place, there is no reason why you should not be successful.