By Tom Molloy.
It’s hard to find the motivation to do anything sometimes. Studying is the one thing students are supposed to do yet it’s the last thing a lot of students want to do. Throw in a global pandemic, everyone being forced to work from home, and all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer now streaming on Disney+ and you’d wonder how anyone gets anything done at all.
According to an article in last December’s Frontiers in Psychology, researchers explained that “despite the efforts of teachers and parents to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 restrictive measures on students, our results showed a decrease in students’ academic motivation”. This will come as a surprise to absolutely nobody. SIN found some very helpful students who told us what motivates them to study during lockdown.
Most of the students SIN spoke to admitted finding it difficult. Final year arts student Esther Greenfield finds motivating herself to study particularly tough, “Every essay is a battle and fight to the death. I need an hour of comfort TV to recover after every paragraph”.
Gráinne Thornton had a slightly more positive outlook and stressed the importance of sticking to a routine, “I find having a set time to get up and set time for studying really helpful. The routine helps me find a balance of work and free time so I can actually do things I enjoy in the evenings without feeling bad that I’m not doing enough study.”
Of course, there are plenty of our students doing work placement this semester across a variety of different fields. SIN asked one such student, Darren Casserly, where he finds motivation at this time. Darren pointed out the difference between working on placement and academic study, “I suppose the motivation for me is that I’ve got deadlines that I’ve got to meet and other people are relying on me to do the work as opposed to doing everything for myself like in college”. Fellow intern Valerie McHugh feels that it’s important to be constantly aware of your attention span, “If I’m struggling to find motivation, or if my attention span is slipping, I do 20 minutes work and then have a 10-minute break and repeat it. It keeps me moving”.
Darragh Nolan offered some particularly helpful tips to SIN based on his own experience, “the main thing I found helpful was just staying organised, making a to-do list every day and dividing things up into small tasks to make it more manageable.”
Darragh was keen to point out the importance of staying on top of the workload, “it’s so easy to get lost in the shuffle of things and then suddenly you’re staring at a mountain of assignments.” One of the best pieces of advice Darragh has received in terms of procrastination is that you should be honest with yourself about what work you’re going to do that day, “Doing something you enjoy while you’re thinking about studying just makes us feel guilty and isn’t really relaxing, so you might as well either decide to study or decide to relax. As long as you get the work done at some stage!”.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re finding it tough to be motivated some days. We can all afford to be a little easier on ourselves. As we are constantly reminded by the University, we are in perpetual “unprecedented times”. First and foremost, look after yourself and try to incorporate some of these tips into your routine.