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How to stay motivated to study during Covid-19

28 April 2020

Being a final year student in Covid-19 is something no degree starter pack gives tips on. Among trying to find graduate jobs or applying for a ‘panic masters’, there are still assessments due to pass the year. I, as someone who usually finds it easy to study, have struggled acclimating. During the days where I was packing up as much as my room that I could take on the train with me, I was trying to write an essay that I had no motivation to do given what was happening.

Trying to have motivation to study in a time like this is immensely challenging and because of this, I wanted to share a few ways that have helped me to find motivation as my final deadline and exam season approaches.

Creating a Make-Shift Study Space

Students who were fortunate enough abandoned their university accommodation to spend lockdown with their families. The downside to this is that you no longer have the quiet study spaces such as JP Cafe, the ASSL and a double room with a desk available.

With that in mind, it’s crucial to have multiple study spaces in your home. Having the same study space can encourage procrastinating. It’s a strange notion but getting too comfortable in one place does the opposite of motivate. My garden is where research for essays is typically done, my bedroom is where late night drafts of essays are written and my dining room is where these essays get finished.

Logging Off Social Media

I spent my second year at university running social media for student journalism company. As some social media were lacking attention, it meant that I spent a lot of time online building the platforms up. It is very hard to get out of the habit of being on social media for most of the day after a job like that, especially now that lockdown means it is the only way to stay in touch with everyone.

When I was documenting my life in Norway, I often noted how I used social media to share my experience with friends and family. Now that I am in lockdown, the ‘isolation slug’ makes joining people in chain posts, challenges and trends nostalgic of 2009 appealing.

Virtually logging off, however, is not only good for staying focused on studying, it is also good for your general health. I found that turning off social media notifications, aside from essential communication such as WhatsApp, has positively impacted my productivity levels. It has also lessened the headaches, neck knots, and eyestrain. By turning unnecessary app notifications off, you are less inclined to be distracted.

First Year , 17/18.

A Spotify Playlist for Different Study Moods

Music has always been my study aid. But tastes change as do moods so I have found that having multiple playlists for certain moods strikes a great balance. I have a dissertation and study playlist (see blow) that I have personally compiled with favourites. But I, and my friends, also have found that instrumental playlists are excellent to not only keep the mind calm but to keep it focused.

Find the perfect playlists for you or, if you have the time, quickly make a few of your own!

Dissertation Playlist, Ambient Relaxation Playlist, Study Mix Playlist

Take that Exercise Hour in the Morning

Exercise, whether it is a daily walk, cycle, yoga session or run, is an excellent way to ease yourself into a study day. Remember that everyone does have the same idea that going out early will avoid heavier traffic times so figure out a morning time that means you can use that hour to be relaxed – as relaxed as is possible when exercising anyway. I find that having effervescent vitamins in my water (or tropical juice for an extra sugar boost) to take for hour also helps to wake up. Again, Spotify playlists are a huge help in stimulation, and they host hundreds of morning playlists dependent on your mood.

Create a daily route around your neighbourhood if possible or use your garden if you have one. I’m fortunate enough to have a garden and live in a relatively rural area where my route around is just over 3km so I can pick and choose whether I want to walk, run or do a flex class. I tend to listen to horror podcasts or noughties teen drama music (think The O.C. and One Tree Hill). That hour of fresh air, paired with a vitamin drink, really wakes me up and gets me ready a day of studying.

Isolation Study Buddies

Whether you are isolating with housemates or have the luxury of a beloved family pet, study buddies always help stimulate productivity. It is also a way to communicate honestly about the struggle of trying to complete assignments in a time like this.

If you are still at university or your siblings are university students, having a makeshift study date as if you were back at the ASSL can help to kick that lethargy. By engaging everyone, instances like seeing your housemate on the sofa watching a true crime documentary cease to exist. I always studied with people in different degrees before lockdown and it meant that I would only chat during a quick break to give my hands a rest. I also think having people in the same boat as you helps to communicate openly if you feel particularly low.

Animals are also naturally calming and (mostly) quiet study buddies that are crucial in this lockdown. I am very fortunate to have my long-term study buddy (below) to help me through studying. She often sits by me as I work, very rarely distracting me unless she finds something to play with or I am having a mid-work nap. Having a furry friend to pet every now and then is an instant release of endorphins to ease the stress of Don’t have a pet? I’d say this is on reason to have a sneaky look on Instagram’s pet hashtags.

Having a Side Project

Finally, if you have yet to notice but everyone is in the midst of discovering their inner, or lack of, Bob Ross during this lockdown. While I’d like to say my knitting project had progressed to sixty plus squares in a month, I actually began this blanket project with my mother at the beginning of 2020 as a tool for de-stress. Thought my conditions mean that it’s more difficult at times (so a big thank you to my mother for helping me get so far in the project), I am so happy I started this project.

A side project keeps your brain working in your study breaks whilst still supplying a dose of calmness. It helps to return back to studying when you are ready. A side project does not need to be anything grand and you do not need to follow in the trends of social media. It is important to remember that it is okay not be as productive as that person you see online, your side project could be something as simple as reading a favourite book series all over again. I would suggest rewatching a favourite tv show but let’s be honest, that will lead to a binge-watch.

I hope that these tips help in some way to see through this deadline season.

Stay safe, be good people and get that degree.