Studying from home, the expectation: Early morning yoga, followed by a walk around the block before sitting down for 4 hours to study.
Study from home, the reality: Pressing the snooze button for the 3rd time that morning, before guzzling down a coffee and sitting down at your desk in your pyjamas.
Okay, you might not be that bad, but if you’re feeling as though you’re the only person wondering how to find motivation to study at home, please know that you’re most certainly not alone.
Losing motivation isn’t anything to feel ashamed about. It’s something every hard-working student has probably experienced at some point in their lifetime, especially during the past twelve months during times of emotional hardship and unprecedented changes to the way we study and create routine.
Studying from home and learning online can be very effective. It just requires a slightly different mindset to get you into the momentum of studying each day. Mainly, this comes down to having a robust and flexible study schedule, as well as a designated space that allows you to step away during breaks and at the end of the day and totally unwind.
Students, take a look through this guide in full to read our advice on how to find motivation to study at home. For parents, we’ve also created a parental guide to online learning, with top study motivation tips to keep your child progressing whilst studying at home.
Before we begin, it’s important to note that there isn’t one single strategy that will work for everyone on how to find motivation to study at home. In fact, you will probably find that you need to try a combination of these study motivation tips to keep you focused on extended pieces of work.
So, take the time to read carefully through each of the twelve tips below, and make a list of all the ones you think may appeal to you. That way you can come back to them later on days when you need some creative ideas to get you motivated to study.
When you stare blankly at a large task ahead, it can be demotivating just to read the brief - especially if it seems too overwhelming to complete. Instead, breaking down the task into smaller, more manageable chunks, can make it seem less daunting.
This process has been nicknamed “microproductivity,” which essentially means to put one foot in front of the other, rather than worry with dread about how to run an entire marathon. Doing tasks this way has been proven by experts to be a far more effective way to complete projects on time:
“Breaking tasks down helps us to see large tasks as more approachable and doable, and reduces our propensity to procrastinate or defer tasks, because we simply don’t know where to begin.” - Dr Melissa Gratias, workplace productivity expert
For example, if you are compiling an end of topic essay, instead of writing ‘research and write essay’ on your to-do-list, you could break the task into smaller chunks so it looks something like this:
Research essay topic
Create a plan, based off research
Write section 1
Write section 2
Write section 3
Write introduction and conclusion
Format and submit
By dividing the project into more digestible tasks, it’ll feel far less overwhelming and give you easy, navigational steps to take a project forward. You’ll also have several small chunks to slot into a practical study schedule, allowing you to plan your time more effectively.
With that being said, it’s also generally considered easier to motivate yourself to study if it becomes a regular part of your daily life and routine.
When studying at home, it can be very easy to lose track of the same type of routine you may have had during the school day. Without planning, it can be very difficult to keep track of your goals and achievements. Having a schedule will help you develop good study habits and a routine which ensures nothing is missed.
Here’s some of our top tips on how to create an effective study schedule that works for you:
Try to study at the same time each day - If this is in the morning, then it gives you a regular wake-up time and you’ll feel more mentally prepared for it - a routine allows you to feel more ready for the task ahead;
Set break times - It’s critical that you take time away from your learning to decompress and consolidate everything you’ve learned. Studying from home can make it easy to rack up lots of screen time in the day too, regular breaks for exercise and meal times will help alleviate this;
Include your goals - Do you need to write your dissertation by a certain date? Maybe you have 18 exams in the summer you need to prepare for. Writing all of these dates into your schedule will allow you to better plan your study time and ensure that all the work has been completed by the time they come around;
Colour-code different subjects - To help visually and check whether you’ve ‘balanced out’ your study time and are committing enough time to each of your different subjects;
Allow for flexibility - One of the greatest study motivation tips we can share is to make all your studying flexible. Sometimes, there are days when you feel like procrastinating, or unexpected events come up. Instead of trying to cram everything in around them, try to create a schedule that allows for gaps each week - using a digital calendar such as a spreadsheet template or online diary will make it easier to switch your timetable around.
When you start a long course of study, whether it’s a degree or intensive revision period, it can feel like every second should be committed to studying - especially if you’re studying from home and don’t have too many extracurricular commitments to attend. And this feeling only heightens the closer that exams loom.
However, one of the most important study motivation tips we can offer you is: Don’t let studying take over your life.
The whole point of creating your study schedule is to plan breaks and free time while still having enough time to complete all your necessary academic work. If you disregard these breaks and study hard over a long period of time, you may end up resenting your work and lacking almost all motivation to study.
We know that exercise, socialisation, and down-time are critical to helping our brains relax and refresh, helping us to absorb more information on the long-term. Keep a healthy study-life balance and you’ll find you naturally feel more motivated to study over time.
One of the best study motivation tips is to remember why you're studying in the first place.
It’s good to have long-term goals in place, such as “achieve good exam results so I can study Medicine at university.” However, sometimes having goals that seem so far ahead in the future can make it difficult to stay focused when you need motivation to study.
Instead, having a system of short-term, ‘interim’ goals and suitable rewards may be far better when you are looking for ways on how to find motivation to study. This can be particularly helpful to students who may not necessarily know what they want to do in the future, and so need shorter goals to help engage you with your work each day.
Suitable goals could include rewards and treats, such as “if I complete this work by 4pm, I can have an hour to see my friend before dinner,” or, “if I score highly in this end-of-term test, I will treat myself to a new video game.”
Only you will be able to know whether small, daily rewards are more effective, rather than one bigger reward which is saved up for the end of the week or month.
Just remember to include as many details as possible. The more vivid your goal and reward is in your mind, the easier it will be to imagine achieving. So, for example, instead of setting the goal; “if I complete my work on time, I can go see my friend,” try writing more specifically; “If I submit my homework by 4pm, I can spend an hour with my friend Jodie at the park before dinner.”
Avoiding work can make you feel deflated and trying to force yourself to study when you’re not in the mood can be more destructive than allowing yourself to take a short break. In these instances, sometimes it can be better to take a short break, refresh, and try it again in a short while.
Of course, when you take a break, it can be very appealing to not return to your work at all. If you’re someone who struggles with going back to work after breaks, try setting an alarm for when you have to go back, or asking your parents, siblings or roommates to nudge you when you’ve had the time you needed. Having others hold you accountable for your studying can be all the motivation you need to get back on track.
But what do you do if it's close to deadline and you really don’t have much time to take breaks?
If you need motivation to study but can’t seem to concentrate when you sit at your desk, do not run away. Instead, grab a notebook, set a timer, and allow yourself to freely write down your thoughts and feelings for five minutes.
Taking your thoughts out of your head and placing them on paper may just be the moment of decompression you need to feel reinvigorated to study. Keep this notebook next to you as you study, so anytime you struggle to stay focused, you can briefly take some time out and try the exercise again.
Don’t blame yourself for procrastinating now and again, especially during high-stress level moments when you’re under a lot of pressure. Instead, taking a moment to acknowledge the issue, take a brief step back and then refocus can be enough to get you motivated once again.
When studying from home, especially if you’re finding it hard to feel motivated on a particular assignment, it can feel comforting to reach out to your friends via text or WhatsApp and ask how they’re getting on with a project.
However, this can be detrimental to your productivity if your friends reply with messages like; “I’ve been studying for six hours straight” or even worse, “I’ve finished the assignment already!”
Where possible, try to keep socialising around your work to a minimum, preferably only asking questions if you’re stuck in a particular area or want to collaborate on a project. Even better, keeping off your phone entirely is a much better study motivation tip - since it’s impossible to study and text your friends at the same time!
If you lacked motivation before messaging your friends, you probably lack even more after hearing how much they’ve achieved. Everyone works at different paces and in a way that works for them - acknowledge this and be kinder to yourself when studying - alleviating pressure in this way will make it easier to get into the flow of your work.
And this leads us nicely onto our next point…one of the most agreed on study motivation tips is that all great work is carried out in a designated workspace that’s clear of all possible distractions.
This doesn’t mean you have to designate an entire room to your studying; for many students studying at home with others or sharing university halls, this isn’t a possibility. But, giving yourself a space where you know to focus and study each day can really help your body get into a routine of knowing to motivate itself when in that area.
A workspace could simply be a corner of the dining table which is clear, has space for your computer and notebooks, or it could even be a corner in your bedroom. As long as it’s comfortable, clutter-free, and is separate to the place where you feel most relaxed away from your studies - it’ll be perfect!
Of course, this does mean packing away all possible distractions. For example, if you are studying in your bedroom where your gaming console also rests - hide the remotes in another room to avoid all possible temptation.
This is the same for your mobile phone - one of the easiest and biggest distractions out there. If you know you’re prone to grabbing your phone while you’re waiting for a document to load or when you’ve finished writing a section of an assignment, try this tip to help you stay motivated: record yourself studying via your phone.
If your phone is being used for something else, you have no reason to grab hold of it. Also, you’ll finish your study session with a nice video to remind you of how much you’ve achieved - a great way to keep feeling motivated in the long-term.
Have you found a revision technique or study method that works best at helping you to absorb more information? Do you then rinse and repeat that technique with everything you study? Often, the way in which you choose to study can affect the way you motivate yourself to study.
For example, here at Melio, it’s not uncommon for us to see students respond better to one-on-one learning with individualised teaching on our Tutorials, rather than a small group learning environment as in our Online Courses, and vice versa. Students all learn in very different ways, and it’s important to try different study approaches to see which works best for you.
It’s important to keep in mind that varying your studying will reduce your need for motivation to study. Some days you may want to sit and note-take, while others you may feel more isolated and feel it more beneficial to host an hour-long virtual study session with your friends.
Need some more ideas? Here’s some different study approaches you can try:
Condensing notes into mind maps;
Draw pictures to summarise topics;
Write a poem or song to help you remember facts;
Practice past questions;
Try the Pomodoro study technique;
Try teaching the topic to your friends or family.
Mixing it up every now and then all helps to keep you interested and motivated, and stop your learning from going stale.
How often do you say; “studying is hard” or “I don’t get this topic at all!”
Sometimes, the thought of having to overcome some particularly challenging content can be enough to lose all motivation to study. That’s why you should start by doing some ‘easy’ or almost mindless study-esque work to get you into the swing of things.
On days when you’re feeling uninspired, start with something you find easy, such as revising terminology or checking for emails from your tutor. These simpler tasks can give you the momentum you need to get into the flow of being at your computer, making it easier for you to find the motivation to study.
To make this method feel even more rewarding, turn these tasks into a ‘to do list’ at the start of each session. As you go through the list and check them off, you’ll feel as though you’re accomplishing lots of things with ease. Then, when it comes to your most difficult task, you’ll have in your head “there’s only one more task to go,” giving you that final push of motivation to study even the most challenging material.
Often, it’s the initial ‘getting started’ which can be so off-putting for many students. But this study motivation tip is sure to get you in the mood for learning.
As you’re probably aware, once you start your studying, it isn’t actually as bad as you once thought. It’s just finding that initial momentum to get you in the rhythm.
So, the next time you find yourself not in the mood to study, set yourself a timer for 5 minutes.
Tell yourself, once those 5 minutes are up, you can stop working altogether if you’re totally not in the mood. But for those first few minutes, you have to whole-heartedly throw yourself into your studies.
In all likelihood, the chances are that once you’ve broken past that initial cognitive resistance and gotten into the momentum of studying, you’ll want to continue. The 5-minute timer is just used as a trick to reset your brain and start studying.
Of course, this trick might not work at all. And as we mentioned earlier, if you really don’t feel like studying that day, it’s okay to take a short break and return at a time when you’re feeling more motivated. But it’s certainly worth trying this method first just to double check.
Having trouble sticking to your study schedule? Need some practice to help give you the self-discipline you really need to succeed with your studies? Without tutors and classmates in the room with us, it can be easy to lose motivation to study at home.
Instead, finding yourself a mentor or study companion, who checks in with you regularly can be the gentle nudge you need to help you get back on-track.
This doesn’t necessarily mean finding a professional mentor who can help teach you good study habits and techniques, it could simply be a friend or course mate. As long as you have someone who checks in with you regularly and expects you to talk about the goals you’ve achieved for that period of time, they may be all you need.
In fact, buddying up with someone in the same class as you may be quite beneficial. If you haven’t reached a certain goal because of an academic hurdle, such as not understanding a particular topic, your mentor may be able to help frame it in such a way that makes it easier or you to grasp.
In this way, mentoring can help in both ways. You and your course mate can both be there to support one another, keep track of each other’s progress, and be a voice of reasoning on days when you’re feeling especially demotivated.
When it comes to acquiring new knowledge, your level of involvement can have a huge impact in both your effectiveness at memorising it and feelings of motivation towards learning it. That’s why, where possible, you should try to make your learning active - not passive.
Active learning is a method which demands engagement and physical study methods, such as participating in debates or translating notes into illustrations. Meanwhile, passive learning is where you simply try to absorb information and knowledge, such as watching a lecture or just reading through slides. Think of your brain like an empty cargo ship, sitting and waiting to be filled with new information.
Research shows that out of the two, active learning is far more effective in helping to learn new information and keep motivated. The process of learning involves us constructing new knowledge by integrating it with what we already know and have experienced, helping it to make more logical ‘sense’ in our brains and therefore ‘slot in’ that bit easier.
Need some examples of active learning methods? Try some of these:
Try to relate a new topic to your life and how it affects you;
Find a real life case study to relate the topic to;
Translate your notes into illustrations;
Write a song about the topic using your notes;
Conduct an experiment (if it is possible to do so) from home;
Start a group study session and debate key questions on the topic.
Here at Melio, we try to encourage active learning wherever possible. From including quizzes and worksheets as part of your independent study, to encouraging group discussions through live seminars on our Academic Online Courses, we believe that your engagement with the work is critical in helping you to advance your knowledge.
So, there we have it: twelve study motivation tips to help you when learning from home.
Make a note of all the techniques which seem appealing to you and keep them near your study space for days when you’re lacking motivation and need to spruce up your session.
Remember, studying can be challenging, and learning from home can certainly take you out of your comfort zone. However, when you reach your goals or hold your final exam grades in your hands, you’ll get a great sense of achievement and satisfaction. Focus on the outcome and you’ll find it far easier to get there.
Sometimes, finding the right online learning platform can be all the motivation you need to keep on-track to reach your academic goals.
Whether it’s participating in one-on-one Tutorials to learn content that’s specific to your interests and weaker knowledge spots, or joining a small-group learning community with a 2-week Academic Online Course, we have a variety of online learning programmes to help you reach your goals.
Contact our admissions team to find out more about the online learning programmes we have available.
Alternatively, you can apply now to start your learning journey today.