Queen's University Logo
IMPORTANT NOTICE Up-to-date COVID-19 information Click Here

Finding motivation

By Viki Lentini, 2nd-year Nursing student

Sometimes, being a student can be hard. When the profs pile on the assignments and all you’ve eaten in the past three days is instant ramen and PB&J, it can be hard to find the drive to do anything.

When this happens, it’s healthy to take a step back and ask yourself why you don’t feel motivated.

Sometimes, the answer to this question is boredom. At this point, take a minute to recall what your goal is. Personally, my goal is to be a travel nurse. I have a little drawing above my desk of me in scrubs looking at an ocean. I captioned it The Dream and added a quote:

What you do today can improve all your tomorrows. –Ralph Marston

This is usually enough to pull me through whatever reading or research assignment I had been dreading. If drawing yourself isn’t really your style, try just putting your goal in writing.

Another barrier to motivation can be feeling overwhelmed. For this, I’d recommend organizing what you have going on. One strategy I like is A Prioritized To-Do List using the Dump &Sift Method. Since that was a bit of a mouthful, I’ll break it down a little.

The Dump &Sift Method involves taking a piece of paper and writing absolutely everything you think you may have to do in the next two weeks. Then, go through and rate each item from 1-3 based on priority. 1’s are kind of urgent, and 3’s would be nice but aren’t absolutely necessary.

I make my To-Do lists a little differently. I take an 8 ½ by 11 and turn it into a chart, with a column for each day of the week. Each column acts as a To-Do list for that day. I like it because I can see that even if I don’t have a certain thing planned for today, I can see that I have planned to take care of it later in the week and that it isn’t forgotten.

A final challenge to motivation can be if you’re preoccupied with one of life’s curveballs. If it’s a minor thing like an irritating cold, I recommend breaking tasks into very small chunks with breaks taken between each session. The first session should be the one where you plan what each chunk of work should be.

If something major is affecting you like an illness or a personal loss, you should seek out the help of professionals. In my own experience I have found academic advisors and professors to be great resources. Not to scare you, but I would say it is actually essential to contact your profs. Looking at my own and my classmates’ experiences, I would say this can be the difference that enables you to still be successful.

Other resources include professional learning strategy consultations and, earlier in the semester, peer mentorship. I’ve been mentored twice and absolutely recommend it!

For more techniques to battle procrastination and feed your motivation, and for other learning strategies, please visit our online resources.

Good luck my friends!

Photo courtesy of Dominic Brygier under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.