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Frightening February: How to stay motivated as 2014 advances

By Alex Valeri, 3rd-year English student

It is officially February! The end of January usually signifies a couple of exciting things on the horizon such as Valentine’s Day (which basically just means binge chocolate eating), Reading Week (an opportunity to spend time with family, friends and your favourite textbooks) and finally, a lot less New Year’s Resolutioners in the gym and in your classes. For me, February is definitely the “burn out” month. Readings are starting to pile up, due dates on assignments are quickly approaching, and the winter is dragging on, depriving students of much-needed sun and Vitamin D. Reading Week can’t come soon enough.

With this busy month ahead, how do you stay motivated and keep working hard even when you feel like jumping on the next plane out of here—preferably to somewhere with a beach? The following is a list of ways to keep pushing through the February grind:

1)      Make new New Year’s Resolutions:  Don’t be afraid to adjust your January goals based on how things have been going the past month. For instance, maybe you need to put aside more time for readings or set a new goal that ensures you get you 7-9 hours of sleep if that’s something you haven’t been doing. However, don’t be daunted by some of your larger goals—it’s still early days! There’s lots of time in 2014 still left!

2)       Use a weekly schedule/day planner/ to do list: If you don’t already use an agenda, schedule or to do list and need help with focus or time management, then get in the habit of using one of these great options! Writing down what you need to do not only allows you to visualize the work ahead of you but also enables you to make the best use of your time. You can schedule in time for your readings, your assignments, your activities, etc. Plus, checking off things when you’re done feels amazing!

3)      Take breaks: It is essential to take breaks when you’re studying or working on that 15 page essay! Taking breaks not only functions as a reward for work done, but also gives you time to clear your head and time for the information to move into your long term memory. Use the 50/10 rule (50 minutes of studying with 10 minute breaks) or the 9-5 work day (only doing school work between the hours of 9-5 to maximize daylight hours) in order to ensure you are taking the appropriate amount of time off!

4)      Give yourself a reward: Cake from CoGro, watching an episode of The Bachelor, having a dance party to One Direction in your room—these are just some examples of ways to reward yourself when you’ve completed an assignment or aced that exam you were studying for.  Knowing you have a reward coming your way while studying provides extra motivation to push through and keep working. Then, when you finally achieve that reward, it makes you feel pretty proud of yourself!

5)      Listen to music or litter your room with inspirational quotes: This is one of my personal tips that has worked really well for me in the past. Sometimes when I am working on an essay or studying for an exam, it’s helpful to have little reminders that what I’m doing is worthwhile. Sticking post-its with motivational quotes all over my room or on my fridge helps keep me focused and inspired. Listening to a pump up song (for example Eminem’s Lose Yourself) before starting an essay helps me feel energized and excited to ‘lose myself’ in my work.  Classical music or music without lyrics can actually help with your memory, too. Try Songza’s playlists for studying!

Overall, don’t let February get you down! Each month is a blank slate, a chance for you to start fresh if maybe you have been slacking on your goals and not doing as well as you hoped. With summer around the corner, now is the time to figuratively pull up your socks and remain committed to your academic success. Staying motivated and continuing to work hard will pay off in the end and make you feel like you have really accomplished something in the New Year.

Photo courtesy of Jarek Zok under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license.