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3 Tips for Getting Motivated and Staying Focused

During Study Time     

No one ever said, “studying is a laugh riot,” but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find ways to make the necessary evil, a little more productive and less taxing on the soul. The problems most of us face when studying generally include, becoming bored, distracted, and eventually tired. So the following tips offer strategies for getting and staying more focused during study sessions, and in turn, making them more enjoyable so that we will be able to get and stay more motivated to study our best, and retain what we learn for those upcoming exams!   

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The first way you can make study time a little more engaging is to change the routine up a little. Especially for kinesthetic learners, adding a little movement and hands-on activity is sure to help you or your student keep their head in the game. Do a little exercise before or between breaks to keep minds and bodies active. Some recent educators have even seen positive results with bringing motion activity into study time, such as using a stationary bike while reading, or a bungee cable under the table to work the leg muscles. 

Students are encouraged to carve out good study spots at home, but finding a handful of other locations is good to have in the wings for when you need a different environment, even if it’s just the back yard. School or public libraries, and local coffee shops, are great places to work in a relaxing atmosphere. These environments can be more stimulating for the mind, as the white noise promotes thoughtfulness and a sense ofsocial activity. This keeps us from feeling isolated and relegated to studying in a silent corner of our bedrooms. Sometimes, even the ambience of a place, with its new sights, sounds, and smells, can be novel sensations to keep the mind churning away.   

Another option is to put together a “Study Tunes” playlist of music that helps you think. It’s suggested that words without lyrics are best, as they are less distracting, such as classical music, techno, or movie and video game soundtracks. It may take a little time to find which music or specific songs your brain likes listening to while studying, but keep trying new ones so you can add to your playlist!   

Another suggestion is to change up study times. When possible, try to give yourself a night off, and try studying in the morning. Some students find that over time, they realize they are able to focus better at different times of the day. Some people focus best first thing in the morning, while others work best in the afternoon. Find what works best for you, and try to find ways to free that time up for your studies.   


Another way to keep yourself or your student engaged is to break things up, in order to tackle a long to-do list, or a lengthy project. Plan a couple 5 to 10-minute breaks into the study session for a bathroom break, a stretch, and a cold drink to break the monotony, and to refresh the mind and body.   

Another helpful suggestion is to assess how much and what kind of work needs to be done, and then plan how to break that work into manageable chunks, and how long to spend on each one. Take this to also organize your work so that you can easily rotate between tasks. So for instance, work on one subject or project for about an hour, take a 5-minute break, then rotate to another project for another hour. Then take a 10 to 15-minute break for a snack or short walk, then go back to finish off the first task. This kind of rotation helps keep the work from feeling tedious, and keeps the student from getting  distracted, or losing focus and motivation.   

HINT: When you begin a study session, make a list of what needs to be done, and then rank the tasks by priority, and time required. Then sort your work into piles so that you can quickly find  materials and rotate between tasks. This process cuts down on wasted time, and keeps you organized.   

Also, consider that even though long projects may not be due for another few weeks, breaking them into smaller tasks, and keeping on top of those steps, can keep a three-week project from turning into a night-before, all-night cram session. 


Finally, add a little flavor to your study nights by changing the way you study. An easy way to kickstart a study session is to prepare some healthy snacks to keep the mind and body refreshed, especially if study time happens to be a few hours before or after a meal-- this’ll help to stave off the munchies later and becoming a distraction.   

To revv up engagement and motivation make study time a more social activity. Form a study group with classmates before a test. Or, ask a parent or sibling to help quiz you on vocab words, or walk them through a step-by-step process.   

Another way to liven up studying is to make games with the information. Nowadays, there are many online applications, and mobile apps for studying, such as Quizlet or Mnemosyne, which can easily make flashcards for you to quiz yourself, and track your progress.   

A final way to keep yourself or your student motivated is to have a small reward for completing tasks, such as going out for a post-study session treat, or getting to watch a favorite TV show or movie with the family. Ideally, the student will feel intrinsically rewarded by feeling proud of themselves for learning and mastering a new concept, or by producing a quality project-- but a little extrinsic motivation doesn’t hurt!   

Studying isn’t the most exciting way to spend an evening or a weekend, but keep these tips in mind: Change It Up, Break It Up, and Spice It Up! You can read more about ways to increase attention span here. These tips can help make your study time more engaging, and keep you feeling more focused and motivated.   

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