BY JACK GOLDINGHAM NEWSOM
We all know the feeling of apathy when we think about studying sometimes – it just doesn’t feel like the right time to study, there are other things on our minds, and the deadline is looming. I’d like to take a little look into this phenomenon, and then tell you some useful ways to make the most of your time and get the study done that you need to.
Why exactly do we have that ‘I can’t be bothered’ feeling? Why do we decide that now isn’t the right time, thinking that later would be better? The mind works largely based on small hits of dopamine; things that take little time and have high rewards – like posting a photo on Facebook. If we’re realistic about study, it takes time, it’s not very fast paced, and it doesn’t give us instant rewards. The reason why we study is so that we can do well on exams (for most of us, anyway), and then achieve the goals or plans that we have later on. It’s not an instant surge of dopamine and reward, but a long-term thing that takes time and effort.
It can be difficult to look for the long-term rewards and work towards them when there are things that mean more to you now. The best advice I’ve heard about how to focus on the long-term rewards is that you have to recognise that your future is your own. The choices that you make for your future really do matter, and you can actually do the things you love every day for the rest of your life if you decide to make that happen. School and exams may not seem like they’re meaningful or important right now, but they are important for achieving the goals that you will set later on. Having a wide range of knowledge and abilities really does help you in everyday life, and developing skills now means that you have them later on when you need them.
So, here’s the thing: when you realise the value that your education has, you’ll be able to get over this ‘I can’t be bothered’ feeling and get started on what you need to do. Once there is meaning in the study process and you can see the goal at the end, then motivating yourself to do things will be much easier. The actual meaning of your studies is entirely up to you – which is the magic of this, because you can decide what you want to do with your life, then figure out how the skills you’re learning at the moment will help you out along the journey.
Kickstart your study with these motivation tips:
- Try using the ‘Pomodoro’ technique: 20 minutes focused study, and then take a 5 minute break. At the beginning you’ll look forward to the break, and get your dopamine hit, but very quickly you’ll be able to work for 30 minutes or more, and then take your break.
- There’s so many apps you can use to aid your study. For example, Quizlet, Memrise, and others turn study into a game with flashcards and points-based goals, putting more fun into your study.
- Use one of the many browser extensions or apps such as SelfControl or StayFocused which block distracting websites for a set amount of time. That way you can avoid the short-term dopamine and focus on creating the life you’d love!
Jack Goldingham Newsom is the founder of Thynke, and helps students exceed what they thought possible. If you’re looking for a great guide to help you achieve well in your exams this year, then check out the Thynke Guide to Studying at www.thynkehub.com/studying