How to find the motivation to study

Finding the motivation to study

Often, the hardest thing about study is finding the motivation to get started.

It can be difficult to rally yourself to get an assignment done, or even turn up to class.

This doesn’t need to be the case. There are solutions to finding the motivation to study at university and maintain your focus.

Here are a few tips.

Two students motivating each other to study.

Remember your ‘why’

When you’re lacking the motivation to study, it helps to remember why you’re undertaking the degree or course in the first place.

Ask yourself:

  • Why did this type of study initially interest you?
  • What do you most enjoy about it?
  • What do you hope to achieve when you finish?

Being able to articulate your ‘why’ will help you set long-term goals. It’s one of the most powerful motivators, when you don’t feel like studying.

One key tip is to imagine your life in the future, once you’ve finished your study. Picture how your qualification will help you succeed.

Come back to this image whenever you’re lacking in study motivation.

VU's Learning Hubs have study essentials for first-time students, including advice on time management.

You can find Learning Hub spaces at every campus and a range of digital services and resources online.

I never feel motivated to study. Is this normal?

It's very normal to not feel motivated to study. It can be hard work and may initially not seem fun at all.

It doesn’t help that there are so many distractions surrounding us. We’d rather be scrolling through our phones, watching TV, spending time with friends – sometimes doing anything else, rather than study!

It is possible to kick yourself into gear and get the hard work done.

Try using the following tips and tricks to motivate yourself to study.

Set clear goals

Put together a list of goals that motivate you. These can be small goals or big goals – it’s good to have a mix of both.

Have an essay that you need to get done for an assignment? Rather than having ‘write the essay’ as a goal, break it down into smaller chunks.

Your goal for the day might be to select readings you want to reference. Then the next time you sit down for study, your task could be to pull key points out of the readings.

Bit by bit, you’ll get the essay complete.

It may even be helpful to set up a vision board, so you have something to look to when you’re lacking motivation.

Need some other examples? Learn how VU students motivate themselves to achieve first year success.

How can I get motivated to study for exams?

This method is also helpful for exam planning.

Like an essay, you can break an exam down into smaller pieces. Setting a section to study for each session will make the overall exam seem a lot less daunting.

Under VU's Block Model, you'll be required to complete assessments for most subjects, rather than exams.

This is so you can receive early and ongoing feedback while studying a particular unit.


Student creating vision board showing study goals to drive motivation

Celebrate small study goals

Don’t save the rewards for the big goals. Celebrate completing your smaller study goals too, to help maintain motivation.

Some ideas are to:

  • reward an hour of study with a group class or workout at a VU fitness centre
  • see a movie on the weekend if you complete your study goals for the week
  • schedule time with friends if you get an assessment done before the deadline.

You can also motivate yourself with larger goals, if it’s a method that works better for you.

Maybe you want to upgrade your computer or phone and decide to only do so if you get a good grade on an overall course.

Under the Block Model, you'll focus on one subject at a time and complete each unit within a four week 'block'.

This could be helpful in setting goals and easily motivate you to complete them, as you will have a clear and focused timetable to work within.

You will typically finish your block on a Friday and receive your results the following Monday.

You can move onto your next block with a sense of achievement and a reward for doing well, if you've smashed your goal for the course!

Whatever your end goal, you’ll find yourself far more motivated to study if you celebrate your achievements along the way.

Set up a study plan

A useful tool in a student’s arsenal is a study plan. This can help you stay accountable and give you a visual overview of your study workload.

You can tailor a plan that works for you around any work or social commitments.

Make a note of key exam and assessment dates, so you can prepare for them accordingly. Break down your study load from big, daunting tasks into smaller daily and weekly goals.

You’ll find shorter periods of study (around 20-30 minutes) will have a positive effect on motivation.

Learn more about how to create an effective study plan.

Avoid procrastination

Of course, a study plan is only useful if you’re going to stick to it!

Procrastination is the enemy of all students. Although it may feel good to allow yourself to get distracted in the moment, it may hurt you in the long run.

Your workload doesn’t get smaller, as you won’t be chipping away at it – it will only accumulate.

Procrastination can also harm you long-term. You end up wasting time that could be better spent working towards your end goal.

Avoid procrastination by limiting distractions:

  • hide your phone
  • leave it in another room
  • simply turn it off
  • install app blockers.

You can also block website access on your computer while you’re studying, to avoid temptation. Check out Freedom or FocusMe.

Our Block Model is helpful in avoiding procrastination. By focusing on one unit at a time, you’re able to stay motivated and engaged.

This method also allows you to balance your studies with other interests. Less time in class gives you more time to pursue hobbies, play sport or work.

When it comes time to study, you’ll have more focus and be able to concentrate on the task at hand.

At VU, you also have the option to slow-track your studies, if you 're going on holiday or just want to take a break.

Your studies can be paused for a block or two and you can return when you're feeling motivated to learn once more.

Create an encouraging study space

It’s not just about how you study. Where you study is equally as important.

Your study spot needs to be somewhere comfortable, where you can sit for prolonged hours without getting distracted.

You may find it best to study in a place that is naturally quiet, such as a library. Victoria University has seven libraries across its campuses. Check the opening hours calendar to find a time that works for you.

It could be helpful to mix up your study locations. Try studying in a cafe, or if the weather is nice, at a park. You may also like to work in one of VU’s student lounges.

If you prefer to study at home, make sure you create a space that is clean and organised. Make it your designated study space, so when you settle in, you know you’re there to get work done.

Student finding motivation to study in their own study space.

Fake it till you make it

Starting to study before you feel motivated can be difficult. However, the action of simply starting can lead to motivation, which then leads to more action.

Sometimes you just have to sit down and start studying, instead of waiting for motivation to kick in.

Scheduling in study is helpful in this way – it’s time you have specifically designated to spend on a particular pursuit.

Try breaking your study into tiny steps. Set yourself a deadline for when each step needs to be completed. Then, tell yourself you can have a reward once the task is complete.

Perhaps you need to write the opening paragraph of a report. Give yourself twenty minutes to do it. Tell yourself that when you’re done, you can spend ten minutes on social media (set a timer!), or have a favourite treat.

You may find that once you start the task, your motivation will kick in. You’ll get into the flow and find yourself wanting to spend more time on it.

Get lost in music

For some people, music can assist with studying. The sound of your favourite tunes (or classical music) can drown out distractions.

Put together a playlist of songs that motivates you to study. Make sure you choose music that aids in your study, rather than becoming intrusive.

Need some fresh tunes? Find out what's happening in VU's music community, where you can listen to some of the songs our students and staff are creating.

Try out the Pomodoro Technique

This technique is a good one to use when you need to study but lack motivation.

Simply put, you:

  • commit to 25 minutes of study
  • take a break for 5–10 minutes
  • repeat this four times
  • take a longer break.

By using this technique, you can begin to understand how long a task will take and organise your time around it. You can customise this method to suit you and your specific goals.

Knowing you’re sitting down to work with a longer break in sight might be the motivation you need to see your study through.

Using the Pomodoro Technique for study motivation

Find a study group or buddy

You may find you have more motivation to study when you have someone else to keep you accountable.

A study buddy or study group can be helpful, as you’re working with people who have similar goals.

You can quiz each other, discuss course content together and rally any members of the partnership or group who are feeling demotivated.

Read more about how to find a study buddy.

Two students work together at Nicholson Footscray campus.

Discover what motivates you to study

The hardest part of studying is simply getting started.

Once you are in the right headspace, you’ll find you’re engaged with your learning.

You’ll tick off goals big and small, which in turn, will motivate you further.

Try using any one of these techniques, when you’re lacking the motivation to study. You might even find a combination of strategies helps.

Experiment and see what works best for you.


Find out more

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