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Motivation Running On Empty? You're Not Alone.


Opening up your laptop and staring at a blank screen? Finding it hard to manage your time? The Student Wellbeing Service has been talking to hundreds of students over the past eight months about their overall wellbeing and a common concern for a large majority has been a lack of motivation and feeling overwhelmed with studying and deadlines. With this can bring stress and anxiety, making even the simplest of tasks seem unmanageable.


The pandemic has put restrictions on the way we live our lives. A move from face-to-face teaching to blended learning has for most, meant adapting to a working space in our own homes. And though this may have felt novel at first, long periods of working, eating and sleeping in the same environment can cause our brains to become weary and drained.


Whilst we wait for the ‘green light’ to allow us to go back to our normal lives, what can we do to boost our motivation and help manage our daily pressures - that neverending ‘to do’ list? Here are a few useful tips to help get you back on track:


Be kind to yourself


This year has been tough! As well as managing COVID related unforeseen personal struggles and changes in circumstances, the transition from ‘on campus’ university life to remote learning has been challenging. Don't underestimate the emotional toll this will have had on you. Be kind to yourself. Be self-compassionate and understanding of your current struggles, your feelings of underwhelm and demotivation.


Check your surroundings


Have a look around your working area right now. Is it tidy or chaotic? Do you have access to natural light? Are your papers and books organised or are they underneath last night's dinner plates? Your surroundings are the key to starting your day positively and productively. Position your laptop in front of or near a window if possible so you can benefit from the light and fresh air. A tidy room makes for a tidy mind, so spend some time sorting through your space. If you have finished with your studies, make a conscious effort to remove your laptop and books and put them away out of view until the next day. This allows for you to distinguish between study time and personal time.


Eliminate distractions


Do you Have a phone or other electronic device that constantly ping at you?! Turn it off or adjust the settings so you don't receive notifications every time someone sends you a message. Think about how many times you look at your phone whilst trying to complete a task. With that said, it's important to connect to others, even if it is through social media, but being boundaried and identifying times of the day dedicated to ‘catch up’ will help with your productivity long term.


Prioritise your to-do-list


Sometimes it can feel like we have a hundred jobs to complete and we are just spinning plates without actually moving forward with any of them. The trick to organising your thoughts is to compartmentalise. Write down all of the tasks you have to do and list them in order of priority. Do they all need actioning now? Can any wait? Writing things down is a really good way of removing muddled thoughts and putting them in order onto paper. This can help them feel more easily digestible and eliminate procrastination.


Make time for self-care


Nothing is going to move forward if you aren't looking after yourself. Though it may feel tempting to cram your studies hour after hour and through the night, this isn't going to be productive in the long term. Putting your brain under this amount of stress leads to burn out which may be why you feel so unmotivated. Our bodies are wonderful things and will tell us if we are neglecting our overall wellbeing. Headaches, muscle pain, insomnia to name a few. Make sure that you factor in self-care to your daily routine every single day. Whether that involves going for a walk, cooking, watching a film you enjoy. Close the laptop and let go of the guilt, your body will thank you for it.


Focus on your goals


We often set goals for ourselves without realising it. Walking that bit further, aiming for a certain grade, reading that book that has been gathering dust on your bookshelf. Perhaps set yourself a small goal every morning or something you would like to achieve by the end of the week to help you move forward. Goals are part of every aspect of life and provide a sense of direction, motivation, a clear focus, and clarify importance. By setting goals, you are providing yourself with a target to aim for. A SMART goal is used to help guide goal setting. SMART is an acronym that stands for:

Specific - Does it demonstrate clearly what you would like to achieve?

Measurable - How much? How many?

Achievable - Is it realistic under the circumstances? Don't set yourself up for failure!

Relevant - Does it seem worthwhile? Is it the right thing for you right now?

Time-bound - Set a time frame for when you would like to achieve that goal

A SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving your goal.


Acknowledge success


It can be easy to focus on negatives when we have not achieved what we set out to achieve. But do we acknowledge the times when we do achieve? However small, give yourself the credit you deserve. Small wins lead to big accomplishments, so make sure you are giving yourself rewards and acknowledgements when things are going right!


Need help? Ask


Nobody can help you if they don't know you are struggling. To some, asking for help can feel like a failure of their abilities, others are concerned they ‘don't want to bother’ others with their problems. Think of this journey you are on as a marathon. It comes with its peaks and troughs but what remains consistent, are our supporters on the sidelines cheering us on. This can come in the way of family, friends, peers and staff. If you have personal circumstances that are affecting your studies, reach out to your department and let them know. If you feel you need some support, access the Student Support Services who are on hand to help. In life, we all need a support network, make sure you invest in yours. Recognising when you need help and reaching out to others is not a weakness, in fact in a society where most people are reluctant to ask for help, reaching out is a sign of strength and confidence.



For further information about our service or to book an appointment with your Faculty Wellbeing Advisor click on the link below:

Student Wellbeing Service



Emily Vickers

Wellbeing Advisor - Faculty of Social Sciences


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