Studying for a postgraduate degree of any kind and in any field can be a challenge. Aside from the academic work itself, you also need to have good study skills and an uncanny ability to avoid procrastination – a lot of which ultimately comes down to motivation! If you’re highly motivated to complete your studies, it will be much easier to push through the tricky patches and keep up the hard work until you successfully pass your course.
Of course, the motivation to study comes easily to a lucky few, but most people need a little assistance with it from time to time. To help you out, this article outlines several of the most effective tactics you can use to ensure you stay motivated from enrolment all the way through to graduation!
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One method that can help you when you’re finding it difficult to start studying is setting some goals. Naturally, your main goal is going to be something along the lines of ‘pass my master’s course’ – but this alone isn’t very useful and can actually be intimidating. As such, it’s best to break it down into more manageable mini-goals to achieve along the way – and then break those down too. For instance, your next goal might be ‘pass my political philosophy module,’ and you can continue chopping this down into even smaller daily goals, such as finishing a particular journal article or reading a chapter of your textbook. Whatever the aim is, just make sure that all your goals are clear, measurable, and realistic.
Having these smaller goals to aim for also gives you a more definite sense of progress as you tick all of your individual achievements off your list on the way to graduation. You’ll be able to see exactly how far you’ve come and what you still have left to do, which in itself can be hugely motivating since you have proof that what you’re doing is working – and that achieving your ultimate goal of graduating with a postgrad qualification is a genuine possibility.
Being too strict on yourself can be counterproductive, so feel free to grant yourself a reward every now and again when you reach a milestone or tick off one of your mini-goals. It doesn’t have to be anything special; it might simply be enjoying a sweet treat when you finish reading a chapter or letting yourself watch an episode of your current favorite show on Netflix when you write a certain number of words for your essay.
Rewarding yourself in this way can be a great method of staying on track and motivating yourself to achieve your next win. Just try not to choose rewards that might be detrimental to attaining your next goal – like having a whole day off to play video games or going out to party too often!
Although often dismissed, visualization can actually be quite a powerful tool when it comes to staying motivated. One technique is to picture yourself in a situation where you have achieved your goal of graduating with a postgrad degree. For instance, if you’re doing a masters in education, you might imagine yourself holding that diploma on the stage at your graduation ceremony or working your dream job in your chosen educational setting.
Also, an especially creative idea is to make a vision board covered in images that represent the various goals you have that are related to your studies. This could be either a physical board with your own drawings and pictures cut out of magazines or a virtual one made using digital software. Every time you feel your motivation slipping and tempted to watch a movie rather than study, take a look at your vision board – you’ll soon find yourself cracking open that textbook!
All work and no play make for a dull day. No one can work solidly for the entire time they are at college – and you shouldn’t attempt to either; it’s is a surefire way to burn out before you even get started on your dissertation. Instead, schedule regular breaks during your study sessions to clear your head, refresh your thinking, and come back to your reading or essay with a new perspective. If the weather is good, try going for a short walk – ideally in a natural environment like a park or area of woodland. Fresh air, exercise, and sunlight will all do wonders for your mood, and you’re sure to feel more motivated to study when you return.
Another popular work-and-break method is the Pomodoro Technique, which involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and working solidly until it goes off. Then, you take a five-minute break and repeat the process. This tactic can be an effective tool for helping you knuckle down and get on with studying because the countdown instills a sense of urgency – plus, you know that you have a break coming up soon.
Doing a postgraduate degree can often feel like a solitary activity, especially when you’re hunched over a pile of books in the library or spending hours typing away on your laptop. However, this kind of isolation can be demotivating. To help, try getting some fellow students together and form a study group – they don’t all have to be on the same course as you, although this can make it more beneficial.
Overall, studying together is effective for several reasons. You can work together to ensure you all understand the material fully, swap advice, check each other’s essays, and keep one another motivated. You’re sure to work harder if you have others around you who will be able to tell if you’re slacking off, too! If you’re enrolled in a distance learning course, try studying in a coffee shop for a while to enjoy similar benefits.
At the end of the day, staying motivated all comes down to you. When it feels as though the work is getting tough, remind yourself why you signed up for a postgraduate degree in the first place. After all, you are here by choice!
Spend some time thinking about all the benefits you’re going to enjoy both during the remainder of the course and afterward and what you intend to do with your qualification once you’ve graduated. This can often be a powerful way to motivate yourself to keep pushing, study harder, and give your degree program everything you’ve got.
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