How to motivate yourself to do college work at home

Working or studying at home can be challenging, but there are some things that can help you stay motivated

Written by spunout


This article was developed in partnership with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

Many college courses will now be taught through ‘blended learning’, which means there will be a mixture of online classes off campus and face to face classes on campus. It will take time for you to get used to this new style of learning and adjust to spending a larger portion of your college experience at home.

Many students struggle with their motivation when they’re trying to work from home. Without the structure and routine of lectures, and the experience of being on campus surrounded by other students, it can be difficult to stay focused. If you find yourself procrastinating, you’re not alone. There are things you can try that can help you to get your work done.

Tips for staying motivated

Here are some things you might find useful to keep motivated.

Remind yourself of your goals

Sometimes we can struggle to find motivation because what we are working towards might be unclear or too far in the future for it to motivate us. It can help to think about the reasons why you are studying, what you enjoy about the course, what you want to get out of it and the experiences or accomplishments you would like to have along the way. Writing these motivators down and keeping them somewhere you can see them could be useful. Making a vision board or even displaying different post-its in your study space can be a creative way to keep your motivations in mind.

Create a virtual study space

One of the reasons people may find working or studying from home is that they are not around and can’t physically see other people who are in the same situation as them. Setting up an online study space with friends or people from your course could be a good way to check in and support each other while studying. You could do this outside of your virtual learning environment (VLE) for college over zoom or other social media platforms to make it feel a bit more social. It also creates a sense of connection, shared experience and you can ask each other about any issues that may be coming up for you in your coursework. It can help with your motivation to know that other people are working alongside you.

Have a schedule that includes breaks

Creating a study plan or schedule can help to add some structure to your day. Make sure to slot in the times or dates where you have face to face classes on campus. On the days where you have online classes at home, it can help to plan out your day to fit in meals, breaks and any other responsibilities you may have that day. This can be useful in keeping you on track as you know what you need to focus on.

Stay connected with other people

Making friends and meeting new people is a big part of the college experience and can help you feel more connected to college life. It can help with motivation to get college work done in an allocated time when you know you have other social commitments planned during the week. It’s also a good idea to keep in contact with college staff and lecturers to stay engaged with your coursework.

Step away from your phone

Our phones can be a distraction, especially when we are struggling to get motivated. Leaving your phone in a different room while you are doing college work might be helpful. There are also some apps you can download to help minimise phone use or mute notifications which can be distracting and allow us to procrastinate our work further. A timeout from your phone during certain times of the day can help you be more productive. Check out the app store on your phone to find an option that will suit you best.

Give yourself time to adjust

As with the start of any college term, or starting college if you are in first year, it will take time to get used to a new timetable, new topics and the addition of new ways of learning online. Give yourself time to become familiar with this new routine. If you do feel like you are struggling to stay motivated over time it’s important and ask for help when you need it. Your Students’ Union can also be a good point of contact for tips, advice and guidance on college life. You can also check out the mental health and wellbeing supports available to college students.

Feeling overwhelmed or anxious?

If you feel overwhelmed by the current situation and need someone to talk to, our anonymous, 24 hour text line is always open. You’re worth talking about and we’re here to listen and support you.

Need more information, advice or guidance?

We offer information, advice and guidance about the issues that matter to you. Our online Youth Information Chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm (excluding Bank Holidays).

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