While I was studying for the master’s admission exam, I spent a lot of time reading blogs and books about how to stay motivated (i.e. an excuse for procrastination). Some came in the form of encouraging uplifting words and others as a rude awakening. I am a huge fan of motivational speaker and writer, Xandria Ooi. In one of her videos (here), she spoke about how feeling “motivated” is a temporary emotional feeling, and that it is difficult to “act” and get things done if we’re always waiting for that temporary “feeling” to come around to save us.
Everyone has different perspectives on how to stay on track. It’s hard not to be affected by some people’s effortless way of making success look so easy. But the truth is, the journey to achieving your goals is a bumpy, exhausting, mountain terrain-like route. There were times when I felt so frustrated and unmotivated every time I got an “easy” level question wrong, even after six months of studying the material. I suffered from serious cases of FOMO when I watched Insta-stories of friends eating out at the newest places, going on vacation or hitting the clubs and bars on a Friday night. Meanwhile, I was sitting in my room, admiring the summer sunshine cascading from the window, with three giant phone-book thick textbooks about grammar rules and algebra in front of me (sigh).
Add in balancing a full-time job, work deadlines and paying for student loans and a mortgage; the thought of studying was the last thing on my mind. After months of trial and error, repeatedly failing and picking myself up, I found ways to make getting tasks done a bit easier and more enjoyable. Here are some tips that helped me stay motivated and keep me on track.
1. Make a schedule
I have three types of planners that I cross reference daily to keep me on track.
Monthly Planner – This is the basic monthly calendar on a smartphone or agenda. I would put mine on Google Drive so I can easily edit and move things around. This is where I’d make a list of goals and tasks I’d like to accomplish during the month, and I’d realistically schedule it week by week.
Daily Planner – I’m an old school type of girl so I always carry an agenda with me. This is where I’d take the list of weekly goals and break it down into day by day tasks. I also like to reserve 1-2 buffer days in the week just in case something comes up and the day doesn’t go as planned. This way, I could use the “buffer” day to catch up on incomplete tasks.
Hourly Planner – This planner breaks the day into an hour by hour planning schedule. I record commute times to and from work, meal times, work time and free time. This ensures that I get tasks done sometime within the day. This planner can be very restricting, so it’s important to be somewhat flexible!
2. Make the experience pleasant
It is NOT fun studying on a Friday night during the summer. Plain and simple! But, I had to find ways to make the studying experience more pleasant. I’d do little things like drink coffee out of a cute mug, wear cute comfortable PJ’s, turn on an oil diffuser or set up a clean work/study area to get work done. All these things put together made me feel like a well-equipped Elle Woods inspired young professional ready to pursue my goals! As lame or weird as that sounds, it worked (I probably watched Legally Blonde 25+ times for inspiration).
3. Surround yourself with like-minded people
I always see inspirational quotes with sayings like “you are who your friends are” or “surround yourself with like-minded people”. I never really understood that quote because we’re all different people with different goals. However, while studying, I noticed that it made a difference. All my close girlfriends were going back to school in September or landed their dream jobs and I was so overjoyed for them and their accomplishments. It was also a reminder for me to get off my butt and to continue to push towards my own goals. It helps to surround yourself with people who encourage and remind you to continually work towards your goals.
4. Remind yourself of the WHY’s
This will make you sound like a broken record. I am aware of how annoying I must have sounded to my boyfriend or family about all the why’s. This was pivotal during those weekend nights at 2am when I’d be losing focus or just spent the last 20 minutes on Facebook. I had to keep repeating to myself why it was so important to stay focused. It’d be reasons like “I’m so close to finishing this chapter, once I do, I’ll feel so good!” or “If I don’t finish this now, I’ll have even more to read on the buffer day”. Keep pushing yourself and reminding yourself about why it’ll be worth it in the end.
5. Think of the consequences
This part also ties in with point 4. I would remind myself about both the why’s and the consequences. Thoughts such as “if I don’t study now, I may not be considered for that managerial promotion” or “would I be happy with myself if I don’t achieve this goal?”. Essentially, it’s important to be in the right mindset to continually work towards your goals.
Although the above may seem to apply more to professional or academic endeavors, it could also apply to personal ones as well. Lately, I’ve been trying to improve my health and self-care. Although my blog may make it seem like I’m always presentable, I’ve actually fallen off the wagon during the time I was studying and working (built some bad and lazy self care habits!). Hopefully I go back to feeling like my old self soon!
In an effort to squeeze out any opportunity to wear summer clothes as the warm weather starts to fade, I whipped out this flattering waist tie off the shoulder dress. I love how flattering and feminine the details of the dress are (can you believe this is from Forever21 for $30?!). I added subtle strappy silver heels for a metallic touch and the Louis Vuitton Damier Azur Speedy 25 matched the color palette of the ensemble perfectly.
I hope some of these tips are useful in your own successful journey! I’d love to hear about tips and tricks you use to keep on track and get tasks done in the comments below.
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Dress – FOREVER 21 (sold out) – similar
Sandals – FOREVER 21
Purse – LOUIS VUITTON Speedy 25 Damier Ebene Azur
Bracelet – TIFFANY & CO