How to Study when you have Zero Motivation

Happy Monday.... I am driving the struggle bus today. It's that point in the semester... the end is so near you can taste it and yet a few weeks of non-stop studying and exams stand between you and freedom. It's the time when procrastination is at an all-time high, all you want to do is be outside in the sunshine and spending any extra hours in the law school sounds like torture. But, as much as it sucks, it is the time to buckle down and study your little heart out and get the grades you want. Here are my tips for finding the motivation to study when you have none.

1. Remove Distractions
The best way for me to remove and avoid distractions is to 1) put my phone in another room, 2) let it die or 3) make my husband play keep away with it and not let me have it. As soon as I am no longer looking at it, hearing it vibrate, etc, it is much easier to put my mind to the task at hand and ignore the temptation that is my iPhone.

2. Schedule
I do best when I have my time organized and allotted. This means to-do lists and study schedules are my lifelines when my motivation wanes. This way, completing just one thing and crossing it off the list or studying for the full 30 allotted minutes, makes me feel like I have accomplished something and that makes me more motivated to keep going. It also keeps me from just puttering around knowing I have 101 things to do but unable to decide on what to start. I just consult my list or schedule and get going.

3. Change Up Locations
I may be the only one but I just cannot sit in the same place for hours and hours and remain motivated. Even if I just stay in my house, I move around- I might start at my desk, move to the couch, then spend an hour on the porch and finish at the kitchen table. Changing my location and getting set back up seems to "reset" my mind and make me motivated to get back to work. Other ideas of study locations beyond your house: the school library, coffee shops, Panera, quiet deli's, a local park on a nice day or public libraries. It is easy to get bored and stagnant when you are in the same place for too long so try to change it up and see if that helps you get back on track when you are struggling to stay motivated.

4. Pomodoro
I am obsessed with the Pomodoro study method. It makes me SO much more productive. Basically, you can download an app on your phone or use this website to track your time- 25 minutes of intensive studying followed by 5 minutes of relaxing. This cycle repeats several times and then you get a 30-minute break. I find that this regimen helps to keep me focused for the 25 minutes because I know if I just wait for the bell, I can have 5 guilt-free minutes of Instagram or Pinterest. This helps me to avoid the write one sentence, take a 10-minute Facebook break scenario that I can fall into without using Pomodoro. It is also scientifically proven that the brain is most active in 25 minute increments and that is the best time for intensive studying for optimum retention.

5. Balance/Rewards
If you just study all the time with no balance and never reward yourself, you will run out of motivation very quickly. It may sound good in theory to work non-stop but in application, it sucks. I try to balance my time between study and relaxation to stay motivated and happy. I make little deals with myself- If I finish the essay by 5pm, I will stop and get a donut on the way home or if I have all my outlines updated by Sunday at 8, I will chill and watch my favorite show for the night. Also, I take a study break and cook dinner almost every night while watching reruns of The Office. It is a perfect mental break and I get in some laughs while doing something I enjoy. I try to make some time to spend with my husband each night and when I start to get really burnt out; I stop studying and do something to try to bring the balance back. Studying 24/7 may get you good grades but it will not help your mental well being and you may end up miserable and less productive. Balance is key!

6. Peer Pressure
I know that is not the best label but hear me out: I like to study in groups because being surrounded by academic studying makes me more apt to get on board and get my own stuff done. Also, the middle schooler in me doesn't want to be the person that people are thinking about like "wow she is being really lazy" or "she should really be studying". Even though it is all in my head and most people could care less what I am spending my time doing, putting myself in a group study environment helps to keep me accountable and on task... no matter how ridiculous my reasoning may be, it works for me.

7. Make it Fun
If you can put some fun into your study routine, it will make it a bit easier. I personally use colored pens and pretty materials because it makes it more fun to me. I also make ridiculous acronyms and sayings to remember stuff. Whatever little things you can do to stay smiling and maybe laugh a bit while studying will make it all that easier to stay motivated.

8. Be comfortable but not too comfortable
I like to dress comfy when I study but I try to not get so comfy that I am ready to just take a nap. This is why I avoid studying in bed or in my pajamas. I try to dress reasonably nice (leggings and a cute shirt and flip-flops usually) and do my hair and makeup because then I feel put together and that helps me to be motivated. Also, make sure the environment isn't too comfy so you can't take a nap or want to just sit there scrolling through social media. There is a happy medium between comfort and laziness so find where that line is for you.

9. Environment
I have discussed bits and pieces but here is what I look for in a study environment: natural light, warm tones, a touch on the cool side and some soft noise. I need good light to see well, a warm-toned environment makes me happy, when it's too warm I get sleepy and I can't study in pure silence. I love studying in coffee shops or libraries. If I don't like the noise around me, I turn on Pandora with movie scores; it is uplifting and calming and the lack of lyrics keeps me from being distracted. Whatever environment makes you feel best and motivated is where you should do the bulk of your studying.

It can be SO hard to find motivation as the semester winds down but you just have to. Just grind through it and do what you have to do. Eventually, summer will arrive and be blissfully free of schoolwork for a few months. I hope this helps you find some motivation!


  1. Girl, I needed this today! With a week off of school to study for finals, I am not feeling the motivation. These are some great tips to get me back on track. Good luck with finals :)

  2. I certainly needed this today, I'm having such a hard time studying right now because I hate the subject I'm trying to learn. I will certainly try out these methods!

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  5. great content. i will have to educate my readers on this topic