Motivation and focus



Motivation is something many of us can struggle with at the best of times. We recognise that this may be exacerbated during difficult times, whether that be motivation to revise, exercise or complete wellbeing activities.

There are three important factors when it comes to motivation, click through each to find out more:

This goal planner can help develop a sense of purpose and meaning. We might have an overarching goal we want to reach, but it seems unachievable or too much work. This resource will help us break our goals down and think about how we can make them attainable, working towards goals rather than away from them, as well as recognising the barriers we might have to reaching our goals. 

Procrastination is a barrier to this and is likely to occur when we feel that we don’t value an activity, have concerns about our own competency, or don’t expect the action to result in a desired outcome. We put the task aside in order to immediately feel better, but this can create more stress as it will always be in the back of our mind. My Learning Essentials have some great online resources related to overcoming procrastination to equip us with the tools we need to conquer this obstacle.

Recognise that externally-set tasks are naturally less motivating, but it can help to think of the rationale behind these tasks. Thinking about why you’re doing something, and the bigger picture of the end result can be really motivating. Another good tip is to make the goal or task a part of your identity and think about viewing yourself as a student/runner, for example, rather than thinking ‘I have to study/go running’.

It can help to talk with others who are going through a similar thing to spur each other on, like course mates, or with someone you know can provide you with some encouragement, like your lecturer/friends/family. This can be very important for overall wellbeing by creating a sense of belonging.

General tips to aid motivation:

Routine and structure: by writing our plans down, we are more likely to commit to them and have a sense of achievement when we have completed them. Our daily and weekly planners can aid motivation by creating routine and structure. The monthly calendar can complement them by providing lots of wellbeing tips and ideas for inspiration.

Food: feeling hungry or lethargic will increase the inability to concentrate or focus properly which can result in not feeling motivated to accomplish anything. Focus on eating healthy meals but also remember to treat yourself as a reward. Make sure you keep hydrated too! Check out our Be Healthy page for more inspiration.

Sleep: try to keep to a regular sleep pattern to help productivity and make you feel more alert throughout the day. Set a pattern that works for you, for example if you are more productive in the morning or in the afternoon create a routine that works around that. Maximising our sleep quality will help to boost our concentration. Try to set a bedtime routine that helps you to unwind before sleeping (e.g. switch your phone off 30 mins before sleeping). This page is full of tips you can try!

Self-care: scheduling in something that makes you feel good about yourself in your day can help you avoid becoming overwhelmed. Try to be self-aware of how you are feeling and set manageable tasks to correspond with this. Check out the six ways to wellbeing for some self-care inspiration.

Focus and concentration 

With so much to contend with right now we're bound to feel overwhelmed and lose focus.

We've identified two of the ways our concentration might be most affected right now, click through the one(s) most relevant to you.

We might be finding it hard to concentrate because we’re experiencing challenging thoughts or emotions (e.g. anxiousness).

If this is the case for you, try out the three steps on page one of this infographic to help refocus your attention.

Another reason for losing focus might be distractions in our home environment.

It’s normal for us to get wrapped up in what’s happening around us but to give yourself the best chance of concentrating well, try to answer the questions listed in page 2 of this resource.

Other ways to improve our focus:

Mindfulness can help us to become less critical of ourselves when we're finding things hard and losing focus. Mindfulness meditation is a great tool to help us to focus on the present moment. By practicing the mental action of noticing when our mind wanders and bringing our attention back to the present, we can start to gently direct our focus and notice improvements over time. You might like to try some of the online mindfulness workshops run by the University's counselling service. 

Physical activity can help to improve our concentration during the day. It doesn't have to be a long workout - a short walk in the middle of the day is enough to boost our focus.

Maximising our sleep quality will help to boost our concentration. Try to set a bedtime routine that helps you to unwind before sleeping (e.g. switch your phone off 30 mins before sleeping).

Check out these videos for more tips

Tips for staying motivated

Tips for staying focussed 

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