Thursday, November 17, 2011

Staying Motivated

Students are really tired at this point in the semester.  If they have stayed on top of things, they will be able to have more down time during the Thanksgiving holidays.  That should help to recharge their batteries.  If they are behind, they should still get some rest during the break; but they will need to study as well.

Here are some things to consider to keep yourself motivated during the remainder of the semester and through exams:

  • If your law school reading and exam periods begin after only one week of classes post-Thanksgiving, consider doing all of your reading for the last week over the Thanksgiving break.  Then review before class for 30 - 45 minutes to refresh your memory.  Not having to read the last week of classes will give you lots of exam review time - a motivator in itself.
  • Set realistic goals for each week for exam study.  What subtopics or topics can you intensely review for each exam course?  How many practice questions can you complete?  If you set unrealistic goals, you will de-motivate yourself; you will become discouraged when it becomes obvious that you will not meet the goals.
  • For each exam course, make a list of topics and subtopics that you must learn before the final exam.  By focusing on subtopics, it will make the list very long.  However, it is easier to find time to study one or two subtopics than to find time for an entire topic.  You will feel less overwhelmed because you can make progress in small increments.  Also, you will be able to cross off subtopics more quickly than entire topics.  Thus, you will see your progress more easily and stay motivated.
  • Read each of your outlines through from cover to cover each week for each exam course.  This reading is not to learn everything - that is what you will do in intense review of the topics or subtopics.  Instead this additional outline reading is to keep all of the information fresh no matter how long it has been since you intensely reviewed a topic or will be before you will get to intense review for some topics.  You will feel better about your exam review as you catch yourself saying "I know this mataerial" or "I remember all of this information" about prior topics that you studied.  You will motivate yourself for future topics waiting for intense review by realizing "I'll be able to learn this" or "I remember some of this already even though I haven't studied it carefully."
  • Take your breaks strategically.  Sprinkle short 5-minute breaks into longer 3- or 4-hour study blocks.  Get up and walk arouond or stretch on those breaks rather than sitting still.  After a large block of study time, take a longer break to exercise or eat a meal.  Use the breaks as rewards for sticking to your task until you have completed what you planned to finish. 
  • Surround yourself with encouragers.  Avoid classmates who are all doom and gloom.  Have phone conversations with family and friends who will cheer you on and support you.  Find classmates who are willing to work together to keep all of you in the support group motivated and on track.
  • Plan several fun things that you want to do over the semester break: taking a day trip with friends, going to the cinema several times, attending a concert, playing basketball with a younger sibling, shopping for new clothes.  By having things to look forward to, you can tell yourself "I just need to keep up the hard work for a few more weeks and then I get to do (fill in the blank) as a reward."

Think about individual strategies that work for you to stay motivated but might not apply to a classmate.  Examples of motivators for getting your work done might be: time with your spouse, time with your child, time with your pet, spiritual devotion time, time for a longer run on the weekend.  (Amy Jarmon)   
    

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