A Graduate Student’s Guide to Staying Motivated

Whether you are a recent graduate or are re-entering the educational space, we all know that the most work is completed when you are motivated. In this demanding world that we live in, staying motivated can be extremely difficult to manage on a daily basis. Thankfully, I have found a few tips that have helped me along the way.

Stay Organized

Depending on your background, this can be the hardest or easiest thing you’ve ever done. Keeping your Google Calendar updated, reviewing your task list frequently, and having a system for your notes are just a few suggestions that will make a world of difference. While pursuing past degrees, you may have been able to get away with not doing this, but it is essential to stay ahead in this accelerated program. You will have meetings with multiple people in addition to having classes to attend, and this fills up a schedule quicker than you think. Assigning time for working on your assignments and prioritizing self-care can seem tedious, but it is actually very necessary.

Complete at Least One Task Per Day

If you’re like me, you find some sort of satisfaction in checking an item off your to-do list. The best way to continue that feeling is to complete at least one task daily, whether it’s a task you’ve been working on for a while or a simple task that only takes a few minutes. There will be days when you will not feel up to tackling a huge task. So, doing something small, like studying for 30 minutes, will benefit you now (in terms of feeling productive) and later (in terms of understanding the material better). 

Set Achievable Goals

Make sure you set goals and stick to them. Having achievable goals in mind throughout the course of your program can help track your progress and make you want to achieve even more. If you happen to cross off everything, create more goals to get you through the end of the program. Having more short-term goals than long-term goals is an important key at the IAA.

Reward Yourself

Having a system to reward yourself when you achieve something is an amazing thing for your mental health. Whether you got through a tough week or you finished a huge project, you deserve a nice reward. Make sure you do this consistently: monthly, weekly, daily – whatever works best for you and your schedule. My practicum team engages in monthly activities together, with the most recent being a slime night, pictured below.

Five students at a table making slime

Remember Your “Why”

Surely, you signed up for what you’re doing for a reason. Keep that in mind as you go through the program. At the end of it all, you’ll have your degree and tons of knowledge and experience to accompany it. Each day, week, and month that passes is just the next step to getting there. Return to those ideas and that drive so you can become the person you want to be after the program is complete. 

I hope that you use these tips to help you succeed throughout the program. Remember to give yourself some grace when things get hard and to trust the process!

Columnist: Omry Brewster