Some people can destroy your motivation

10 tips for everyone who wants to learn - but cannot start

by Tim Reichel

Do you have so much to do too?

Then you're not alone. Many students have a full to-do list and should actually start studying. But they don't get going. They can't pull themselves together and instead of studying productively, they make excuses or prefer to watch the seventh iteration of a Simpsons episode.

In principle, they want to learn - but they don't succeed.

If starting is so difficult for you and you can't manage to overcome yourself to study, you will get help now. I have ten tried and tested tips for you that will ensure that you will be concentrated and motivated at your desk in no time at all.

Let's start with tip # 0: read on!


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These 10 tips will make it easier for you to get started

If you have already realized that you should actually learn and you are aware that the time invested will be worth it for you, you have already overcome the first major hurdle. Now all you have to do is overcome the annoying procrastination.

A few small tips are often enough to help you get started. Here are ten suggestions, each with an application example:


Tip # 1: get specific!

As long as you don't have a clear idea of ​​what your study session should look like, there is a high probability that you won't lift a finger. You have to be specific and think about what and how you want to learn in advance: What subject do you want to deal with? What content is on today? Do you rather learn facts by heart or do you practice your transfer skills?

Our brain hates surprises and likes clear, direct guidelines. Only when you have thought about your approach and know what to expect can you flip the switch in your head and switch to learning mode more easily.

Example: I will learn the definitions for Module X and then summarize the lecture slides 1-23.


Tip # 2: Throw your exaggerated expectations overboard!

High goals are good: They spur you on and ensure that you outgrow yourself. However, if your expectations of yourself are completely excessive and unrealistic, it will not get you any further. Expectations that are too high block you and destroy your motivation.

If you set yourself the goal of reading the entire book before studying or going through all of the exercises and understanding them down to the last detail, you are putting so much pressure on yourself that you won't even start. Therefore, say goodbye to your unrealistic expectations and set yourself meaningful goals.

Example: I will read the first chapter of the book and write down any open questions. Then I go through the first three exercises and get an overview.


Tip # 3: write down what you want to learn!

You have already got to know two essential points for your learning success: First, you need a concrete plan and, second, you should set yourself realistic goals. So that these goals become a binding action plan that you can implement, you should write down your learning goals.

So get into the habit of writing down your goals. Classically on paper. This may be a small step, but it has a big impact on your chances of success. By writing down your goal, you give it a tangible form: you can see it and touch it. And that makes it real. It is no longer a vague wish or some kind of fantasy, but a binding goal.

Example: Today at 3:30 p.m. I am learning definitions for module X for half an hour and then summarize the first two chapters of the script.


Tip # 4: make a contract with yourself!

After you have written down your learning goals, you go one step further and add a shovel of liability: you sign a contract. With yourself.

Take your written goal and promise yourself that you will achieve it today at all costs. Make an official agreement out of this and sign it under your goal. The likelihood that you will keep this bargain is much greater than with a loosely worded idea.

Example: I, Tim Reichel, will read the lecture notes for half an hour today at 6:00 p.m.

T. Reichel


Tip # 5: think in steps!

Big tasks have a demotivating effect before learning and make it difficult to start. You can eliminate this problem by dividing your task and breaking it down into small intermediate goals. In doing so, you use the “salami tactic” and divide all larger goals into small slices or activities.

These are then done step by step until you have reached all mini-stages. In this way you take the horror of the big, powerful study work and concentrate on the concrete measures. In this article, I'll show you in more detail how you can use this approach in your studies.

Example: Break your task (reading the lecture notes) into small, individual steps. For example like this: The script consists of 5 chapters, each chapter has 15 pages and each page has 4-6 paragraphs.

Now you are reading the first paragraph. And then the second paragraph. And so on. Your mindset is now: Yay, I'll just read one section and then I'll be done. And not: Oh god, I have to read the whole script.


Tip # 6: get out there!

Are you unable to concentrate in the apartment because the child in the neighborhood is again busy practicing the recorder? Or do you always find something else to do at home that is keeping you from starting studying?

Distractions lurk around every corner in your own four walls. Even if you are not looking for it, you will find an infinite number of alternatives, all of which are more exciting than the material of your last lecture. But you can do something about it: Go away! Change location: Grab your study materials and move to another, quiet place where you can work undisturbed for a few hours.

Example: Sit in the library or in an empty classroom to read. Or: You can go through your exercises or the preparation for the next seminar in a public learning room at your university.


Tip # 7: find allies!

You can get your teething problems under control better if you stop getting by on your own and instead study together with a few fellow students. A study group can have a very positive effect on your motivation and spark a kind of "we-feeling".

These group dynamics then ensure that you study more productively and consistently than before. In addition, your joint learning sessions will become more binding because you can subconsciously control each other or help each other directly with problems.

Example: Look for and determine at least one learning partner for each module in this semester and set a fixed date for learning together: Something like this: I meet Tobias every Wednesday at 3 p.m. for module X.


Tip # 8: Learn only for five minutes!

If the thought of long study units paralyzes you and destroys your motivation, you can reach into the psychological bag of tricks and use the five-minute rule. With the five-minute rule, you define a small, concrete task and work on it for only five minutes. Then you stop again and decide whether to continue - or not.

If after five minutes you don't feel like it anymore, you just stop and do something else or start a new attempt later. The trick is, however, that you are very likely not to retreat after five minutes. Most of them think to themselves: “Now I've started, then I can continue.” I have dedicated a separate article to this small but super useful rule.

Example: Read the book for only five minutes. Work on your summary for just five minutes. Repeat the lecture notes in just five minutes.


Tip # 9: build positive pressure!

I actually find working with pressure stupid. Unless it's positive pressure. Pressure that inspires you and brings out the best in you. The easiest way to do this is to create this pressure yourself.

For example, you can use the Rubicon method and use a small, irreversible act to ensure that you have to start learning. You put the gun on your chest, so to speak, and provoke that you give up your inactivity.

Example: Make an appointment with a learning partner at short notice to monitor each other's learning progress. Or: Bet with a friend that your summary will be ready by a certain date.


Tip # 10: speak hard!

Are you one of those people who tell themselves that they don't feel like it and that they won't be able to do this or that anyway? Yes? Then now is the perfect time to stop. If you tell yourself how awful it will be before you start studying, you will never start and will always find new excuses.

Therefore, get yourself a positive mindset and talk yourself strongly. In this article, I'll show you 50 ways you can motivate yourself every day.

Example: I'm going to study for 30 short minutes today. With this I am working on my future and will be proud of myself tomorrow.


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Almost all students find it difficult to start studying.

Because getting started is the hardest part of any task. But if you manage to pull yourself up and incorporate small, regular study sessions into your everyday life, your success in studying will come almost automatically.

To do this, you don't have to reinvent the wheel of self-motivation, you can use a few well-known tricks and concepts with which you can steam yourself up and overcome your starting difficulties.

Then learning will also work.

PS: If you often struggle with motivation problems while studying, then I have a tip for you: the ass-kick book! My book has motivated thousands of students and it will help you get rid of your teething problems once and for all.

Read it here for free (click!)


Image: © Lesly Juarez /