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wikiHow to Stay Motivated in School

Five Parts:Learning to Value SchoolSetting Yourself Up for SuccessAttacking Your GoalsPracticing Focus and ConcentrationMaking Lifestyle Changes to Stay Motivated

Do you have those days where you say to yourself, "I don't need school," or those days when you don't feel like rolling out of bed? You're not alone, but doing well in school will set you up to have the life you want down the road. There are many things you can do to keep yourself motivated in school.

Part 1
Learning to Value School

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    Imagine the life you want as an adult. School may be boring on a day-to-day basis, and some of your classes might feel unimportant right now, but remember that without school, you won’t be able to live the life you want as an adult. Studies have shown that young people working toward clear goals have higher achievements and life satisfaction.[1] Write a list of the things you’d like to be able to provide for yourself as an adult. Some examples of things you want as an adult might include:
    • Traveling the world
    • Owning your own home
    • Supporting a family
    • Driving a good car
    • Buying season tickets for your favorite sports team
    • Having extra money to see concerts, eat out in fancy restaurants, see plays, etc.
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    Consider the skills you’ll need in your dream job. You want to love the job you have when you grow up, so take your time in school to prepare the skills you’ll need to get that job.
    • Make a list of all the jobs you can see yourself being happy in.
    • For each job, list the skills you’ll need to do that job well.
    • Match up those skills with the classes and clubs at school that will prepare you for your dream job.
    • Work extra hard in those classes. Join those clubs. Know that working hard in school will ensure a fulfilling career later in life.
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    Take advantage of social opportunities. This doesn’t mean that you should be talking through class or passing notes, but it does mean to make school more enjoyable by embracing your classmates. Don’t have a bad, grumpy attitude just because you’re in school. Enjoy your classmates’ company, and you might even find yourself looking forward to school.
    • Make good use of your downtime at school. Lunchtime and the time between classes is a great time to recharge your energy before your next class by having a good laugh with a friend.
    • Join after-school clubs and teams to find people who share your interests.

Part 2
Setting Yourself Up for Success

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    Schedule your study time. If you don’t set yourself up to do well in school, you’ll absolutely hate facing it every day. By creating a regular schedule for after school and the weekends, you’ll bring up your grades, improve your self-confidence, and appreciate school more.
    • Set a patterned routine. Successful people often stick to regular routines to help them stay on task and achieve their goals.[2].
    • There might be some variation throughout the week — for example, you might have a club or practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but not the other days. But every week, you should know what to expect from each day.
    • Give yourself a break from time to time. Studies have shown that taking a break to recharge when you feel like you’re going to burn out help improve your productivity.[3]
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    Maintain a calendar. School won’t seem so overwhelming if you stay on top of all of your obligations. Buy a daily planner to help keep track of the schedule you created in the previous step. Write down all your homework in this calendar, as well as due-dates for long-term assignments and projects.
    • Remember to write reminders about long-term projects in the days leading up to the due-date, so you don’t forget about it until the last second.
    • You can also use a calendar app on your cell phone to keep track of your obligations. Most apps can be programmed to remind you of deadlines.[4]
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    Create a good studying environment. If you’re working in a hectic space, you’ll hate the time you spend working. Make sure your study space is set up to help you enjoy your study time as well as you can.
    • Keep your desk neat and clean so you don’t get frustrated by how sloppy it is.
    • Keep your tools (pencils, highlighters, staplers) neatly organized so you can find them easily.
    • Make sure the space is well-lit. Dim lighting can give you a headache, which definitely won’t help you stay motivated.
    • Figure out if you work best with silence or with a little background noise. Some people are distracted by noise, while others can’t work without a little music playing in the background.
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    Start a study group. When you study with friends, it doesn't feel so painful! But you have to make sure you stay on task instead of joking around and having a good time.
    • Study groups should have no more than 3-4 members so they don't get unruly
    • Meet at least once a week on a regular schedule. You can meet at school during a free period, or after school at somebody's house.
    • Volunteer to be the group leader/coordinator. You will determine what classes and projects the group will focus on in a given week, so that everyone's working together and helping each other instead of randomly working on their individual projects.
    • Prepare for each session. Don't just show up and expect to do work in your study group. Come prepared with insight on the task you've been working on all week.
    • Remember to give the group short breaks from time to time to relax and recharge.

Part 3
Attacking Your Goals

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    Break large tasks into smaller ones.[5] Don't get overwhelmed by a class presentation or a long paper. Remember that you don't have to finish a project in one sitting.
    • List all the different steps you must complete to finish the project.
    • Make a schedule that forces you to finish one small piece of the project per day.
    • For a paper, you might read and summarize one source on day one; another source on day two, a third source on day three; synthesize their arguments on day four; outline your own argument on day five; integrate quotations from your sources into your outline on day six; write your paper on days seven and eight; rest on day nine; and revise on day ten.
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    Reward yourself. If you want to stay motivated in school, you need something to look forward to. Bargain with yourself: if you study for two hours, you can watch your favorite tv show at 8:00. If you get an A on your paper, you'll take the whole weekend off and just relax.
    • Remember that nobody can work all the time. Give yourself a little time off when you deserve it.
    • If you don't meet your goals, keep yourself to your promise. If you goof off on Facebook for half of the two hours you were supposed to be studying, don't let yourself watch your favorite tv show!
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    Create consequences for yourself.[6] If you don't achieve the work goals you set for yourself, give yourself a punishment. You'll work harder during the week if slacking off means you can't go to the movies with your friends over the weekend.
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    Be vocal about your goals. Spread the news: you're setting a high bar for yourself. Tell your friends, your parents, tell everyone you know that you plan on bringing your English grade up to a B by the end of the semester, or that you're going to ace the chemistry test. By telling others about your goals, you will work harder to avoid the embarrassment of failing to meet those goals.
    • If you work your best and still fail to meet those goals, don't be discouraged. Redouble your efforts. With hard work and time, you'll meet your goals.

Part 4
Practicing Focus and Concentration

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    Practice meditation. Meditation will clear your mind of the distractions that might keep you from focusing on your studies. Before you sit down to study, set aside fifteen minutes to meditate; this will help you get in the right state of mind for working toward your goals without distractions.
    • Find a quiet environment.
    • Sit cross-legged on the ground in a comfortable position, supporting your back against a wall if you need to.
    • Close your eyes and focus on the darkness.
    • Think about nothing but the darkness that you see. Don't let yourself think about anything else.
    • When fifteen minutes have passed, get to work!
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    Summarize interesting readings and videos.[7] Even if you don't like to read for homework, you probably read every day. You read interesting articles online and watch interesting videos online and on TV. Summary is one of the most useful skills you can have, and it's the foundational building block of everything you do in school. By practicing this skill on stories and information you find personally interesting, you are honing an important academic skill while thinking about something you actually enjoy.
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    Practice mindfulness tricks.[8] Whether you're in class or sitting at your desk at home, you might find yourself nodding off or getting lost in a daydream because you're bored. A good way to bring your mind back into focus is to practice mindfulness tricks.
    • Create a simple but distinct action that sends a clear message to yourself
    • It should be something you don't do on a regular basis — wiggling your toes, for example.
    • Every time you feel your mind drifting away, wiggle your toes to snap yourself back into focus.
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    Count backwards from 100.[9] If you feel like your mind is scattered and you can't focus on your goal, give yourself a task that you know you can accomplish, that will take up a couple minutes of time, and that is just difficult enough to require concentration, but not difficult enough to frustrate you. Counting backwards from 100 will help calm you down and focus your mind.
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    Raise your heart rate. Studies have shown that exercising for as little as ten minutes before tackling a task can improve performance by increasing the flow of blood to the brain.[10] The effects can last up to a few hours, so there's a big payoff for a little bit of exercise.
    • Try jumping rope, doing jumping jacks, running in place, or any other simple activity you can do easily in your room.

Part 5
Making Lifestyle Changes to Stay Motivated

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    Get 8-10 hours of sleep every night. Studies have shown that teenagers’ bodies don’t function well early in the morning, so many middle and high schoolers have trouble focusing in school because they’re sleepy.[11] A large part of why many students don’t like school is that they’re tired. Teenagers’ bodies naturally want to stay up late and sleep in late, but you need to train your body to your school schedule.
    • Make yourself get in bed at a reasonable hour, even if you’re not tired yet.
    • Don’t watch tv or use your computer for at least an hour before you go to bed.[12]
    • Don’t take naps during the day, so you’ll be more tired at night.
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    Eat a healthy diet. It might not be immediately obvious how your diet relates to your performance in school, but it’s very important! A poorly balanced diet might fill you up, but it won’t necessarily give you the energy you need to stay focused and productive, and you won’t be motivated if you’re tired.[13] Remember to always eat breakfast to help power up your body first thing in the morning.
    • Fish with omega-3 and whole grains improve memory function.
    • Dark fruits and vegetables provide anti-oxidants that improve memory and cognition.[14]
    • Foods rich in Vitamin B, including spinach, broccoli, and beans, are good for memory and alertness.
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    Get enough exercise. Many studies have demonstrated a link between exercise and improved productivity, so stay active.[15] Regular exercise will not only help you focus when you’re studying, but it also improves your mood.[16] Being focused and in a good mood are very important to staying motivated for school.


  • Don't think about things you do wrong; instead, think about things you're doing right.
  • Remember its okay to make mistakes, but try to learn from them and don't become demoralized.
  • If you hate school to the bottom of your heart, try and think about the classes you like that are in your schedule today. Ex: lunch, gym or a special class like cooking.

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