motivation

Get Your Motivation Back Whenever You Need It – TUB-Thump 026

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I wasn’t motivated to record today’s episode of TUB-Thump.

Actually, that’s not quite true.

We all have moments when we don’t feel that spark of motivation to do the work in front of us. But it’s often possible to snap out of that with a change in outlook or a closer look at what’s in front of you.

And that’s why, even though I’m feeling ill (and having to look after other ill folks at the same time), I had more than enough motivation to record Episode 026 of the show.

It’s not the show I had planned, but there’s no harm in that. Sometimes you just feel motivated to do something slightly different…

 


Here are the show notes for the 11-min episode:

  • 01:20 – Remember the why behind your why. You may want to be doing something else, but what are the background incentives and bigger reasons why you genuinely do want to get on with the work.
  • 04:30 – Break down tasks. When the project feels overwhelming, you’ll feel less motivated. Set out the smaller jobs within the bigger project so you can see what’s really on the table. You can celebrate some quick wins and motivate yourself that way. You may even want to carry on and do more right away.
  • 06:30 – Look beyond yourself and find excitement in the bigger picture. What things around you get you motivated? Tap into other things that make you tick. Find sparks so you don’t just wallow in the negativity, but instead find the positivity in everything around you.

Working through that motivation and putting the work in can be satisfying. I may be ill, but after I’d finished recording I was smiling, even though my voice was ready for a break!

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Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!

Remotivate yourself after the summer break. New year, new you?

Remotivate Yourself After the Summer Break. New Year, New You?

Don’t you just love/hate the gap between one academic year and another? 🙂

In some ways the summer break feels too short. In other ways it seems far too long.

You relaxed. You got some cash from a summer job. You saw your mates back home.

But your work and your focus gets a bit rusty. You feel unpractised.

As soon as you return to university, you’re expected to get back to work and pick up where you left off.

It’s time to remotivate yourself.

But a new academic year also brings with it new challenges for your learning. Challenges that could stump you even further.

In my second year, I remember people’s unease and worry with the sudden uptake in expectations. Especially as many thought (and still do think) that first year doesn’t count. [Hint: It really does count…]

The new academic year not only meant we had to re-evaluate what we’d already learned, but also meant we had to push toward a higher level.

Not surprising, but a challenge on top of a challenge is…well, a challenge!

How do you recover from a summer away AND build on top of that too?

Here are 5 tips to get you started:

little and often

1. Little and often

It’s so easy to slip into an “I’ll do it later” mindset. Yes, there’s plenty of time, but that time rushes by fast.

Next thing you know, you’ve only got a day before that essay is due in. Or you’re just a few hours before a seminar where you are expected to engage in discussion.

Panic!

There’s a better way. Start when you get it, but only a small amount.

Little and often means that you spend a few minutes each day working on the subject at hand and not overwhelming yourself with too much content.

You may only need 10 minutes a day, you may need half an hour. However long you need, it’s much better spaced out in chunks.

By committing to just a short amount of time, you may be spurred on to continue doing more once you feel a flow. Or you can give up after a bad session, safe in the knowledge that you actually have the next day. And the next. And the next! You weren’t in the mood today, but you’re not forced to carry on regardless.

So the longer you have, the more chance you’ll have for inspiration to hit. If that’s not a reason to start early and not leave everything for the last minute, I don’t know what is.

This is the same method I suggest for working on essays too. The more time you give yourself to do the coursework, the more likely you are to hand in a piece of work that is worthy of you.

prepare in advance

2. Prepare in advance

Preparation shields you from surprises.

You usually get a timetable and reading lists and information on what to expect throughout the module or semester. When you look at this in advance, you can highlight common themes and the types of work that you’re expected to do.

With this information at hand, you’re not actively learning, but you’ve now got an idea of what you’ll need. Then you can focus on any areas you’re uncertain about.

Planning the coming weeks will also help you to find ways of making unenjoyable tasks more friendly and palatable. You may still draw a blank, but at least you’ve got more time to force yourself into a more inspired place. Good luck!

schedule your free time

3. Schedule your free time

Use your timetables and to-do lists for EVERYTHING. Even free time and fun activities.

It sounds strange to schedule free time, but it helps you to focus on the pleasure of leisure.

Without this, you won’t make the most of your free time. It tends to just get lost.

I spoke to Bethany Wren, VP Academic Experience at University of Brighton Students’ Union. Bethany suggests that you should “rota in some ‘you’ time every day, even if it is an hour in the bath with a vanilla candle, this will keep you sane“.

By scheduling ALL your time, including when you just want to do absolutely nothing or when you’re happy to do something on a whim, that free time can be used with more purpose. Even if that purpose is just to relax.

And sometimes the purpose is to gain some comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. Bethany says:

“Remember your friends once a month. My friends and I had a meal out in Brighton – it reminded us that there was oxygen outside of the library but also that we were all feeling the same kind of stresses, and that was comforting.”

Your summer may have been quiet, lazy and carefree. So keep some of those summer memories and schedule those relaxing times when you’ve genuinely got nothing on. The next day may be back to work, but that can truly wait until tomorrow.

All you need now is a hammock.

find something new to do

4. Find something new to do

In my final year, I had a lot more on my plate. There as the small matter of a dissertation, I was living back on the student village with first years, and I was now a senior student.

But I still wanted to find new things to do.

For instance, I wanted to read a selection of Sunday newspapers to check out subjects that I’d never paid much attention to, and to get a taste of the different perspectives that come from a single story.

I would wake up early on Sunday morning. That way, practically every other student in the student village was sleeping, or had gone home for the weekend. I’d walk to the shop, buy a selection of papers, and wash my clothes in the invariably empty laundry.

As the washing machine spun around, I would sit back and read. A peaceful way to find out what’s going on in the world and expand my horizons without interrupting my other plans.

No need for sacrifices.

Okay, getting up early on a Sunday isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But by using the points above, it shouldn’t be hard to find what suits you. There’s always more time than you think.

And if you really are THAT strapped for time, maybe you DO need to make a sacrifice or two. That can be tough, but one you’ll thank yourself for in the long run.

I’m thankful for developing that new habit in my final year of engaging with new content. It’s helped me to build up good curation systems over the years.

ask for help

5. Ask for help

One of Bethany Wren’s top survival tips for getting back on track at university is to always ask for help when you need it:

“Nobody is expecting you to do this by yourself and there are a lot of people out there who are ready to give you a helping hand, all you have to do is ASK. We [at Brighton] have our Support service, SUSS at the SU who you can contact via email any time. Equally, if there is a member of staff such as your personal tutor who you can talk to, do!”

Renewed motivation can only manifest when you get the right type of assistance. Without it, you only feel overwhelmed.

A.S.K. – Asking Secures Knowledge

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Armed with these five tips, you should be well on your way to feeling remotivated.

And if you’re on a real hardcore productivity trip, I heartily recommend Graham Allcott’s books, “How to be a Productivity Ninja” and “How to be a Knowledge Ninja.

No matter what your summer break was like, there’s more than enough scope to remotivate yourself and feel ready for anything as you hit campus once again.

What’s your main focus for this year?

 

Self-Motivation and Mountain Moving

Self-motivation is great. It helps you take those online courses and pass with aplomb. It gets you connecting with amazing people. It inspires you to write about your chosen profession,  your hobbies, and anything on your mind. It lets you present videos, go to talks and conferences.

Self-motivation takes you to a place where you can create stuff, argue stuff, make stuff happen.

But how often is this happening?

It’s easy to forget how useful a dose of self-motivation can be.

So it’s time to remember. Self-motivation is a big deal.

Nothing is guaranteed in life, but you have to reach out to get it.

When you don’t, nothing happens.

converse-fields

The more self-motivated you are to show up and take action, the more likely you’ll find the good stuff. And you see those people who seem to get asked to do absolutely everything? They usually got to that place by asking a lot before all this happened. It took a lot of asking to get a lot of asking back at them.

Choices and Making Things Happen

When you take action, you need to make choices.

Choices are tough. What do you give up? What do you prioritise above everything else? There are only so many hours in the day. And when you do have the time, do you worry about every last detail before committing to something?

First, consider if your actions somehow make a difference to you or someone else. What value does it have? Even if that value is personal, that’s fine.

Second, think useful, not polished. For example, when I write, I don’t edit much until later. Editing as you write is a pain and it limits your output. If your brilliant idea can only be expressed in a few bullet points for now, so be it. You’re better off making a couple of notes than not writing anything at all.

Another example is through Gary Vaynerchuk. When he gets a great idea in his head that he wants to tell the world, he doesn’t care about production values. He’ll take out his phone and, no matter where he is, he’ll shoot a quick piece and post it online. When the message is more important than a fancy presentation or high definition video, push it out.

All you need to do is flip your phone around and shoot a video. Get an idea out there, make something happen. When you’ve got something great to impart, you can move mountains. Keep communicating, keep creating, keep connecting. Don’t wait for someone–including yourself–to tell you you’re good enough, to tell you you’ve made it. That’ll never happen. And if people do tell you you’ve made it, don’t stop learning on account of that.

Don’t stop creating either. There’s always more to do.

So get out there and instead of trying to do something good, try doing something new, learning as you go. Some stuff will be grainy and useful. Some stuff will be polished and rubbish. You’ll even have perfect days and terrible days.

But that’s only if you do it. If you just play it safe and do nothing at all, there’s nothing to show and you get no further forward.

You have to make choices because you can’t do everything. But when you say you really want to do something and it’s perfectly possible to do it, why would you still not do it?

I had an email the other day from someone who wanted to write a guest post for the blog. They said they wanted to get into blogging and were looking for a way in. I asked them what their own blog was and they didn’t have one.

Let me repeat that once more…A person who really wanted to blog, but didn’t have a blog yet and were looking for a way in.

A way in to what? Just sign up and start publishing stuff!

Now, I’m pretty sure their real aim was to promote another website. But imagine if that person really did want to blog. Nothing would be stopping them so long as they had an Internet connection.

If you’re reading this, you can be writing it too.

Taking Life Seriously

As you can tell from this site, I still find university fascinating. I understand that there are other routes and that uni isn’t for everyone. But I’ve found something that speaks to me and that I want to be a part of. It may bore the socks off you, yet it works for me. I want to help students make the most of their time at university and learn about their experiences because I feel in a good position to do that. I like the academic side, the social side, the admin side. It’s a strange position to be in, but a wonderful one.

I moved away from academia after I graduated. It seemed like the only thing I could do at the time.

I was wrong. And I’ve been wrong about a lot of things throughout my life.

We’re all wrong about a lot of things.

Luckily, we get a lot right too.

One thing I was right to do was return to the world of higher education. Not only did I work to my strengths, I also worked on my weaknesses. I didn’t know enough about the administration side of academia, so I made it my business to do so. I took it seriously.

The first step of the process was self-motivation.

If I didn’t want to do this, the outcomes would be different. I wouldn’t have been asked to do many of the things I’ve done. I wouldn’t have found people wanting to consume the content I’ve produced. I wouldn’t have participated in the activities that have helped along the way.

I wouldn’t have taken this seriously.

How seriously do you take the things you’re aiming for?

I’m writing at the time of year when new university students are starting a journey toward a degree while applicants are at school or college writing personal statements so the whole process can begin again next year.

When I was writing my personal statement, I was only half-hearted about it. I wasn’t looking at the bigger picture. Nobody had explained what any of this meant and I hadn’t done enough research of my own either.

That wasn’t the best attitude to have. Yet it’s an attitude repeated time and again for far too many people, year after year.

I had a chance to turn things around and I took it. If I hadn’t, my university experience might have been pretty poor. I may not have gone to university at all.

Yet here I am, writing stuff like this, trying to help others win. Among other things, that needs a regular dose of self-motivation.

None of this is about finding your passion at an early age. Neither is it about ignoring what you believe in. At the core of this is taking what you do seriously. Even the fun stuff. Make every action count and find motivation in what you do.

This Post Is For YOU

I write this as an inspired ramble. I’m posting it here without (much) editing.

This post is for you to chew on as is. If it speaks to you, that’s awesome. Let me know what you’re inspired to do. Keep in touch. Even if it’s just a quick tweet (@universityboy) I’d love to hear what you’re doing and how you’re self-motivated.

And if you think I’m crazy, that’s fine. Do your thing and be inspired by what makes you tick. The point is to find what makes you want to wake up in the morning (or night!) and do amazing work. I’m only trying to help with that. If someone else is helping you achieve that in a completely different way, brilliant.

I’m talking to each and every student out there who gets what I’m saying and who feels like I’m helping them. If I’m not helping you, I’m comfortable with that. If I’m not helping anyone, I need to reconsider.

From where I am, I feel comfortable at the moment. So while I’m self-motivated, I can’t do it all by myself. This is a two-way process.

Thank you for that. Thanks for reading and I hope you get a spark of inspiration from this post or anything I’ve created over the years. May your own self-motivation (along with the help of others) take you to wonderful places.

Not long ago, I referred to a Dr. Seuss book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!“. The book’s message is that you can move mountains.

I believe you can move mountains. It’s time to get motivated. Are you ready?

Let me know what your personal mountains are and how far you’ll move them.

move mountains (Dr. Seuss image from Oh! the Places You'll Go) (photo by Curtis Gregory Perry)

“Kid, you’ll move mountains” – Dr. Seuss image from ‘Oh! the Places You’ll Go’ (photo by Curtis Gregory Perry)

Is University Worth £9,000 a Year?

The Telegraph recently asked students if their first year was worth £9,000.

This type of question is hard to answer at such an early stage. Wait until the end of the degree and answers won’t be much clearer then.

Value doesn’t conclude at the end of an academic year. Nor does it conclude when you finish studying.

In the nature of ‘students as consumers’, imagine buying a brand new car. After you’ve traveled on your first petrol tank worth of fuel, could you say if the car was worth the price? What about after one year of driving it?

The questions seem confused. How do you know if the car is worth it? Value doesn’t conclude until the car is run into the ground, you sell it, or it’s written off. Only when you put all the factors together can you get a reasonable assessment of value.

Value for money on one tank? And the fuel costs extra! (photo by Images_of_Money)

Value for money on one tank? And the fuel costs extra! (photo by Images_of_Money)

For a degree, value is even harder to assess. No wonder there’s so much discussion around it!

The Telegraph states, “58.4 per cent felt their first year wasn’t worth the £9000”. The problem is in understanding why. The answer is based on a general feeling. Some students will be offended paying a penny for their pursuit of education, while others will sense value in the long haul, whatever the cost.

Neither are necessarily right or wrong. Limited knowledge of what’s to come in their future (and in the wider world) prevents anyone from giving an accurate account of value. Motivation drives how you feel about many things, including value. But motivation is a complicated issue. There is no easy answer.

One opinion for poor value for money in the first year is that it doesn’t count academically.

This ‘first year doesn’t count’ argument is a false trail. Fresher year counts beyond grades. If nothing else, it acts to strengthen your academic work, which should help grades in later years. A direct correlation between fees and grades is jarring. Understandable, yes, but still jarring.

Contact time is another false trail. A joint study by HEPI and Which?, reports on student experiences, including contact time and the differences between institutions, even for the same subject. But there are many reasons why contact time isn’t just about hours. And neither should that be the only factor when looking at value.

It’s easy to boil the university experience down to this: a path toward a degree.

But the reality is complicated, just like motivation. You (hopefully) end up with a degree at the end of your time, but is that the only value worth attaching to the fee? If so, what price are you willing to pay for a degree and why?

There are arguments against buying into a university experience altogether. Despite those reasons, some will still find great value in HE. My motivation is not yours. Your motivation is not anyone else’s.

Is £9k worth it each year? Can you give a reasonable answer?

A simple question of value is far from simple to answer amid all the confusion. It makes little sense to view university within the confines of market competition.