How to Keep Yourself Motivated as a Grad Student

Motivated sportsman running outdoors

When you embark on a graduate degree programme, you usually do so filled with excitement about the information that you are about to learn and the many opportunities that itís going to lead you to. However, over time, as you start to get into your programme more, facing the realities of university demands, demands at work and a hectic schedule that you feel you are always working against, you might have found that some of your motivation has slipped. The good news is that no matter what advanced degree you are studying for, or how long youíve got left to go before you finally achieve your goal, staying motivated doesnít have to be difficult. Here are some top tips to keep in mind.

#1. Put Your Health and Wellness First

Working hard is great, of course – but there needs to be a line drawn when it comes to your own health, wellness and sanity. If youíre working yourself to a point where you are burning the candle at both ends trying to juggle both your degree and career with family and personal life, youíre going to find yourself burned out pretty quickly – and thatís not a good recipe for motivation. If youíre regularly losing sleep, skipping meals and forgetting to exercise, your grades are likely to slip no matter how much hard work you put in; you simply wonít be able to focus as well as you could. Ensure youíre putting your health first by:

  • Sleeping at the same time each night; anything you have left to do can wait until the morning.
  • Taking some time for yourself in the morning to relax, meditate, and eat a healthy breakfast before you get started with work or studying.
  • Making exercise a regular part of your routine – even going for a brisk walk a few times a week can help.
  • Schedule short, regular breaks when studying to allow yourself to get up and stretch your legs, have a drink of water and a healthy snack.
  • Take days off – spend quality time with your family meet up with friends or do something that you enjoy.

#2. Foster Strong Social Connections

When you are trying to juggle working full-time with attending university to work for an advanced degree like this DBA UK from Aston University, it can often feel like itís completely impossible to get any time away. Over time, you might notice that your friendships and even your relationships are suffering as a result; you may no longer be spending as much time with that special friend youíd usually meet up with at least once a week, or even staying in touch virtually with friends out-of-town as much as you normally would. After a while, this can lead to feelings of isolation, which can be a risk factor for depression and can certainly leave you feeling demotivated when it comes to your studies. To avoid this situation:

  • Schedule time for the friendships that are important to you.
  • Foster strong social connections at university – study in a group wherever possible and stick around in the library rather than taking your studies home.
  • If youíre studying online, search out social media groups for likeminded students on the same online programme.
  • Be prepared to sacrifice a few hours of study time for your friendships and relationships – in the long run, this will benefit you more.

#3. Get into a Routine

Humans are creatures of habit and routine, which is why we often find it easier to adjust if weíre doing the same thing each day or the same thing on certain days of the week. Even the most hectic and packed schedule can be easier to deal with if they become a routine, and thereís something comforting about knowing what comes next – compared with never quite being fully sure whatís coming up on your agenda for the day or week.

Coming up with and sticking to a schedule that works for you and works well around your other commitments is a great way to get into a routine and make it easier to deal with the amount of work and responsibility that you have on your plate at the moment. Some benefits include:

  • You can track when you are most productive during the day and set this time aside for studying, to get the most from your revision sessions.
  • Coming up with a schedule for the week or for each day of the week gives you more control over your work, as you know where youíre supposed to be at any given time and there are no stressful surprises.
  • You will find it easier to start working towards assignment deadlines and exams when you are able to work these into your study schedule.
  • If you study online, coming up with a schedule that really works for you is even easier as you can study at any time of the day or night that you like.
  • You can schedule in breaks or days off to ensure that youíre not burning out.

#4. Improve Your Money Management

Money can be a massive source of stress for those attending graduate school, especially if youíre already repaying student loans from previous bachelorís or masterís degree programmes you have achieved. However, the good news is that with the right financial management strategies, money doesnít have to be the biggest source of your worries when you are studying for a graduate degree. Some strategies to consider include:

  • Start saving now – even a small amount moved into a savings account each month when you receive your income can provide you with some peace of mind.
  • Cut expenses – go through your bank account and determine if there are any areas you could be saving more money on. Often, items like utilities, insurance, groceries and other essentials can be cut down in price by making small changes like shopping around more.
  • Use cash – withdrawing cash can help you stick to a budget by being more mindful about the amount of money that you spend.

Staying motivated at graduate school isnít always easy, but with the right strategies, you can be successful!