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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bristol chapter.

It’s the final term of this year. It’s stressful. There is little reward to the effort you’re putting in. The end seems so far away and you’ve got so much to do. It feels like you’ve got 16 essays and 4 portfolios due, and somehow you’re meant to maintain relationships, friendships, and self care. It seems impossible. Your productivity levels are rapidly reducing and your motivation is gone. You feel like you can’t possibly do any. more. work. 

We all feel like this from time to time and university pressures certainly don’t help. 

A great way to begin combatting lack of motivation is learning some self-discipline skills. Don’t get me wrong, I am no self-discipline wizard; but as a final year student, I have a few tips and tricks to share. 

One: Goals and lists are your best friend. Obviously, everyone works differently, so this is not a fool-proof plan. However, by writing goals and tasks out in lists, everything you need to do is all in one place. This hopefully erases the possibility of forgotten things that were meant to be done. If everything is all in one place, then whenever a task is completed, all you have to do is strike it off the list. By being able to physically remove things from your unending list of things to do, you get the visual gratification of seeing it disappear from your priorities. I suggest striking tasks out with a bold colour to make the impact of completing them more powerful. 

Two: A great way to increase productivity is to work towards a task, rather than towards a time (within reason). To make this clear, I recommend that when setting out to do work, all huddled up in a cafe or library, it is best to not put a time restriction on your working session. It can feel really daunting if you decide that you will work in the library for 6 hours. No one enjoys the idea of having to work continuously for that long. Instead, it is beneficial to assign 2 or 3 tasks that you will complete before you leave. For example, you could set the tasks of writing 1000 words towards an upcoming project, reading 15 pages from the next lecture’s primary readings, and reading over your seminar notes. When these are completed, your studying for the day is over. It is important to make sure that the tasks you set are not too strenuous or unrealistically time-consuming as this will defeat the point. But essentially, by working on tasks without the restraints of an arbitrary time limit, your productivity levels will hopefully rise. 

Three: Friends are easy to abandon when stressors are high. But they are one of the most valuable aspects of your life when you’re lacking motivation and need a little bit of help to stay on task. Being open and honest about the pressures you are feeling and asking friends to hold you accountable can make a challenge slightly easier. A good example of accountability is asking your friend to make sure you won’t grab a coffee from your favourite cafe until you have written 2500 words of your dissertation. This accountability should not extend for too long, as it would be unrealistic to limit your socialising or things that make you happy indefinitely, but setting smaller and more achievable challenges for yourself can really encourage a spark of productivity. 

Four: Here, I am going to discuss the matter of self-control and rewarding yourself (because rewards are always nice). Self-control is essential for learning self-discipline, but it is vital to not be too hard on yourself. Positive self-control can manifest in buying one coffee a week as a reward, or only going out twice a week (depending on your preferences). If it is ‘crunch time’, like it is for those of us who have essays, dissertations, projects and various other work due soon, then shorter time limits might be necessary for ensuring that deadlines are met. But long-term, implementing small changes to maintain focus and boost productivity can be more beneficial and productive. Alongside increasing productivity, rewards are a brilliant way to boost your mood in the short term and reframe the negativity normally associated with working. Rewards can take many forms depending on what suits you. For example, if you’ve had a taxing week and have completed the tasks you set out to, then maybe taking Friday or Saturday afternoon off to practise self-care could increase your productivity levels the following week. Maintaining a balance between self-control and rewards is challenging but when you master it, you’ll find the productivity sweet spot

Five: It is time to introduce you to the notebook of all notebooks. This notebook makes other notebooks quiver. A good self-discipline practice is writing down everything that fuels your productivity in the same place. So in the notebook, it’s helpful to write down all of your goals and to-do lists. Additionally, it is useful to include entries of what you are proud of, as part of a little ‘self-confidence’ section. If you’re lacking motivation and feeling down, this is great to read over to boost your spirits so that you are in the best position to be productive. Another helpful section to include is the ‘successes of the day’, where you can compile a bank of successes so that whenever you are feeling unmotivated, you can inspire yourself. Notebooks are relatively cheap, so this might be a sign to start your notebook of all notebooks. 

Six: We’re all working towards something. This is what I call ‘the big goal’. This is the underlying motivator for inspiring your productivity. For some, it might be similar to ‘attaining a 2:1 degree’ or ‘achieving a high grade on this assignment’. Sometimes it is hard to keep this big goal in focus, and it can feel unobtainable. So set a smaller goal. For example, ‘today I’m going to just get through the day and complete the necessary readings’. So try to find your big or small goal, and then do your best to source some motivation, self-discipline and inspiration from it.

This advice is not extensive and may not work for everyone, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but you never know. But most importantly, believe in yourself, because you can and will succeed.

Don’t let the unmotivated monster win, your productivity fairy is in there somewhere. 

Annabel Spink

Bristol '23

Third year Religion and Theology student who's obsessed with writing and reading. An absolute lover of stories, the colour green, and finding magic in the mundane.