How to Stay Motivated for the Entire School Year
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How to Stay Motivated for the Entire School Year

– Every new school year brings with it the same age-old problem:
the constant war of attrition that is fought against your motivation as the semester wears on. See, in the beginning of the semester, your motivation levels are usually high. You’ve got brand-new classes
that you’re excited to take and there’s usually not
a whole lot on your plate to stress you out. But in the middle of the semester, it’s a very different picture. You’ve got tons of assignments, deadlines, projects all stressing you out. And as a result, your motivational
reserves can take a dip. You just don’t wanna go on. And I know I dealt with this problem during every single semester
of my college career and it’s probably something
that you’ve dealt with as well. So, what I wanna do in today’s video is give you five different
strategies that you can use to maintain a high level of motivation to do your work, to study diligently all throughout the entire semester. Now, everything we’re gonna
be talking about today is either a habit that you can adopt or an action that you can
take in a specific moment. We’re not gonna be talking
about any motivational mantras or mindset hacks here. Everything on this list is something that you can actually do, but it’s still going to
have a tangible effect on your motivation. So, let’s get into it with
the first habit on the list. From the moment you walk into your very first class this semester, make the commitment to sit up front and wring class for all it’s worth. Treat class like the active
learning time that it should be. This means, again, sitting up front, taking notes the entire
time, raising your hand, asking questions, and
participating in discussions. If you can do this right from the start, then you’re gonna gain an
implicit psychological pressure to keep doing it throughout the entirety of the rest of the semester. And this is because humans have a core drive to act consistently. We wanna act in accordance and in line with our previous decisions. And this is something that
Robert Cialdini talks about in his excellent book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. As he puts it, “Once we have
made a choice or taken a stand, “we will encounter personal
and interpersonal pressures “to behave consistently
with that commitment. “Those pressures will cause us to respond “in ways that justify
our earlier decision.” And this desire to act consistently was definitely something
that I experienced in my own college classes. In the ones where I
immediately sat up front, took notes, participated in discussions, I felt pressure to act in
accordance with those decisions the entire semester afterwards. And on the other hand, for the classes where I just
maybe didn’t care a whole lot, sat in the back, sold
computers on Craigslist, and didn’t pay attention,
that colored my experience throughout the entire semester as well. So, think of your first week of classes as your opportunity to establish either positive momentum
or negative momentum because of this consistency principle. So, that brings us to habit number two, which is to make sure you
establish regular contact with your teachers and your professors. And this is actually quite
related to the first tip, especially that quote from Robert Cialdini that I just mentioned,
because, if you remember, he mentions both personal
and interpersonal pressures for remaining consistent. And I’ve found that when
you know your professors, you actually feel a little
bit beholden to them because when you’re in class, you know that since they know you as well, they are paying attention
to how you are behaving. They’ll notice whether or not
you take notes diligently. They’ll notice if you actually participate in class discussions. And again, you’re gonna
wanna act consistently with both your own
expectations of yourself and what you’ve done in the past, but also with their expectations that they develop through observing you in the beginning of the semester when you’re already highly motivated. Tip number three is to have a plan when it comes to your
homework and your study time. So, if you think about your class time, that is highly regimented. You have a specific place
you’re supposed to be and the class is happening
at a specific time. And as a result, you almost
always show up on time. There’s really no
decision you have to make. You just kind of do it because you know that’s
part of your schedule. So, why not apply that logic to your homework and study time? Instead of just saying, “I’m
gonna study wherever I want to; “maybe in my dorm, maybe in
the library, I don’t know, “and I’ll do it whenever I have time,” instead, maybe at the
beginning of every single week, look ahead at your calendar, see what kinda blocks
of free time you have and block out planned
spaces of study time. And additionally, know
where you’re going to study. Maybe have a specific spot in the library that you usually go to or
create a specific study space in your dorm room and plan to study there. Again, when you have a plan ahead of time, then you reduce the amount of decisions you have to make in the moment, which decreases the likelihood that you’re gonna take the
path of least resistance, which is probably playing video games and putting off your studying until later. Okay, so before we move
on to tip number four, I do wanna share one little
bonus mini-tip with you, which is to find yourself
some good study music. And this is a tip that comes
from personal experience because I’ve learned over the years that I just enjoy researching, doing my work, studying, reading, I enjoy it more if I have good study music to go along with it. And for that reason, I have
been curating a study playlist over on Spotify for quite a few years now. It’s just about 10 hours long and I’ll put a link to it
down in the description below if you wanna check it out. Now, obviously, music does
not work for everyone, so you might wanna experiment. Some people like white noise, and you can use white noise
generators like Noisli to create a custom
soundscape for your studying, but some people really do get a motivational boost through music, so at least do some experimentation. And that brings us to tip number four, which is to know when to quit. And I don’t mean quit the entire semester, but know when to quit something that is dragging down all
of your other efforts. And I wanna tell you a story here. So, when I was in my
junior year of college, I was in the college’s honors program, which meant that I had to
go to certain extra classes in order to meet the requirements
to graduate with honors. But I got to thinking
during my junior year, “Do I actually need to
graduate with honors? “Do I need to take these extra classes?” Because, really, the only
benefit that I was gonna get from the honors program was graduating with a cord around my neck and the ability to put
‘honors grad’ on my resume. But the thing was, I already had a lot of
other irons in the fire. I had a full course schedule,
I had extracurriculars, I had a side project that
was growing into a business, and a part-time job. And I realized going through that semester that all the extra requirements I had because of that honors program were just fragmenting my attention and they were bringing my
overall level of motivation down. And when I really thought about it, having that little bit on my resume wasn’t going to matter in the long run. I wanted to be an entrepreneur,
I wanted to work for myself, so having accolades on my resume really wasn’t gonna get me
a whole lot in the future. So, I made the strategic decision
to quit the honors program to make more time to focus more
deeply on my other projects. And as a result, my motivation
for those other projects and for my other classes went up. Now, I do wanna note that I’m
not saying you should quit when things just get tough, right? You have to kinda go through
this dip of difficulty with anything that’s worth doing. But if you’re realizing that
your attention is fragmented or you’ve taken on too many commitments or the thing that you’re doing or one of the things that you’re doing just isn’t really worth it anymore, then it could be a good strategic decision to quit that in order
to raise your motivation to tackle the other things on your plate. And that brings us to the
final item on this list, which is to make real fun
a priority this semester. And I have to say this
because I know a lotta people, myself included, who will
often feel too guilty to let themselves do the
things that are truly fun because they feel like they
need that time for work. I know a lotta people who will not go to movies with friends. They will not play that video
game they wanted to play because they think they need
every single spare minute to get their homework done
or to do more studying. But these same people, and
I’m gonna include myself here ’cause I catch myself doing
this, these same people will not work efficiently
during their work hours. They will take random breaks
to go to Twitter or Facebook. And the thing is, going
to Twitter or Facebook, that’s not actually that fun. That’s just a distraction. It just fragments your attention, probably harms your mental health because of what’s on Twitter and Facebook, and it certainly isn’t
mentally refreshing in any way. But the other thing is, when you allow yourself to do the things that you feel are truly fun, whether it’s going out with friends or playing Magic: The
Gathering in my case, that will hone your focus and hone your attention
during your actual work hours because when you know you
have a limited amount of time to get your work done because there’s an actual plan later on, you will use that time effectively. And once you actually go and
experience that fun thing, you’re going to get a
mental reset in the process. Part of the reason why a
lotta students lose motivation throughout the semester is
that they work themselves to the point of exhaustion and burnout. You need that cycle of actual rest, which isn’t just sleep but
it’s respite from your work and actual fun time, and work. You need that actual interplay between those two states of being. So, all that being said, make time for real fun this semester and you’re gonna find that
your motivational reserves maintain themselves throughout the entirety of that semester. And of course, when
your motivation is high, you work more efficiently
and you have more time, both for the fun things but
also for pursuing some things that can help you get ahead. And one of those things
that I would suggest doing this semester if you haven’t
started the process already is building your online presence. It is never too early to
start building relationships, to establish a portfolio, and
to start establishing yourself as an up-and-coming expert in your field. And one of the very
first steps to doing that is to get yourself a
professional domain name. Even if you’re not yet
ready to build a website, you wanna get your hands
on your domain name as soon as possible because if someone else
comes along and registers it, then you can’t get it. So, go and get your
professional domain name before someone else gets it. And when you do, you
should go get it at Hover. Hover is the best place on the internet to get your hands on domain
names, not least of which because they have over 400
domain extensions to choose from. They have all your classic
.coms, .mes, .nets, which I think are great for
a professional presence, but they also have a lotta more fun ones, like .ninja and .lol. In fact, I have and I’ll probably end up
registering more fun ones like that in the future. Additionally, with Hover,
there is absolutely no friction in the signup process. If you have an account, you
can actually buy a domain in less than 30 seconds, and, yes, I have timed myself on that. And you can do that because
there are no upsells. There are no annoying popups. And then, once you have your domain, they have a couple of extra tools to help you build your
online presence even further, including the ability to create a professional email address, such as mine, which is
[email protected], a little bit more
professional than a Gmail, plus their Connect tool, which allows you to connect that domain up to website builders like Squarespace or even online store
builders like Shopify. So, if you’re ready to get your hands on your professional domain name, then head over to and get it there. And when you do, if you’re a new customer, you’re gonna get 10% off your first order. Huge thanks, as always, goes out to Hover for sponsoring this video and being a big supporter of my channel, and thank you for watching as well. Hopefully you found this video helpful and hopefully you stay motivated throughout this entire semester and all semesters afterwards. Of course, if you wanna get more study and productivity tips on this channel, make sure you are subscribed so you see new videos when they come out. And maybe also grab a free copy of my book on how to earn better grades right there. Last but not least, you can watch one more
video on this channel by clicking right here or check out our latest
podcast episode right here if you haven’t listened to that. Thanks again for watching. And I would say best
of luck this semester, but luck isn’t what you need. You need systems and self-discipline and, well, I believe you’ve got it.

About James Carlton

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100 thoughts on “How to Stay Motivated for the Entire School Year

  1. Hey Tom Your Book Is Great But Needed A New More Detailed Book
    I Don't Want You To Write A New But With Some More Details Like 10_15 Pages More…

  2. Summary:
    1. Wring class for all it’s worth
    2. Keep in regular contact with your professors and teachers
    Note: “Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.”
    3. Have a plan for when and where you’re going to study
    4. Know when to quit
    5. Make time for real fun

  3. Tip number 2 made a huge difference for me. It’s something I recommend to students and soon-to-be grads I mentor from my channel as well but haven’t in a while (great reminder)! Thanks for posting this and I’m a huge fan! Please keep the content coming!

  4. Good luck to everyone starting school.
    Make sure what you study is something that really resonates with you.
    Never regret the past choices, all experiences add up to your character.

  5. Summary:
    1. Make the commitment to sit at the front at the beginning of the year. Make the most of each class.
    2. Make sure you establish regular contact with your professors. They will get to know you and will have expectations.
    3. Have dedicated time for homework and study time at the beginning of each work. Know where you are going to study.
    Bonus: find good study music to make it more enjoyable.
    4. Know when to quit. If you don't have time for extra classes and it isn't worth it, quit them so you can focus on other things.
    5. Make sure this semester is enjoyable and have REAL fun, like going out. It will make your work hours more productive.
    6. Get a professional domain name.

  6. 5 Strategies to Maintain Motivation:
    1. Wring class for all it's worth : Be an active learner throughout the duration of your lectures. Take notes and be attentive. Humans have a core drive to act consistently with our past decisions. Active participation helps us gain an implicit psychological pressure to keep doing that throughout the entirety of the rest of the semester.
    2. Make sure you keep in contact with your professors and teachers
    3. Have a plan for when and where you're going to study
    Bonus tip: Use study music (if you want to)
    4. Know when to quit
    5. Make time for REAL fun (guys seriously don't procrastinate. Perform continuous Deep Work now and party later)

  7. Here's my Spotify study playlist:

    There's a YouTube version in the description as well. If you have song suggestions, feel free to comment them below!

  8. This is a big one for me. I'm only two days into my first semester and I've already realized that I'm turning people's social invitations down to prepare for classes (inefficiently) or to play video games. I'm resolving to make time for uninterrupted fun. Thank you Thomas!

  9. 1:08 Wring class for all its worth.
    2:33 Keep in regular contact with professors and teachers.
    3:18 Have a plan for when and where you're going to study.
    **bonus tip: find yourself some good study music
    5:07 Know when to quit.
    6:53 Make time for real fun

  10. how do you download the GCalender to PC and sync it to my phone if i have put it from my phone it will put it on my laptop

  11. Guys i need help here. So I wasn't very motivated in the beginning of my semester and I would just sit in the back and listen. I didn't interact much with the teacher and he probably doesn't even know my name. I wasn't very enthusiastic about the subject either and now I think that our sir knows this and has given up on me. He generally doesn't look in my direction and I just don't feel like asking my doubts because of this. Therefore I feel demotivated from studying. What can i do to revive my relation with the teacher?

  12. In addition to point #5, I read somewhere that when you tell yourself "I'm going to study today" then it satisfies a part of your brain to the point where you lose the motivation to actually study. Simply by proclaiming the intention to do work, your brain automatically becomes more lax and you're more likely to abandon the endeavor.

    Good advice in this video.

  13. How to stay motivated all semester:

    1. Sleep 8 hrs a day.
    2. Watch less YouTube. (Except Thomas Frank and Matt D’avella)

  14. I just have to say thanks. I always lamented that I never had these videos while I was still in school. However, now that I find myself headed back again, I can finally try out all these tips!

  15. If you are not motovated, you don’t like what u do -> find a reason why u should like what u do or change subject

  16. These tips are going to be a lifesaver this year! Learned I couldn’t really wing it when it comes to scheduling during my first year in engineering school, so I’ll be implementing these tips. Thanks Thomas 💙

  17. Nah the motivation kicks in in the middle of the semester cause that's when the teachers stop slacking off and remember they actually have to teach something. Honestly I feel like most of our teachers are just balding students, with the same procrastination problems as us students.

  18. Hi, Frank! The point about people leading themselves to exsaustion and burn-out is about me. Once I decided to learn math and dedicated my free summer time to it. Everything went well up to the moment I left a job where I worked for 3 months. Since then I've been having problems with managing my free time, cuz now I have it all. I'm rushing topics not being able to completely understand them which wasn't the case when I had the job.
    My suggestion (or rather wish) is to make a video on how to manage your free time under the assumption you know what you want.

  19. Really really useful stuff. I'm struggling with the last one. I have 2 jobs, full time school, and extracurriculars. I think I have to quit one of my jobs, but I'm finding that it's such a tough decision…

  20. shows pictures of adorable goats on twitter

    “Twitter probably harms your mental health”


  21. I need more how to stay healthy videos and more school-related advice 😆 perfect timing for my math class I'm already dreading

  22. Thank you thomas for this video we really apprectiate what are you providing us from tips and useful info.
    Not only i benefit from your ideas/experience/advices but i also benefit from your presenting style(which will help me in college this year) and english. I have learned a lot of words from just this video and just wanted to thank you and wish you good luck.

  23. The question that arises tho : What is real fun for me?… I always thought I procrastinate because I have lots of things who seem fun to me but now that I think about it that doesn't seem to be the case.
    Am I abnormal?

  24. what I nothing to do over the summer so I'm kinda wanna go back to school

    I only have to take two semesters so that should help

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