There are some days when I show up to class, dressed up, notebook open, camera on and ready to have a class discussion. Those days are great and usually involve me following a strict schedule and to-do list that I’ve created for myself. With each task I complete, I have the motivation to keep going, and I end up being very productive.
However, there are some days when I am simply not feeling it. I’ll wear sweatpants, doodle in my notebooks, turn my camera off, zone out, think about what’s for lunch and check my phone. These days are hard, and they’re not few and far between. In a classroom, students are surrounded by their peers, and being in that type of environment is much more encouraging than studying alone all the time. I’ve found that the best way to keep myself motivated is by scheduling out my day by the hour and making to-do lists. The night before, I’ll decide what time I’ll wake up, make a list of what needs to get done and assign how much time I’ll spend on each task. It’s pretty effective.
The most important thing I do when it comes to motivation is to let myself have those days when I don’t wake up on time and I start to get lazy. I notice this happens after several days of following a rigorous schedule. Instead of beating myself up for not getting everything done, I am learning to be kind and to not be so hard on myself. When I have these days in which I barely check things off my to-do list or wait to do tasks another day, I find that the following day I am able to bounce back with newfound motivation. It is dangerous to be so hard on ourselves, especially during a global pandemic. If I wake up day after day after day, pushing myself to give 110%, that’s when I start to burn out. I don’t feel guilty about not doing a task if it makes me feel better. I just don’t make a habit of procrastination because that never does any good either.
It’s about balance and giving yourself time to just be, if you need it. I am a writing major and there are days where I just free write for a personal story I’ve been working on. I journal and do yoga too. The little things help. Giving yourself a chance for self-care, reflection and the opportunity to take a break is what works for me when finding motivation the next day even if the day before it was not productive.
Even more, the announcement that we will return to campus has kept me motivated. There is a part of me that is using this hope to push through the difficulties of online school.
Overall, my advice when it comes to staying motivated is to not be too hard on yourself. In such a strange world, it’s better to give yourself the chance to take breaks when you need it instead of forcing yourself to work through it
Mikayla Tolliver is a freshman at Ithaca College. In her column, “Ask a Freshman,” she answers questions about her freshman experience. Have a question you want answered? Email opinion editor John Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.