Staying motivated to study while workingChen Wan Lim
It is no easy task to go back to school once you’ve joined the work force; especially if you have been working for years and even decades. Apart from work related duties, candidates who return to business school for postgraduate studies would need to juggle between assignment datelines, discussion meetings and classes. Those with families to mind would even find it more challenging. Here are some pointers to help potential postgraduate degree candidates stay motivated to study effectively and succeed while having a 9-to-5 career:
Are you a morning person or a night person?
Determining if you study more effectively in the morning or at night could improve the effectiveness of your study time. If you are a morning person, then set aside some time before you start work to revise and to read a few chapters of your notes before you clock in. Do it over your favourite breakfast and coffee to keep you motivated. According to the studies by the University of Nottingham, a person’s self-control is at the highest during the morning hours and doing the right things in the morning is crucial. Setting a positive tone in the morning could determine your productivity for the entire day. If you are a night person, then studying at night after you clock out could be more effective for you. A psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame was quoted saying that, “The sleeping brain decides what to remember and what to forget. By placing sleep close to learning, there’s less conflicting information to process”. The point to note here is that you would need to determine on your own when and where is the best time to study throughout the course of your working week to fully reap the benefits and rewards.
In this day and age where a person carries two mobile phones, a tablet and has more than one social media accounts, it is easy to see why people are easily distracted from the task on which they are working on. To remain motivated and to avoid the mind from being distracted unnecessarily, simply turn off your mobile phone for a fix period of time. But if you are unable to do it, then make it known to your family and co-workers that a certain period of the day is dedicated to your study time and to only call/message when necessary. Also, to effectively remove distractions and to stay motivated, look for a conducive place to study such as a library, a quiet cafe, your office before the phones start ringing or even in your bedroom.
Goals and rewards setting
Set achievable goals while studying. Avoid forcing yourself to complete ten chapters a day when a realistic goal would be only two chapters. In addition, set clearly defined goals of what you would want to achieve in that one hour of studying as opposed to vague and general goals such as browsing through at least two chapters or completing half of a five hundred word assignment. Keep yourself motivated by rewarding yourself after you have achieved your goals. The reward need not be elaborate. It could be as simple as a cup of cappuccino from your favourite barista.
Forming a study group
Knowing that you are not alone is important. Understand that in the course of your masters or MBA degree, there is a classroom full of working adults with similar goals of achieving a postgraduate degree. Take lead and form a study group. Candidates do not need to meet up on daily basis but rather on a weekly basis. Besides revising and discussing study materials, study groups double function as a support group to keep each other motivated and reminded of the end goal. Another great idea would be to form a once-a-week lunchtime study group if your course mates happen to work around the same area. Pack some lunch and discuss a chapter or two over your lunch break.
Taking a break and resting well
Researchers from New York University published a study in the journal Neuron noting that memories are strengthened during periods of rest while we are awake. As such, according to Lila Davachi, an assistant professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science, “Taking a coffee break after class can actually help you retain that information you just learned,”. Continuous studying can be strenuous especially if candidates have back-to-back meetings to attend to at work and attending night classes in the evening. So, remember to give yourself a break – take a ten minute power nap or take a slow walk every so often.