Dear Dogtor Zach: Finding Motivation
By Gettysburg College Counseling Services
Dogtor Zach & Co.,
When I first got home and started doing remote learning, I was pretty okay. It took me a while to get into a routine, but I managed. However, now I am having trouble staying motivated to do my work. I am worried about my grades but even that doesn’t give me motivation. Can you help?
–A struggling sophomore
Motivation can be a hard thing to come by, especially when the days start to blend into each other and we’re disconnected from the in-person encouragement of friends and teachers. There is no “magic bullet,” but there are some things that might help:
- Schedule your day and include time specifically devoted to doing your work. When that time comes, as Nike saying goes, “Just DO it.”
- Do not stop to think about whether you want to do something, because when you do, your brain will invariably come up with all kinds of reasons why you don’t need to or don’t need to do it now. Circumvent your brain having the chance to talk you out of it: think of what you need to do, don’t think about whether to do it and start doing it. We recommend the TED talk by Mel Robbins about this.
- Motivation is the urge to do something. We don’t often automatically have the urge to do things we don’t like! So don’t wait to have the “urge,” for it won’t come.
- Make a written list of the things you have to do. Cross each one off the list when you’ve done it. Boy, does that feel good.
- Do the thing you LEAST want to do first. Get it out of the way. Otherwise, your procrastination is made worse by guilt about not doing the thing you’re dreading.
- Once you’ve done a task, take a few moments to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. We tend to skip over this and move right to the next thing. Stop and notice how good it feels to have something knocked off your list.
- You perfectionists out there may have a hard time not doing your very best work, but these are very odd times. Do what you can, and remember that you have the Pass/Fail option. Use it. Then when life becomes normal again, you can be a perfectionist again. Remember: perfectionism is the enemy of action.
Dogtor Zach says: Have a treat when you do what you’re supposed to do. I get treats when I do what I’m supposed to. It makes me want to do it again. Bacon. Have bacon after each task. Bacon is good. I LOVE bacon. What’s your bacon? #WWZD (What Would Zach Do)
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