Maintaining Motivation

George Lehman , Staff Reporter

Quarantine has definitely made school interesting over the past year. Before COVID-19, many students had their everyday routines with activities, school, and spending time with friends. Once March hit last year, many of our everyday activities and clubs were stopped. We weren’t able to hang out with friends or do the things we usually do. However, one of the most affected parts of our lives was school. As a student, I found it hard to stay motivated to study. Eventually, I found a rhythm to studying that helped me to stay productive and remember the course material more effectively. With it being almost a year of lockdown, I thought I’d share some of the ways I kept motivated to study, as well as some studying methods I learned.

School has always been a regular part of our lives, but last spring definitely shook things up. I remember having so much time on my hands, but so little fun things to do. I thought, “What am I going to do all day?” After I finished my schoolwork, I thought I should spend most of my time studying. I spent a few days studying of nonstop studying sessions for four-to-five hours a day after I completed my school work. I thought, “Why not be productive with all this time I have?” It turns out that I was being more unproductive studying for longer times with no breaks. I often would find myself getting distracted looking out the window or playing with my pencil…anything to pass the time by. I realized, that for me, the best way to stay productive while studying was to take short breaks.

I searched the Internet, looking for effective studying techniques. This lead me to my favorite type of studying method, which is the Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo, a former business student of Guido Carli International University, located in Rome, Italy. This technique is great for people who get distracted while working for long periods of time. There are only a couple steps to get started. First, create a to-do list and grab a timer. Your list will help you stay on track while you’re working and help you see the progress you’ve made with each assignment crossed off. The next step is to pick one of the assignments on your list and set your timer for 25 minutes. For the next 25 minutes, focus solely on that task until the timer rings. Once time is up, mark one of your tasks. The third step…take a break! That’s right, taking a five minute break will help your brain relax and be able to concentrate on your next task. Repeat the process until you’ve checked off four tasks, then take a longer 15-30 minute break. You can treat each break as a little reward for the hard work you’ve put towards your studying. I found this method really helpful with keeping me focused on each task that I completed.

Another studying technique I found really helpful was the Feynman Technique, created Richard Feynman, an American theoretical physicist. This method breaks down complicated concepts, into smaller pieces, helping you to quickly understand the whole concept or topic. First, choose a concept or process you want to learn about. It can be a variety of topics, from science to history. The second step is to explain the concept as if you were explaining it to a child. This step forces you to make the concept really simple and helps your brain to understand the basic understanding of the concept. The third step is to understand what you couldn’t explain simply. Review over your materials to find what you couldn’t explain. If you still can’t understand what you found difficult, use an analogy. Using an analogy will help your brain to link the concept your learning to something you already know. Now that you’ve connected your concept to something you already know, try simplifying the concept again to further reinforce your understanding of the concept. I found this studying technique really helpful on larger topics with multiple parts to them. Using this method, I was able to explain what an overall topic was by simplifying the smaller parts to it.

I hope that by sharing my experiences with studying during quarantine, it’s helped you to find a couple studying techniques that work best for you. Happy studying!