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How to Stay Motivated in January

How to Stay Motivated in January main image

Eugh…January. It’s cold, it’s gray, and Christmas is a distant memory. Discarded Christmas trees line the streets, you’re skint, and your “get up and go” has got up and gone. To make matters worse, you might even have *shudder* January exams.

But it’s not all bad. January is also a new beginning for many of us, a chance to think about what New Year’s resolutions you can make to have a happier and healthier life. But if you find yourself failing your resolutions almost as soon as you’ve made them, or you’re just generally struggling to stay motivated in this gloomy month, these tips are for you.

Use your phone

“Wait, what?” you may be thinking, especially if your phone is a big part of your procrastination problem. But hear us out. There are many apps you can download to motivate you and spur you on to achieve your goals, whether you’re planning to go from to get fitter, or become more organized and productive in your studies by using an app like , in which you can track your upcoming exams, assignments and projects.

Another great way to motivate yourself is by using an app that makes revision enjoyable (well, as enjoyable as revision can be) such as , which has games, flashcards and study sets to help you master your revision topic, and provides tips on where you may need to improve.  Check out more helpful apps for students here.  

Set yourself small goals

Struggling to motivate yourself to tackle a big project? Try setting yourself realistic, short-term goals that will lead to long-term success. For example, the long-term goal of graduating with a particular overall grade is hard to achieve right now, but finishing an assignment on time and to a high standard will help you work towards it. You could even split that short-term goal into smaller, more manageable tasks, like writing a certain number of words per day.

A good method to help with this is the Pomodoro Technique. This involves working in chunks of 25 minutes (called pomodoros), each separated by a short break. After you’ve completed four pomodoros, you reward yourself with a longer break. Using this technique, you should find yourself well on the way to completing your task, and notice a real improvement in your motivation and concentration levels.

Of course, you may get distracted, but the Pomodoro Technique also involves logging distractions and thinking about how much of a priority they really are. If you’re prone to getting distracted, there are extensions available for your browser to block sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Make tasks enjoyable

We touched on this earlier when mentioning Quizlet, where you can use games to help your learning, but there are many other ways to make seemingly dull tasks more interesting and enjoyable. For example, if you hate going for a run in this cold weather, you can make it more amusing using an app like in which your runs become part of a game where you speed up to get away from zombies. The app also has you take part in missions as part of an award-winning story, making your normal jog around the park even more rewarding and motivating. Alternatively, if you only feel bored when you go to the gym, try a new exercise class like boxing or Zumba.

To make revision more enjoyable, you could turn a set of facts or figures you need to learn into a memorable song or rhyme, listen to motivational music, or give yourself rewards (sweets maybe?) every time you finish a page in a particularly dull book. (Of course, don’t forget to fill yourself with good, healthy brain food as well).

Make plans to look forward to

Another great way to counteract the January blues is to put something in the diary for you to look forward to, either at the end of the month or later in the year. It can be something as simple as a proper night out or a gig with your friends, or something as big as a summer holiday (let’s face it, we’re all dreaming of ). If your bank balance is looking a bit sad, there are ways to get cheap holidays – for example by booking last minute, or for a less popular time of year. If you don’t have exams in May, you’ll find it’s cheaper than the summer months, while early morning flights will be more affordable than those later in the day. You could also get a student job, if you haven’t got one already.

If all else fails, remember January won’t last forever. Spring is just around the corner, the days are getting longer, and it’s a great time for a new start.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina edits and publishes articles which guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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