Tips for revision motivation

If you’re struggling to find the motivation to revise then fear not, you are not alone.

Most people experience a lack of motivation in their lives and careers, even those who appear to have the perfect job are affected.  It’s totally natural.

Why might I feel unmotivated?

  • You’re feeling lazy – some people just struggle to get going
  • You’re overwhelmed by the task – you’ve got good intentions, but the thought of all the work is too much
  • You’re struggling to connect with the purpose behind all the work – you don’t see how it matters
  • You are feeling downbeat – worried about failing and lacking in confidence
  • You can’t concentrate and are distracted

Below are some tips to help stay motivated during your revision.

You should notice that many of these play nicely with a revision timetable.

Do something outdoors

A great way to improve your motivation is to go outdoors for short while.

Rain or shine, spending some time outside will help you feel more motivated and ready for action.  A short walk is all it takes.

Don’t worry if it seems counter productive to use up your revision time in this way, the benefits outweigh the time taken.


Exercise is known to help you focus and improve motivation.

You could choose to go for a short walk, or you may opt for something a little more challenging.  Either way, it will help.

Combine your exercise with some time outdoors and you’re surely onto a winner.

Make exercise part of your routine by including it in your revision timetable.

Do the most difficult task first

This next tip works for some people, but not for others.

Do the most difficult or horrible task early in the day.

A lot of people find that when faced with a day of revision, they feel more motivated if they can just get the most difficult task out of the way first.

This makes the rest of the day seem more manageable and less stressful as you won’t be thinking about ‘that task’ all day, and you’ll feel so much happier once it’s been achieved.

Do a low effort task first

In a complete contradiction to the tip above, some people like to start their revision or work with a low effort easier task.

Doing a low effort task first breaks you gently into the day and acts as a ‘warm up’ for further tasks.

This strategy works for many people because mustering up the motivation for a low effort task is usually far easier then convincing yourself to complete a more difficult one.

This technique definitely works for me.  I find that once I have completed a few easier tasks I feel ready for something more difficult.

Just make a start (commit to a single task)

I’m sure you’ve heard this tip before, and it’s so true.

If you’re struggling with motivation, make a start by committing to complete one task, that’s all.

Tell yourself that’s all you’re prepared to do at the moment, and it’s better than doing no work at all.

Once finished, the tangible progress you have just made acts as a morale boost, increasing your confidence and motivation to do more.

You will usually end up doing another task too.

This works for units of time too.  If you’re having a bad day, just commit to 30 minutes of revision, with no pressure to do more.

Improve your study environment

We’ve mentioned before on this website about the importance of creating the perfect study space.

It’s only natural to feel no motivation to revise if doing so involves being in an uncomfortable environment for long periods of time.

Improve your motivation to revise by creating and maintaining a comfortable study space which is free from clutter and distractions.

Keep to a routine (revision timetable)

Sticking to a routine is an important aspect of revision success.

That’s why lots of people recommend creating and using a revision timetable.

Having a revision timetable will help you to stay focused and work through your agenda (seeing what needs to be done within a time frame can be motivating).

As you stick to a routine or timetable each day, it becomes easier to follow and maintain.

Your revision routine will hopefully become a good habit that requires less motivation to follow.

Even if you are feeling zero motivation to work, go and sit at your desk as per your revision timetable.

Read our post about creating a revision timetable.

Take breaks

Incorporate regular breaks and some reward time into your revision timetable or schedule.

Breaks divide your day into manageable chunks and give you the opportunity for a short rest.

Importantly though, each break also gives you something to look forward to, which will boost your motivation levels.

Forget perfection

The pursuit of perfection can sometimes prevent us from starting a task or project.

We can become such a perfectionist that we would rather achieve nothing then something that we ourselves believe is inadequate.

Find the motivation to make a start by acknowledging that you are not aiming for perfection.

Making a start is more progress than doing nothing.

Set goals and track your progress

You can improve your motivation by setting goals and tracking your progress against them.

Your goals can be short, medium or long term.

Having short term goals will help you get through each revision day, for example, small milestones that earn you extra breaks or reward time.

Seeing your progress as you complete goals will help to motivate you too.

Break larger tasks into smaller tasks

Being overwhelmed by the size or complexity of a task is a proven demotivator.

We often feel like we don’t know where to begin, or that we are simply not capable of seeing the task through to completion.

We tell ourselves it’s too difficult and there’s no point even trying.

To avoid being demotivated by larger tasks, split them into smaller parts, the smaller the better.

Break those smaller parts into even smaller tasks if necessary.

Smaller tasks take less time to complete and are easier to achieve.  This will give you the motivation to try.

Once you have completed some of the small tasks you will feel a sense of achievement which gives you the motivation to continue.

Don’t forget, your broken down task doesn’t have to be completed on the same day.  You can space it out.

Understand why the effort matters

To be motivated, most of us need to see the value in what we are doing.

Increase your motivation by understanding how the work you are doing now matters for your ambitions, long term goals and future.

Find connections that are meaningful and personal to you and your circumstances.

Think deeper then just “I want a well paid job”, or “I want to be a vet”.

Why does it matter?  Do you want to:

  • Help others?
  • Be independent?
  • Travel far and often?
  • Afford to have lots of children?
  • Live in a nicer neighbourhood?
  • Drive nice cars?
  • Qualify for the next stage of your education?
  • Be an expert in your profession?
  • Make someone proud?
  • Afford to pursue a passion?

Focus on now

Don’t let negative thoughts or fears about the future demotivate you.

Stay motivated by focusing on what you can achieve right now, not your worries and the uncontrollable future.

Recognise your current achievements and the progress you have already made.  This will motivate you.

Some people find it helpful to write down their fears and worries, but if you do, also record your ongoing progress.

Avoid distractions

It’s hard to stay motivated when we place ourselves in an environment full of distractions.

Your phone can be one of the biggest causes of distraction and laziness.

Improve your motivation by putting your phone away whilst you study and revise.

You can’t concentrate if you are constantly checking your phone.

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