I love to study and I love to learn, but let’s face it, assignments can be a bit of a drag. Yes, I enjoy the intellectual challenge, but the stress of getting the task done on time and demonstrating my knowledge adequately to the marker can sometimes get the best of me. I’ve successfully completed numerous assignments to date so I know it will be ok in the end, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling under pressure every time, right up until I hit that ‘submit’ button.
So, is all this pressure and stress worth it in the end? Yes! Your hard work and dedication will be rewarded by a great grade (hopefully!). But while the knowledge and experience you gain from putting assignments together are great motivators in themselves, I also love to reward myself further with unrelated rewards to keep me energised throughout the process of writing my assignments.
There is actually theory behind the benefits of using rewards to motivate yourself. According to neuroscientist, Schultz, rewards are ‘objects or events that make individuals come back for more and promote behavioural choices that maximize them’. What this means is that rewards reinforce behaviours or decisions. For example, you are more likely to work hard to achieve your goal because you want the reward you know is available upon completion of the task or work. Using a reward system as a motivational strategy also helps you beat procrastination tendencies (which I am often very guilty of) and helps you maintain energy levels when otherwise you might feel like calling it quits.
Rewarding yourself don’t necessarily mean you have to spend money, your reward just needs to be something positive that you know will motivate you to do the hard work you need to. When selecting your reward, think of something that is of value to you. I like to do something I don’t have much time for during semester, such as catching up on my favourite TV shows (e.g. Orange is the New Black or Covert Affairs), chatting with friends online who live far away or reading a book I’ve wanted to get stuck into. You might prefer to go for a massage or spend the night online gaming – choose whatever it is that will motivate YOU!
And if you’re really struggling to get your assignment done and that reward upon finishing seems like it will never come, reward yourself along the way. Break everything you have to do for your assignment up into segments or smaller tasks and plan smaller rewards for completing each of those. It could be a delicious mocha once you’ve got the basic outline of your assignment planned or a walk in your garden to stretch your legs after doing the necessary background reading. Again, it’s important to choose rewards that will motivate you. With these smaller rewards, aim to make them less time consuming – your ultimate goal is, of course, to get the assignment finished (and get that big reward).
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get to work and smash out your next assignment. Remember, those relaxing, fun and delicious study rewards are waiting for you!
For more advice on how to stay on track with your study, check out Emma's 3 strategies to motivate yourself and achieve your goals!