Struggling to stay laser focused? Me too.

In a post-coursework, mid-lockdown world, university students may find themselves lacking productivity in daily life. Our recent Instagram poll found that nine out of 15 voters said that they felt de-motivated since the beginning of lockdown.

How do you stay motivated to succeed given these uncertain times? Setting goals has been found to be critical to increasing motivation and success in many areas of life. Not just any goals will do; setting the right type of goals is necessary. Here are three types of goals that can help you:

Set specific goals

The more specific your goals, the better. This will enable you to detail exactly what intermediary steps must be taken and how much time and effort may be required for each step. For example, instead of setting out to learn French by the end of the summer, set yourself a daily goal to complete 10 minutes a day on an online programme such as Duolingo. By focusing on specific tasks, you will likely feel a greater sense of satisfaction that will motivate you to complete the next task – this known as positive reinforcement. This is especially key when lockdown restrictions feel never-ending!

Set short-term goals

Setting goals that are attainable in the near future, also known as proximal goals –have been found to result in greater motivation toward attainment than those that are distant. These goals can be short-term and can build toward an eventual long-term target. For example, setting yourself a goal of reading a new book on a topic of interest is more effective than simply setting your goal to learn more about said topic. By completing one task (i.e. one book) at a time, you will be able to gain a sense of accomplishment about your own capabilities. This will drive you forward and help you evaluate your progress more reliably and regularly. Being able to cross-off tasks on a calendar or to-do-list may help you to maintain motivation. There are many digital options for these tools as well.

Set challenging goals

Set challenging goals! Paradoxically, if you set goals that feel too ‘easy’, your perception of the time and effort necessary will promote procrastination and reduce your motivation to complete the task. Setting challenging tasks (that are still attainable and measurable) increases your motivation towards the attainment of the goal. The more engaged you are with a task, the more intrinsically motivated you will be towards completing it. For example, your motivation may increase if you set yourself the challenging goal of exercising four times a week for 30 minutes. This is more effective in achieving the eventual goal of fitness as opposed to aiming to exercise only once a week or seven days a week; both of these extremes will reduce your motivation towards the goal.

Whatever your goals may be during this quarantine period, prioritize your mental health. Celebrate the attainment of all goals – big or small – and allow yourself the space and time to adjust to new circumstances.

This post was written by Ms. Reina Kirpalani (@rkirpalani) a second year student on the BSc in Psychology with Education degree at UCL with minor comments from Dr Keri Wong (@DrKeriWong).

What do you do to stay motivated? Please share your tips/tricks with us at or tag us on @GlobalC19Study (Twitter) and GlobalC19Study (Instagram). We’d love to hear from you!


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