Let’s Talk Motivation in 2021


Erin Barr

Clinical Coordinator of UpStreet

Let’s talk motivation in 2021! 


Last week we posted about some of the most common things people talk about on the live chat. This week, we’re going to dive a bit deeper into one of those topics.


There seems to be a general lack of it from what we’re hearing on the chat. It’s completely understandable. You’ve been in virtual/online school forever. Online/virtual school is..shall we say less than ideal. Doing school on a cold winter morning from a place so close to your warm cozy bed makes it that much harder. Maybe some of these things will give you and your motivation a needed push in the right direction.

Temptation Bundling

Sounds more impressive than it is. At its simplest, temptation bundling is combining something you like/want to do with something that you should be doing but don’t really want to do. A good way to start temptation bundling is write a list of your most dreaded school related assignments or responsibilities. Then, write a list of things you enjoy doing and/or things you are likely to do instead of school work. See if there are any combinable options.

Have a favorite coffee shop drink? Only allow yourself to have one while sitting at a table or desk (as opposed to lying in your bed) for school. Like painting your nails? Paint them and get some reading done while waiting for them to dry. Make a playlist of favorite songs that you only listen to while doing homework.

Setting Goals

What is it that you want or need to accomplish for school on any given day or week? It can be helpful to write out your goals, not just think about them. And let’s be honest, your goal for school might just be finishing something by the due date–which is really a goal your teacher set but by default it’s now your goal too. And, btw, having a date to accomplish the goal can be helpful so keep that in mind when creating your own goals. But maybe writing all the goals down in one place will help you stay organized and on track. Take it a step further and share your goals with someone–friends, teachers, family. Ask them to help keep you accountable.

Make a To Do List

This is not a new idea. But what might be a new idea is making your to do list based on the goals that you’ve set for yourself (or your teachers have set for you). Think of the to do list as the smaller steps to help you reach your goal. For example, if your goal is to finish reading The Crucible by next Wednesday it might be helpful to make your “to do” list look something like this:

✅ Thursday read to page 73
✅ Friday read to page 113
✅ Saturday take a break, it’s the weekend!
✅ Sunday read to page 154

Breaking down larger projects or assignments into smaller and more manageable pieces can keep you motivated to get it done. We have a tendency to put things off if they feel too overwhelming. Like it’s too much to think about so it’s easier not think about it at all. It’s so easy to slip into the mindset of “I’ll never get this done.” But an achievable task can break that mentality. There is something empowering and motivating about crossing things off a list.

Time Management

This can feel like an overused term sometimes but there is something to feeling like you know what you’re supposed to be doing and when. You have due dates for assignments and tests so an easy place to start is putting these dates on a calendar (paper, electronic, whiteboard). Then fill in other responsibilities–practices, club or activity meetings, work schedule, etc. Now pull out that to-do list and add these to the calendar. Be sure to include enjoyable things too–like watching a show, exercising, baking, napping, etc. Being able to visualize things can make it less daunting to get them done. It also helps you prioritize tasks. And this approach squashes the belief that you have so much school work that there is not time for fun.

Make a Did List

Sometimes it can be motivating to make a list of the things you already did. After school is over for the day and the afternoon’s homework is looming over you, jot down some of the things you accomplished already. Doesn’t have to be anything major, even something like: I did virtual school from the kitchen table instead of my bed. I participated in Biology class today. Pat yourself on the back for all the things you accomplished with minimal effort and then go tackle your homework.

Reward Yourself

Rewards can come in many different shapes and sizes. Using your goals or to-do list in a planned way can definitely help with motivation. So go back to your written goals and/or to do list. Pick a few things from either of those lists and next to it, write down something to reward yourself with after finishing the item. Algebra homework done? Take a quick nap or call a friend. Finally finished The Crucible or met your page goal for the day? Go get that latte you’ve been waiting for. Even taking a 15 minute break to do nothing can be considered a reward.

If you are like so many other people out there right now struggling to find the motivation for school, I encourage you to try one of these things. And then try it a few times to see if it makes a difference. If you want more suggestions or help applying one of these tips to your specific situation, our live chat is always an option. If any of these work for you or if you have any other tips, let us know! @upstreetpgh


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