Staying Motivated Through Self Organisation by Ernest Mackina


As a freshman, or any other student, one is easily distracted by a number of items and it becomes a mammoth task to maintain concentration in the execution of academic tasks. This article will seek to give a guide to overcoming this challenge, and foster self-motivation as well as practices synonymous with edit

The first step in organising ones thoughts and activities is to avoid clutter and distractions. These may be both internal and external and include the following:


  • Noise

  • Hunger

  • Illness

  • Music

  • Heat

  • Sleepiness

  • Social networks


To avoid the ramifications associated with distractions, one needs to avoid distractions and find a quiet place to study where they can easily concentrate, detoxed of all unnecessary gadgets and people and where the absorption of concepts can be done at ease.

Music can enhance or deter studying. You have to ask yourself as you have those earphones plugged in if that keeps you in tune with what you are doing, or whether it makes you wander off to distant memories.

A steady amount of exercise can do good in the maintaining of focus, one needs to take regular breaks during their study session. Since you are doing a task, you can establish a reward system where you take breaks after talking difficult exercises or for each time you finish a chapter. My old lecturer would call this ‘paying yourself’, as a business ethic.

One other tactic towards successful studies and a constant flow of motivation is to postpone your distractions. Delayed gratification is a strategy used whereby you structure your life in such a way that you can reward yourself after hard-work. It is quintessential that one works while there is still time as this is very necessary in ensuring that one does not leave things until it is too late. Work needs to be scheduled timeously. A stock take of your activities should be able to help you assess how your time has been allocated. Each and every day, reflect back and recollect activities done during the day and see how you have spent time as a resource in line with priorities.

Our minds are made up of short term and long term memory banks and as such we retain information longer when we understand it. This is why reading ones’ notes periodically is advised. The logic behind this is simple: learning is premised on repetition, and it demands ones motivation to thrive. As human beings we have a craving to know and a drive to explore and this drive should be very high. The desire to learn is both internal and external and our closest reality is where motivation is drawn from. As an individual reaching towards a long term goal of academic excellence, it is imperative that one ensure that their support systems such as friends and family have a positive and encouraging effect. Where this is absent, and if possible, change your social circles and fellowship with those that build you and challenge you to be better.

When you fall down pick yourself up.

At this advanced stage of study (after primary and secondary learning), we are no longer empty vessels and our minds work on schemata, we carry previous knowledge and as such each time  we learn, we attach it to previous knowledge. When one feels sleepy, one should do something different to break the monotony (varying the stimulus). This can be done by doing things differently. Say for instance you were used to just merely reading, you can try reading and writing side notes, or reading out your notes aloud to a family member or friend. Share what you have learnt. Regurgitating what you have learnt through out a course helps in assimilation and understanding of concepts. What you internalise, rehearse to others, even if they do not understand.

There are several techniques that enhance understanding. These include the use of mnemonics, associations and abbreviations.

Decide your priorities. Because time is a precious resource and needs to be accounted for it is important to prioritise. Things are not of equal value and as a student your highest priority should be your studies and obtaining your degree/diploma/certificate. Entertainment, chores, social networks and exercise can be secondary. Sometimes there are things we have to do even if we don’t like them. Create a timetable and put all seven days of the week packed with activities directed towards attaining your priorities. There is no such thing as free time, as all-time has to be accounted for.

Reading in the morning before breakfast and in the evening is great as long as one manages to rest. Sleep at least for seven hours.

Autonomous learning demands one to set the pace and take charge of their use of time.

by Ernest Mackina (


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