5 Motivation Killers to Avoid in Graduate School


We all want to stay motivated. There (probably) isn’t a single person in this world who is actively trying to demotivate themselves. If anything, we’re willing to search far and wide to find tricks to keep ourselves from losing our fire. But while you could take the time to make lots of dream boards or start meditating every morning, there are five seemingly trivial actions that you can immediately cut to help you maximize your motivation.

  1. Focusing on minor negative details. Your daily life is full of necessary tasks. Some of them may be pretty enjoyable, while others may have you mentally shouting “I hate this!” Unfortunately, reinforcing that negativity won’t get you anywhere. Try to reframe it like this: some tasks are just annoying, but they’re all stepping-stones to a larger end goal ¾be it closing a deal, earning your Master’s degree, or anything in between!
  1. Working without breaks. Make time for breaks during your day. A series of small breaks should leave you feeling energized once you discover how you recharge. Maybe it entails chatting with coworkers, taking a short walk, savoring a snack, or unplugging from technology. Regardless, if what you’re currently doing isn’t bringing you some sense of renewal, then repurpose your breaks until you find something that does.
  1. Including too many—or too few—details on your to-do list. Everyone has the power to create and conquer a to-do list; the mastery lies in the minutiae. Putting too much detail into your tasks may leave you feeling like you’re always behind. Conversely, using too little detail may lead to forgetting the nuances of your tasks. Think about how your to-do list makes you feel and tweak it to find what’s right for you.
  1. Losing focus at the start of your day/study session. Sometimes you sit down to start working, and before you know it, you’ve spent 20 minutes scrolling through your social media feeds to “warm up your brain.” Occasionally beginning your day like this is nothing to worry about, but even the most dedicated REALTOR® can struggle with maintaining productivity if they’re regularly distracted upon arriving to work or starting to study. Combat this by starting your day with tasks that make you feel productive within the first hour of getting to work—even if what you accomplish is small. Once you’re in the habit of working right away, you’ll start to feel some momentum that’ll keep you moving towards your goals.
  1. Following a schedule that doesn’t work for you. As an RU student, you have the opportunity to take courses and complete coursework at times that work around your career and family life. This flexibility is a great chance to discover when you do your best intellectual work and when you are best suited to do less mentally-taxing tasks. Listen to your brain and body, and experiment with different schedules so that you’re using your talents when you’re the most effective.

To check out the inspiration behind this list, take a look at this great article from ScienceMag.org.