Motivating Yourself to Perform Well in Online College Classes

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[Every now and again we like to recruit a pro to give you the best scoop on their area of expertise. Today we're hearing from Greg Voakes, a cat enthusiast from Canada who likes hockey, bacon and wearing denim. He also writes for a bunch of websites, including BusinessInsider, Guysism, Asylum and ForkParty. Enjoy his bro'd out (and legitimately helpful) take on how to ace your online college classes!]

Let’s face it: whether attending college in person or taking college classes online, finding motivation to do anything besides furiously masturbate and eat Doritos can be the most daunting task of all. Even when your homework consists of connecting the dots, it’s usually easier to browse Reddit and smoke weed instead of doing anything that could be considered remotely productive. When facing the urge to waste away into nothingness, there are certain tactics which, if utilized correctly, can trick your brain into becoming a powerhouse work machine that will absorb your learning materials and pump out homework like a pregnant rabbit.

Just kidding.

There really is no trick to making work miraculously become ‘easy’ to complete. No amount of clever slogans will turn your attitude inside out or inspire you to barrel through twelve hours of work (unless you substitute ‘slogan’ for ‘ADD medication’). Motivation is as simple as understanding the concept of ‘do or don’t’; a thing gets done or it doesn’t get done. You do the work or you don’t do the work. That being said, taking certain steps can help make it easier to GIT ‘R DUN by a long shot. Creating a positive, inspiring environment for yourself can significantly increase productivity without even having to suffer thoughts of ‘what am I doing?’, ‘I don’t want to do this’, or ‘I should check the fridge for the 8th time in the past hour’. Here are some ways to help keep yourself motivated and performing well in those online college classes.

1. Being a Slob is a Problem

The first step to keeping a clear mind is keeping a clean house. Whether you’re studying for those online college classes in your apartment, your office, or a cafe, it’s important to keep your work space free of clutter. Whether you are actively noticing it or not, a lot of crap sitting around your work area can be a debilitating distraction from getting anything done. If you don’t believe it, just give it a try; study in your cluttered room for a few days, and then muster up the energy to throw away all those empty red bull cans and scraps of random paper. See how you feel afterwards. If literally nothing has changed, you probably just need to clean more. Cleaning can seem like an insurmountable task at first, and one that you may not even be interested in. However, once you complete the initial garbage holocaust on your workspace, maintaining the cleanliness can become an easy routine. Organize your stuff and keep it organized, throwing away garbage as soon as it’s produced and putting all papers in the correct areas. This will positively influence the clarity of your mind.

2. Stop Thinking Dumb Thoughts

Seriously. Stop thinking about the fight you just had with your girlfriend [Editor's note: Ahem, or boyfriend], stop dwelling on your nagging mother’s last phone call, and stop daydreaming about being Kanye West swimming in a private ocean full of beautiful mermaids. Focus on what you have and why you’re glad you have it. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not a starving child in some third world country making Nike shoes for twelve cents a day, and you’re most definitely not a crippled hobo with leprosy. Aren’t you glad? If not, you may be suffering from white people problems, which is okay… but only temporarily. Snap out of it! Think about what you’re grateful for and why you’re grateful for it. Focus on your own life and quit thinking unrealistic or nagging thoughts about things which are pretty much out of your control at the moment. Your girlfriend will still be around (and angry at you) after your three hours of studying for your online college courses, so quit responding to every text message within the minute and get back to work. If she really cares about you (or being with someone who has goals), she’ll let you study for your online college course and hold off complaining until you’re done. Make a mental list of your strengths and goals and go over them overtime you’re feeling discouraged. Remember: ultimately, the only person who has the power to get you down is yourself.

3. Positive Reinforcement

Think about the rewards that will come from reaching your goals: finishing your online college courses will get you closer to obtaining your degree. Obtaining your degree will bring you closer to obtaining your dream job. Your dream job will bring you money, with which you can buy plenty of alcohol and 100% legal non-sexual escorts (but only on the weekends…let’s not get too crazy here). Remember why you’re taking your online college courses. It also helps to remember meaningful comments other people have made about you, your work or your work ethic, especially if the person making the comment is important to you. If the teacher you look up to made a particularly positive comment about your work and how much potential you have, try to remember that any time you’re feeling distracted or disenchanted about your goals.

4. Happy Happy Fun Time Study Time

Work should often be fun. It’s a well-known fact that positive, fun working environments promote productivity way more than a stiff office where pressure is high and enjoyment is low. It’s important to keep in mind that ‘fun’ doesn’t have to mean wild, irresponsible, or lazy — it’s possible to have fun while studying for online college courses as well. One way to have fun while studying for online college courses is by having group study sessions. If you know other students in your area, put together a study-hangout wherein flash cards are used to quiz one another. This is easy to do even if the students are majoring in two completely different topics, and the diversity can even make the session more interesting by giving each student some quirky lessons they never would have read up on independently. The person holding the flash cards can even be the student’s parent or sibling, and can be a casual study session over dinner or while walking the dog. After the study session has been completed, have a reward planned.

5. Pavlov’s Online College Student

As mentioned above, plan rewards for the end of your work sessions. After an hours-long sessions studying for an online college course, have a special treat planned for yourself. Whether it’s a movie, ice cream, or buying a new video game, rewards can be an excellent motivational tool. Rewards give the online college course student a light at the end of the tunnel to look forward to; completing task A is easy when a fun reward B is to be had at the end of it all. Don’t cheat! Cheating will actually decrease motivation and productivity by making the cheater feel like a no-good lazy-butt. Believe that you can finish the task, know that you will finish the task, complete it, and enjoy your ice cream.

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