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Christopher Douce

TM470: Maintaining motivation

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During a group tutorial I asked students how they kept motivated. With their permission, what follows is a summary of the hints and tips they shared with each other. Their points are accompanied by some of my own thoughts:

Have a chat with your tutor: your project tutor is there to help. Do find the time to speak with them. It is important they learn more about your project idea, since then they can help and offer advice.

Speak to people: if one exists for your module, consider joining a WhatsApp group, or other online groups, since speaking to other students can be really useful. One thing to bear in mind is that these informal spaces are, of course, not monitored or regulated by the university, which means that students need to take care when participating in these spaces. Students do, however, still have to abide by student conduct policies.

Tell your managers: if you are completing your project module as a part of an apprenticeship, or there is a connection between your project and your workplace, make sure you tell your managers all about it. Get them involved, and consider how best to keep the informed about your progress, and consider what kind of help they might be able to offer.

Remember where you are in your studies: when you’re doing a project module, you’re nearly at the end of everything, and it’s important to remember this. Your project module is the pinnacle of your studies. Look back at how far you’re come, and look forward to see how far you have to go. This helps to put things into perspective.

Remember why you’re doing this: remind yourself of what you want to achieve by carrying out all your studies. It might be a better job, a change of career, or maybe a route into postgraduate studies. Reminding yourself on the big picture, and what you want to achieve, can help you to regain your motivation.

Little rewards: make sure you make time to celebrate your achievements, whatever these might be. They might be completing a plan, finding something out about an aspect of your project, revising bits of module materials, or submitting a TMA. Make sure you build in time to enjoy life.

Manage your time: although this isn’t necessarily directly about motivation, it is important to make sure you find a way to manage your time. When you have a plan, or a study habit, this will help you to internalise that you’re able to complete your project.

Break things down: there’s this expression that goes ‘how do you eat an elephant?’ The answer is: in little pieces. The same applies to your project. You should always aim to break your project into smaller chucks to make sure you can achieve the bigger goal.

Take regular breaks: stepping away from your project work can be really helpful. If you spend a lot of time working on a problem or a task, you might begin to make mistakes, and the quality of your work might go down. Consider going for a walk, completing a mindless chore that needs to be done, or watch some nonsense on television: whatever works best for you.

Understand what study or work habits work best: some of us are morning people, whereas others work best late at night. Understand what works for you, and apply this to your project work. This will make things easier.


Many thanks to the TM(XY)470 students who attended our introductory tutorials. Good luck with your projects!

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