Student Experience: How to stay motivated during online learning

Third semester – entirely virtual – starts this week at MSP. To help students navigate this unprecedented moment of online learning, we asked Paul Farley (PsyD 1) for his advice on staying motivated.

During my MA, a large part of the program involved taking online classes. Throughout this time, I found it very difficult to stay motivated! Below are a few ways I learned to stay motivated when learning remotely. 
 
Go outside for a bit.
I always go outside when I am not feeling motivated for about 2 minutes and take some deep breaths.
 
The colder air and quiet of the outdoors (at least where I live) really help focus my thoughts on what I need to accomplish. When the warmer weather comes, I may try to find a way to set up a laptop outside to create an alternate environment to increase my productivity.
 
Start a Group Chat with your cohort (or some of your closer colleagues).
While in my MA program, my cohort and I had a lot of online classes. We always collaborated on different projects and assignments. If I hit some type of block, I would bounce ideas off my cohort and they would provide feedback.
 
Plan online meetings and study sessions.
Another thing I did during my MA was host scheduled Zoom sessions with my cohort (5 people). For our psychopharmacology class, we had to study pretty much all of the DSM-5 and it was overwhelming. We broke it up into sections and basically presented it to each other! 
 
Screen sharing with Zoom also provides an effective way to assist your colleagues.  You can also use Zoom to study together and get some face time with your colleagues.
 
Put away distractions.
I know many of us have distractions in our life when we are trying to work. For me, social media and my phone are very distracting. The biggest key for me to remain effective is to close/mute all social media or things that could possibly cause me to stop when I’m on a roll.
 
I know this can be difficult, especially when we live with family members, but I have found it invaluable to communicate my needs to my family.
 
Find accountability buddies.
One of the biggest challenges of online classes, is not getting behind. Even though we have “more time”, we are at home, which for many people, is not their most productive space.
 
Try getting an accountability buddy, or someone you know will help you stay on track. This can be anyone, but it would probably work best with another cohort member. Keep each other motivated! Even when I don’t personally feel motivated, I try to encourage my cohort to get their work done.

Paul Farley is a first year doctoral student at MSP. 

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