Maintaining Motivation, Concentration, and Focus

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While at university, it is possible that you may experience anxiety and a lack of motivation when trying to get things done. This may affect your reading, your attendance at lectures, your assignment preparation, and more. This anxiety and lack of motivation can cause you to struggle with the things that you need to do to make progress with your studies. This module will help you to overcome these problems by helping you to reflect upon your past experiences when you have been lacking in motivation, learn to recognize it when it happens, and learn how to improve your motivation. In addition, you will look at the problems associated with concentration and focus, including tiredness, imposter syndrome, and perfectionism. You will also learn about ways to improve your concentration and focus.

Being proactive and deciding when and how to study can help you feel less anxious about work and university. For planning at university, you can think about your time in three distinct, but interlinked ways: over the next academic year, over each week, and over each day. This module will show you how to do this by using an academic calendar to plan the year ahead; using weekly planners to protect specific periods of time for your writing; and by adopting the Pomodoro Technique to study, stay refreshed, and maintain your focus.

You will learn how to use valuable planning techniques: clustering, mind-mapping, and creating a timeline. Clustering is a technique that enables you to identify and record your existing knowledge on a topic. It is helpful to do this as it establishes a starting point for your level of knowledge on a topic before you begin your additional research. It is a visual process in which you create shapes or bubbles containing content that you can link together.

Mind-mapping allows you to take selected sections of your cluster and add, prune, and extend with the extra knowledge that you have gained from your research. This is where you can begin to identify how these new ideas, facts, and pieces of knowledge can form related concepts, comment on each other, and seem to fit together. This can help you with the planning stage of writing an assignment.

Creating a timeline in advance can help you to ensure that you remain on task and on schedule. It is good to map out each stage of your project and allocate them specific time periods. You will learn how to use note cards and essay plan templates effectively. The benefits of freewriting and looping will be explored. In addition, you will learn how to research using the SERENE method.

Adopting the techniques in this module will give you the tools to be a more motivated and focused student, and give you the opportunity to fulfill your potential and excel in your chosen course of study.

Suggested Readings
Edwards, A. (2021). Beat your writer’s block. Sage Publications.
Cottrell, S. (2019). The study skills handbook (
5th ed.
). Red Globe Press.
Hopkins, D., & Reid, T. (2018). The Academic skills handbook: Your guide to success in writing, thinking and communicating at university. Sage Publications.