Stay Motivated! Tips for Postgraduate Students

By Mia Casey

Postgraduate study brings with it a whole range of stresses that previous study may not have prepared you for. Staying motivated can be difficult, especially when work and home commitments start piling up. Fortunately, we’ve put together some helpful bits of advice to help you identify stress and improve your focus!

Minimise self-doubt

Students often undertake postgraduate study at a later stage in life, where friends and family members may be in the process of establishing themselves more fully in their own careers. This can lead to anxiety about your own choices in pursuing study, which could impact your focus and drive.

If you feel like this might be affecting you, reflect on what led you to postgraduate study, and the opportunities that will be available to you upon completing it. Remember: studying is not a step backwards! Spending time and energy pursuing your passion in a particular field can be much more rewarding than tiring away in a position or industry you’re unhappy in. You owe it to yourself to try and achieve your goals, so don’t let self-doubt hold you back!

Power through academic burnout

Some students undertake postgraduate study immediately after completing an undergraduate degree (or other qualification). Jumping straight from years of academia into a whole new level of study may leave you feeling more than a bit overworked.

You can try to mitigate this by setting aside time each week dedicated to YOU. Whether it’s a full-blown pyjama day or even just a few hours on a Sunday night, spend time doing something you enjoy. Allowing yourself time to relax  can help revive your positive mindset (and potentially stave off the dreaded procrastination cycle!).

Plan ahead

Before your study session begins, have a look at what your course requires of you over the following months. Then, plot everything out on a calendar or in your phone and keep this somewhere you can see it. Having an idea of how your deadlines will be organised in the weeks ahead can help you balance other commitments in advance. This can also motivate you to start on tasks sooner, to help minimise the stress of deadlines!

Remember, if things are getting too difficult to juggle it’s always a good idea to ask for help. Your lecturers and supervisors understand that work and home commitments can make it difficult to achieve your best results. Honest dialogue can help you avoid misunderstandings and disappointments later on, so keep the lines of communication open!

Reach out

While studying, you’ll be surrounded by people who are going through the same experiences and stresses. If you’re feeling lost or unsure of where to go next with your studies, ask some of your fellow classmates if they have time to go for coffee to discuss the coursework, or brainstorm new research ideas. Listening to different perspectives can help you develop new ideas or ways of understanding the issue you’re facing. Regardless of your backgrounds, if you’re all passionate about a similar field then networking and forging new relationships can prove beneficial later on!

You can also reach out to friends and family to ask for encouragement. While they may not understand what you’re studying or your motivations, they can help you stay on schedule. Establish a rough schedule to adhere to each night (including time for relaxation, food, study etc.) and share it with a friend or family member. Ask them to remind you when to switch tasks (an sms or even Facebook message would help!).  Sometimes losing your focus can be overcome by simply putting your head down and working through it, so having someone offering support can definitely help.


Hopefully these tips can help reinvigorate your study motivation! If you’ve got the time, why not work on implementing some of this advice into your studies?

If you’re looking for some more inspiration, come along to the Utilising your PG Study to Advance your Career event on 25th August 2016, as part of UTS:Careers’ Festival of Future You! This event works to show you the vast range of careers available to Masters and Doctorate Research students. Discover career avenues beyond pure academia and learn what unexpected opportunities could be available. Register now!

Author: Mia Casey

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