Coursework and projects: How to get started

“Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.” David Bly

By Stephanie Poulsen Monday, September 22, 2014

We’ve all been in that situation where everything else sounds more interesting than getting started on your coursework. Watching television, playing video games, hanging out with your friends, even helping your mum clean the house can seem like a better way to spend your time. Getting motivated to study and beating procrastination can be a difficult and long journey. But with the right preparations, it might not be so bad after all.

1. Avoid distractions

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Distractions are your biggest enemy when trying to begin a large project or piece of coursework. They can present themselves in many different forms, be it other people, fun activities or chores that would usually seem mundane. Therefore, you should try to avoid them as much as possible and create a learning environment that will help you fully concentrate on your goal:

• Find a quiet space. This could be a library, a room in your house, or anywhere else that is free from noise, interruptions and distracting friends.

• Stock up on supplies. Make sure you have all the pens, paper, highlighters, etc. that you need. You should also keep water and snacks close by. Getting up to get more of either of those things will end up stealing your attention away from what you actually should be doing.

• Keep your laptop and mobile phone out of reach. It is too easy to say ‘I just need to check facebook' - before you know it, you’ll have spent a whole hour procrastinating.

2. Set yourself goals

Before starting, you should set yourself goals and objectives for each study session. Try to make these goals as specific and achievable as possible instead of thinking in general terms. While it is clear that at the end of the journey you want to achieve a great grade in your coursework and have a good understanding of maths, try and think of some more short term objectives that you want to achieve in the next couple of hours or days. Try and make a study schedule or timeline so that you know what exactly to focus on each study session. And stick to it! It will feel great when you can tick the first things off and it will motivate you even more to also accomplish the rest.

Thinking about what you will achieve in the long run can also help. Achieving a good grade in a piece of coursework of a big project might get you in to the college or university that you want to attend. It’s also great preparation if you want to continue with maths at university level as you will need to complete a few large projects. Getting in to good habits now means that you can rely on the good- practices and skills you have built up later on, which will make the whole process easier. Keeping the rewards in mind when you are struggling to motivate yourself will help you keep up a positive attitude and enable you to “do whatever it takes” to accomplish your goals. The thought of the end result will keep you pushing ahead.

3. Reward yourself

When setting your goals, think of a small way to reward yourself once the task has been accomplished. This can be going for a walk, meeting up with your friends, watching a movie, or even a smaller thing such as buying some chocolate or listening to your favourite song. You will then start linking hard work and accomplishment of a goal with gratification. The realisation will hit you that a high effort will result in a positive reward for you and you will see upcoming challenges as another chance to get rewarded. And who wouldn’t do a couple of Maths exercises for that delicious piece of chocolate cake that has just been staring at you all morning or for the game you bought yesterday and are dying to play. Hence you increase your motivation to study hard in order to get something good out of it for yourself.

At the end of the day, getting over the first hurdle of getting started is usually the hardest step. It can help to have the bigger picture right in front of you in form of motivational quotes; whether it’s on post-it notes spread all around your study area, the front page of your notebook, or the screensaver on your phone or laptop. Why not try the below quotes from some very successful people?

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” - Napoleon Hill

“You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.” - Mahatma Gandhi

“Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.” - David Bly

“The best way to finish an unpleasant task is to get started.” – Anonymous

Categories: Homework | Coursework