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Staying motivated in times of a pandemic

COVID-19 has been around since March of this year and there is no end in sight. As such, we’ve moved onto what we’re calling ‘the new normal’. Some have adjusted well to this new ‘normal’, but others are still struggling to find their footing, especially when it comes to staying motivated while working or studying from home.

Having graduated this past August, I am currently in a transition period where I'm still a student, but I'm also working, which has led to a super busy schedule. It's been difficult to stay motivated to do any work or studying when all I want to do is turn around and go back to sleep when my alarm goes off. Coping with these unprecedented times is made worse by the fact that some of us have become isolated as we’re forced to work and study from home. So how do we motivate ourselves to stop snoozing that alarm when it goes off?

  1. Sleep and wake: It’s important to set (and keep) a consistent sleep- and wake time. It’s difficult for our body to wake up every morning when the wake time is different every day. It is recommended that you try and wake up within the same 1-hour window every day and that you try and get about 7-8 hours a day (or less if you’re able to function on fewer hours).

  2. Routine: Have a routine and follow it. Waking up 5 minutes before your workday or a lecture starts does not give your brain enough time to change into the right mindset. Try to get back the same routine you had before work before the pandemic hit. Wake up, shower and have some breakfast to let your body know that it’s time to prepare to get ready for work/studying and change the disposition it is in.

  3. Goals: Set smaller and closer goals. If say you have an essay due in January 2021, think about the different parts of the essay you need to work on (e.g. outline, research, introduction, etc.) and set up deadlines for when you want to have these parts done. This way you can keep an oversight on the path towards the goal and also experience small successes as you achieve these smaller and closer goals. The experience of these little successes will encourage you to keep going.

  4. Buddy: Find someone with the same goal or an acquaintance that will keep you accountable. If you know that the reason you keep missing goals you’ve set, deadlines or lectures, is because you just aren’t able to push yourself, it might help to ask someone else for help. Ask this person to check in with you every now and then. This social pressure might push you towards doing the work you’re supposed to as you don’t want to disappoint the other person, or might feel ashamed telling you haven’t done anything.

  5. Personal activities: Don’t spend all your time inside only working or studying. Make sure you set some time aside every day to do a hobby that brings you joy, to socialize with friends, or to do anything else that might bring you happiness and relaxation. It might be difficult to set this time aside, as with working from home, the line between work/study and free time has blurred, but make sure you schedule some time for doing the stuff you like. Being able to do activities that bring you happiness will help with keeping you motivated when you’re doing activities that you might not enjoy as much.

  6. Rest: Besides taking time out of your day to do activities that you love, it’s also important to take time to just do nothing at times. While doing activities that you love might keep you motivated when working or studying, taking some time to do nothing will also give your brain a chance to breathe and take some time off, as even when you’re doing something you love, you might be using energy and brainpower. So make sure you take a mental health day every now and then as these are difficult times and it’s important to take care of yourself mentally.


So while it’s difficult to stay motivated during these uncertain and unprecedented times, there are steps that we can take to motivate ourselves. Whether we do it all by ourselves or ask for help from others, the important thing is that we try and push through these trying times until we’re on the other side.


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