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Boosting elusive motivation

However long you've been studying for your PhD, getting to know your best methods to maintain your own motivation will make life so much easier.

We all lose focus or motivation at times. You can love your project and your work but that doesn’t mean that some days it isn’t tough to stay productive and enthusiastic. It isn’t realistic to stay super-duper excited and positive about your work 24/7. It doesn’t make you a bad student if some days you hate your project and doubt your PhD choices. It’s totally normal and as far as I’m concerned I think it’s healthy to have those doubts, because when you put into action techniques to improve your motivation, the doubts fade and you regain your positivity and can feel all the better for it.

So what should you do to maintain or boost your motivation? Well, I have attended seminars about this and always found their tips helpful (so I suggest you check out the Think Ahead webpages for more info on sessions). However, they are obviously aimed at delivering generic tips and tricks to help everyone, but finding your personal methods to bring a little bit of happiness to your rubbish days can pull you out of your funk and boost your mood and ultimately your productivity. 

So what is this magic cure?? Well for me its two things really…. stationary and coffee.

I am an overly organised person, so surrounding myself with excessive stationary in bright colours is super useful for all my note making, listing and filing needs and makes me feel very productive. Some will think this is silly but hey-ho, it brightens up my day and makes me feel a bit more organised and a little less in over my head, and on some days that is the best I can hope for.

As for the coffee aspect, it is less about the caffeine-fuelled hot drink (which I could make at my desk at any time) and more about taking half an hour to myself to get a treat and enjoy some precious time away from my department. Working in the Medical School, I have very easy access to Café 1828 and throughout my final year as a PhD student I am quite the regular. Being able to get away, either taking my laptop to catch up on emails or just to sit and people watch, I always leave the café feeling a little revived - and yes the caffeine does help in this but it is much more about mentally removing myself from my workload that day and letting my mind rest, even for half an hour.

These are my ways to boost my mood and thus my motivation. I’m not saying they will work for you but what I hope I have shown is that it is worth taking time to figure out what small parts of your day bring you some joy and consciously using them to your own advantage.

Chloe Marshall, PhD researcher (Medical School)
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