10 Ways to Study Even When You Don’t Feel Like it

I’m not quite sure if I’m qualified to write a blog post with the above title when I also occasionally struggle with “getting into the study zone”.

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But through my experience of studying for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), O levels and then the A levels a year ago, here are some hacks I’ve developed so that I can actually sit at my study desk during exam period.

These tips may not work for everyone and certainly not all the time, but who knows, 1-2 of them may work for you too! 🙂

1. Develop a pre-study routine.

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Step 1: Get coffee/juice/tea.

Step 2: Tie up hair.

Step 3: Prepare stationery and necessary study materials.

Study 3: Sit at study desk.

Developing a pre-study routine may not dramatically boost concentration levels, but I personally find it slightly easier to get into the mood of studying.

2. Wear “work clothes”.

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Especially on days my study motivation level isn’t exactly high, I find it even harder to internalize study materials when I’m in my PJs/super comfortable home clothes.

Sometimes getting into the kind of clothes I’d wear to the town library, like jeans and a blouse, helps too.

3. Play hard.

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Sometimes lack of motivation is because of burn-out.

Really doing the things I love, the activities my brain would unmistakably label as “fun” and “play”, like hanging out with friends and family, helps me to truly wind down.

Playing hard is helpful for feeling a useful amount of guilt, the “I really need to start studying now” feeling that kickstarts a study session.

4. Create & listen to a “study motivation playlist

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Rock? EDM? Classical piano? Lo-fi Jazz? Brown noise?

Music that hypes us up/calms us down for studying can be many times more effective than a long motivational speech.

What’s your kind of study music?

5. Watch/turn on “study with me” videos.

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Watching driven, intelligent people sit down and get to work in “a day in the life” or “study with me” videos often helps me to pick up my own pens and highlighters. Check out my post on my top 5 favorite study vloggers!

6. Read/watch videos on your goals.

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A common tip for recovering work motivation is something along the lines of “Recall your goals.”

It’s honestly hard to recall my goals with enthusiasm when I’m burnt out/tired/want to have fun. Times like this, I take advantage of unmistakable visuals/audios.

Studying to get accepted into that dream school? Watch the scream-and-shrills filled “accepted into school X” videos.

Studying to get accepted into that dream internship? Watch the interview & promotion videos of the company on the website.

7. Study in a library/cafe/with friends.

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Drifting into the abyss of temptations like YouTube, Netflix and basically everything else not study-related is much more likely when we’re at home.

Stepping into the library makes me realise how so many other people are working hard for their dreams & goals. Studying with friends who’re actually serious about studying immediately creates an atmosphere of work, not play.

Check out my post on the top 5 places to study in Singapore!

8. Read something.

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Reading is an activity that calms us down. It’s also one that’s strongly associated with studying & working.

Even if I’m about to study a subject like Math, which doesn’t require as much reading as Literature, for example, I like to pick up (preferably non fiction) a book to “get into the study zone”.

9. Create a “things I need to study” list for each subject/module.

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I don’t particularly like using this method because the sheer amount of work looming before me creates stress- which isn’t good for calming down before studying.

But during exam times I know there’s massive amount of material to study and my motivation level isn’t catching up, I use this pressure tactic.

10. Schedule consultation with the Teachers/professors.

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It’s not very nice to email professors/Teachers for consultations and have the only thing I can say be something like “I don’t know this part.”

“Which specific page, line of this book don’t I understand?”

“I don’t understand this part, but I do have some understanding. What is that some limited understanding I have?”

“Why do I need help with this part? A lack of understanding? Trouble with memorizing? Is this something the teacher/prof can help me with, or is it something I can Google/think on your own?”

I try to prepare for consultations to the best of my ability because I don’t want to waste my time & the prof’s time.

Emailing the prof for a consultation is a strong incentive for me to start studying- I can’t ask useful questions when there’s no content in my head.


That’s it for my 10 tips on how to study when you’re not in the mood to, based on personal experience.

Hope some of these tips help with your studying!

Happy Studying~ Cheers, Han Seol 🙂

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