How to stay motivated

By Mieke Vlok
01 August 2014

Eish – just when you were getting into holiday mode it’s back to the grindstone! Here’s advice on how to cope with the responsibilities of school


A routine is important because it helps you to manage your time effectively, says Johannesburg social worker Elvira Holz. If you divide your time so you can get around to tackling all your obligations you’ll be less stressed and more motivated.

Divide your work and obligations, and prioritise them so you know how much time you need to devote to them each day. This will prevent work piling up and you feeling stressed later in the term because you don’t have enough time to cope with everything.


  • Use a daily planner to make a note of everything you have to do every day.
  • Put up a calendar in your room and circle important dates.
  • Use the reminder function on your cellphone to remind you when to study for tests and when you need to complete assignments.


“If you make time to take a breather you’ll have more energy for schoolwork, sport and other obligations,” Holz says.

If for instance you love surfing or watching TV then set a target and tell yourself you can only do it once you’ve completed your homework or prepared a section of work for the exams. The prospect of a fun activity will motivate you to tackle the things you need to get done.

Don’t feel guilty about taking time out – you deserve it. Provided you’ve dealt with your obligations first and don’t take unnecessary breaks, you can enjoy your leisure time!


Working out is an excellent stress reliever, says Joburg fitness instructor Jonathan Quirk.

When you exercise you’ll have more energy and feel happier because exercise releases endorphins and other stress-reducing hormones.

Team sport is fun and doesn’t feel like hard work because it involves a group. So get your friends together for a game of touch rugby or join your school’s netball team.

You can still exercise even if you’re not sporty – instead of going to the gym go for a walk or cycle, ride in a park or next to the sea.


It’s easier to stay focused if you know it’s going to pay off. So remind yourself constantly that you’ll be rewarded for the work you do now.

Put up notes of encouragement or pictures that illustrate your goal where you’ll see them every day. If for instance you’re hoping to get into a specific university, put a picture of it above your desk. When you’re not feeling motivated it will help to get you back on track.

Break up your targets into chunks. It’s hard to remain motivated when you think about having to study 10 chapters or run 10 km in one go – it’s much easier to tackle them one by one. Set realistic targets, for instance that you’ll master a chapter of maths every week. This is easier to do and you’ll be more motivated than if you were to set yourself big, unrealistic targets.


‘The first step is to decide you can do it’ – actor Will Smith

‘A dream is only a dream until you decide to make it real’ – singer Harry Styles

‘I do consider myself a competitive person, but I'm not competitive to the point where I will do anything to win. I wouldn't step on somebody just to get to the next level’ – singer Jordin Sparks

-       Mieke Vlok


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