“I am having trouble studying. I want to study but I just don’t feel motivated to any more.” 

Blaaaarrrrrrggggg…I hate feeling unmotivated. There are times (like recently) where I just haven’t wanted to study, resulting in me barely touching Japanese for well over 3 months 4 months! That is bad (and hypocritical) especially when I keep saying how important it is to use and study Japanese every day. I think, “I’ll sit down and do an hour of Japanese today….juuuuuust after I watch this episode of The Following”…4 hours later and nothing has been done!

I’m sure other people have had this problem too. So how do we get over our de-motivational slumps?

I’ve found that the method of getting over a slump, plateau, wall, whatever, varies depending on the kind you are in. It depends on your mood, what’s distracting you, the weather, and a whole bunch of other stuff. So I’ve put together a list of a variety of motivational methods to switch and choose between to help motivate you and keep you undistracted! I also asked readers of this blog to have some input on what motivates them on the groups facebook page which have been incorporated into the following!

Goals and learning for the sake of learning

Setting yourself goals is one of the major tips most people recommend in terms of motivation. Especially if it’s a big one with a deadline coming up (like the JLPT exams). Write down your long term goal – Then everything you need to do to achieve that goal – Break those goals down into little goals to achieve. Use these smaller goals, doing a little every day or as much as you can, to build towards the larger goal.
One thing I always think when doing this is “Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today”.

“Motivation – I like learning, I hope to watch an anime without reference to a dictionary like I’m on IV, I wanna confused ppl with my awesomeness! Ruts – EVERYTHING (so not to awesomeness), I hate getting things wrong, but that goes with the territory of learning a language. I also hate particles, it’s when you just get 3/10 particles right that you think, why am I doing this? And then I look at kanji and words and remember why – cos learning’s fun! I’m such a wierdo XD.”

Making a list of priorities

This is great for the “everything else is suddenly more important” slump. You make a to-do list of things you can realistically get done in the day, but more importantly you put them in the order you will do them. Do not skip to no.5, you must to tasks 1-4 beforehand in the order you list them. You can do this pretty easily in conjunction with the “alternating procrastinating” method bellow if you want. Otherwise you just have to work through each task as they come. If there’s something you missed at the end of the day put it in the list for tomorrow.

I have to have goals or I lose all motivation. If I get stuck I write lists of what needs to be done or what I can do now. Short term goals and long term goals are very important to me.”

3 Tasks a Day

My mum always tells me when I feel de-motivated to work to set myself 3 small tasks a day and get them done by the end of the day. They can be done at any point and can’t be too big, but at the end I feel like I’ve achieved something. It’s not much but it’s a good motivation boost.

Here’s a good app for keeping your tasks/priorities on track – Todoist


Alternating procrastinating

I find one method that I do is “productive procrastination”, similar to the feeling of “oh I’ll get my essay done, just after I tidy my room”. I find other things that I feel are equally important to do (like this blog) and get those done instead of working on what I should be working on. It can be a help sometimes to have a break and get away from what you’re doing, but keep at it too long and you’ll find your not going back to what you should be doing at all.

So what I like to do is one hour on studying, one hour procrastinating/doing something different. This might result in 40mins studying with 1hr 20mins doing something else, but after a day that time builds up. If you find yourself getting distracted too much set up a alarm to go off every hour for however long you want and force yourself to sit down and work for that allotted time. Then you can reward yourself with procrastination!



This is the NO DISTRACTIONS method. Do you find that when you go to study you instead pick up the computer? Or make yourself a cup of tea? So instead turn off your internet. Put on sound blocking headphones and listen to quiet, non-lyrical music. Get to work. Cutting out the distractions will improve your productivity so much. This is also great to use with “setting yourself quiet learning time”.

Setting yourself quiet learning time

Do this at the beginning of the day. If you have a hard time getting up early it helps to get yourself to be 9 hours before you want to wake up (i.e 10pm for a 7am start). Set a billion alarms and get some work done in the morning before you do anything else. So before you shower, before you have breakfast, before you turn on the computer. If you’re tired while you work that’s fine, your brain will start to wake up as it absorbs the information.


Regular lessons

If you can’t work for yourself at least work for other people. If you get regular weekly lessons you’ll be forced to study for them and do homework. And if you do nothing else you’ll at least be doing something, and a little is better than nothing.


Don’t feel guilty

I get this sometimes when I haven’t studied for a while I feel like I’ve let myself down. The best thing to do in this situation is not to worry! There’s nothing you can do about what’s been done, but there’s a lot you can do about what will be done. So try not to make up for lost time, just review what you’ve done to get you back into a working mood and carry on!

Great articles to read:

Motivation and Setting Goals – Master Japanese

– Lists all the reasons people stop studying due to lack of motivation (and how to stop doing that)
– Advice for beginners and advanced learners in setting goals

Productivity Hacks: 6 Ways to Fight Distractions

– Focus on you
– Stop multi-tasking
– Kick your e-mail addiction
– Follow the 80/20 rule
– Make tough choices

5 Effective Self Motivation Techniques

– Do less in the beginning
– Set short term goals
– Make an outline for your project
– Postpone working on the project
– Talk to someone about your project

Make a Purposeful Learning Plan

– Find a purpose
– Purposeful planning repels confusion
– Stick with the plan
– Be patient


What motivates you to work?
What kind of slumps do you get stuck in? Any advice on getting out of them?