How to stay motivated during distance learning


Mary Eichler

Students at Sartell High School are currently in distance learning due to the pandemic.

Sartell High School started its first day of distance learning on Monday, November 16th, mainly due to rising cases and understaffing. Moving to distance learning means that students need to be motivated to do their schoolwork even with all the distractions from home, which is sometimes a struggle. Here are some tips from the internet and fellow students on how to stay motivated during distance learning.

1. Use a reward system. Rewarding yourself after completing a goal or milestone is a great motivator. Reward yourself with your favorite foods or a fun activity, but only after you accomplish your goal. 

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I drink a lot of celsius energy drinks to keep me energized and focused to do schoolwork. I also like to workout, take naps, focus on the current class I am in and nothing else, eat three meals a day to fuel my brain, listen to Christmas music while doing homework, and take breaks to play with my dog.”

— Ali Boschee, senior


Writing down goals is a great way to motivate and stay organized. (Fair use under Creative Commons License)

2. Write your goals down. A study done by psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University of California found that people are 42 percent more likely to achieve their goals if they wrote them down on paper. Not only does writing your goals help organize what you need to accomplish, but it also plays a part in motivating yourself to do the task.


3. Break down your goal. Breaking down your goal into smaller parts helps to not overwhelm yourself and creates a clear action plan. Tasks will seem easier to accomplish if they are spread out evenly, rather than all in one sitting. 


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I like to set aside time away from my phone and other distractions to get my homework done.”

— Elle Mahowald, senior


Teenagers spend an average of 7 hours a day on their phone. (Fair use under Creative Commons License )

4. Remove distractions. Cell phones or other distractions can slow down productivity. Kevin Systrom, the CEO and co-founder of Instagram, has a tip on getting rid of distractions: “If you don’t want to do something, make a deal with yourself to do at least five minutes of it. After five minutes, you’ll end up doing the whole thing.”

In a study done by the University of California Irvine, they found it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after being distracted. Not only do distractions make it more difficult to focus, but they also increase error. Michigan State University conducted a study that showed that interruptions of about three seconds doubled the chance of error. 


5. Make tasks fun. If you make a task more enjoyable to do, the more likely you are to finish it. Try listening to music while doing homework, create a pleasant work environment, or grab a snack to eat while working. A quality workspace can lead to more productivity and less stress, which are always a plus. 


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I like to wake up early (without hitting snooze), write down my tasks for the day in my planner, wear different clothes than my pj’s, use rewards, and facetime friends in my class to work on assignments together.”

— Adyn Larson, senior


Having a positive mindset is crucial during these uncertain times. (Fair use under Creative Commons License)

6. Be positive. A positive mindset will lead to positive actions. Use positive affirmations, positive phrases or statements that challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts, to create motivation and a healthy mind. Also remember that mistakes happen, learn to be gentle with yourself. 


7. Practice good hygiene. It is easy to fall into a slump during distance learning and forget to keep our hygiene regimens the same as before we went to online school. Keeping up on hygiene is not only good for your health, but it also improves self-esteem and motivation. You might even get a spark of creativity in the process. Scott Barry Kaufman, a cognitive scientist, found through a study he did that 72 percent of people get creative ideas in the shower. Although it is nice to stay in pj’s all day, getting dressed to work from home helps get you in a work mindset. 


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I like to drink a lot of water during the day, imagine my dream future, and do a reasonable amount of tasks during the day in order to not burnout. ”

— Lauren Wensel, senior


Doing physical activity for 15 minutes everyday can increase life expectancy up to 3 years. (Fair use under Creative Commons License )

8. Do something active. An article written by  registered nutritional therapist, Naomi Mead, explains eight ways why working out boosts productivity. Working out releases feel-good chemicals in your brain called endorphins, which can help push you to do work afterward. Staying active has been proven to have many benefits that will help you live a long and healthy life. Working out can sometimes seem hard or not enjoyable, but there are so many ways to move your body that are different than the stereotypical running or weight lifting. Some examples include going on a walk, cleaning (kills two birds with one stone), doing yoga, taking the stairs, standing during a class, dancing (my personal favorite), and many more. 


9. Look at the big picture. While you might think completing a math assignment is pointless, remember that it is helping you further your education. We are fortunate to be able to have access to free education that is bringing us one step closer to our dream college or dream job.