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Study Well, Stay Well

The Study Well, Stay Well guide brings together information, guidance and resources on how you can balance your wellbeing with your studies.
Goal Setting and Focus

If you form good habits, you will no doubt be in a good position to be successful. One starting point to consider is to determine what your goals are. If you set out on your path at university with goals in mind you already have an idea of desired outcomes and are orienting yourself around actions that you may have control over and which could be productive. If you approach studying less consciously the outcomes are likely to be much more random; goals encourage control and focus your attention on strategies that are likely to lead to desired ends. 

Goal Setting and Focus: The Basics

Set clear goals 

Setting clear goals is important as this can provide you with a sense of purpose and direction for your studies and this can help you to focus on specific tasks that you want to achieve in a specific time frame. Through setting goals and determining what you are working towards, this can enhance your motivation, keep you engaged and committed to a desired outcome. By creating SMART goals this can make it easier to track your progress and set objectives which can also improve your confidence and motivation. 


‘Self-discipline is the magic habit’ (Zillar, 2019) 

Self-discipline involves replacing the unhealthy habits that we have accumulated over time with more desirable ones: for example, regularly staying up late and not getting enough sleep can impact on our ability to attend lectures and seminars that start early in the morning. This can also affect our ability to stay focused and absorb essential information, so we might want to create better sleep habits that enable us to function and perform better. Being disciplined should not be equated to self-punishment, it should be viewed as merely correcting unhelpful behaviours to help us become a better version of ourselves and overcome problems and challenges that get in the way. 

Many of us have aspects of our lives where we struggle to apply self-discipline, such as maintaining regular exercise or managing finances, and we often beat ourselves up for not doing better - but that isn’t helpful. We need take a step back and look at our behaviours in a more positive light and see how we can implement healthier habits in their place. If we put time aside to evaluate what we are doing, we can construct a new plan that will enable us to take positive steps towards our goals. Sticking to the plan takes self-discipline to action, but this can help to build resilience in the face of setbacks or challenging academic situations. 

Build your skills: Overcoming procrastination

Procrastination and perfectionism are two challenges that can halt your progress and leave you feeling frozen in place.

To find out more about how to overcome these barriers, explore the Hallam Mini Modules - available from the homepage of Blackboard.

Develop your understanding

Why set goals?

  • Having clear goals allows you to focus your time, energy, and resources on activities that align with your objectives, both short and long term, enabling you to navigate through various opportunities and challenges in a purposeful manner. 
  • Goals serve as powerful motivators. When you have a specific target in mind, it can increase your motivation to take action and work towards that goal. 
  • Goals are often measurable, which allows you to track your progress. Measuring progress provides a sense of achievement and helps you stay on course. Observable progress can act as positive reinforcement, encouraging you to continue working towards your goals. 
  • Well-structured goals often stimulate creativity and problem-solving, as individuals seek innovative ways to achieve their priorities. 
  • Achieving goals is often associated with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, contributing to overall well-being and positive mental health.

Top tip: Tracking your goals

Write your goals down at the start of each week and use a daily ‘to do list’ tracker that breaks these down into smaller, manageable steps.

At the end of each day, review what you have achieved and find a visual way to record your progress. 

Useful apps

There are a number of apps that you can use to help record and track your goals, including:

  • Todoist - quickly add and organise tasks to your to do list.
  • Google Tasks and Microsoft To Do - create in-built task lists linked to your documents.
  • Strides - a habit tracker and goal setting app for Apple devices.

For a lower tech approach, use scaling on a daily basis to measure your focus, energy and motivation. Give yourself a score from 1 (low) to 10 (high). This helps you gauge your mood and you can ask, what would it take to get my score higher today? For example, if you score a 6, what would you consider doing that would give you more motivation? Sometimes it’s a question of tackling a task that’s not pleasurable or exciting or facing a challenging task - perhaps you have lots of small jobs to clear that would help you focus if you have 30 minutes to spend dealing with them. 

Another strategy is to share your goals with a trusted friend to increase accountability. You could support one another in tracking progress and holding one another to account. 

Further reading

Attend a session

Join an online drop-in (no need to book) to discuss your work and set goals with an advisor:

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