6 Tips To Motivate Yourself to Keep Up With Online Courses

Jordan Coleman
Published by Jordan Coleman
Last Updated On: December 8, 2021

Are you having trouble maintaining a personal life while taking online classes? You aren’t alone. Many online students find it hard to balance family obligations, mental health, and self-motivation for learning.

As both a teacher and an individual who has participated in distance learning, I’ve compiled a list of 8 ways that you can stay motivated while taking classes online.

What is Motivation?

Female in corporate attire throwing her hands in joy

Simply put, motivation is the reason behind why you act or behave in a certain way  [1]. Motivation is the key to initiating and maintaining behaviors that are aligned to a goal.

People use both extrinsic and intrinsic motivations to keep themselves on track.

Let’s break down these two types.

  • Extrinsic (external) Motivation: Comes from the outside, such as rewards, social recognition, and money
  • Intrinsic (internal) Motivation: Comes from within, such as personal gratification and joy

6 Tips For How to Stay Motivated in an Online Education

Woman raising her hand during an online class, and a close up image of laptop, glasses, and a paper

Below are six curated tips that will help you stay motivated while doing online learning.

1. Hold Yourself Accountable

One way to motivate yourself is by holding yourself accountable to your set goal even when it begins getting hard.

Begin by making choices now while things are easy that will propel you to sticking with your goal and picking those harder choices down the line.

For example, you might have a goal to spend time studying for an hour each day, which is the program guide given to you by your professor.

To keep yourself on track, you write a series of checks for $5, then cash them each time you meet that goal. This will motivate you to stick to your schedule.

2. Using the Chunking Technique

Person writing on a paper

Chunking is a technique originally designed to help improve memory performance, such as breaking a long series of numbers into chunks, for easier memorization.

However, this technique is used by working people to handle other responsibilities.

At first glance, a big project can seem overwhelming, but by breaking it down into smaller chunks you will focus better and be creating good habits.

For example, think about a 10-page paper you have to turn in for this college class. Break the assignment into five days of work like the following:

  • Day 1: Create Intro
  • Day 2: Type up Sections 1-3
  • Day 3: Write Sections 4-6
  • Day 4: Type up Conclusion
  • Day 5: Proofread

3. Try Positive Reinforcement

Student getting a thumbs up from a professor in a library

Positive reinforcement is the idea that you are more likely to achieve a goal or do a certain behavior if a reward follows it.

For example, little kids will learn to use the potty quicker if their parents encourage them and cheer them whenever they go.

College students are more likely to complete coursework if they get a good grade that makes them feel successful.

Set up a system that when you reach a set goal, you get to hang out with friends or eat some chocolate. These small positive reinforcements will increase your productivity and help you make progress on completing your tasks.

4. Visualize Your Future

Visualizing where you want to be in the future is an easy practice that will boost your motivation and increase your effort.

The more we visualize a specific and concrete goal, the more motivated we will be at reaching it.

“The key to effective visualization is to create the most detailed, clear and vivid picture to focus on.” -- George St. Pierre, mixed martial arts champion

Picture yourself writing your paper, turning it in, and receiving that high mark. Short term goals like this will begin to feel more achievable.

What was once a task that made you feel drained has now become a rewarding task. Take advantage of this powerful tool to get those large projects completed.

5. Use Positive Self-Talk

Man smiling in the mirror with his thumbs up

Even if you have created solid and achievable school goals, how you talk to yourself can be the difference between achieving them or not.

You can remodel how your brain functions and the words you use have a major impact on how you feel  [2].

Self-talk is the habit of what we say to ourselves and how we say it.

Negative talk will lead to guilt, frustration, stress which saps your desire to finish anything to completion. What you say and how you say it can help you return to your studies refreshed and ready to focus.

Some examples of positive self-talk are:

  • While I wasted time this week, I did manage my time better by studying more than I have previously.
  • This online class is hard at times, but I’m excited about how this will help my future career.
  • I’m feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work I have, but I have family support that will help keep me on schedule while being in this online classroom.

6. Find Community

When you want to stay motivated, social support is very important. You’ll find that online courses always mention ways you can get in contact with other students or how to use various online tools to help make distance learning easier.

While it might seem easy to find a community that will help you get through certificate programs, here are some mistakes that people make.

  • They don’t check in regularly. To get the most out of your accountability partner, you will need to meet with them regularly in order to stay on track for your degree. Most busy working adults need their friends to help with manageable tasks and for staying motivated.
  • The student thinks their community of helpers are there to stop them from failing. Your people are there to help you think positively about your learning online and help you find positive ways of staying focused and on schedule. Whether you complete your degree or fail is up to you.

You can find this community through social media, school groups, or students in your class. Set aside enough time each week or month to fully check in with one another.

Read More:

How to Keep Up Motivation for an Online Education?

It is completely possible to reach your career goals while learning remotely.

The key is to stay positive and build motivation from within. Reach out to fellow students and work together to succeed.

You can accomplish your goals and overcome any challenges by using these tips to help yourself stay focused and motivated throughout the late night studies and long hours at the library.

Online programs aren't easy and will require hard work. While you might find these courses overwhelming at times, we are confident you will benefit in the end.


  1. https://www.dictionary.com/
  2. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/10/07/353292408/why-saying-is-believing-the-science-of-self-talk

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