Will and Change (Volition)
The conscious changes you make to reduce distractions will help you to decrease off-task behaviour, thereby increasing your ability to focus on your task, as well as your motivation to successfully complete it.
Some examples of environment regulation are: moving to a quiet corner to read, studying in a secluded spot in the library, asking classmates to be quiet, turning off the TV, radio, and other distracting items not relevant to the immediate task and goal. In addition, choosing to eat or drink items that you believe will increase your attention, taking naps or short breaks to increase your readiness to study, and listening to music to increase readiness to study, are all effective short-term strategies to regulate your environment.
Longer-term strategies: keeping a calendar visible with deadlines, scheduling specific times to study specific items. To see a more in-depth discussion of this strategy, check out Motivation Regulation and Technology.
What does it mean to “regulate your emotions”? To monitor, evaluate and change your emotions as needed.
What may be unexpected is that you may need to regulate both negative emotions (such as performance anxiety in order to demonstrate your ability) and positive emotions (such as regulating excitement at wanting to see a friend in order to maintain your studying efforts).
Some specific emotional regulation strategies:
- Slowly counting to 10
- Purposefully controlling breathing so it is slow and deep. Please see an example of controlled, deep breathing below, and try it out for yourself!
- Self-Talk. Be aware of your self-talk and regulate it. Do not engage in negative self-talk or comments like: “I’ll never get this done,” “I hate writing essays. I never have any good ideas,” or “Math is too hard for me. I can’t get this!” Instead, make a conscious decision to use positive self-talk and monitor it. Encourage yourself with comments like: “I can do this,” “I’m making good progress on this task!”
- Refocus on the task itself rather than on your emotions. This can sometimes be helpful in order to get your mind off of negative emotions, like stress or anxiety, and on to working on the task, which could help to reduce your negative emotions and potentially produce positive emotions, like satisfaction.
- Consider the task in context of the course, or in context of your life. This may help give you perspective on your situation, which can have a calming effect.
Remember that each of these strategies is not equally effective in each scenario. A successful self-regulated learner will strategically choose an emotion regulation strategy that will help them decrease negative emotion, increase positive emotion, and return their focus to the task–all in an effort to increase their motivation.
Research shows there is a positive relationship between reducing test anxiety through these tactics and thereby increasing performance; however, research showing the results of emotional regulation otherwise shows mixed results. More research is needed.
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