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Top Motivational Movies for Students

Ready to procrastinate? Here are 6 movies to inspire students at university

Need some inspiration? Look no further. Our list of top motivational movies for students will keep you going while at university.

We all know studying is a lot of work, and it can be difficult to stay motivated. Whether you’re new to university life or smashing it in your third year the same rule applies: don’t spend all of your time studying. Taking a day for yourself is just as important for your mental health, and let’s face it, we all deserve a little ‘me time’ every once in a while – and a good film makes everything better.

We’ve ranked our top 6 inspirational movies to keep you going while at university. So put your comfy clothes on, grab your favourite snacks and enjoy! If you haven’t read part 1, you can find it here.

Eat. Pray. Love. (2010)

Feel-good. Adventure. Romance. Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) realises that her life isn’t making her happy. With a high-powered job, she struggles to find love and feels stuck in the same routines. Fed up of feeling lost, she sets off on a personal quest to give her life more meaning and goes wherever it takes her. Italy. India. Bali. The ultimate goal is to ‘find herself’ and find happiness. This is the perfect comfort-film for any international student feeling lonely or lost. Uplifting and inspiring, we can all learn something from this film – from following your heart to trusting the kindness of strangers, learning to love yourself or finding joy in spending time alone. Watch the trailer:

The Imitation Game (2014)

History. Biography. Thriller. This is the real story of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his team of cryptographers as they try to decipher the Enigma Machine, used by the Nazi’s to send encrypted messages during World War II. This is a remarkable and gripping story of man vs. machine in a real race against time. Working for the British Government, Turing proves that anything is possible and he is an inspiration to us all. If you’re looking to get truly lost in a film that will make you laugh (and cry) then this is it. We especially recommend this movie for maths, computing, history and politics students. Watch the trailer:

MILK (2008)

Comedy. Drama. LGBTQ+ This double Oscar-winning film tells the true story of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), and his journey to becoming California’s first openly-gay elected official in the 1970s. Using a mixture of real archival footage and newly-filmed re-enactments, this is an important and inspiring story about the fight for equality. It will motivate you to stand up and fight for what you believe in and offers a unique insight into an under-reported part of American history. This film is a must-see. Watch the trailer:

The Greatest Showman (2017)

Feel-good. Biography. Musical. If you’re feeling down, The Greatest Showman is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. This feel-good film follows the life of Phineas Taylor Barnum (Hugh Jackman) as he tries to go from rags-to-riches and make it in the world of show business. With a wild imagination, he creates a spectacular travelling circus show that’s wonderfully unapologetic and unafraid to be different. A great story of family and friendship with singing, dancing and an incredibly-catchy soundtrack – what more could you want? Watch the trailer:

The King’s Speech (2010)

Biography. Drama. History. If you don’t already know the story of King George VI, then you’re in for a treat. This historical film is based on the true story of King George VI (Colin Firth) as he struggles to overcome his stammer with the help of a speech therapist. Set in the late 1930s and with War approaching, King George VI must find the courage to address the nation. This film is heartwarming, funny and sends a strong message about accepting who you are and facing your fears. Watch the trailer:

Hidden Figures (2016)

Biography. Drama. History. This remarkable film tells the previously untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe). These three brilliant black women worked for NASA in the early years of the Space Race and became some of the most important figures in America’s fight to send people into space. This film is an inspiration and plays an important role in recognising the role of remarkable black women in history. Watch the trailer:

Enjoyed our list of top motivational movies for students? Why not check out our list of inspiring speeches that will motivate you to study.

 

Critical and original thought…procrastination by another name?

There are many reasons people attend university. To achieve a lifelong career dream. To pursue a financially rewarding career. To pass a few years whilst they work out ‘who they are’. All legitimate reasons, but are they achievable? The outcomes of university may also seem self-explanatory: degree, employment opportunities, networks of colleagues for years to come. Realistically, though, the true benefits of studying are much less tangible. Measuring them can take a little more nuance.

Adam Grant did a TED talk about what he coins ‘originals’. Those individuals who break from convention and try something new. People who say ‘No,’ to traditional routes of learning in favour of breaking their own path. Seeing this video got me to thinking: is university really about the subject you choose to major in? Or is it, in 2019, more about developing relevant original thoughts and ideas to propel you into the unpredictable future?

looking-to-the-future

Original thought is abstract as an idea

Throughout recent years, universities, colleges and schools have all attempted to distil such ideas through classes labelled ‘Critical thinking’ (an old Oxbridge favourite), ‘Reasoning’, or plain old ‘Study skills’.  The aim: to encourage lateral and open dialogue, discussion and dissection of ideas for the promotion of progress. The reality: professors divesting themselves of a range of references to philosophy, scientific studies and psychological theorems to encourage students to reflect on their learning.

Grant, though, looks at the concept in a different manner. He describes one of his most productive and creative students and her exceptional talent… for procrastination. Instead of following protocols – like deadlines for essays – she forged her own way through. And Grant supported her to do so. He was inspired by her gumption and so they entered into a study into procrastination. As a result, they found creativity and procrastination to be inextricably linked and notes, with humour, the limitations of the study as unfortunately the chronic offenders were too lazy to complete the questionnaire! There’s a sweet spot between being lastminute.com and the early bird who catches the worm.

social-media

Procrastination for the win

So perhaps that stereotype of students who leave everything to the last minute (due to too much time on social media) as gamblers is incorrect. Maybe, contrary to long held beliefs, some people really do ‘work better under pressure’ from a deadline. Some of the most famous people in the world admit to it:

  • The Dalai Lama has admitted “Only in the face of a difficult challenge or an urgent deadline would I study and work without laziness”. He argues that he has seen the light now, though, and encourages a life of preparation so that “if you die tonight, you would have no regrets”.
  • Herman Melville (author of Moby Dick) was so awful a procrastinator he was physically chained to his desk in order to finish his magnum opus.
  • Bill Clinton – his aides reported that during his presidency, despite careful planning and plenty of notice on their part, he would often leave drafts/comments to the last moment with Al Gore referring to him as ‘punctually challenged’.

Maybe, rather than being a sign of weakness or disengagement, the lessons learned from having to accelerate uphill towards a deadline actually produces spontaneity and genuine moments of brilliance as Grant suggests.

Elon Musk has said that he has often started a project without any clue as to the likelihood of success. But, he argues, if an idea is important, there’s too much of a risk if you don’t try. That is surely the most valuable lesson any student gains from university: that risks are worth taking, and if you look at things in your own way you may just live to see them pay off.

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