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Are you not motivated to study, or are you just not self-disciplined enough to study?

Like students around the world in the time of COVID-19, Kate’s studies have been fully online. With exams looming, here are her tips on how to get the self-discipline needed for successful study.

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About the author: Kate is a 2020 StudyAdelaide Student Ambassador. In her spare time, you’ll probably find her anxiously watching a Korean drama, cooking something questionable or struggling through a Japanese textbook. It takes self-discipline!


If the title of this blog has filled you with dread, you are probably where I was a month ago when in a (admittedly rare) moment of self-awareness I researched the definitions of motivation and self-discipline and realised something that has changed the way I approach my study. 

Simplified, motivation is a willingness to do something and self-discipline is the ability to do something, even if you don’t want to. Was I in the mood to study? No. Would I regret not studying? Probably. Motivation was unattainable at the time, so self-discipline was the answer.

So, how does one become self-disciplined? Frankly, I’m still trying to figure it out but below are a few tips I have collected along the way!

  • Write daily to-do lists. It saved me from the timeless “I forgot” excuse. I tend to start my list with a menial task like cleaning my room, because it feels great to be able to quickly tick something off the list.
  • Save your Netflix watching/manga reading/cupcake baking until AFTER you’ve completed your to-do list. I am very guilty of watching an episode of a k-drama as a “study break” (they always end on a cliff-hanger and I always watch the next episode).
  • Reward yourself for being self-disciplined. Be careful though, make sure your reward isn’t a four hour The Lord of the Rings extended edition.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re not a study machine like Three Idiots’ Chatur Ramalingam, so forgive yourself. Tomorrow is a new day and the fact you even tried is reason enough to celebrate!

So best of luck my friends, may your self-discipline lead to motivation.

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