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A Realistic Week In Teaching Myself Self-Discipline

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

With the fall semester of senior year almost reaching the halfway mark, I’ve noticed that a lot of my assumptions about the concluding chapter of my time at UConn were wrong. Living in an apartment as a senior comes as a right of passage into adulthood, whether that be cooking meals, keeping the space tidy and comfortable, and making the most of the experience of living with others on top of keeping up with school responsibilities. As course loads tend to lessen in senior year, I firmly believed I could finally master the universal struggle of college work-life balance. On top of cooking most of my meals and baking most desserts, I found myself getting into a very consistent gym routine in 2023 and hoped to continue it. These activities, alongside regular apartment chores and only a few classes and extracurricular obligations seemed much easier to handle, especially since previous semesters saw me sacrificing certain parts of my routine to excel in others. Surely I believed I would have enough time to maintain it all and find time to relax. Not only have I not found a true routine in these first six weeks, but sometimes I found myself only having enough time in a day to go to class, cook, and go to the gym.

For one work week, I sought to attempt to teach myself self-discipline, see how my routine outlook changes, and reflect on what I learn each day. I have always been very self-aware of my goals and commitments, but evidently have not always been the best at holding myself accountable for actively taking the right steps. No more sleeping past (the many, many) alarms, no more mindlessly scrolling for an hour on TikTok, and certainly no more days where the only two obligations are gym and dinner. But first…

day 1: the worst possible scenario for this challenge occurs

The first step for aligning my schedule *was* to get a good night’s rest and wake up by 9:30 a.m. to get a head start on the day. Instead, I found myself waking up even earlier (5 a.m. to be exact) with a throat so sore that I was subconsciously dreading drinking water. Of course, the least motivating scenario was happening: I was getting sick. Even more demotivating was my upcoming assessments on both Wednesday and Thursday, knowing my sickness would probably reach its peak by then. Despite this huge obstacle, I told myself that I would still try to the best of my ability to get through this week while not straining my health. Unfortunately, that means no gym.

DAY 1-2: keeping yourself motivated

Spotify’s very own curated royalcore playlist

Despite feeling an onslaught of congestion and coughing coming my way, I knew my obligations were not going to wait until I recovered. To give my body extra rest, I opted to wake up at my typical time (10:30 a.m.) and got ready to host online office hours as a teaching assistant. Since Mondays and Tuesdays are my least busy days, I found myself free to do whatever I pleased by mid-afternoon. Fighting the urge to take a nap in hopes of recovering faster, I brought my workspace to my bed so I could prepare for my math midterm. I noticed I was getting too tired of listening to the same songs while studying, so I opted for a classical mix on Spotify. I despised the idea of romanticizing math of all things, but I needed a unique tone to get me in the mindset of success. Since I have little to no free time on Wednesdays, preparing for my exam on Thursday now would help me practice my skills and have any lingering questions solved in class the next day. After spending the rest of the day studying, I made sure to meal prep for the week since I knew I would be too tired to cook once my cold finally hit. Tuesday followed the same routine, but instead of preparing for math, I dedicated a three-hour time block to catch up on two weeks of lecture videos for my coding essentials quiz the next day.

The key for days one and two? Staying motivated. The last thing anyone wants to do when they’re sick is study for an exam. I found it helpful to add a bit of spice into my routine to keep things interesting. I made my own alternative to the “15-minute rule,” where instead of taking a study break every 15 minutes, I would reward myself (with ice cream, a social media break, or just lying down) after each difficult topic. The worst was yet to come, but I could still drive through my lethargy and be productive somehow.


Waking up on day three was probably the most difficult since I had reached the worst part of my cold. Not only was I congested, but I still noticed I was extremely tired even after waking up in the afternoon, much later than I typically would. My quiz was at 1:25 p.m., so all I could do to start my day was to get ready. As ready as I thought I could’ve been for it, no studying would have prepared me for the random material that popped up on that six-question quiz.

Now defeated by what felt like a zero on the quiz, I couldn’t push myself to stay for the remaining hour of class. Instead, I moved buildings to cozy up in a corner and reflect on how the day was going. The last thing I wanted to do was to teach lab after class. However, since I couldn’t get a replacement last minute, I had to focus on the material for that day and come into the lab room still prepared to help. By the time lab ended, it was 4:30 p.m. and I was ready to clock out for the day. I was hungry, defeated, and too congested to focus. However, I refused to let the quiz impact my preparation for my math exam and stopped by the library for a two-hour session before going home for the day.

Day three reminded me of a skill I am only beginning to master: pushing through even when you don’t want to. I wanted to mourn my time and effort gone to waste on the quiz, but I also couldn’t let it affect my performance on my exam the next morning. However, my body was shutting down after a long and busy day, and I needed rest to recover from my cold and that awful quiz performance. I tried the best I could with my given circumstances, and a new day is ahead.

DAY 4: honing in on courage & confidence

It’s midterm day. By day four, I noticed that my congestion was finally starting to clear up and I got out of bed at a reasonable time. For the first time that week, I had cooked myself breakfast so I’d have enough fuel for some last-minute studying. Only needing to review a few topics I was unsure about, I walked into that exam hours later ready to conquer it — and I’m decently convinced I did!

Even if I still felt super congested and sick, I knew I would have walked into that exam just as confident as I was. I had worked hard throughout the week, despite my cold and other obligations, to find the time to sufficiently prepare. One thing I noted was that I have subconsciously been preparing for this exam all semester. Despite my inconsistent schedule, I always allotted time for ungraded homework questions and prepared for bi-weekly quizzes.

By today I felt well enough to start cooking dinner again, and I made time in between cooking to catch up on emails and smaller obligations that I needed to dedicate time to that I couldn’t earlier in the week. I made sure to also clean the apartment and deep-clean my room, washing my bedsheets and leaving no trace that I was sick in the first place. Even though I was still secretly mourning my quiz from day three, I celebrated my efforts and self-discipline (at least in mathematical modeling)!


Though I wasn’t back to 100%, after five days I finally felt healthy enough to return to a slightly normal routine. 9:30 a.m. was the earliest I had gotten out of bed this entire week, but only because I had to get ready for my capstone project pictures with fellow seniors later that morning. After the pictures, I went out for lunch with a friend and decided to do a relaxed workout at the gym before going home to cook. Though this week was supposed to be strongly goal-oriented, I took today much slower and reflected on my efforts to keep up this week.

Self-discipline is definitely something you cannot learn in a week, and the perfect week to begin learning ended up being the most inconvenient. However, I still found this week to be a perfect demo of how I can better train myself to learn self-discipline. I was flexible enough to work in between my sickness and make the most of my situation while still putting my health first, but now I need to start fully holding myself accountable for the changes I want to see happen. I still see myself putting off the work for my coding essentials course until the end of the day, which is why my performance suffered on the quiz. I still need to learn how to put critical obligations at the forefront of my mind rather than the back end. Even small changes, such as waking up 30 minutes earlier even if I have no reason to, can help me get an earlier start on my day and get trivial necessities (showering, making breakfast) out of the way so I can focus on the real things I want to accomplish.

Everyone is on their own journey toward responsibility and self-fulfillment. I’m still learning the best way to approach my success, and that may all start with not sleeping past my many, many alarms!

Joan Tejera

U Conn '24

Joan is a junior at the University of Connecticut studying as a Computer Science and Engineering major. In her free time, she loves playing video games, listening to new music (constantly updating her Spotify playlists), and cooking & baking heart shaped things.