I'm writing this post right now because I just pulled 50 mins of quality study out of a hat.
And I'm chuffed!
I'd been travelling all day, and I was knackered. It would have been so easy to just turn over and fall asleep, but I didn't!
I turned it around, and here's how you can do it too…
This trick I've been using to study foreign languages recently is so simple it's embarrassing.
But it's so incredibly effective that it's literally doubled my study time in the last few weeks.
It's so effective because it completely dismantles and obliterates my one serious, overriding weakness.
No, it's not chilli-infused dark chocolate (although I wouldn't recommend you stand in my way!).
It is procrastination…
Procrastination…that old chestnut!
I am, at heart, a massive procrastinator. Procrastination doesn't mean doing nothing. In fact, procrastinators are often great at getting stuff done – just not those things that they really should be getting done.
One of my secret weapons in learning Cantonese is spaced-repetition flashcards.
My daily dose of flashcards is the one thing that I really should be doing everyday.
On its own, one single flashcards session is not a huge thing, but as I'm always going on about, it's those small things done regularly that give you the huge gains. (Otherwise known as the 80-20 rule).
I'd love to know why I struggle so much with my daily study routines, but I really don't know.
Perhaps part of it is me needing some novelty in everything I do (a really debilitating personality trait!). Perhaps it's just called “being human”.
Anyway, what's the trick?
It's so simple I'm almost embarrassed to say it. I just tell myself: “Only 5 minutes this time!”
“Just a quick one!”
“5 minutes then I'll stop!”
My mind is fickle enough that, by telling itself this, it can take action immediately and start studying.
5 minutes is achievable in virtually any circumstance.
And yet what happens?
Without exception, those 5 minutes turn into 20 or 30. Or in this case, almost an hour. Once I get started, I just do a bit more. Then a bit more. The some more.
It shouldn't work, but it does.
It's quite simple when you break it down:
Once we get started and the 5-minute timer goes off, that same rational mind that told you that you have 5 minutes free tells you that “you may as well do another 5 minutes whilst you're at it!”
As with everything in the learning game, this is going to work for some people and not for others. If you're the strong-willed type, you'll have no need for such simple trickery!
But if, like me, you sometimes find it impossible to get started, even though you know better, you may just find that this simple trick reenergises your language learning journey!
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