Before you jump into the deep end of language learning, it is always good if you have a plan and put in place clear strategies that will help you optimise all your efforts so that you can succeed. The essential is that you create a set of routine allowing you to use the best of your capacities.
First, learn to manage your energy
If you want to be productive, you should make sure that you get adequate sleeping time every night. It is proven that, even small amount of sleep deprivation can cause dysfunction in a human being and provoke changes in cognitive capacity. This will have a direct effect on you when trying to retain the new information in your second language.
Be aware of your energy level
There is certain time of the day where people are more productive. You should find out what is your peak time of energy during the day - Some people are at their prime in the morning, and others feel on top of the world in the evening - and block off some of this time for your language activity of choice, preferably memorising words and phrases, or making sense of grammar structures.
study in the same place, at the same time so that these become the trigger for enhancing productivity.
Create a routine
Try to study in the same place, at the same time, using the same tools every day so that these can work as a trigger to put you in the mood for serious study. Various writers swear by this technique to enhance their productivity.
Focus only on three language activities at the most
Manage your to-do list to only three tasks. If the list is longer, you might feel overwhelmed and procrastination will creep in and make you refrain from starting.
Keep a journal
Write down every commitment you make to yourself – like study 10 phrases a day – so that it becomes impossible to forget or ignore. This will give you peace of mind and free your energy to learn.
Set a start and finish time
Set a start time and a finish time for each activity, this will keep tasks for taking longer and allocate specific times to different activities like, learn vocabulary, study my course, listen to podcast, watch a film in my second language, read a book.
Study every day
You don’t need to have long study periods, if you don’t, have the time, but do it every day even for 5 minutes. By doing so, you keep your momentum going, and you don’t need to waste time going back just to remind yourself where you’ve left off.
If you get into the habit of studying frequently, it becomes much easier to sit down and achieve something even when you don’t feel like it.
If you plan to study more than 30 minutes daily, get into the habit of taking breaks at regular intervals: take 5 minutes, grab a coffee, go for a short walk. Refuelling your energy should be an important part of your study routine if you want to keep your focus and learn effectively.
Reclaim your space
Find a space where you can focus and learn. Let people around you know that you want that time for yourself so that you can make the most of it for your language study. They will be respectful of your decision once they are aware of your intentions.
Through meditation your learn how to focus on the task at hand.
Including meditation in your daily routine can bring a myriad of benefits to you. You’re aloud to listen to your inner voice, you become more creative and most importantly, you’re learning to focus. It does not have to take much time, 10 to 20 minutes daily either in the morning or at night. Simple meditation techniques are available over the internet.
When you’re working on your language activity during the period you blocked off for this purpose, you should avoid interruptions at all cost. Switch off your phone to prevent the usual avalanche of notifications, no email, and preferably no internet. It would be better if you could work offline or do the necessary research on the net beforehand. At the beginning, plan small blocks of study time and increase it gradually.
Finish what you’ve started
Try always to finish what you’ve started to study. For example, if you planned to write a paragraph in your target language to practice the new vocabulary you learned on the previous session, once started, don’t stop until it’s over. Research has shown that the unfinished task could linger in your mind affecting your performance later when you decide to do another activity, this is called “attentional residue”.
Replace negative distractions with positive ones
The negative distractions are those which interfere with your work, and they can be the television, social media, email, family members, anxiety, that little voice inside you telling that you won’t succeed at mastering the language etc…
Researchers found out that the best way to rid of these negative distractions is to replace them with positive ones like setting a timer and race the clock to complete the task or promising oneself a reward once the task is finished like taking a coffee break or logging into social media for 3 minutes.
Develop your self-control
One way to do it is to develop an unrelated habit like deciding to improve your posture or exercise every morning for 10 minutes. This strengthens your willpower in other areas of your life, and it helps you stick with your language routine. Remember that when a task becomes a habit, it does not take lots of energy to achieve.
Consistency is the most important thing. If you want to succeed, you must cultivate a daily language practice. You should work on improving your skills every day. I know it’s not easy, there are lots of demands in your life, but you should manage skilfully your energy and time so that you can carry on your language journey.
You should build a robust language learning routine, do your most important work when you’ve got more energy, study in the same environment to create a positive reinforcement, study every day, avoid distractions during your learning sessions, and most importantly be consistent.