Time is an essential factor in the mastering of any skill in life. Those who become fluent in a language, master a sport, rise to the top of any field or get good at anything in life all share one common characteristic – they put in the time.
This is a fact I think that we all understand.
I grew up with friends whom we termed “gym rats” because they spent their every waking moment down at the gym shooting thousands of baskets – thousands more baskets than me. Somehow they found a way to get the keys to the gym. They went on to play college basketball.
Well we don’t need to become gym rats to become better at something, but we do need to put in the time – and specifically – more time than we are putting in now. Here are six ideas how to do this.
Define Your Life
Perhaps the first and most important step to putting in more time into reaching your goals is to understand what it is you want. By defining the goal – those things that are important to you – you will be both more motivated to put in the time and more prepared to to be more efficient with your time. This also leads to an obvious second step to finding more time.
Just Say No
When you know what you want and what it takes to achieve the goal you have set before you, it is easier to say no to those “good” things that get in the way of your doing the “best” thing. Mencius reminds us that, “Before a man can do things there must be things he will not do.” Learning to say NO is an important step toward creating more time for those things that are most important.
Once you have cut the wasted time out of your life, you need to be able to create more space for the things you want to work on. One way to do this is to create five to ten minute “piggy back” opportunities around already existing habits from your daily life. When I wanted to begin doing push-ups, sit ups and pull ups in a quest to be a bit more fit, I piggy backed that new goal onto an already existing routine in my life – brushing my teeth before bed. I didn’t have to create a new habit of nothing in this manner but merely piggy backed on what I already habitually did.
Fill the Gaps
Another way to create more time is to fill the gaps of your day. Transition times between projects can easily be expanded into an extra five to fifteen minutes. How can you maximize your daily commute? How can you fill the transition between one project and another at work? Thinking creatively about how to do this can add valuable time - five and ten minutes at a time – to your day.
Get Out of Bed
Okay. This is the old standby, but there is nothing more cool than having a few hours of work under your belt by 8:00 am. It’s quiet. The kids are sleeping. You’re not carrying the mental baggage of the day before. The fresh smell of coffee is inspiring. And, it may be the only larger chunk of time you have in your day to work on your project.
Take a Break
This final suggestion is a bit counter intuitive, but I have found it to be important in my own life as language learner, as an athleter and as a writer.
You need to CEASE.
Stop working. Rest your mind and body and have fun. The Biblical idea of Sabbath isn’t just a silly idea. The end product of rest is more creativity, more focus, more motivation and in the end, a much more time spent on task. It’s also a real good reminder that you are not the center of the world – if you don’t show up for one day, this thing keeps spinning.
So turn off the phone for a day. Don’t open up your laptop. Put your big project, your language learning, or whatever big goal you have on hold – for a day at least.
Life is Busy
Many of the blogs I read are written by single guys or gals and are a bit difficult to relate to as a husband and dad. My main priority is to invest in their lives – my wife, my son and my daughter. To do that well, and to still work on learning Turkish, write for this blog and create great language learning products, I have to find the time. The ideas above are what have worked for me. I hope they will work for you as well.
I am excited to have been able to find more time myself to create The Everyday Language Learner’s Guide to Getting Started which I’ll be releasing this Thursday. If you’ve always wanted to learn another language but haven’t known how to begin, this guide is for you. Be sure and subscribe today to take advantage of the Subscriber One Day $1.00 sale.
Our next sale will be in October! Keep an eye out for it!
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"Aaron consistenly pumps out top quality language learning advice and motivational posts,
and is probably one of the best sources of encouragement you'll come across."
-Donovan Nagel, The Mezzofanti Guild