How to Trick Yourself Into Doing Things (like Language Learning)

Yawn. 7am. Cold outside. No one wants to jump out of bed and face the world this way. But here I am, pulling on some exercise gear and getting ready for the gym. I do this at least once a week.

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You know why?

Because it gets it out of the way before I find a good excuse. If the first thing I put on is a sports bra, then there aren't really many excuses to go and change my mind. Of course I have to commit and get everything ready as evening Kerstin, but she's ok with it because she doesn't really care about what morning Kerstin will have to do yet.

My morning class is on at 8am, and the only reason I turn up so early is because they didn't give me a say in the matter. The other reason is that deep down I actually enjoy it. I may not like leaving bed but the proud glow of being done with a class before 9am does do a lot for me.

What does my morning class mean to you?

Dealing with annoying stuff like early morning workouts isn't fun, but the key is to put yourself in a situation where committing to it has become a no-brainer.

As a language learner, I have always used the same principles to coax myself into learning.

  • Can't remember verb endings? Put them up on the bathroom mirror. I've even gone as far as taping a plastic wallet with my memo onto the shower wall.
  • Too busy to start? Set a timer. Do something for just 5 minutes.
  • Can't be bothered studying at the weekend? Make an appointment with a language exchange partner.
  • Losing stamina? Get your Language Habit Toolkit and start tracking the habit.
  • Do you know that you are going to be tired and unmotivated after 6pm? Make sure you queue up some target language practice for the morning - reading the first article of the day in another language, or listening to the radio while you brush your teeth.

The trick here is to commit in advance and ignore any voice that tells you otherwise.

Working with a tutor or joining a group class is great - just get someone else's enthusiasm to carry you along when things get boring.

Other ways of committing can involve performing small rituals, and definitely plastering those language post-its everywhere.

What works for you?

Do you have a cool way of sticking to your habits?

What have you observed about your own study rhythms?

Share your best tips the comments or hop over to join our Fluent Language Learners Facebook Group.

The Language Habit Toolkit

I'm so excited to tell you about my latest project, the Language Habit Toolkit. It is a set of effective tools to help you get organized, stay motivated and make daily progress towards speaking a language.

I have just finished working with a small group of language learning experts who took the product on a road test. And they loved it! One tester reported that it made him feel more organized than ever.

Click here to find out more about the Language Habit Toolkit