Thursday, March 6, 2014

Finding time to do all you want to do

"They taught us in the fable of the tortoise and the hare so early, most of us dismissed it as a children’s tale and ignored the powerful lesson it contains: Others may be brighter. Others may learn quicker and retain more. Yet whosoever keeps on plodding relentlessly toward the goal of mastering another language, though his gifts be dim, stands a better chance than the unmotivated genius whose dazzle ignited so much envy in high school Spanish class.

Harnessing your hidden moments, those otherwise meaningless scraps of time you’d normally never think of putting to any practical use, and using them for language study – even if it’s no more than fifteen, ten, or five seconds at a time – can turn you into a triumphant tortoise.

Hidden moments will heal your deficiencies soon enough, but first let’s talk about the unhidden moments, the study time you’ve arranged to commit to your endeavour.

This book is written for those who can’t or don’t want to expend the time or money required to attend formal classes. Successful self teaching is our objective.
If you can take a whole hour every day and devote it to your studies, you’re in excellent position to make satisfying, even dramatic, progress.
If you can devote a half hour a day, you’re still poised for success.
If you can’t commit a regular block of time, if the best you can do is an hour here, a half hour there, and maybe a three hour block of time over the weekend, that’s satisfactory, provided you keep it up and maintain momentum.

Gardens unattained go to weed. Apples bitten into and abandoned turn brown. Likewise, your collection of language data – words, phrases, rules, and idioms – will dissolve into a useless mass if not kept up.

Apportion as much time as you reasonably can and as regularly as you can, and then enjoy the magic as the hidden moments kick in.

A professional financial advisor on radio once urged people to take careful inventory of their financial assets, promising that overlooked and forgotten riches were to be revealed at every hand. Her credibility disappeared for me at that moment. I honestly think I’ve never been at a point in my economic life where I was likely to underestimate my holdings by as much as seventy-five cents! When it comes to time, however, that’s a much more lucrative matter!

You can learn a language in twelve months using only those moments you didn’t realise you had.

We’ve already mentioned a few corners in which hidden moments lurk awaiting liberation. Let’s review them and add some more.
Moments we instinctively bid goodbyes to include those spent waiting for and riding in elevators, waiting for the person you’re dialing to answer, waiting while he puts you on hold, waiting for a long outgoing message from someone’s answering machine to reach its conclusion. There are those moments when you’re helplessly trapped – when someone who’s too good a friend to hang up on delivers an unending narrative requiring no verbal participation on your part beyond an occasional grunt, groan, “dear me,” “gee whiz,” or other appropriate interjection to let him know you’re still there. It’s usually safe to divert some of your attention from your friend to your flash cards. There’s a major payload of hidden moments right there, and we haven’t even gone beyond the elevator and the telephone!
We can take time back from our days just like the Dutch took land back from the sea and put it to work.
What do you normally do when you’re waiting in line at the bank, the post office, the airline counter, the bus or train station, or the supermarket checkout counter?
What do you do while you brush your teeth? You could be listening to a language cassette.
What plans have you made for the time you’re going to spend waiting behind your steering wheel at the gas pump? Or waiting for the rinse cycle? Waiting for the school bus?
You get the point. An honest, thorough scrutiny of your normal week will yield dozens, even hundreds, of minutes that can be put to work learning your target language.
And don’t forget, a scrap of time need be no longer than five seconds to advance you closer to your goal.

Get your cassettes into action when you wake up, stretch, make the bed, fix breakfast, brush teeth, dry off after a bath or shower, wash dishes, and so on through all the moments when those less ambitious turn on the radio or TV.
Don’t forget, passive listening is better than nothing, but not by much! Engage the English mentally and try to beat the voice on the cassette to the foreign word.

“Harnessing hidden moments” is a three word course in language learning all by itself. It offers a side benefit that has nothing to do with learning languages but has a lot to do with enjoying life.
Look at those other people, those unfortunates who, unlike you, have no intention of harnessing their hidden moments to learn languages or anything else. Look how they wait like zombies in line, their faces masks of boredom and pain. Your boredom and pain will vanish the instant you get into line and whip out your flash cards.

Learning languages can become incidental to daily life. It’s often fulfilling enough just having something useful to do! Remember what Dean Martin said to the slowly sipping starlet: “I spill more than you drink!” Just by using the minutes you’d otherwise spill, you can learn another language. "

- How to Learn Any Language by Barry M. Farber
Here's some other "time tricks", that will help you find the time you need to do all the things you want to do:

Time Tricks to Get More Done

* 2-minute trick (if it takes only 2 minutes or less to do, do it NOW.)
* pomodoro (set a timer to 15 or 25 minutes, work through that time, then have a 5-10 minutes' break, and continue until the work is done)
* find your best time to work - Find out your personal circadian rhythm, and let it work for you by actually going to bed and getting up according to your personal preferences, and planning to work and rest according to your circadian rhythm.

Learning to Learn: leveraging your circadian rhythm
It really is that easy. You listen to your body and believe it. You KNOW if you are a morning person or an evening person. You KNOW when you feel most alert and when you are feeling tired, when you feel energetic and when you feel lazy and sluggish. You know. You just need to listen to your body and feelings, and not what you assume the society and people around you EXPECT you to be and function. In our society morning people are preferred and the society is build to fit their circadian rhythm, but the morning people are not a majority in the society. To get the most out of yourself you MUST find your own circadian rhythm and adjust your activities to it. Not the other way around.

Circadian Rhythm – Getting Back On Track

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Top Six Tips for Getting Things Done

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