If you search the words 'Time Management' on Amazon.com you will get a book list of around 50,000 titles. Many of the books on this subject are weighty tomes with some containing hundreds of pages of advice. Modern literature on the subject is a lucrative business which has attracted many hack authors to produce poorly written novelty books. All of which promise quick results with a cutting edge new trend the author has discovered.
The truth is that the original book on the subject: 'The Shortness Of Time' was written by Seneca (a Greek philosopher) nearly two thousand years ago. His advice, an article under ten thousand words long, is well written and straight to the point. It can also be read in under thirty minutes meaning it lives up to it's title. Consider all the time it would take you to read the other 50,000 books written after Seneca's article.
Since the birth of the internet, it is all too easy to be buried in excess information and excess purchases. This can create information overload and time wasted on items which will not further our goal of learning a language. As the martial artist Bruce Lee once suggested, the aim of life should really be to eliminate and not accumulate. With this in mind, here are some ways to de-clutter your life and make more room for language studying.
Tip Number One: De-clutter Your Phone
Try to uninstall any unnecessary apps on your phone. This also applies to language learning apps. Try to use one app at a time. Consider ditching apps such as dictionaries, writing practice and general sentences. Would it not be easier to install one app like italki to get organised lessons with a teacher or language exchange partner? The same also goes for what is now being seen as 'Junk Information'. If you must read the news, do it through one quality app and limit your use of it to ten minutes in the morning. Also think about signing out of chat programs or creating an automatic response asking people to email you instead. Most email is now junk and if it were an emergency then people will simply call you.
Tip Number Two: Clean Up Social Media
Try to move from sites like Facebook to language learning groups where you get to practice your second language. Also consider how much time is wasted on apps like Instagram and Twitter. Celebrities get paid to tweet, but do you? Think of your time as money and you may not be so willing to give it to a cause which does not reward you in some way. Also consider how many celebrities have destroyed their career overnight with one stupid or careless tweet.
Tip Number Three: Reconsider Streaming Services And Blu-rays
In today's world we are being subscription based sucked dry of our cash. One of my friends subscribes to Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, Cable television, and expensive mobile phone contracts. It adds up to a small fortune every month which is money that could go towards other things. It could be used for a holiday to the country of your target language or even more language lessons. Also think of the heaps of cash you may have invested in DVD and Blu-ray collections. Have a look around your apartment and consider selling the discs. You will reclaim both your time and precious money which would be better spent elsewhere.
Tip Number Four: Make Your Learning Environment More Comfortable
It is always good to attend classes in the real world, but long working hours may mean we have to practice a language in our bedroom or even in the kitchen if needed. If this is the case for you, take a long hard look at the room and ask if it could be more comfortable and easier to learn in. Maybe you have a very good desk in your bedroom but now it is taken up by an X-box and television? Consider moving these items to the living room or even the kitchen if it is big enough.
If there are lots of items piled up in your room think about how many of them you have used in the last six months. Then try to sell or dump items that have not been used in that time period. Unfortunately, over time, most items we see as priceless are not worth much and will never accumulate in value. If anything you have is both sentimental and getting in the way, then take a few pictures of it. That way you can revisit the item digitally.
Tip Number Five: Save Time By Not Stockpiling
Having thirty T-Shirts is all very well, but having to wash them all and iron them is very time consuming. Think about how your time is often spent washing and cleaning things. Could this time be reduced by having less things? Consider choosing fewer items which are high in quality and will not sap your time. In Delhi, due to the environment, our apartment had to be dusted everyday. For that reason I did not cover every square inch of it with pictures and statues. Do not let unnecessary items steal time which could be better spent learning a language. Being fluent in a language will improve your career and generate far more money than bric-a-brac in your apartment.
Tip Number Six: Buy Good Coffee And Food
This may sound ridiculous but one way to help compulsive spending is to suggest buying food instead of non-essential items. Most people like to spend a little money to give themselves a buzz or pick me up. We've all done it at one time or another: an expensive book we have no time to read or a fancy kitchen appliance that is never used and gathers dust. If you must spend money to cheer yourself up then try to buy good quality foods and drinks. Food has to be eaten and usually can't sit on our bedroom shelf for six months. As food and drink are disposable items they are less likely to outstay their welcome. My personal pick me up spend is expensive filter coffee and Medjool dates. Perhaps you can treat yourself to some fancy English teas while revising an English lesson?
Tip Number Seven: Block Out Four Hours A Day
According to new research, the most that we can study and be effective is for four hours a day. That sounds like a lot but consider that the average office worker has to put in an eight hour shift everyday. New studies now suggest that anything more than four hours of study a day is a waste of time. It has also been pointed out that we should get one form of relaxation a day to improve our attention spans. You can easily work this to your advantage and have more free time. If you can manage to rise early, you could study from 7am to 9am. Then maybe work from 2pm to 4pm. At the weekend that would give you hours to spare for rest and recreation. Wherever possible plan out your day before someone else plans it out for you.
Hero image by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash