What do your days look like?
I’ve been reading Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, a book describing the days of famous artists, writers, composers, and thinkers. Apparently the psychologist B.F. Skinner ate cornflakes every morning at the same time. The novelist Toni Morrison squeezed in writing at dawn, before work. Thriller-writer Patricia Highsmith always had a drink before working and raised snails out of curiosity.
Many of the profiled people, such as William James, deeply value habits that free the mind from constant choice-making. “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision,” he writes, “and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subject of express volitional deliberation.” In short, James and others appreciate the benefits of habit.
Do your days involve language learning?
The argument that these routine-lovers would make to language learners, I think, would be to make learning a ritual. Some language learners are immersed in the language through life or work or relationships, in which case learning is somewhat unavoidable. For the rest of us, we have to build it in.
Do you wake and study at the same time every day? Do you squeeze in a few minutes before work? Do you pour a glass of wine before you jump in, or approach learning with a sense of novelty?
In my own case of learning Turkish, I notice that I’ve settled into a certain routine these days: In the morning, before diving into work, I review 70 self-made flashcards with the program Anki. Later in the afternoon, I take a break to do a 20-minute Turkish Tea Time episode, focusing on whole sentences and grammar. The benefit of these habits, or rituals, is that I waste no time figuring out what to do – thus I avoid procrastination. I jump right in. I can’t say that they are the best or most useful rituals, but they do keep me engaged with the Turkish language.
What about you?
I would love to hear about people’s daily habits for language learning. What do you do? How do your habits work for you? Please share in the comments.