Well, it’s Monday again! Everyone had a good day at work/school/wherever? Yes? Good.
So today we go onto the second post in my GCSE German series…
5 Ways to Beat Procrastination!
This post is going to be a little more general than the ones I plan on writing in the future, because let’s face it, if you’re doing your GCSEs, it’s only two weeks since you were on your summer holiday aaaand because I think this is a really good place to start.
Let me just talk about me and procrastination for a second: I am a chronic procrastinator. Case in point: I spent all of my final year of uni working hard (procrastinating harder) and kept promising myself ‘this summer I’ll study so many languages’, ‘this summer I’ll read so many books’, ‘this summer I’ll start writing again’… What happened when the summer came around? Nothing. I went to work, I came home, I lounged around and watched Netflix. It’s an easy cycle to drop into – and it’s even easier when it’s not stuff you really want to do.
So, here’s a few methods I’ve found that work for me.
1. Block out a specific time to study.
First of all: the amount of time here doesn’t have to be long. Ten minutes. Fifteen. Don’t count the time getting your stuff together, obviously. Just sit there, set a timer on your phone/computer if that’s helpful for you, and do as much work as you can. If it helps, make it a race. How much can you do in ten minutes?
This works for me because I find that the hardest part of doing anything is physically sitting there and starting it. Ten minutes is an easy amount of time to set aside. It also works because choosing a specific time means that I know it’s coming. It usually means I mess around a bit before it (I don’t want to start this task because I know this one is coming up…) but that’s better than not studying at all, right?
2. Ease into a study session with something you enjoy.
Here’s the great thing about learning languages: anything you enjoy doing in your native language, you can enjoy doing in your target language, too!
What does that mean? It means that you can ease into your study session with an activity that might not be studying, but will still be helping you to improve your language skills in some way – even if it is passively.
Some activities I enjoy:
- Reading articles. Spend too much time on Buzzfeed? You can read it in German! You can follow Twitter accounts or Facebook pages in German, too. There’s a German version of OK! magazine. Maybe you want to read about films, or games, or sports? Easy peasy. You can just scan the headlines if you like, see what you already know – or read an article or two, if you have the time.
- Listening to music. Spotify is great for this because you can get the charts from any country. Of course, the top 20 for most countries (European ones, anyway) usually have some English songs in there – but if you like some of the German ones then you can look up the bands, see what else they’ve done. If you don’t have Spotify, you can find the top 100 for Germany here.
- Watching TV/films. Granted, this is going to be difficult at first. HOWEVER – there’s a reason we have subtitles. Use them. See what you recognise and where it matches up. There are going to be some short sentences that will be repeated, so see if you spot them. What’s important at this stage is getting used to the speed – and if you do this kind of practice, your listening exam is going to seem soooooo slow in comparison. There are lots of places you can find TV shows and films online, but if you have Netflix, you can change the language of certain shows there. YouTube is also another good place to find videos – though these are often more difficult. There is that subtitle option on there though, but I don’t know how good the automatic subtitles are.
3. Try and do your work as early as possible.
By this, I mean as early in your day as possible – if that works for you. Obviously, if you have a deadline for school, then try and get that work done as soon as you can. Then you can enjoy the rest of the time!
You might know already if you work better in the morning or at night, and I’m definitely one of those ‘better-at-night’ people. But, while you have to attend school, it’s a little easier if you get used to doing your work earlier in the day, so that you don’t have to spend years existing on a handful of hours’ sleep a night.
Try and fit your studying routine around school. Do you need a break when you come in or will that lead to more procrastination? Is it better to study before you eat you dinner or afterwards? Think about what other clubs/activities you have to do too, and fit your time in around that.
4. Use an app or program.
For me, this idea of ‘gamifying’ life is kind of fun. I really like points-based systems, or at least, obvious results, which are difficult to come by when you’re studying sometimes. There are lots of apps, techniques and programs to help you with this – and to help you get your work done.
One of the most popular apps that seems to be going around at the moment is this Forest app, which is available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Google Chrome. For your iPhone, it costs £0.79 and for Chrome it’s free – I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard many good things about it on tumblr. Basically, you set a certain amount of time that you won’t use your phone/browser for and if you don’t, little trees grow in the app until you have a complete forest! Another good one for Chrome is the Momentum page, which replaces whatever you have set when you open a new tab. You can enter what you want to focus on and it brings up a little check box for you to tick when you’re done. Search for productivity apps, if you’re interested in this kind of thing.
5. Remind yourself why you’re doing this.
Why are you learning German? Yes, because you have to, maybe, and yes, because there are few foreign language choices – but what’s something you really want to do in that language? Do you want to speak with natives? Is there somewhere you want to go or something you want to do in a German-speaking country? Do you want to read or watch something in its original language? Do you want to understand a play or an opera? Do you want to listen to football commentary? What is something tangible that you want?
Find that reason. Find any reason. It’s good to have a specific one, but even if it’s just that you like the way the language sounds, or you like the words – that’s a good reason too! Any reason is good if it keeps you learning.
Once you have that reason, write it down somewhere. Stick it in your German book or textbook or folder. Keep it somewhere you can see it – and then when you’re dragging your feet and don’t feel like studying, look at it, and remind yourself that you don’t hate this as much as you think. 😉