What if I don’t have time?

Last time I wrote about making your language goals fun, something to look forward to. So whether or not you’ve just tweaked a bit here or there, you might find yourself in another situation.

The one that you might refer to as “I have no time”.

My short answer is: It’s not a time problem, it’s a priorities problem.

Someone once told me “we all have the same 24 hours per day”. I immediately protested: “yes but someone with a lot of money doesn’t have to think about working and liberates those 8 hours a day” or “if you don’t have cats to take care of you win at least the 15 minutes a day it takes to clean their litter box”.

I was already trying to justify my choices. It was my choice to have cats, and in a certain way, it has also been my choice to have a job that requires me to block off 8 hours a day. While I would never turn back the clock on the cats decision, they are amazing little creatures that brighten my day, I did realise the job situation could be changed.

Anyway, I am not saying you should quit your job and dedicate it all to learning Flemish. Please no. I am merely suggesting that maybe you can look at your time from a perspective of choice.

What am I choosing to do today? “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.”

There are always things that you absolutely have to do. Because you signed a contract, for example. Or you’re a parent. Great, those are responsibilities you probably haven’t missed very often. But let’s be honest, are they the reason you have no time?

For me, I lose a lot of time when I haven’t made any decisions before I start my day. I let myself be guided by what I “have to” do, and then the gaps in between are filled with distraction. That can be facebook scrolling, watching series, reading things I’m half interested in, deciding I’ll stroll to the supermarket and get something I really shouldn’t eat…

Even if I had been looking forward to reviewing German, reading my little magazine or finally getting started on a new video in my coaching trajectory… If I haven’t consciously named it as a priority, I will fall for the temptation of an easier short-term-treat. And I’ll tell myself at the end of the day “waw, I really didn’t have time for that!”.

So that’s why I always recommend, in the beginning of every programme, to set 3 priorities for your day. Hold on, it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else before you’ve completed the things on your priorities list, but it means that you can easily glance at your diary (or anything written down) and check what you had promised yourself to do that day.

This is especially interesting for people who don’t like overplanning and setting rigid times for everything they have to do. It still gives you purpose, and avoids decision-making on the spot, but allows for more flexibility.

You’ll see, then it’s a lot easier to find the time. And to remind yourself that you chose to enjoy a language activity today.

So, do you really have to practice every day? No, you don’t. The only two things I recommend is to consciously think about before you decide to learn a language is:

1) What do I enjoy doing the most? What type of activities will be fun and nourishing to me?
2) Can I put these in my top 3 priorities of every (other) day, so I don’t forget to actually do it?

I’m curious to read your answers to these questions!

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