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3 Effective Habits For Learning New Languages

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3 Effective Habits For Learning New Languages

There are a myriad of ways to learn exciting new languages available online as well as at classroom sites close to you. There is a greater push underway today to encourage second and third language acquisition.. Being able to speak more than one language will improve communication with business transactions around the globe as well as being useful for other things too, such as making new friends, especially in non-English speaking countries. According to Katherine B. Nielson, the chief education officer at Voxy, a language-learning company based in New York City, America’s mono-lingualism had placed the United States in linguistic isolation. Although the US can be considered one of the most powerful countries around the globe due to its power and dominance, in terms of language, it is the most isolated. Nielson detailed that only 17% of the Americans speak more than one language compared to the 54% of the Europeans. Even Professor Russell A. Berman, the former president of the Modern Language Association, warned that the US can be regarded as “second language illiterates”. This will continue to progress if the nation does not act on this predictive warning. Being able to learn a new language sounds tough. For many, it is. This will require much determination and time, as well as 100% effort. However, learning will be fun if one discovers some creative ways to learn language with utmost efficiency. With that, there is just one formula and three basic habits. EXPERIENCE + STUDY + EFFORT = SUCCESS! I am sharing this to you based from what I have experienced in learning a new language myself. I speak four languages including some dialects. This is because Philippines has more than 100 dialects spoken. However, based from my experience learning German, which is considered a foreign language, these are the most important things a foreign language enthusiast must know beforehand. Here are the habits you need to cultivate: 1. EXPERIENCE the language first. This is the first step you should do before dealing the specifics of the language. a. Experience in a location where you learn the best: this can be from the comfort of home, in a classroom, or even in the country of the language origin. Considering the differences of learning, investigate what methods you should do where you learn the best. In this way, while experiencing the language, it would be easier for you to handle new information (new words, new phrases, etc.). b. Obtain the necessary materials needed for learning   For the materials preparation, here are the some suggestions which were very helpful in my process as well:

  • Audio materials
  • Written texts such as downloaded from the internet or buy a foreign language instruction book
  • Videos ( YouTube, language sites)
  • Downloaded language apps
  • Attend a foreign language class, both traditional learning and/or long distance learning

c. Emotional stability (100% of patience, determination, focus, attitude) In the case of emotional stability, you should prepare 100% of patience and determination. for you to experience fulfillment in learning new language. When I was started to learn German, I was already aware of the complexity of the language. With all the umlauts, and even their lengthy words (even reaching four separate words combined into one). What I did was I just watched first some German videos from YouTube, and downloaded some basic phrases. I started memorizing all of them. Aside from this, I listened carefully to how Germans talk and pronounce these words. It will be a plus if you have a fluent speaker or a native German-speaker with you guiding all throughout this language acquisition journey. According to Lucas Kern, founder of Leicht-Deutsch-Lernen.com, “Learning a new language is more than learning grammar rules by heart. You need to comprehend what you are reading or listening to and you also need to get familiar withe the pronunciation. There’s a lot to be done!” He added, “If you don’t like grammar, then don’t focus too much on it. It would only frustrate and discourage you.” In learning, you should have some chances or opportunities to practice it.  The more you practice, more chances of retaining the memorized phrases and words just learned. Anthony Metivier, a memorization expert holding a BA and  an MA in English Literature, an MA in Media & Communications, and a Ph.D. in Humanities, narrated to ‘treat language as something you love and not HATE’. As new language learners, you should drop the word hate in learning. Part of experiencing the language, the very basic thing you should do is to set realistic goals that you can achieve in a realistic way and time. d. Have many practice drills Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice On its negative side: In contrast, the experience phase of learning language will necessitate much patience and a great quantity of material to memorize. When learning, the very first step to do and the most basic thing is to MEMORIZE everything! When we say memorize, just focus first on the most commonly used phrases. This can be searched online. Download the file and start memorizing. Doing this will take you much determination and focus to be successful. Patience is also a key here. It took me several months to catch up German common phrases. So, in learning a new language, it will be the best weapon to have is focus. 2. STUDY grammar and familiarize vocabulary by heart. This is the second phase you need to undertake and can be considered as the toughest. Studying a new language will include VOCABULARY and GRAMMAR. As Metivier stated on smartlanguagelearner.com, grammar can have limitation to its usage if you lack vocabulary. There is a direct relationship of learning grammar of the language with learning the vocabulary. “You simply can’t traction with grammar until you have a large pool of words that you understand upon sight. Think of grammar as the engine that requires the fuel of vocabulary in order to run the car of your mind and the headlights of your mouth so that you can drive the highway of language.” Metivier said. After several months of familiarizing words, I watched some videos talking about the German grammar. With the materials downloaded which contains the basic grammar to the language, I started studying it. Of course, the start was so hard. I even need the help from an online German dictionary myself. On the negative side: While learning grammar, it cannot be done properly no matter how much you try if you don’t have the HEART of learning the language. That constitutes the familiarization of the words first. Hence, you need a foreign language dictionary (printed or online) to achieve this phase. Apart from that, a lot of techniques are suggested by experts, but take note that not everything listed may be your best fit. Create strategies that is really applicable to yourself. As what Kern told new German language learners, through experiencing the language, plus with the help of the dictionary plus your dedication, it will help you more to be a fluent speaker of the language. It took me several months of studying German and experiencing it more at the same time (the higher level). Again, it would be a plus if you have a German language proficient or a German native speaker with you to help you out. 3. EFFORT should be 100% to achieve desired goal  to successfully learn a new language Experience the language first through seeing a lot of videos on YouTube or language sites, reading materials both printed and online, familiarizing yourself to many words and phrases. Ethan Zinho, a member of Real Life English Team, a group who is dedicated to helping people learn English through integrating real-life experiences, compared learning styles done to the mother tongue to the complexity of learning English, which is complicated by its many rules and slang. He said that even when learning the mother tongue, it took some years to master it from writing ABCs, until achieving the most complex skills. This is same with acquiring understanding and mastery with the new language. It will take time to learn. Thus, represents effort. Remember, that you cannot get something worthy if you don’t put much effort to it. Based from what I have experienced, it took me longer time to understand this concept. But, if you try to make some creative but effective strategies which you know you can easily manage learning that particular language, it will be. As long as you practice it over and over again. Repetition of usage has always been the most important tool in mastering the language. On the negative side:  This oftentimes create frustrations. A lot of new language learners give up because there is so much of work and effort in order to have such fluency in the language. “Listen and repeat over and over again to audio recordings by native speakers.” Cornelius C. Kubler said. Kubler is a Professor of Asian Studies at the William College, a former Chinese Language Training Supervisor, and the Chair of the Department of Asian and African Languages at the Foreign Service Institute. He is also an author of several Chinese language textbooks. With all of this being presented, second, third and even fourth language acquisition can be deeply satisfying and an asset to you in your life and your career. With so many great options available today, whether at a local college or through online sources, there is no reason you couldn’t give it a try yourself. Remember that success cannot be possible without giving 100% to it. Try it and enjoy your new skill!

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Featured photo credit: Johan Klovsjö via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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