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30 days: How to improve self-discipline

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
39 messages over 5 pages: 1 2 3 4
Gemuse
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 2191 days ago

818 posts - 1189 votes 
Speaks: English
Studies: German

 
 Message 33 of 39
03 April 2014 at 4:04pm | IP Logged 
I was thinking about this: why restrict a time unit to be only one day? One could
define a time unit to be 3 days. Here is how such a system would work.

You have a countdown timer which starts at 3, and counts down to 0. It decrements by 1
each day. However, whenever you do your goal activity, it gets reset to 3. You get to
put a checkmark on the calender each day that the counter is non-zero.

Here is a sample "good run" example, where each day gets a checkmark. I denote a
successful activity day as Y and an unsuccessful day as N. The counter values are
written according to the rules above.
3,N
2,N
1,Y
3,N
2,Y
3,N
2,Y
3,Y
3,Y
3,N
2,N
1,Y
3,N
...

The goal is to keep the counter always above 0.


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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3641 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 34 of 39
03 April 2014 at 5:15pm | IP Logged 
Gemuse wrote:
I was thinking about this: why restrict a time unit to be only one day? One could define a time unit to be 3 days. Here is how such a system would work.

You have a countdown timer which starts at 3, and counts down to 0. It decrements by 1 each day. However, whenever you do your goal activity, it gets reset to 3. You get to put a checkmark on the calender each day that the counter is non-zero.

This is a really, really good idea. But at least for me, it runs into two problems:

1. It's much easier to build a habit where I "do something every day" than it is to build a habit where I do something "twice a week". If I do something every day, then it simply becomes part of my routine, and it feels strange to stop. But if I do something two days a week, then I don't do it five days a week, and those five days can easily expand to seven.

2. The accounting overhead is a bit of a nuisance. "Did I study today?" is easy. "What's the current value of my counter, and did I remember to update it yesterday?" is hard.

So how to do I handle Egyptian, where my goal is to study one Assimil lesson per week? Well, here's what my progress graph looks like:



You can find a live version of this here, with a detailed description of my actual goal:

Quote:
GOAL STATEMENT

Finish Assimil's L'Égyptien hiéroglyphique course, very slowly.

FINE PRINT

Finish one lesson, make at least 7 Anki cards, and keep reasonably up to date on my reviews. For now, "finishing" a lesson means at least a half-dozen loops through the material and mentally doing the exercises. Yes, this probably isn't enough loops, especially for a hard Assimil course, but I'm hoping Anki will supply the missing reviews.

My intention is to invest no more than 45 minutes per week into this project.

All usual Beeminder rules apply, including emergencies, force majeur, etc., and the one-week horizon for changing the goals. The pledge is set to increase for now, but I may decide to change that.

The details of this goal will probably change as I learn things.

As you can see, I've been procrastinating on Egyptian, and I'll fall below the "line" in 1 day and 13 hours. So either today or tomorrow, I need to spend 25 minutes going through lesson 45, and make at least 7 cloze cards from the material.

What happens if I don't? Well, the first time, nothing but my pride gets hurt, and Beeminder automatically schedules me a week break to get back onto track. But if I blow it a second time, I've got to cough up $5. A third time? $10. Then $30, then $90. And Beeminder is scrupulously fair: If I fail, they send me an email asking whether or not this was a legit failure. Did I fail because of a problem with their system? Or because of true emergency? Or did I fail because I was being lazy and procrastinating? Now, this kind of financial penalty doesn't make sense for every person or every goal: Only for those things where you actually desire real penalties with teeth. And it helps that the Beeminder people are so scrupulously fair and honest in all their dealings. In fact, if you want a tool like Beeminder, but without the "sting", they actually have a very nice list of competing products on their blog.

The other clever idea with Beeminder is the idea of an "akrasia horizon": While most people are pretty weak about today, we're happy to make all sorts of promises about next week. So Beeminder allows you to change and adjust your goals, but only one week in the future. If I wanted to stop doing new Assimil lessons for two weeks, perhaps because I was out hiking the Appalachian Trail, I can simply dial in a break a week in advance. Of course, in this case, it's easier to just study a couple of extra lessons and get some breathing room.

So basically, I don't have an actual habit of studying Egyptian, not the way I do with French. Instead, I have a tool that tells me when I need to get off my backside and actually do something. And if I'm a wimp, well, Beeminder can offer more serious consequences. One of their many mottos is "safety rope for slippery slopes."

(And of course, studying a language for 45 minutes a week has other complications: You really need to use SRS software to remember material between lessons, and you need to be OK with the idea of only reaching B1 after several years. But sometimes, that's the right tradeoff for a cool-but-impractical language like Egyptian.)
2 persons have voted this message useful



Gemuse
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 2191 days ago

818 posts - 1189 votes 
Speaks: English
Studies: German

 
 Message 35 of 39
03 April 2014 at 5:40pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

2. The accounting overhead is a bit of a nuisance. "Did I study today?" is easy. "What's
the current value of my counter, and did I remember to update it yesterday?" is hard.


Not that much of a nuisance, you keep track of the counter each day. Eg, for each day
box on the calendar, write down the "2N" type entry in a small portion of the box, and
and color the rest. Day to day updates are easy. You dont have to remember anything.

To be precise, you would write the "2" for the next day, and the "N" for today. Then the
next day you might write "Y" for that day, and enter "3" for the day after.
1 person has voted this message useful



Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3018 days ago

2151 posts - 3960 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Hindi, Ancient Greek, French, Sanskrit, German

 
 Message 36 of 39
06 April 2014 at 12:35am | IP Logged 
Gemuse wrote:
emk wrote:

2. The accounting overhead is a bit of a nuisance. "Did I study today?" is easy. "What's
the current value of my counter, and did I remember to update it yesterday?" is hard.


Not that much of a nuisance, you keep track of the counter each day. Eg, for each day
box on the calendar, write down the "2N" type entry in a small portion of the box, and
and color the rest. Day to day updates are easy. You dont have to remember anything.

To be precise, you would write the "2" for the next day, and the "N" for today. Then the
next day you might write "Y" for that day, and enter "3" for the day after.


Is this something you've been doing? I'd be curious to know how it went after a month of trying it.
1 person has voted this message useful



Gemuse
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 2191 days ago

818 posts - 1189 votes 
Speaks: English
Studies: German

 
 Message 37 of 39
06 April 2014 at 7:48am | IP Logged 
I'm strongly considering it. Although not for language learning, but for work related
learning.

Anyone know of a site where one can maintain a journal of daily activities geared
towards some goal? Where procrastinators can post?
1 person has voted this message useful



luke
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5314 days ago

3133 posts - 4350 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Esperanto, French

 
 Message 38 of 39
06 April 2014 at 10:13am | IP Logged 
Gemuse wrote:
Anyone know of a site where one can maintain a journal of daily activities geared towards some goal? Where procrastinators can post?


I've been meaning to look for a site like that.
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Gemuse
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 2191 days ago

818 posts - 1189 votes 
Speaks: English
Studies: German

 
 Message 39 of 39
06 April 2014 at 10:58am | IP Logged 
^^ Pun intended? :D

Edited by Gemuse on 06 April 2014 at 10:58am



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