Learning Japanese, I’ve picked up many interesting tidbits of vocabulary and grammar patterns that I now use every day. I recently started pondering where I picked up each little piece of the language. Did I learn them gradually? Did I pick a bunch up at once? I later sat down with a sheet of paper and tried to remember. Surprisingly, my brain had kept a strong association between the expressions I use and the times and places where I learned them. Even more surprisingly, I started to notice a clear pattern in my scribbles: I did not learn the language at a constant rate, but rather in bursts, often learning as much in a single day as in the months that followed. Each of these bursts corresponded not so much with where I was or what methodology I followed, but rather with my discipline and motivation at the time, and how the two kept each other in balance. Finding the right balance between external discipline and internal motivation can be tough. But new research on procrastination suggests that not only are discipline and motivation both important when completing a task, when properly understood, they can reinforce each other in a positive feedback loop that increases productivity, and supports emotional and mental health.