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How to Stay Productive and Focused During Your Daily Language Training

Despite being highly rewarding, language learning can often feel like a chore. Especially when you seem stuck at a plateau, are dealing with a busy schedule, or are simply feeling exhausted or unable to focus. During these times, your natural reaction may be to pull back, take a break, and maybe even give up.

But here’s the thing. Like any other skill-learning activity, becoming proficient in a language is a non-linear process. There will be ups and downs and times when any growth you accomplish feels incremental — almost irrelevant to your ultimate goals. 

Because of this, you have to learn how to push through. And you’re not going to push through at the expense of your physical and emotional health. You need to find your drive by employing focus and productivity-boosting techniques that will allow you to accomplish your goals without depleting your energy.

So, if you’re looking for tips on how to stay productive and focused during your daily language training, here are the science-backed techniques guaranteed to make a positive difference.

Choose the Right Time of Day

Our energy levels are determined by our circadian rhythms — and everyone’s internal clock works in a slightly different manner. Considering this, the most important thing for improving focus and productivity is to choose the right time of day for your language learning sessions.

Generally, people feel most energized in the morning. In fact, research suggests that cognitive capacity is at its highest between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., making this the perfect time to block out an hour or two to work on your language skills. Of course, for you to actually feel prepared to do challenging mental work, you must prioritize rest with good sleep hygiene, and a comfortable bed that fits your sleeping needs.

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Furthermore, how well you can focus on mentally challenging tasks in the early hours of the day depends on how you behave in the morning. For instance, instead of reaching for your phone and a warm cup of coffee right after waking up, you may find that your productivity levels could benefit from a short walk. Or, you could boost your energy levels by doing a bit of light movement and setting aside 10 minutes for natural (unfiltered) light exposure.

Finally, as you explore the best time of day to reserve for language learning, understand that a morning session may not be the best choice for your particular goals. For instance, if you’re looking to improve your speaking skills, you might find that you perform better in the afternoons, as this is when our brains do the best in terms of integrating newly-learned information into practice.

Set the Mood

In addition to making sure you’re well-rested before your language learning sessions, there are other things you can do to stay focused and productive. For example, knowing that our environments, behaviors, and feelings directly impact our ability to concentrate, it’s not a bad idea to explore strategies that could put us in the mood for learning.

One such strategy would be listening to binaural beats.

Though a novel concept for most people, binaural beats are helpful in getting you into your desired state. So, for instance, listening to delta binaural beats (1 to 4 Hz) could allow you to relax and promote sleep, while 40Hz beats have been proven to enhance training and learning.

Another easy-to-implement method to help you learn more efficiently is to use meditation

By setting aside 5 to 10 minutes of your morning to do a focus-based meditation, you can noticeably improve your ability to focus, comprehend, process, and retain information. Apps like Endel and Headspace offer focus-oriented meditations based on scientific data, and they are guaranteed to help. However, if you’re looking for a free alternative, you can easily find a variety of guided meditations on Google, YouTube, or even Spotify.

Know How Habits Are Made

Here’s a harsh truth. Successfully learning a skill takes discipline, hard work, and bulletproof habits. But most people who feel unfocused or unproductive put their failure to sit down and learn to a lack of motivation.

Now, does this mean that language learning will inevitably feel like a toil at some point? Well, possibly. However, there are plenty of things you can do to build good habits and give yourself that motivational boost you need to put in really great work (that will deliver the results you want).

For instance, if you feel like you’re procrastinating with your language learning, ask yourself: what obstacles are getting in the way of you committing yourself to focused and productive work?

  • Is it that you set an unrealistic goal?

  • Are you not working with your internal clock and trying to force yourself to do cognitively challenging tasks when your energy levels are already depleted?

  • Maybe you haven’t selected the right reward system that will give you that external motivation to sit down and practice?

There are great science-backed resources you can explore to learn more about motivation, habits, and productivity. So make sure you check out books like Katy Milkman’s How to Change or James Clear’s Atomic Habits. These publications offer some of the best tips for turning any skill-learning process into a habit you consistently include in your day-to-day life.

And don’t forget, language learning doesn’t necessarily have to feel like work. Sometimes, you can make impressive progress with your foreign language skills, even through fun activities like watching a TV show or reading a book. Moreover, playing word games like Scrabble, which keep you mentally sharp, will encourage your brain to reframe the learning process from being a task to being a rewarding activity, all the while doing a high-intensity mental exercise.

Don’t Rely on Caffeine or Sugar to Boost Energy Levels When You’re Feeling Down

Finally, as you explore ways to boost attention levels during your daily language training, don’t think that a cup of coffee will get you focused enough to do some productive learning. Or even worse, that a sugary snack is a good way to raise your energy levels during your mid-day slump.

Instead, if you feel you need to alter your food/beverage intake or rely on supplements to help you be more productive with your language skill-building activities, go about it the correct way.

For one, understand that your mental sharpness directly correlates to your diet and sugar intake. So, the best thing you can do to help yourself focus more productively is to eat a nutritious diet. In addition to eating enough protein, ensure you’re also getting all the necessary micronutrients that allow your brain to function at peak capacity, like Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids, Magnesium, and Vitamin B12.

Furthermore, know that diet and supplements cannot make up for restorative rest. As you already know, you need approximately 8 hours of quality sleep each night to have the mental capacity to productively improve your language skills. But that’s not enough. Staying focused on challenging cognitive tasks also requires you to make room for regular time off for your brain as well. 

Resting your brain (and preparing it for mentally challenging tasks) can be as simple as carving out a time in your day for an exercise session or even allowing yourself to do a bit of daydreaming with a cup of herbal tea. Furthermore, fun activities like puzzling, reading, socializing, or spending time in nature can all allow you to recover more efficiently, thus making it easier to focus once it’s time to learn again.

Final Thoughts

Language learning is never easy — especially if you’re trying to do it on your own. However, you can rest assured that the strategies outlined in this guide will help you stay more focused and productive when the going gets tough.

Nonetheless, if you’re after quick progress, the best thing to do to help yourself do more efficient learning work isn’t to push yourself to your limits. Nor is it to start experimenting with biohacking or spend your entire day training. Instead, it’s getting the right guidance, whether in-person or online, so that you know you’re following a structured study plan that will help you achieve your goals without having to work yourself to the bone.

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