Friday, August 8, 2008

Juggling Career, Family and Learning Spanish

With all the focus on my children's learning Spanish and other family things, I find myself neglecting my own Spanish learning. I learn a lot of Spanish just from teaching my kids, but I want to step up my speaking and listening comprehension. I've even started to record a telenovela to watch. Now, it's carving out the time to watch and study them.

Juggling Career, Family and Learning Spanish

by Steve Dimeck

Finding the time to do it all at once - career, family, study Spanish ...? Having trouble juggling? These problems that people face are very similar to those of the beginning juggler. According to "The Instant Jugglers' Manual", four common problems are: handling two areas of focus at the same time; moving forward while you try to juggle instead of standing still; not being able to juggle in a third area of focus; and keeping all three areas from bumping into each other or overlapping.

Translate this to the everyday human life, and you would get: handling multiple areas of focus at the same time; moving forward with your life while you try to juggle your work, family and all other daily tasks instead of standing still, finishing them and then moving on; not being able to juggle in a third area of focus, such as studying Spanish; and pulling a miracle of keeping all three areas from bumping into each other or overlapping.

How are you going to fit your Spanish learning project into your daily commitments? It's easy to become overwhelmed and lose focus. Losing focus will cause you to take no action. And, action is essential to moving on from where you are now, to where you want to be. Here are a few tips to stay focused on your "learning Spanish language" project.

1. Chunk down

If you have a large task to tackle, it is always easier when you break it down into smaller components. You'll find it easier to focus because you won't feel as overwhelmed. Also, a large task would take all of your time to undertake, while smaller tasks would give you more time in between to fit in your Spanish language project.

2. Keep a 'to do' list

Once you've broken down major tasks into smaller ones, make and keep a "daily 'to do' list". In your "daily 'to do' list" always or as much as possible have the Spanish Learning time included.

3. Schedule your time

Every evening, decide on three to five tasks along with your Spanish studying time that you wish to accomplish the following day and put them on your 'to do' list. Stay focused on these tasks and only add new tasks once these have been completed.

4. Say no

Be assertive and carve out more time for your Spanish Study project. Saying 'no' to that extra demand by your boss every once in a while, can get you home one hour earlier a couple of days a week. How about cutting back on the amount of housework or side activities that you do? Imagine how you could channel that extra time into your Spanish learning task.

5. Once you get to your study time, organize your Spanish learning project to gain maximum results:

- First of all, you will want to set aside certain hours that are designated "Spanish Study" hours. Not that these study hours need to be rigid, but the times when changes are made should be the exception, not the rule.

- Have a certain area which you set aside as the "Spanish Study area". This doesn't mean that you have to have a special room that is set aside with a desk etc., but it does mean having one spot, such as the dining room table, or the basement, or even the attic. This will help you develop a mind set of thinking of this as a time for learning as separate from a time for other activities.

- Try to make sure that there are as few distractions as possible so you can maximize your focus.

- Engage your family and friends in this. Maybe ask them to test you, or assist you in reviewing your material, or ask them to do something for you while you are on your study time as a mean of helping you along. Making them feel a part of this can go long ways towards avoiding hurt feelings.

- If you are used to having a regular telephone "gabfest" with a friend or family member at a certain time each day, maybe you can rearrange it. Most important, be sure to communicate to others the importance of you learning the Spanish Language.

- Perhaps someone likes to stop in and get you to go on a little spur of the moment trip with them. Explain beforehand that you won't be able to do this as regularly as before.

- Plan ahead. Have your study planned. Don't just sit down at the table with your open book to see what you will be studying next. Respect the study hours the same as you would if you were doing something else. You can accomplish much more when you take your study time for serious and not just a minor thing.

If you put these few tips into practice, you'll definitely find it easier to focus on and achieve your ultimate goal of learning Spanish.

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Josh said...

These are all great and easy ideas to make time for Spanish study. Now the problem is actually putting them into practice! Being a little OCD, I like the idea of making lists of things to study or work on each day.

Jessica said...

Good hearing from you, Josh!

Yeah, we do whatever it takes to get things done.