Learning Italian — Week 4

Present 1, Conjunctions and Prepositions — These were the 3 topics I conquered in Week 4. This week was a bit hectic due to social reasons. Nevertheless, I managed to achieve 3 new topics. I feel that the climb is just gonna get steeper from here on. This is where habits shine over willpower — The topic of this week’s discussion.

My whole aim with this project was to create a simple weekly target and stick with it. The first part — creating a simple weekly target — very easy. The second part — sticking with it — very difficult. As I learned from the experiences of many people — You can’t rely on willpower in the long term. You need something more. You need to internalize the process.

When you are learning a language — you need to give your full attention to it. Else, you’ll take a longer time to achieve your goal. Cal Newport summarizes this well -

Work Accomplished = Time Spent x Intensity

To accomplish a work in minimal time, intensity needs to be increased. To increase intensity, you need to give it your full attention. Full attention drains willpower. Drained willpower equals sub-optimal decisions later on.

When the body isn’t prepared for something, it uses “attention” energy in an adhoc manner. As a result, the body may overspend the attention energy required for a particular task. It is only through repetition that the body knows the optimal energy required for a particular task. Repetition allows the body to keep aside attention energy for a particular task that is to follow later on in the day.

My earlier routine was to start at anytime just before dinner. Dinner acted as a reward for my routine. Now, I start at the same time every day. Thus, time acts as a trigger for the routine. Also, my body (hopefully, over time) would store “attention” energy required to learn new words and their usage thereby minimizing the dependence on willpower.

This process is a gradual one. I think I’ll give it some 4–5 weeks and monitor the changes I feel with this arrangement.