“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
- Mark Twain
Note: Image above is the park gym that is near my house where I do pull ups everyday when I walk past
Being out here in Asia, without a solid job, plan or place to stay has its perks and its downsides. The perks I’ve been talking about for months, but one of the downsides is a lack of routine. So over the last few months or so I’ve been putting together a routine, not just for Chinese, but a healthy routine for what I do everyday since everything I do is self-directed. So here’s my routine for 2014 starting already:
Warm up routine
- Wake up to Chinese radio and record it. If it’s interesting I’ll re-listen to it later.
- Go wash up and do 50 squats before taking a cold shower.
- Review to do list and plan for all tasks that must be done today.
During the day
Anytime I hear a word I want to learn, record it in my Pleco dictionary.
Anytime I pass the park near my house do 10 pull-ups. Going back and forth counts as twice so if I go to 7-11, I need to do 20. This only applies in this next month that I have a pull up bar. I may replace this with something else dependent on where I live.
Anytime I’m travelling/commuting on my own I need to be doing any of the following:
- Listening to Chinese radio live or recorded
- Listening Chinese podcasts
- Watching a Chinese TV show
- Reading a Chinese book
Anytime I have free time during the day pick from the to do list for the day starting from the top. And if I’m in a place where I cannot complete those tasks, the default is to read the Chinese book on my phone.
Wind down routine
- On the way back from the station (or at home if I haven’t gone out) write a diary of the day in Chinese.
- Wash up before bed and do a flashcard recall of all words from the day in Pleco whilst waiting for my face to dry.
- Revise diary of the day based on the new words used during the day.
- Revise the to do list on my laptop based on what I want prioritise for the next day. Anything that must be done will have an asterisk next to it. Anything I feel isn’t important for the next day will be moved to the optional list below.
My routine is fairly loose as I don’t have a strict routines. My only daily activities that must always be done are related to exercise and Chinese, as I believe you should concentrate on one thing at a time to achieve maximum learning efficiency. The exercise is for health and keeping my blood flowing. I think exercise in general helps you to concentrate and keep your mood up so it is a must for a daily routine. The only time sensitive tasks (apart from the fact they need to be done on that day) are when I wake up and when I’m winding down to go to sleep as I’m keeping my day more liquid whilst I travel.
I’ve linked some tasks to particular actions, so for instance I need to do 50 squats before I take a shower (which helps because it’s a cold shower) and I need to do a quick 5 minutes flash card review of vocabulary I’ve recorded for the day after washing my face. I think these kinds of hacks really help as you link it to a particular action and there’s no way you’ll forget about doing it. Also you’ll feel a sense of guilt as you promised yourself you’d do it before or after the task you linked it to. My last linked-task is doing pull ups every time I pass the park. I’ve been doing this without fail for about 2 months now. Some days I do 20, some days I do 80. But no matter what if I pass that park I must do it. There’s almost no exception even if I’m late, and if I ever forget for any reason its be rectified the next time I go there.
The tasks I’ve got for the day are intentionally easy as it allows me to get into a good habit and from there I can gauge what is an achievable goal as I believe achievable daily goals are better than daily goals that are dooming you to fail and quit. This is especially important for me as I have no strict routine.
The reason for the to do list and having tasks that I might not necessarily do is that if I have a spare moment I have instantly got productive things to do without having to think so hard. The only ones that must be done everyday are the starred ones and I’ll decide the night before which ones need to be done.
This routine is something I’ve built over the last few months and also I’ve thrown in a few extras for the start of this year. Any time I significantly change this routine I’ll post revised version of this routine. I welcome anyone else to create their own self study routine around their own schedule to kickstart their year! The important thing is daily baby steps and constantly evaluating your progress.