How I Find Time To Learn Languages (And Work)

Not long after I started this blog, I stumbled into a Facebook conversation about me. Someone shared a link to this site, telling his friends that I learn a new language fluently every year, and that I write about it on a blog. One of the first responses was, "Yeah? He must be unemployed."

Some people just can't believe that a person could work a full-time job, and still have time to do the amount of study required to new language fluently in a year. And then to spend time every day writing about it too? Good heavens.

But the thing is, I do. And not only do I work a full-time job, and learn new languages, and write a blog, but I also go to the fitness club every day to work out. And yet I still manage to go enjoy myself regularly at comedy clubs, and go to movies, and hang out with friends after work, and do my photography. And I still manage to clean and do laundry and fix things when they break. Yes, it's true!

I also know how to say "no"

The reason I can do all of that is because I'm not spending my time in front of a television. I'm not filling my schedule with video games. I'm not wasting away in a bar late at night, or wasting away with a hangover in the morning. I also don't stay late at the office or work overtime. When invited to do those things, I generally say "no."

Do I occasionally watch a television show? Of course I do! But I don't schedule time for certain programs every week. In a pinch, do I occasionally stay an extra half-hour at work? Yes, but very rarely.

Do I occasionally go out with my friends and have a few drinks? Sure I do. It's fun to be social and see friends. But it's not fun to waste your whole night chasing an alcohol buzz, and it's not fun to wake up hung over, and it's not fun to think of how much money you've spent or how hard you'll have to work to lose that beer belly.

I could be doing any of those things too, of course, but then there would be choices to make. I would have to say no to something else. If I spent time watching tv, I wouldn't have time to write the blog. If I played video games, I wouldn't have time to learn a language. If I laid in bed with a hangover every morning, I wouldn't be in the fitness club lifting weights.

When reality doesn't match

I just described an example of the decisions a person might make to have exactly the same productivity as me. But if you look back at the example I gave earlier, these are not the decisions that people usually think of: the Facebook commenter assumed that I must have given up work in order to fit those other things in.

In other words, to stop watching television (or even just watch less) was not an option. To quit playing video games was not an option. To stop spending all evening talking on the phone and all night chatting on Facebook was not an option. That comment said a lot about the person's priorities, because the only thing that seemed like an option was to quit earning a living!

I'm not unemployed. But I definitely do not dedicate my life to my job. They get me for exactly the 40 hours that was agreed, and if overtime became a requirement or a regular occurrance, I would immediately quit and find a new job.

I can say "no" to anyone. And I do. That is where I find the time.

Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.

Author: Yearlyglot
I'll lead you through a 12 month journey from knowing absolutely nothing about a language to having professional fluency.

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  • Excellent post. I think it was Tim Ferriss that said, "There's no such thing as a lack of time, only a lack of priorities." Agreed 100%.

  • It is very much a question of priorities.... if you really want to do something, you find the time for it. I am a busy Full TIME graphic designer, wife and mother to three boys (who I shuttle around to all manner of sports practices and then sit through hundreds of games for hours on end), I go to the gym every day, I swim and work out, I do yoga 3 times a week, I read books, I watch movies I have a full social calendar with friends and family and girls nights out, I cook dinner every night, I shop for food, I run errands......AND YET, I still spend at least an hour every day on learning Italian, I write a blog in Italian, I converse once a week with an Italian teacher, I read Italian magazines and books and watch Italian films. I hang out a lot on FB and gab with Italian friends and American friends. Go figure!I definitely don't watch tv during the week...unless it is Italian tv or Italian soap dramas (which I usually watch on my ipod at the gym)! My relaxing entertainment IS learning my language of choice. It is all matter of priorites!

  • Great post, bang on the mark. Love the quote in Niall's comment. Going to have to write that one out.Also, great picture. I always love seeing Victoria or Vancouver represented somewhere unexpected :)

  • Vancouver. Good eye. :)

  • So, how much you Bench/Squat/Deadlift?

  • Hahaha! Why does this feel like a challenge? :)My current max benchpress is 1x205lbs, which means I'm within striking range of my goal of 225.
    My heaviest squat was 5x375lbs. I felt like I could have done more, but I don't like to push it unnecessarily.
    And it's been a very long time since I deadlifted for a max. My highest was probably around 300, but I honestly don't even remember. I usually just deadlift for reps, as I'm trying to strengthen my back to make up for a job where I sit for 8 hrs a day.

  • Oh you can do a lot more than 225.BTW, how is your Russian?

  • I'm not going to stop at 225. I just chose that because that is the standard weight used for testing people in the NFL. Potential draftees are rated for how many reps they can do at 225lbs. So while I'll keep going past that weight, the important thing for me is to know that I'm at least as good as a potential player in the NFL. :)Thanks for the links. My Russian is good enough to understand what I'm reading there!

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