For the past few days i’ve felt a fantastic boost to my motivation due to my new spreadsheet. Previously i’ve just been recording my progress in a text file, by listing the amount of work that i did each day. It took me a small amount of time to occasionally add up all the numbers and see how i was doing for the current week or month. This changed when i decided that i should make the computer do all the stupid adding, and hence the spreadsheet was born.
In one part, i still list the amount of work that i do each day, under “TV”, “listening”, “reading”, and “anki”. I also have a section where i list my goals for each of those for various time periods: weekly, monthly, tri-monthly. I then have it auto-add all of the totals and list them in a nice fashion, along with the percentage completion for each of those time periods.
What this gives me is an instant rush whenever i increase one of the numbers, because it updates all the percentages and my progress towards my goals. I can see myself edge closer to the goals with every entry that i make, so i’m motivated to make more entries. After only 2 days this week, i’m already more than half-way done my weekly goals.
Another thing that i’ve learned from this experience is that i still have a lot of wasted time in the day. Last week i thought i was making good progress and using my time pretty efficiently, but now i can see that i’m capable of way more. I’m starting to be more aware of those times when i drift away from my studies and go to read some useless crap on the internet instead. When i notice that behaviour, i can choose not to do it, and it’s easier to make that choice when it means i can increase another of my numbers on the spreadsheet.
Everything i do is a new high score. Every word i learn now is more german words than i’ve ever known. And yet i have a lot of work left to do. At the bottom of the spreadsheet i have some tabs there for the months, and i’ve listed 6 months. I figure that if Khatsumoto can learn excellent japanese in 18 months, then i should be able to learn excellent german in 6 months (based on numbers from the FSI indicating that german is about 3x faster than japanese for english speakers to learn). I’m counting september as my “month 2”, since i only started getting really serious at the end of July. The big goal is to get to the end of month 6, no matter what.
In my day-to-day thinking, however, i try not to worry about month 6 so much. I’m trying to follow this idea: “Don’t try to be ‘good’, just try to be better. ‘Good’ will happen by itself”. I know that any method with lots of intensity and exposure to the language will eventually get me to the level i want to be at, so i just need to keep adding to the daily and weekly numbers and trust that everything else will go according to plan.
So far that’s working out quite nicely. There are many words now that were really hard for me to get a month ago (or even a few weeks ago), but are now super easy. I surprise myself by thinking that certain sentences are “obvious” now, when i know they’re composed of the “hard” words from last month. I’m understanding more and more stuff without thinking at all…the understanding just comes.
All of these motivational things are valuable. The task is set out before me, i just have to proceed through it step by step, but every day there are little temptations to wander away towards some other activity. By keeping some notes to help me see my progress, and by making a game out of the increasing numbers in my spreadsheet, i’m finding more ways to keep myself motivated and on track. This track leads to fluency, so i just have to keep charging ahead. In that sense, it’s easy but it just takes time and commitment.