Do the hard things first

We don’t want to do the hard things. We like to do the enjoyable things. If something isn’t enjoyable, then we at least want it to be easy. And you often find me saying that if you don’t enjoy an app or a website, then don’t use it. If you’re learning German on your own because you WANT to, it is important that you enjoy doing it. If not, you’ll stop!

BUT, what if you HAVE to learn German, either because you are still at school or you need German for work or are moving there?

Just doing enjoyable things isn’t very helpful, because you most likely don’t pick up many important things.  What should you do?

Do the hard things first!

The ability to make yourself do the hard things is a big determiner of how successful you’ll be.

Imagine it’s Monday morning and for whatever reason you need to learn the imperfect tense but find it really hard.

1. You have more energy and focus early in the day. It’s easier to do challenging things earlier in the day. You’re more effective at 9:00 AM than you are at 3:00 PM. Attack the imperfect tense when you’re fresh. It’s only going to be more challenging later in the day.

2. You can spend more time on it. If you wait until later to practise the imperfect tense, you might run out of time to complete it. Since the hard thing is often the most important thing, you should spend enough time on it to complete it.

3. The rest of the day is more enjoyable. If you have something unpleasant hanging over your head all day, you just can’t enjoy the day as much. Get the hard thing off your plate, so you can enjoy the remainder of your day completing pleasant tasks like watching a German YouTube video or reading about your favourite football team in German…

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain

4. It builds self-esteem and confidence. Everyone else avoids the hard things. Be the person that attacks them. You’ll feel great about yourself and know that you can do anything that needs to be done.

5. Avoid thinking too much about it. It’s best to get started on your hard grammar without spending too much time thinking about it. It’s like eating the frog. Just eat it. You don’t want to stare at it all day. The frog only becomes bigger and uglier over time.

6. Decide what your “frog” is for the day. The night before, determine what your most awful task is for the next day. Schedule it as early in the day as possible. When the time comes, attack that frog with everything you’ve got.

If you can reliably do the hard things first, you’ll find that you’re much more successful. You’ll also be happier, because you won’t have to stress about those hard things more than necessary. So, if you tackle the imperfect tense straight away and get through your exercises, you can then spend the rest of your time doing enjoyable things, even learning more German ☺

The same applies to students at school. Maybe you like learning German because you like the language, the music, some films, or because you want to study or live there one day. But you don’t like the textbooks and activities that go with it. That’s your “frog”. Get rid of it as soon as possible after school. Then you can practise some German with the apps, videos or websites you love, win-win!

What’s your German learning “frog”?
Let me know. Maybe I can write some blog posts with ideas to make it an easier task to learn the hard things.

2 Responses to Do the hard things first

  1. Gaby Van Horn says:

    Great article as always. I’m having a really hard time with the accusative and dative. Do you have any suggestions regarding how to tackle those?

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