I have a long history of failed habit attempts. But when it comes to my “Today I Learned” Journal, I’ve kept it consistent for the past 9.5 months, without missing a day! The difference between my failed habits and this one?
I’m giving myself easy options.
Why Make it Easier?
Let’s look at some things that make keeping a habit difficult:
– Days get busy, and we can’t spare a lot of time.
– We get stressed, and just aren’t emotionally available.
– We get sick or sleep-deprived, and just aren’t mentally available.
– Days of pure, inexcusable laziness
– And the worst: We forget until we’re just about to fall asleep, and suddenly need to do it last-minute.
If I made it a requirement to study complicated subjects every day, this journal would have joined my habit graveyard with all my other 2021 New Year Resolution attempts. It would become overwhelming. A dreaded chore, rather than the beloved hobby it’s supposed to be.
And besides, learning new things is only part of the process here. Reviewing and working on remembering are just as important!
3 Ways to Make Your Entry Easier
1. Break your Subject Down into Small Pieces.
“Improve vocabulary” becomes “learn just one new word.”
I typically include:
– the definition
– 1-2 examples of how it’s used in a sentence
– and a few synonyms
2. Have Some Questions Ready Ahead of Time
In my template on Notion (link on the bottom of this page), you’ll see on the “My Questions” page that I’ve provided a “Quick Entry” category. This is where you can write questions that you believe won’t take much time to answer.
Or maybe you’d prefer to keep a physical, pocket-sized notebook with you wherever you go.
Whatever you choose, when you come across something in your day that you don’t understand, just write it down to answer in your free time.
And my favorite way to keep questions on vocabulary easily available:
I keep a pencil with me as I read a book. When I come across a word I don’t know, I’ll lightly circle it. That way, on a day that I might otherwise be scrambling to remember what words I don’t already know, I’ll have some ready for and circled for me! And as a bonus, the books also provide example sentences for the entry.
3. Find Good Learning Sources Ahead of Time
Keep easy-info web pages bookmarked.
I like knowing where I can go for easy information. So, once I find a good source of learning, I keep it close!
Make a playlist on Youtube of videos that will provide you potentially easy TIL entries.
Even if what you manage to write down doesn’t cover the whole video, it’s better to walk away having learned something rather than nothing.
A few of my favorite quick-learning channels are
– TED-Ed: https://www.youtube.com/teded
– Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows: https://www.youtube.com/c/obscuresorrows
– School of Life: https://www.youtube.com/c/theschooloflifetv/featured
I give myself no limit to easy entries. Sometimes a week will go by of only learning a few new words a day.
The aim of this journal is steady growth, in whatever pace is right for you!
If you’d like to start your own TIL journal using my template on Notion, here’s the link to it below:
I would also like to give credit to James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits”, for inspiring me to start small, make it easy, and focus on enjoying the process rather than the end goal.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!