I used to think Mango Languages was the boring workhorse of language apps. I get free access to Mango through the New York Public Library. Mango includes many languages. I’m currently studying Japanese, Spanish, Arabic, and German on the app. The interface doesn’t have all the visual bells and whistles included in services like Duolingo or FluentU. Mango’s online cards contain either vocabulary, sentences or phrases punctuated with cards that may explain a grammar or cultural point.
Mango Languages is a steady, gradual introduction to the language with a lot of repetition within each lesson. I usually take about 7 to 10 minutes to complete one lesson so it is easy to incorporate into my day. I like the gradual introduction of grammar. However, for time I found Mango to be plain and unexciting.
Recently, I’ve realized that Mango’s lack of enhancements (visual progress graphs, points, rewards, paths, videos, pictures etc) is actually one of its benefits. Every morning I use six language apps or websites. I use iKnow and NativShark for Japanese every day because I have Japanese family. Then I use Mango, FluentU, and Duolingo for whatever additional language I am focusing on each week. I use LingQ to quickly dip into the four languages I am studying.
Clean Look/Clean Mind
I’ve come to appreciate the clean, plain look of Mango cards. On most cards, Mango includes a phrase in the target language to translate into English or an English sentence to translate into the target language. You guess in your head or out loud and click the “Show Answer” button. The answer card shows the English sentence and the target language. Each word or phrase is colored so that you see the word function in each sentence. This is great because word order varies differently in each language. Take for example the German sentence, “Trotzdem brauche ich Deutschunterricht.” This means, “Despite that I need German lessons.” Mango labels “trotzdem” and “despite that” blue, “brauche” and “need” brown, “ich” and “I” red, and “Deutschunterricht” and “German lessons” green. This color labelling is really helpful because over time I’ve come to understand sentence structures through exposure as well as short explanations on Mango.
Underneath all of this are three simple icons: a microphone to use as a voice comparison, a megaphone to repeat the native speaker reading the target sentence, and a go back button to go back to the original question. I only use the megaphone to hear the sentences again.
Repetition, Repetition, Review
Mango uses repetition in a way that suits me. Within a lesson, Mango repeats sentences several times as well as vocabulary within each sentence that may be new or troublesome. The lessons do connect so vocabulary and sentences will be repeated. At the end of the lesson, each lesson you can either move on to the next lesson or restart. I restart if I’m dissatisfied with how I did with the cards or if it is the last lesson of the week. I switch languages on Mango every week so I like to start with the last lesson I finished.
Mango also generates review cards–but not too many of them. Certain sentences have a little light bulb on them and will come up later in a review section for each language. If you fail cards, those cards will come up more often. However, this isn’t like an SRS system like Anki where hundreds of cards pile up. I make a point of reviewing the other languages every other day to keep a little bit of every language alive instead of waiting a whole month to begin studying the language again. If I do this regularly, I usually only have to review less than ten cards. Just a little bit to keep the flame of each language going.
I also review lessons depending on what kind of mastery I have in each language. I’m reading semi-fluently in Spanish, so I usually go from one lesson to another, trusting my extensive reading and other language learning systems to fill in the holes. However, with Arabic, when I begin studying I back up several lessons from the newest material to review whole lessons. If the newest lesson is 8, I start with lesson 2 so that I review this lesson that I have very other little exposure to.
Because of the various apps and immersion experiences I am using to study, I’m starting to achieve results. I’m reading the Hobbit in Spanish. I’m reading and enjoying A1/A2 graded readers in German. Because Duolingo for Arabic spends a lot of time studying the vexing Arabic writing system, I am enjoying studying the Mango Arabic lessons and testing my Arabic reading skills.
I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, horse capital of the world. I am licensed to use horse metaphors. When learning a language, it’s more fun to have a stable of horses. Some apps are like show horses that look pretty and do eye-catching tricks. Other apps are like draft horses that can carry carriages and go the distance and actually get you around the farm and beyond. Mango is like a good draft horse. Practical and beautiful at the same time.
If you are interested in a steady, non-distracting language app contact your local library to see if they subscribe to Mango Languages. This workhorse will take you places.
I’m learning more in languages since I’ve decided to let go of mastery and do small things every day.
It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Life has brought some major challenges, though nothing insurmountable. In the face of it all, I’ve decided not to take language learning so seriously. I’m treating languages it like the hobby it is and choosing doing something every day over mastery. As a result, I’m learning a lot and having more fun doing it.
PANDEMIC LESSON: DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY
It’s been three years since the pandemic first started. When the pandemic first began, I gravitated towards easy to make comfort foods like macaroni and cheese. I had been overweight for a while but I was starting to feel it as inflammation in my fingers and feet, back pain and other signs of physical discomfort. On the news, I read that obesity would making getting COVID riskier. I knew it was time to do something about my weight.
I invested in Noom, a weight loss app that emphasizes noting what you eat, roughly sticking to a calorie budget and learning a little bit each day about nutrition and more importantly, cognitive behavior therapy. In my limited understanding, CBT involves slowly introducing new positive behaviors and reframing strategies. I gradually began to walk more extra steps every day. I slowly began to exercise a little every day, even if it was only five minutes. I learned a little more about food choices and made better decisions. From May to December of 2020, I went from 200 to 155 pounds. The power of doing something added up.
MY CURRENT LANGUAGE SET UP: GIVING UP AND DOING SOMETHING
Deciding to take small consistent steps and be less anxious about results has also become a pivotal part of my language learning. There are a lot of challenges in my life right now and in many ways I’ve given up on Japanese fluency. Instead, I’ve decided to just do something every day, including learning other languages. It’s kind of been liberating to give up on results. In some ways, I feel like I’m just keeping the languages in play until I have more time to visit the countries or spend more time immersing myself in the culture.
Keeping the Tabs Open
We have an ancient desktop in the main living room that is relatively unused. I keep several language learning tabs open and just proceed through them every morning. Keeping the tabs open means I don’t have to think about the next steps. I commit to doing the minimum to maintain my streak. I’m not sure how much I am learning. I do know that my comprehension skills are improving in German, Japanese, and Spanish.
Japanese is still one of my main focuses. My wife is Japanese. My kids are bilingual. I hope to travel there more often. I subscribed to this learning tool many years ago and took advantage of purchasing a life membership for a low price when it changed management. It’s a pretty plain site, devoted mostly to sentences in isolation but it has pretty high level vocabulary of 6000 words that I would like to know. It’s also a way to maintain momentum. I really haven’t noticed a major learning difference but I also don’t spend more than five minutes a day on this every day.
This website teaches reviews kanji, vocabulary, Japanese grammar, and uses every day Japanese speech. The units are broken down into bite-size pieces. As long as I clear at least 5 flashcards, NativShark considers my study progress done for the day. Unless I am intensively studying Japanese that week, I study five to 10 flash cards. You are required to clear flashcards of learned material before you learn new material. There is a quick grammar review using more informal and natural speech, a short kanji study, quick vocabulary unit and then a quick natural sounding dialogue to cap it all off. When it’s not a Japanese study week, I try to clear the vocabulary deck and then study one of the quick units.
I love the graphics and feel of the website and that it isn’t overwhelming while providing a lot of natural-sounding Japanese. The kanji unit is pretty but maybe too pretty. Having a picture of that evokes the meaning of the kanji might be too much of a crutch. Still, NativShark is a fun and different way to do a little bit in Japanese.
I study just a little bit of Japanese everyday but on different weeks I also study German, Japanese and Arabic. I use the following websites to study other languages besides Japanese.
My local library system, the New York Public Library, pays for access to Mango Languages. Mango includes 70 languages with a progressive flashcard system that teaches the language from the ground up. There are no visuals. There is limited review of previously learned material. There is very little “gamification” in terms of visuals, streak counts, statistics et cetera. However, in a way I like how it provides a ground up, gradual introduction to the language. I switch every week between Arabic, Japanese, German, and Spanish. I did one lesson of Chinese but I would like to get a year of Arabic in before I take on a new language. I’ve decided to add one language a year while it is still fun.
Though I’ve had this service for a while, I have only recently warmed up to it and started to enjoy it. FluentU has a wide variety of video snippets at different levels for 9 different languages. You can watch a video with subtitles in the target language and English or just in the target language. After you watch the video, you have the option of going into quiz mode to learn the vocabulary. What’s interesting is that you are also offered the possibility of looking at other sentences (and even) sometimes short videos, that show the vocabulary you are learning in different contexts. After you finish a quiz session, the progress bar turns green when you have learned most of the vocabulary in the video but starts to turn orange as the app predicts your memory decays. Every other month, I switch between watching new videos in my target language and reviewing the most “decayed” videos the next month. There’s no Arabic, so on the weeks I am studying Arabic, I just do vocabulary flashcards for each of these languages. The vocabulary also have visuals and sometimes related videos. As I am learning more in each language (German, Japanese, and Spanish), the process has become more fun.
Duolingo is the app that I originally used the most because of the gamification aspect of it. I like the graphics, the learning path, and the bar graphs and reminders that encourage ongoing streaks of learning. I normally do only one or two lessons, one in Arabic and then the other in the language that I am studying for the week. Since Arabic is the new language for the year, I want to maintain daily activity. I am slowly recognizing more in the writing system. At this snail’s pace, will I be anywhere close to fluency? I highly doubt it. However, it’s been fun to recognize parts of Arabic words on tote bags, store or masjid signs in New York City.
I have a streak of 1,238 days as of this day but mostly because Duolingo makes it easy to earn points to get streak freezes. I really don’t know how effective it is but it has become a daily habit. Reading and listening has become much easier in each of the languages but I don’t know if it is because of Duolingo or any of the other apps or the accumulation of trying to find more content that I enjoy.
This is the last and newest tab that I open each morning. LingQ focuses on words in interesting contexts. You read (and/or listen) to pre-loaded songs, articles or stories or import on your own. Initially all words are blue. As you come across words you don’t understand, you can click on them and choose a meaning. The word or phrase then turns yellow. This is a LingQ. These words can then be turned into flashcards or just studied again in a different context.
My current LingQ statistics in German, Spanish, and Arabic
LingQ encourages you to listen, read, and study vocabulary in the context of material that is interesting to you. Additionally, you can create playlists that will read or play the articles, podcasts, songs that you’ve gathered for future immersion. The LingQ app on my phone makes it easy to do that while I’m walking about the city. The LingQ also gamifies language learning through several visuals and streak motivation tools. A little bit every day is key and I can usually reach the minimal 50 points by listening to a playlist and doing some light reading in every language that I am currently actively studying (Arabic, German, Japanese, and Spanish).
It took me a while to try this method. I had tried an earlier vision many years ago and I didn’t quite get it. But I’ve been listening to LingQ’s founder, Steve Kaufman, speak on Youtube about language acquisition and I finally decided to pay and join. The website and app make it easy to continue studying old material or pick up new material.
By listening to the playlists and some active reading every day, it is usually not hard to get 50 points every day in each language on LingQ. I try to choose interesting material to read and listen to and focus on getting new material for the language of focus every week and usually exceed the 50 point goal.
Steve Kaufman focuses on the idea of doing something of interest in the language each day. Progress may not be immediately obvious, but it is happening. Like I said before, there is a lot happening in my life these days. In a way, language learning has become more like a hobby like playing video games. I feel the progress in Spanish and German. Japanese is still difficult but more approachable. Arabic is new and I probably only really remember 5 words. However, I’m starting to recognize small portions of the writing system.
Letting Go and Getting Small
I’m doing other fun language learning activities because I’m letting go of results. I’ve been watching Stranger Things (for the first time) in Spanish, German, and Japanese. I watch them all with Spanish subtitles, the language I know 2nd best after English.
I just started listening and reading Atomic Habits by James Clear in Spanish. (This week is Spanish week) I’ve read it before in English and I mostly understand about 70% percent of what I am reading. One thing that was clear was how James Clear emphasized that systems or habits are better than goals. Systems or atomic habits (small but persistent actions) create winnable games, while goals can lead to frustration and self blame. This is yet another important reminder that sometimes it is important to forget mastery and just do something.
Forget mastery and do something. This isn’t necessarily I recommend for everyone. You may want to be more intentional and strategic in your language learning, especially if you need to learn it for a particular reason. My reason right now is to enjoy the process and continue to learn and to have a fluid and manageable way to study every day in the midst of a hectic life. I’m letting go, doing a little every day and learning more in the process.
I’m back into the productivity/notebook blogging game again. This is the place where I ruminate on my own productivity (and unproductivity) practices. My life these days is very library centered, take what you can and adapt it to your life.
I’ve been away for over a year because I’ve been busy. On top of being in my second year as a high school librarian, I’ve also was chosen to be an American Library Association Emerging Leader, where I worked with a great group of librarians to create a resource guide called Defending Intellectual Freedom: LGBTQ+ Materials in School Libraries. On top of managing a school library program (or trying to) and being a parent, I’ve agreed to do some interesting committee work. Many fingers. Many pies.
Mind-mapping the Overwhelm
An online mindmap allows you to move different branches to create priorities. This mindmap has not been fully prioritized but since I updated it at the beginning of the school year, “Startup” was the most important and therefore is at the one o’clock position.
To deal with some of the overwhelm of conflicting interests and projects, I’ve gotten back to a web and app-based mind mapping program called Mindmeister. This program allows you to create mind-maps to organize a project or your life. Mind-mapping online or on an app has several advantages over mind-mapping on paper:
You can have access to it from anywhere with an internet connection
It is easy to move the different branches of a mind-map to reorganize your priorities. (I’ve learned that it is good to put your most important or pressing branches at one o’clock.)
It’s easy to add smaller branches.
You can add documents, links, notes and much more to an online mind-map.
Also, you can switch from the large overview picture to zooming in on more granular details by opening and closing sub-branches. For example, the mindmap above is a good overview of the different aspects of what I’m trying to do as a librarian. One specific goal is to help Global Studies teachers adapt to new standards and a changing state exam. I created sub-branches with links so I can get back to the key resources that will help me get a handle on the shifts that will be involved.
By clicking on the circles next to a branch, you can open sub-branches. The arrows next to sub-branches are web links I’ve created to other sources.
Mind-map Meets Samurai Mind Notebook
I was at a conference and didn’t have a notebook so I bought a fancy one and put on a cool Libraries Transform sticker.
Of course, now you are impressed. I am so organized and everything runs so smoothly. I click around my mind-map, clicking branches, collaborating with teachers, aligning standards, getting grants while forging new community partnerships.
Ummm, no. Sometimes, I’m a hot mess. I know that I really want to follow up on a grant but the dust in the library is driving me crazy. Sometimes I don’t know what I want to do next. Sometimes I don’t even want to look at the dang mind-map because I “don’t have time” or because it will just remind me of so many conflicting concerns.
Moving an online mindmap to a physical bullet point list firms up priorities while at the same time creating opportunities for new ideas and action plans.
One of the latest samurai “hacks” I’ve discovered to deal with this sense of overload, is to simply move around the online mindmap and transfer the ideas into a real, physical notebook in the form of a bullet-list. Physically writing down ideas, plans, and brainstorms from the mind-map is a good way to “do” something and silence the monkey-mind chatter of self-doubt. Even if I’m not dusting or collaborating, I’m getting my mind organized. Also, since I periodically review the notebook through the Samurai Mind Notebook method, I know that I’m going to run across these ideas strategically over time.
A physical notebook also has some of the following advantages:
the physical act of writing may actually trigger memory and thinking better than looking at a screen
text messages and notifications don’t come up while you are using a physical notebook (please let me know if they do)
if you get ideas while you are writing down ideas from the mindmap on an app, it is often quicker to write down new ideas in the notebook
you can look retro on the subway while everyone is staring at their phones
If you get a chance, play around with mind maps. They can be fun ways to restructure your brain and activities. Mash it up with your physical journal and supersize (samurize?) your experience.
Hey I’m back. I’m on summer vacation and I’m in a Japanese cafe overlooking a fish market.
The 2016-2017 school year was my first year as a librarian and I did not make time to write. I’m hoping to change that.
This summer I’m free from graduate studies but I’m still planning for school and how to continue building out the library program. Part of that involves playing around with digital tools including:
I will write more about MindMeister and Google Keep because I think they are the most applicable productivity tools. However, for now I’d like to go back to one of my favorites, Evernote.
Evernote as a mirror
Just I case you don’t know Evernote is a service that allows you to create online “cards” to help you remember all kinds of information. You can create online “card” where you write or copy content, do checklists or clip content from online articles. You can also save photos, audio recordings, pdfs and so much more to store in your memory.
The only problem is that if you get the premium version it really becomes easy to stack up so many materials that it mirrors your information overloaded brain. If you are not careful, this tool becomes like an unpolished mirror–annoying and potentially useless.
Polishing the Mirror
When I started to notice the overwhelming amount of material, I tried to treat it my physical notebook and tried to review entries in algorithmic way. Looking at the dates, I would look at entries that were one day, three days, one week, two weeks and one month old. But because I could store so much material and because Evernote is not as easy to move through backwards, it simply became too much work. Evernote can be a great source of inspiration but if becomes frustrating to use it ruins its effectiveness.
Here are some steps I’ve taken to make reviewing Evernote more fun and smooth:
Start with your latest entries and treat it like a Facebook or Twitter wall. My problem was that when I looked at my Evernote “feed” I felt obligated to “study.” Obligation is a buzzkill that hinders my creativity and flow. It’s still important to look over the latest information for inspirationand also to stem information overload. Obviously, if you are involved in some kind of pending project, you need to look at the most pertinent notes. However, Evernote displays notes and links nicely and makes it easy to scroll through when you are looking for entertainment or inspiration. Let the fun factor work for you.
Delete, delete, delete. Evernote is a great tool but it is way too easy to add notes. A garden needs weeding to grow. Your notes need culling. Are they uninspiring? Have they been replaced my something better? Do they make you resist looking at your Evernote? Delete, delete, delete.
Make a Change and Let the Good Stuff Rise to the Top. The way my Evernote is configured, the cards with the latest changes rise to the top. Make a little comment and the card rises back to the top of your pile. This means that this inspirational or fun idea gets the chance to rejoin your memory loop. So, when I find inspirational articles from my graduate program, those ideas get to get back in the hopper. The boring or useless ones get deleted and the others are saved for future review.
Create a “This is Where I Stopped Reviewing Card.” Once you reach a stopping point on your card reviews, create an Evernote where you write down the date of the card you will bring to the light next. On the next session, you will spend some time gelling your latest inspirations and digging further back for more gold. Change the date when you are finished and this card will also float to the top so you can remember where to start reviewing again. Change the date on the card and will “float” to the top to remind you of where to start digging again.
Review your type cards with a fun and productive mindset, delete old cards, add to your older content and let it rise to the the top, and create a card to remind yourself where to start with older cards. These steps will help you to polish your mirror so Evernote becomes a shinier and truer reflection of your ever improving self. Try it and let me know how it goes.
If you’d like to try Evernote premium for one free month, message me here or visit the samuraimindonline.com page on Facebook. I’ll get credits to keep using Evernote for free and you’ll get to see whether you can use this tool.
I hope to be posting more often so stay tuned and thanks for visiting!
I play more guitar by committing to playing two minutes every day
In my last post I discussed how mini-habits can help maintain skills rather than letting them stagnate. This is an important phenomenon but it’s also true that mini habits can help you exceed your practice goals.
Because of my mini habit, I am just there with a tuned guitar in my hands or a laptop in front of me. Though I might only be committed to two minutes of effort, everything is there for the possibility of more.
I owe a lot of my recent progress in this are to Stephen Guise, creator of the “Mini Habit Mastery” course on Udemy. I am totally paraphrasing him here but what he is says is that you have to keep your commitment to the mini habit small. Feel free to exceed the mini habit target but don’t make that the new and hard to reach expectation.
Lowering my expectations has helped me to exceed my goals for a few reasons:
It puts the tools right in my hands so I can keep on learning or creating if I want to
The minimal commitment gets me over the perfectionist death knell that keeps me from starting in the first place
Once I start it’s just plain fun to play or challenge myself more
My language inspiration site AJATT shares a similar message:
Starting is more important than finishing. If you just start — show up — every day; finishing will take care of itself. In exercise terms, the trick is not to go to the gym, the trick is to get outside with your shoes on.
A mini habit is a way to get outside with your shoes on. Do more by lowering the stakes but practicing consistently.
When you mark a habit as finished the app makes a great tone and celebrates the number if your streak!
Sometimes I feel like my life is the movie “Memento.” The character had a memory problem so everyday he tattooed notes all over himself as he searched for his wife’s killer. It’s a strange movie but it might as well be a document drama about my life.
As an educator and parent, I often feel like the man from Memento. I’m responding to a hundred requests in a day and by the end of the day I can’t even remember my own name.
I know I keep harping about the Chains.cc app. I promise you that I’m not receiving kickbacks. (Though I would love it if this blog was self-sustaining.).
Chains.cc just works because I need something to remind myself of the things I want to accomplish for myself: learn to play guitar, write, speak or understand a few languages, be semi-physically and financially fit, and become a better librarian.
After 69 days I can honestly say the chain apps is starting to work for me. The way it works is simple. If I perform a mini habit I check the habit off on the app. When I do this it tells me how long my chain is.
If I turn my phone on it’s side the app gives me a visual of how long I’ve sustained each habit. Practiticing guitar at least two minutes a day extends my fretboard. Writing at least five minutes a day extends an ongoing bookshelf. At least five minutes a day extends my running track.
It’s gotten to the point where I feel so rewarded by extending my streak that I dread having a gap in my picture. So sometimes I find myself doing five minutes of stretching rather than having a gap in exercise streak. Because I keep my tracked habits to a minimum. There is no forgetting.
The great thing is that I am getting results. I am not ripped but my muscles are more toned. Every other day I use the Zen Challenge app to do more push ups. Currently I am up to 200. I’m learning more guitar and I’m blogging on a more consistent basis.
I’m also using the Chain.cc app to work on a negative habit. I was finding that my craft beer hobby left me a little sluggish and also a little fat. I decided to create a “Buzz Free and Positive” habit where I give myself credit for not having a beer. After thirty days, I will celebrate with a craft beer. Or two.
I think the Chains.cc app works for me for a few reasons:
The choice is binary. Either I did the habit that day or I didn’t.
The simple visuals make it hard to forget and fun to accomplish mini habits
The habits are in so small doses that it’s not impossible to accomplish small but consistent wins every day
But in the end I think the biggest benefit of a simple but colorful app like Chains is that it helps me fight against forgetting. The responsibilities and craziness of the day may threaten to erase good habit building but the app keeps me building every day. Don’t forget to habit.
Great podcast with great resource lists on their blog. Librarians rock!
I was stumbling through the Internet and landed on Bellwether Friends, a fun podcast with two librarians who also discuss pop culture. After twenty eight minutes of the various versions of Strek Trek, Bellwether friends discussed bullet journaling.
Bullet journaling is an increasingly popular way of keeping a notebook that emphasizes writing in bullets instead of complete sentences and combines to-do lists, calendar planning, or whatever you want to plan out in your life. Take a listen to the podcast. Start at minute 29 if you want to skip the Star Trek material.
Bellwether Friends offers some really valuable links that explain bullet journaling:
A physical journal offers a tactile experience that some people find key to retaining memories.
Even though there are many ways to gather notes, images and data digitally, putting it on paper means you have to make a commitment to decide what is important.
Physical journaling offers a great excuse to use paper notebooks that might have piled up in your life recently.
My journal is not a bullet journal. Even though it is messy the physical act of makibg decisions of ehat to write has really helped me.
If you take a look at the bullet journal articles dont be worried about how pretty everything looks. Look at the rules but forget them too. I would tell you the same thing about my Samurai Mind Notebook too. I don’t review my notebook every day but when I do it is good.
Physical notebooks are some of the best way to capture your dreams, hopes, ideas and practical information. Make your own rules and get physical. Get outlaw. Put a bullet through your journal.
I’m on the 23rd day of using Chains app to establish mini habits. Everyday I do something small for six things that I am trying to make life-long habits: learning languages, playing guitar, becoming a skillful librarian, getting in shape, increasing my financial strength and writing. I’m noticing a few things:
Committing to just a little bit has made helped me take my learning just a little bit further. For example my goal to sustain my chain in Iknow (an app I use to learn Japanese but can also be used for English and Chinese) just takes one minute a day. But once I’m on the app I often continue because it’s so easy. It’s also fun because the app has built in incentives such such as weekly targets.
It’s easier to remember where I’ve been and keep from being discouraged. I’m traveling and hanging out in Japan. sometimes being busy makes it hard to keep up with my habits. But if I really remember how small my mini-habit commitment,is I can just keep moving. Momentum is my friend. For example, when I am travelling with I am not around a guitar. However, I can finger and practice chords and isolate the ones that aren’t natural to me.
More of my toolsーーguitars, webpages, notebook pages–are all more easily accessible because I do my habits much more frequently.
Momentum is on my side. For example,my only commitment to writing is five minutes a day. However, since I’m on the page with all my tools out it is often nor problem and even fun to keep going. However it is important to note that five minutes of sustaining a chain is a Yuuuge victory to be celebrated with another day on the chains,cc app.
I’m going to leave it here. As always the proof in this system will come once school starts up again. However, the time commitments are so small it looks like I can succeed every day.
If you would like to master the chain of mini habits check out the course called “Mini Habit Mastery: The Scientific Way to Change Your Habits” on Udemy. If you would like to support this blog, please hit on the Udemy link on the right side of this page and search for the course or pursue your other samurai learning needs. I will get a small commission that will help support me Samurai Mind. Enjoy!
I’ve been enjoying the Udemy app so much I have become an affiliate.
It’s been an app-y summer. I’ve finished graduate school and though I am preparing to start a new career as a school librarian, there aren’t as many looming deadlines and forced readings as last year. I’ve installed a few apps and I’m rolling with them:
Simply-e–which allows you to use your New York public library card to borrow books to read on my tablet
Epic–to get online picture books for my daughter
Sworkit—provides a variety of workouts without a gym
Udemy–an app for learning new skills online from various content providers
Chains–an app that lets you track and maintain new habits
Using the Udemy website and app I’ve been watching the “Mini Habits Mastery” course on Udemy. In short, this course explains that in order to create new positive habits you need to go teeny tiny and small. (Thanks to Rob Schwarz, a friend and an NLP trainer who suggested the course. You can reach out to him at email@example.com for more cool ideas).
Great course on how-to of building mini habits
The course has been worth it to me even though I’ve been mostly listening to it on my walks in Japan as opposed to watching the video content. It’s been worth the price because it has allowed me to jump start some habits and think about how to maintain them. The course itself really digs in deep in an informative and entertaining way so check it out.
However, the main point I’ve gotten from the course is that you have to go infinitely small to develop habits that you want to sustain you. For example, if you want to get in shape, set the goal of doing one push up every day. If you want to write, set a goal of writing fifty words a day.
The Mini Habits course does a much better job of explaining why you would want to do this. However, here is my understanding of the power of mini-habits:
setting super-small goals and actually being able to do it every day ingrains life-long habits that can transform your life
tiny, do-able habits get you on the page, to the gym and lead to increased forward momentum
mini-habits encourage “bonus reps”and often lead to exceeding mini-habits
Mini habits help you to insure you have your “tools” out for further creation…my mini-habit may be to out the guitar in my hands for two minutes but it puts me in the position of playing more if I want to
Easy to use checklist with great quotes about the power of building habits
I have game-ified the Mini Habit process with Chains.cc, an app that lets you track your habits and try to create chains. Every day that you practice your habit you swipe to the left on your the app and create a new link in the ongoing chain
When you turn your phone sideways you can see the chain of habits you are creating with cute images.
So far I haven’t broken a chain because it would be so sad to break the visual picture. What’s more important is that I’ve gained some momentum on goals that have seemed formidable. I signed up for some Udemy guitar courses and asked have practiced at least two minutes a day. It’s just two minutes so why not keep the chain going?
So far I’ve noticed some powerful advantages to this chains and mini-habit fusion:
Picture your on going chains of success. Part of my success with this so far is not wanting to “break” the picture by skipping a mini-habit day.
It’s fun. Because the daily goals are very low stake it’s easier to have s feeling of success at the end of the day.
Momentum leads to “bonus reps” as the authors of Mini Habits call it. If I have the guitar out to do my two minutes it’s easier to do more. The mini habits author explains not to secretly raise the bar because it’s the mini aspect of this system that makes it work.
The chain effect makes it harder to forget where I was, whether it is the latest blog idea or the names of te guitar strings.
So far it’s only been a week but it’s been a quiet but powerful way to change up my summer. Hope you will join me. Become part of the chain gang.