How to Avoid the Number 1 Pitfall of Learning a Language When You’re Busy

You’re busy. Crazy busy. As usual.

In fact, you can’t remember a time when you weren’t constantly running, rushing, racing.

And you’ve just realized that you’ll need to find time for something else in your exploding schedule: improving your English. Not just for the lessons themselves, no, that would be too easy. You also have to find time for consolidation and practice outside each lesson.

Your mind is going haywire just at the thought of how you’ll possibly be able to fit everything into your 24-hour day. If only you didn’t have to sleep… !

I understand how you feel. I’ve been there. That’s why I’ve decided to do the opposite of most language teachers or coaches. In fact, I’m even going to tell you this:

  • Don’t do your homework.
  • Don’t try to practice.
  • Don’t even start lessons.

Now, I can understand it if you’re thinking, well that sounds great but how will I actually improve my English?

All will become clear. First of all, let’s take a quick look at what the Main Pitfall is and then we’ll look at what to do instead.

The Main Pitfall

Ok, so what you really need to avoid is:

Not changing anything and just relying on sheer WILLPOWER to squeeze English time into your agenda

If you do this, English will just become another chore for you.

A task that you can tick off your to-do list and forget about it until the next time. No inspiration. No enjoyment. No motivation.

Willpower is simply not enough. You can’t force your way through.

See here why:

This extra commitment will just add to the general overwhelm.

Even when you manage to attend a lesson (perhaps you’ve skipped lunch or intend to munch on your sandwich during the lesson?), you often arrive late or leave early.

You might be present, but you’re not really there. Your mind is elsewhere, thinking about the email you haven’t had time to write yet or the meeting you have to attend later that day.

And what about trying to practice in the evening?

Let me guess. When you get home, exhausted after your day at work, the only thing you really feel like doing is throwing yourself on the sofa and being spoon-fed your dinner.

However, the reality is probably less relaxing: cooking, household duties, taking care of kids… all intertwined with weary glances at your professinal inbox to see if you’ve received a reply on X or Y (which then opens a Pandora’s Box of other topics).

Let’s face it, is this really the best environment to help you focus and fully enjoy your English journey?

What to do instead

Ok, so you’ve seen from the above scenario that trying to carry on “as usual” will not help you improve your English. You’ll just drown in the negative effects of that pitfall. Feel even more exhausted and rundown.

Instead, before starting English lessons, practicing or doing your homework (3 things which, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, are obviously all necessary, at least until the day we’re able to assimilate any learning in 30 seconds like Neo in “Matrix“), you need to create a whole new environment that will actually support you and your goals, not demolish them.

Because there’s no use in defining new priorities (see here for more on that:, if you don’t make room for them.

What we actually need to do is pinpoint what is “in the way” of your path to progress, i.e. the big rocks in the middle of the road.

which is the path to progress for busy professionals learning English

(Here, many of you may be thinking “it’s my work-loading boss who is the obstacle” but that’s too easy. You’re putting the blame on someone else AND losing your decision-making power in the process. Change your focus to the things that are within your scope of control, i.e. you, your thoughts, your priorities, your behaviour, your routine. You get what you focus on.)

In short, we need to prime your environment for success. And don’t worry, none of it will come down to you having to neglect your children or your partner!

How do we prime our environment for success?

We work on:

  • Focus – getting you out of autopilot.
  • Productivity – not producing more but being more effective with less
  • Habits – transforming the habits that aren’t helping you into ones that will
  • Procrastination – how to escape the trap of putting things off or striving for perfection
  • Fears
  • Motivation

With the aim of giving you more space and more energy for what matters.

And don’t let your mind tell you that it’s impossible for you. Rich Litvin, Coach and Author, perfectly summarized this when he said:

“There is less than 6 inches (i.e. the size of your head!) between you and everything you want”.

how to prime your environment for success


So, I’ll end with three questions for you:

  • Where do you want to be and who do you need to become to get there?
  • What is actually stopping you?
  • What is the first small change you could make that, by doing it, everything else would become easier?



Photos courtesy of Unsplash: Simone Acquaroli, Jamie Street, Andrew Santellan, Oscar Nord, Grant Ritchie

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