Accountability is closely linked to keeping your resolutions and achieving your goals. For example, if you make a resolution to spend at least one hour on Italian every week, and you don’t have a habit of doing so, it’s quite likely you’ll look back 14 days later and find that you haven’t actually spend any time on it. It can be quite surprising actually, thinking back about the past week and realizing how little language study you’ve done, even though you may have the superficial sense of having recently worked on your languages. Accountability is the solution.
You could for example find a language partner or language teacher and make an appointment to meet weekly for an hour; that way you are almost guaranteed to spend an hour on Italian every week, because they expect you to show up.
If you’re enrolled in a class, class times work the same way, and additionally exams hold you accountable for making progress rather than just day-dreaming.
For someone who learns best in self-study however, such as myself, the best solution is to keep track of your study time. You could use a classic agenda, or simply mark all days that you studied with a big green checkmark, but I find it best to keep a detailed account of my studying in a spreadsheet. Having it as a spreadsheet allows me to automatically do some calculations, for example to see how many hours total I’ve studied this year or this week, how many hours I spent on any one language, how that compares to last year, and so on. It’s very neat and motivating. Now if I started studying Indonesian and found that I still don’t know anything 3 months later, I can just look at the spreadsheet and notice that I haven’t actually spent more than a few hours on it. On the other hand, there have been times when I spent relatively little time on a language and made a lot of progress, for example in Finnish. Knowing how few hours I spent on it definitely contributed to the exhilaration of progress there.
So, I highly recommend tracking what you do, to motivate yourself to do more and to get a more objective view of your progress. You can find a copy of my spreadsheet below, with some data blanked out. Just replace everything with your values and you’re set to go. Alternatively, create your own spreadsheet. Start tracking – start achieving your goals!