Learning the Spanish Language — Project Day 28

Because I count Monday as the first day of the week, the reset that I'm considering today will mostly begin tomorrow.

In essence, I intend to separate the issues which have dominated this Spanish project into 3 separate projects:

  1. Circadian Rhythm — daily patterns of sleep and activity
  2. Getting Things Done — accomplishing goals more efficiently
  3. Spanish Fluency — my foremost goal, right now

It's been obvious from the start, that insufficient and irregular sleep has been a bigger obstacle to getting things done on Spanish fluency, than anything in the language itself.

Having tried, and failed, to deal with sleep, productivity and Spanish in a fully integrated way, now is the time to try dealing with them separately.

I'm a bit concerned that it's taken so much painful experience before my inner chimp would concede to the path that logic has always dictated —'the Unix way'

The Unix Way

In software development, the Unix philosphy regards difficult multi-dimensional problems as the outcome of lots of essentially simple processes being combined in complex relationships — recognising that complex problems often contain the same processes in different combinations.

Instead of designing one integrated program from scratch to tackle a single complex problem. Unix seeks to build solutions to multiple problems, by combining myriad tiny programs in different ways — ideally, with each tiny program being designed to solve just one simple problem completely, while taking input from and giving output to the other tiny programs with adjacent tasks.

In essence, Unix systems should work the way that the real-world works — e.g. every complex life form is built from just 4 DNA 'letters', and even simple viruses depend on those 4 letters to replicate.

First Get to Sleep Before Midnight

When you look at it in any detail, you see that good quality sleep consists of many components. Addressing all of the individual components and their complex interaction is going to take a long time and probable course adjustments along the way. Not least, because it involves unpicking a lifetime's worth of bad habits.

Get to sleep before midnight — looks like an obvious first milestone. But that's a step after getting to bed — which comes with its own prequesites and is pointless if it doesn't lead quickly to sleep.

A cluster of those pre-requisites need to be fulfilled in order to arrive at bedtime in a relaxed state, with mind and body ready for sleep. And that's what my end-of-evening wind-down sessions were supposed to address. But it's pretty clear that they have failed. Why?

These two factors cover most cases:

  1. Wind down 'plans' — that were really just wish lists
  2. Distractions from even addressing those wishes

A Viable Wind-down Plan

Problably requires the following:

  • A more detailed and prescriptive sequence of actions
  • Measures to counter likely distractions
  • Logistics in place before attempting each action
  • A much longer wind-down period
  • Some wriggle room — resiliance vs. 'events'

The Diurnal Rhythms Project

Learning by doing — is a founding principle. A strongly prescriptive sequence of wind-down actions is some way off — because I don't yet know which of the potential actions will actually work and be sustainable over the long term. But here are some ingredients to be tested:

  • 4 lighter meals — 4-hour intervals 8-to-8
  • No drinks after 9pm — avoid middle of the night loo breaks
  • Evening activities itemized and resourced — on the previous day
  • Ban any compelling A/V after 10pm
  • Reading — the only entertainment allowed to start after 9pm
  • Physical exercise — after 8pm before 10pm
  • Ban 'work' after 8pm — bar external emergencies
  • Set achievable minima for a day's work — completed with satisfaction
  • Flat tidy-up — penultimate pre-bed action
  • Warm bath — ultimate pre-bed action



  1. Calm re-assessment — deliberately breaking routine
  2. Retained focus on Spanish during re-assessment
  3. Got lots of Spanish done in minimal time


  1. Shorter than ideal sleep
  2. Too much time writing blog
  3. Haphazard eating
  4. No time left for first wind-down tests
  5. Today's Spanish intensity is unsustainable

Routine Mark 3


  • Ticks — right activity on time
  • Crosses — not done to schedule
  • Hyphens — not applicable to currrent routine configuration
Task M T W T F S S
0730 — Get going
0845Session 1
1015 — Break
1030Session 2
1200 — Dinner
1245Session 3
1415 — Break
1430Session 4
1600 — Transition
1630 - Riding
1800 — Tea
1930 — Active leisure
2130 — Reading

Learning Tasks Checklist

Task M T W T F S S
Word & phrase exercises
Sentence exercises
Socratic dialogue
Aural comprehension
Pronoun exercises
Preposition exercises
Verb exercises
Eng.→Spa. translation
Spa.→Eng. translation
Just read
Reading comprehension
Physical exercise
Non-subbed video
Subbed video
Read aloud
A song
Research lang. learning
List 'issues'
Prepare materials
Review this checklist

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