Filed Under: Habits, Learning English
January 11, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

Here’s a question: do you ever feel like you don’t get enough done? Know you should learn English daily… but end up wasting time on Facebook instead?

A Doing English daily email subscriber said:

“Nobody is going to help you if you can’t help yourself. ” this kicked my ass, maybe I’m not that much of a person waiting for answers instead or looking for them… but I’ve been a little bit like that. My question for you is: Have you ever experience difficulties to have your actual discipline?
– José

The truth is I’m not very disciplined.

Not at all.

In fact, let me tell you a secret: I’m a really, really lazy person.

It’s true.

This said, Here’s an idea of how productive I am: why I originally wrote this blog post (I’m re-editing and reposting it) I used to teach full time at a secondary school in Japan while also doing a PhD, teaching private lessons in the evening, running a successful business business on the side, and still managed to spend lots of time with my three kids every day, learn Japanese, read, and go running or cycling (often both) every day.

These days my life has changed a lot, but I’m still super productive running now a full-time business (that’s this; Doing English) with full time employees and freelancers who I work with. Still doing academic research, writing and publish articles. Still reading, running every day.

And… look, you get it.

How can a lazy, non-disciplined person do all this?


I understand the power of habits.

I don’t need to “discipline” myself to write this blog post. Or any of my books. Or the daily Doing English emails. Because I do it automatically. At the same time every day, I sit down at my laptop in the same place… and just write.

I don’t need to say, “I have to write today’s email!” – I just do it.

On autopilot.

I’m also habitually collecting ideas in my head. I don’t think about it. It happens automatically. So when I do sit down to write… I already know what I’m going to write.

It’s the same for everything else.

Including learning English every day. If you want to learn English daily, without having to discipline yourself, or force yourself to do it? Without saying, “I’ve really got to study…” or “I’ll do it later…”

Well… the answer is frighteningly simple: make it a habit.

People don’t have much willpower. Psychology experiments have proven this again and again. So just trying to force yourself to improve your English… work harder… or sit down to learn won’t work.

It just won’t.

Even if it works for a few days… you’ll quickly fail.

But habits run on autopilot. You don’t have to use willpower… in fact, they’re REALLY hard to stop, even if you want to. Meaning, once you make learning English a daily habit, you’ll find it hard NOT to practise your English.

Make sense?

But of course, the question is this:

How can you make English a habit?

Well, that’s a topic for another day, because this post is getting bloody long. But you can (and should) start by signing up for my free daily emails (which are designed to become a part of your daily English habit).

Dr Julian Northbrook

Filed Under: Habits, Learning English
December 16, 2020 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

A lot of people struggle to turn up every day and get their English study done — and you’re probably one of them.

But often, all it takes is a few tweaks to your habits and routine.

It’s much better for me to go running in the morning.

It gives me more energy throughout the day, most of my good ideas come while running, and I end up sleeping better at night if I run early.

But you know what it’s like.

You get up, make a coffee then the computer goes on. Before you know it you’re checking emails and then something else comes along, and you end up going straight into work (or whatever else) and the running—or English study—gets left until later.

For me, there was a simple solution.

I sleep in nothing but a t-shirt and my pants (stop thinking about it) and when I get up, it’s bloody cold.

So now I get dressed straight into my running stuff.

I’m still not going to go out until I’ve had my coffee and checked my emails. But it’s much harder to forget to go out running completely when you’re already dressed for running… and so it happens, consistently, every morning.

It’s all down to habits.

One action—putting on running clothes—naturally leads into another — actually doing out running.

What are some small tweaks you can make to your routine to make sure English happens?

Think about it.

Now, the next question is what are you going to do in that time? And what is the optimal, most effective way to set up your routine?

That’s what we’ll do in MEFA.

If you want a place I recommend you add yourself to the waiting list:

Dr Julian Northbrook