It’s normal to get off track sometimes, so don’t be hard on yourself when it happens. Guilt and the fear of failure only feed into that cycle of procrastination. Instead, remember to start small, be realistic, and find positive motivations. With that in mind, there are a number of strategies for getting yourself started again.

First of all, start developing an awareness of when you’re procrastinating. Notice the thoughts that lead you to do something other than studying: “I’m tired”, “I’ll study more next week”, “I don’t have time”, “I need to find the best way to study first”... there’s always a reason to do it later.

Take a moment to pause and reflect on how you’re feeling. Challenge those automatic thoughts by considering other options. True, maybe you had a busy day and don’t have the energy to study for an hour, but what about 10 minutes? When learning feels overwhelming, switch your focus to small goals that you can complete in a short amount of time.

A related strategy is to design your environment and remove any barriers to taking action. Set up a clear, dedicated area where you can focus. Leave a Portuguese book next to your bed that you can grab easily when you’re winding down for the day. Bookmark specific pages of learning websites so you can jump right into studying, even when you only have a few minutes to spare. Think of it as setting your future self up for success by eliminating the excuses you were going to use to avoid studying.

Next, try to relate your goals to a larger purpose with visual reminders of why you’re learning. This could be a photo of a place you want to visit in Portugal, or maybe a family member you want to communicate with more. Even though binge-watching a TV show is always going to sound much more enticing in the moment, these visual cues are a good reminder of what will be more meaningful to you in the long run.

Finally, make learning more active instead of passive. Focus on interactive lessons, relevant topics, and incorporate lots of variety to keep yourself engaged in the learning process.

Next time you need to get back on track, consider trying out the variety of learning tools at Work through the units in order to avoid indecision, or explore the audio and video episodes that most pique your interest!