Should You Keep Daily Time Records Of Your Studying?

The schedule. Keeping track of your study time. Knowing what you have done to try to fully take control of what you will do.

Should You Keep Daily Time Records Of Your Studying 1

Do you have a morning schedule that looks something like like:

5:00: wake up
5:00-6:00: do Anki reviews
6:00-7:00: watch J-dramas
7:00-7:30: read J-novel
7:30-8:00: practice Japanese writing

I think most people have ended up writing out some form of schedule similar to this (not the actual specific items or times). It allows you to reflect back on your day, and either feel good for making it Japanese-study-productive or feel bad for realizing you only studied for 20 minutes over a 24 hour period.

The other major option is to ignore all of this. Study when you want, and just remember that you studied. You are free from the worries of time scheduling. You may also be keeping track of the specific things you did (like read X books) rather than how long you spent doing it.

Which is better?

Should You Keep Daily Time Records Of Your Studying 2

Early on, keeping records can help keep you focused. It makes sure you are actually putting in the time Japanese deserves, as all your actions are laid out before you neatly. You then only have yourself to answer to.

Later, I think you can drop this kind of strict organization. Since Japanese becomes a bigger part of your life, it naturally ends up wherever you are, and you don’t have to go out of your way to make room for it. Keeping track of it feels unnecessary.

My mindset went from:

“I must study X hours a day doing A, B, and C.”

to

“What can I be doing right now to make my Japanese better.”

This wasn’t an easy transition, but one that has been extremely empowering and has been my “self scheduling” method for years now.

There was a time when I kept track of every Anki minute, every TV hour, and my immersion minute of every day (using a system like XPNavi), so I could look back and try to plot my progress in some kind of motivation boosting fashion. It often feels like those Anki graphs that show all your progress over time. They can be a bit addicting and pretty in the beginning and then you completely stop caring of their existence.

Then again, I still use a time schedule breakdown for many other non-Japanese related things, so it’s not that far-fetched that I might bring it back for future tasks.

How do you handle it?

Are you keeping track of your daily study time in some kind of systematic format? Or do you just keep track of specific goals? Or have you switched to the “I’ll study Japanese whenever I can and knowing that is good enough?”



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Adam

Adam

Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese. On a quest to become 日本語王 (king of the Japanese language).

Comments

Should You Keep Daily Time Records Of Your Studying? — 26 Comments

  1. I usually do my Anki reviews in the morning while taking breakfast only because it’s easier/ faster (and I don’t want to feel guilty at work), but during the rest of the day it’s just improvisation, I may just listen to immersion all day or watch a J-Drama/ Anime if I have the time. Also after +2 years of doing Anki reviews (finished RTK and JALUP bg) I am still addicted to the Anki graphs, I look at them every day, but I would like to stop caring like you said.

    • It’s true that some people really enjoy the graphs for a long time and if they give you a daily boost of motivation all the better.

      And making your breakfast an “Anki breakfast” sounds good to me!

  2. I do all my new cards in the morning and spend an hour on that every day. I have no fixed schedule for the rest of the day, but usually spend about 2-2,5 hours more in total to finish my Anki. I do immersion after I complete my Anki.

    I don’t keep a record of time spent during the day, but I keep a diary of all major events in my journey, such as starting/completing materials and also track my progress in various Anki decks to project completion dates etc (I use Google Sheets for this). I always visit the Anki graph when I complete a deck for the day, to see how the day has gone.

    • A diary is a great idea as it is a nice reminder to show yourself how much you’ve been doing and how far you’ve come (instead of focusing on the opposite negative of what you haven’t done and how much you have left to go).

  3. I have a diary im Evernote it to mark what I’ve done each day and summarise it.

    I also write a daily diary in Japanese (using a hobonichi). The overall aim being to write something to fill the page every day on any topic. Even if it’s just vocab drills. A place to write without worrying about mistakes is great (I also recheck on Lang 8 sometimes). A Japanese diary has done wonders for my grammar and even as a beginner I’m “thinking in sentences” better.

    • Writing out your thoughts on paper (or digitally) really helps with organizing the Japanese in your head into something comprehensible so it’s great practice.

  4. I have daily goals of at least clearing reviews on my various platforms, then other various weekly and monthly goals related to studying. This is the first month I’ve implemented this method, so it’s a work in progress, and I’m still getting back into the swing of things. So I end up doing as little or as much as I feel I can handle that day and it ends up with me doing more on good days, and not so much when I’m not feeling well. But I always work on reviews.

  5. I don’t record the amount of time I spend studying, but I do give myself clear study goals to meet every day.

    Lately I’ve been using the “break the chain” method, where I’ll set up a calendar saying “all reviews + x amount of new words/Kanji per day.” I then have to at least do my reviews and leads a certain amount of new words that day before I can mark that day off on my calendar. If I don’t, then I’ll have a big ugly space on my calendar.

    Before I would just study as much as I felt like it that day, but I think this has really helped me move forward at a good pace.

  6. I’ve tried keeping track in a spreadsheet, but it just became too much maintenance and I really didn’t look forward to doing it. I just use my time in Anki. Right now my goal is at least 30 min in Anki a day (I’m slowly ramping it up to an hour). I’m really good at immersion, it’s the studying that I have to keep on top of.

  7. Essentially, if ever I find myself not actively watching, listening to Japanese I try and rectify that. As long as I complete my reviews, new cards, forgotten cards and wanikani I’m content.

  8. I don’t have a set schedule, but I like to write down what I did each day in a day planner (sort of the opposite of its intended use, lol). You could do the same thing in an app or on your computer but for some reason I prefer to do this by hand. So for example, the entry for today might say, “30 minutes reading (title here); 1 hour watching (title here).” On the calendar pages I like to indicate when I started a specific project (maybe an anime series, for example) and when I finished it. Anyway, I might eventually put all the data in a spreadsheet, but I like seeing how much time I am putting into my project each day, week, and month. If I start getting discouraged its usually an indicator that I need to change my routine or that I have had too many “blank” days recently. :-)

  9. I dont have a daily schedule like that, with time and all. I do have a little list of daily things I want to do, though. I hope that I can drop it at some point and just do it without it, but for now it’s great motivation and a great reminder. Ive been back at it since mid december and havent skipped more than a day (and even then, I didnt do *nothing*, just, close to nothing)!

    I do however track how much I do every day. I have always love making tables and I love looking at data for some reason, so I figured I wasnt losing much by doing this. I have my plan seperated in stages, so I have a sheet per stage, like this https://imgur.com/FJQwIV3 and then an overall sheet that automatically updates, like this https://i.imgur.com/Z0h1KKS.jpg . It’s already helping me to look at the big picture, and I’m sure down the road itll be even more interesting. I’ll even be able to make graphs and make the tables bigger and stuff… but that’s for later down the road :p

    • Data master. I like what I see though and think breaking down everything into such small goals allows for a lot of motivation boosting victories.

  10. I do a little of both. I use Habitica (formerly HabitRPG), http://www.habitica.com, to keep track of my daily study tasks (and my other tasks, like housework). At first, I had everything on my Habit list and my study and immersion strictly scheduled.

    As time went on, more and more immersion activities became just part of my everyday life. For example, I used to make myself do a minimum of an hour of listening every day, and gave my self bonuses on Habit for extra listening. Now, I do not even keep track of my listening time, but it is just something that I do when I do housework.

    I still have close reading as a daily task, but for wide reading, I just put an entire book (or manga) on my Habit Todo List (a one-off task, rather than a daily task), and I read when I have time.

    One of my goals has been to make Japanese something that I can do in my leisure time, and for there to be Japanese activities I can use for rewards for completing other tasks. I am at a place now where I do have a fair amount of time to devote to intensive study, but I do not know how long that will continue. My thought has been if I could relax with Japanese, I was more likely to be able to keep it up long term, no matter how busy I became with other things.

    I think that I am at that place now, and having a division between Japanese “study” activities, like Anki and close reading, and Japanese “leisure” activities, such as wide reading, listening, anime watching, and game playing has been quite useful. For example, if I am sick or want a day off, I generally read, watch anime, play games, etc….in Japanese!

    On another note, this month I have participating in the Tadoku Contest, and there has been an added benefit that I did not anticipate. The Tadoku Bot-san is really, really useful. I have been keeping track of my “study” reading (by the rules of what “counts”) as well as my general wide reading. It has been really interesting to look at my study tasks in terms of the amount of net pages of reading they give me. This has been quite helpful in reviewing the effectiveness of my “study” tasks.

    • It’s a great transitional feeling when you go from consciously making study time to just naturally doing it. Sounds like you’ve come a long way!

  11. I did this a lot before and it really helped get me motivated, but then I stopped for some reason and started to slowly lose motivation and spend less time doing the things I should be doing.

    I have just recently started it again and it helps me so much in actually doing stuff, instead of waiting until midnight to realize I still have stuff left to do, and either rushing to do it, putting it off until the next day, or not doing it at all.

    • Yeah it’s one of those things that can be annoying to keep up, but works wonders on keeping you on track.

  12. Really cool article. It seems better than a to-do list for multi tasking. Which of the two does adam prefer?

    • For me, it has been level based. Earlier on, I would keep things a lot more regimented and keep track of everything. As I got better, and “native materials” increasingly replaced “study materials,” I focused more on just getting in Japanese wherever I could and not worrying about the hours, reviews, or amount of material.

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