Maintain Total Control Over Your Study Time

You have the desire to become fluent in Japanese. You already have the motivation. You already have the need. So what could possibly be blocking this unstoppable force?

Maintain Total Control Over Your Study Time


Have you heard yourself or someone else ever mutter this terrible phrase: “I wish I could study Japanese, but I don’t have the time.”

This is a simple concept. It is obvious. But I want to set out some points about time that you’ve probably heard before that you need to reinforce into your head. Bear with me any clichés I must hesitatingly use:

1. Time is your most valuable resource.

It just is. Every single thing you do in your life is in exchange for the currency of time.  “Killing time” is like burning money.

2. Everyone has the same amount of time in a day

While sometimes it often feels like your days are short and everyone else somehow seems to have more time to do the things they want, remember that you all start off with the exact same bank.

3. Most people’s daily lives are very busy with little “free time”.

Still convinced that some people have it better? Here is an overbroad time-use breakdown based on your age.

1-12: you probably aren’t reading this blog
12-18: you are busy with junior high school/high school, homework, and tests.
18-22: you are busy with college and/or work.
22-26: you are busy with advanced schooling, or working your way up in your job.
26-45: you are busy with your job as it gets even busier with more responsibilities, and probably your new family.
45-60: you are still working hard, still have your family, and are starting to experience health problems.
60-80: Maybe you finally retired, but you now have more health problems, a large family, shorter attention span, less energy, and less likely to want to study.
80-100: You are nearing the end of the journey, and probably don’t feel learning Japanese as worth the time commitment anymore.

Wow, that felt kind of negative.  But this leads to the next point:

4. If you don’t think you have the time now, but will eventually, you will never have the time.

See above depressing chart.

5. You must decide what you are willing to sacrifice.

If time is a limited resource, the only way you are getting to get more time is to give up other things that are draining it away.

Take a look at your daily life. Separate what is time-required (ex. sleep, eat, shower, school, work, exercise, etc.) and what is time-desired (ex. video games, Facebook, TV, reading, internet surfing, etc.)

I think it is quite self-explanatory what to do from here. I’m not going to write a self-help article on how to eliminate the elements of your life that are wasting time. You already know this and can find this information in abundance elsewhere. Do whatever you have to do, but take time from less important activities and put it where it belongs, into your Japanese.

6. Make the best use of the in-between moments

Since time-required activities occupy a large % of your day, you have to employ a second method of squeezing Japanese in wherever you can. This is where the invaluable portable immersion environment you have comes in. Again no novel concepts here:

Do you commute to work?  Listen/Read Japanese
Do you do homework? Listen to Japanese in the background.
Do you wait anywhere for anything?  Listen/Read Japanese.
Do you clean, exercise, brush your teeth/hair? Listen to Japanese

7.  And?

I know you get this.  We all get it.  It’s easy to say, but harder to do. Well saying “I will be fluent in Japanese” is easy to say and harder to do. You will either make it happen or you won’t. If you can’t manage your time, you are not going to manage becoming fluent in Japanese. You decide what is important to you.

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Maintain Total Control Over Your Study Time — 7 Comments

  1. This semester, my schedule is really busy because I took on too many things at once. So, I’m playing with a method called timeboxing. I still don’t really understand how to apply it. But I’m trying my best.

    However, the timeboxing is really just to motivate my college studies. For Japanese, it doesn’t really take the effort of putting aside time. It’s a part of my everyday life. This is really great advice. It’s easy to take Japanese with you to do during idle time.

    The problem with me is I’m also learning Japanese Sign Language, which requires internet. I can’t exactly listen to sign language in the car or read a sign language book between classes. It would help if I had a portable i-phone, but I just have my laptop, which is clunky and requires internet access. But I try my best. This semester, I don’t have much idle time with internet access, so it’s harder to get JSL input. But last semester, I had to go to school really early to beat traffic, so I ended up watching a lot of sign language youtube videos.

    • Timeboxing didn’t work after all. So, I just stuck with using the most of the time that I have and putting in my best effort as usual. My semester is over and it went fine.

  2. This is why I haaaaate not being employable due to a complete absence of job experience in anything (not even food service >_<). I need to get an iPod since my laptop is a very bulky substitute (on a side note, I need to find a way to access an iPod as a USB drive since I do NOT trust iTunes with my existing music collection!), but since even the smallest-capacity model is too expensive for me…

  3. I hope this comes across as encouraging towards the previous commentors instead of crabby. Back in the day before iPhones and iPods, people made actual physical flashcards to study with out of index cards. You can do it too! Don’t let lack of funding hold you back. People have been learning Japanese like pros since before computers existed, let alone fun little mobile devices. The time and effort it takes to make each little card by hand sounds like a hassle, but from personal experience I think it actually helps to take a minute to really focus on writing out each kanji or bit of vocab. If you can’t afford an ipod for listening to Japanese audio, they sell generic mp3 players at walmart for $20 that work just as well.
    No more excuses.. get your study on~

  4. yeah i agree, people have so much time, normaly im aware of where my time is going too, like i just spent 1 hr reading random stuff on the internet cause i felt like it. the importance is becoming aware 100% of the time and giving yourself a set amount of time to “fuck around” so that your not always mechnical. I usually give myself 1 to 2 hrs a day to just do whatever, depending on how I feel.

    Anyways i just found this blog and i really like, I am on my path to japanese and atm im at like level 25 on your scale. I think people who want to learn need to be aware of the HUGE time commitment needed when learning this language. ive probably poured like 200-400 or so hours into learning this language and everyday i still have to input 100+ words on my anki. it seems like it never stops.

  5. It is true that you need motivation and a want to do this. Without it you will get bored, be hurting yourself, and wasting your time. Why waste time on something you don’t enjoy doing? In fact, I enjoy Japanese so much, I have to FORCE myself to do other things.

    Without fun and motivation, being able to learn all the 常用漢字 will seem terrible to you, and then going through all those sentences, adding like 30+ a day? Impossible without fun, you will burn out extremely fast. It’s like a fire. Without oxygen, it just burns out. Without fun, your strive to learn will just burn out.

    I had a problem with this a few months ago, but then I realized I was treated Japanese like a task instead of my toy. Luckily I’m all for playing now, and I get the same amount of learning as i did during the “task phase”

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