Deal With Your Own Difficulty Setting — 14 Comments

  1. This is really inspirational and helpful. I wish I had received this article on March ‘madness’ to know that I have to work around life’s lemons instead of wait for them to go away. They did go away with the price of losing more than a half month’s progress but hey I am back at it again

    • You can’t do anything about time that already passed. That is past. What is important is what you do in the present.


    • Don’t think about it as “losing” progress, but just taking a much needed break to get your life in order while your progress is “on hold”

  2. This article is very important and very true I think.

    One thing that I have done is to think of my study tasks in terms of maintenance and progress. When I have little to no time to devote to studies, I put my study setting on maintenance…which for me is my Anki and listening to Japanese when doing things that do not otherwise engage my mind or ears. Now that I am reading, I have added reading in the spare moments during the day (I always found time to read novels in English no matter how busy I was…so now I do that in Japanese instead).

    Having a “maintenance mode” is helpful for me, because then when I do have time again to move forward, I am actually using that time to move forward rather than trying to catch up on what I lost.

    Of course, as one progresses, there is more to maintain, but the plus side is that it becomes easier to do through immersion.

    • I too have gotten a heap of value out of dividing activities into maintenance and progress. Just making sure that I keep up with Anki reviews even on busy times and times with low motivation has made sure I didn’t burn out and lose progress.

      I agree that as you progress there will be more to maintain but on the other hand more of it will also get well-grounded in your long-time memory which leads to less effort to maintain that knowledge. And yes, immersion makes maintenance almost seamless when you are able to enjoy immersing and use it for doing thing you would want to do that has nothing to do with Japanese except for the language of the material being in Japanese.

  3. I was very lucky when first learning Japanese (and now, actually) in terms of the amount of time I could devote to studying, and the resources I had at hand, but I have still failed to actually make the most of this time and time again, so I am in complete awe of anybody who manages to get any level of fluency while also juggling a lot of other commitments.

    Learning to work with the hand that life has dealt you is definitely a really important lesson for life, not just for studying Japanese!

    • Sometimes it’s that “the less time you have, the better you use it.” I know that at my peak of studying, I used to sometimes get the most done on the busiest of days, but not do so well on complete days off.

      • I had a one year period in my life with almost nothing to do besides learn japanese, and managed to accomplish almost nothing. I wasted so much time trying out new methods and ideas, looking for some magic bullet, instead of just putting in the time on one or two methods. I was always letting my anki reviews stack up for days and it was so easy to procrastinate.

        Now that I’m working full time, it’s so simple. I know certain blocks of time are anki time, and I don’t procrastinate. I don’t have time to waste constantly looking for better methods, so I do things I know work and only make adjustments after giving things several months so I can evaluate the results.

      • It’s easier to waste time when you have a lot of it… On weekdays I have a busy schedule, but I also commute around 1.5 hours per day which I then use for doing Anki. On weekends I have a much harder time getting Anki in because there is no set structure and specific time dedicated to Anki so I end up doing anything but Anki.

        • I have the exact same problem. My studying works really well on weekdays, since I always follow the same schedule and it’s a well established habit for me. On weekends I have a lot more trouble getting my reviews done. I think I just need to follow my weekday schedule more strictly on weekends and see how that works for me :)

          • I always do anki while I have my coffee in the morning, and since I drink coffee weekdays and weekends, this has really helped give me an anchor on weekends to keep reviews in line.

            • My weekday rhythm is pretty similar. I start every morning with a little over 1 hour of anki reviews before I head off to work. This works really well and it is pretty much the only time a day I can pull off doing Anki reviews for more than 15 minutes straight without getting distracted (attention is not one of my strengths). Before I started doing this I really hated Anki, but as long as I stick to my schedule – no problems :)

        • One thing that has helped me recently is I basically overload myself during the weekday with new cards, just enough so that when I hit the weekend and have massive amounts of free time, I’m forced to use that free time to get those cards under control before the new week starts and I start building up a huge backlog of cards again <3

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