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
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.