I have a tendency to stress (and perhaps to overstress) the whole idea of consistency, but it really is that important. Having said that…what about burnout?
I ended up having more free time than I expected last night, so I did a fair amount of goofing off – watched a Charlie Chan movie (Dark Alibi from 1946 in case you’re wondering), practiced some music, played a game…and studied a little Japanese.
Because I had a lesson on adjectives （形容詞） yesterday, I wanted to learn some adjectives so that I could practice the rules. I checked out quizlet and found a list of adjectives from Human Japanese and downloaded it into StickyStudy.
And then…you know what?…I just didn’t feel like studying anymore. I have met my study goals every day since I started (on June 16, 2015), and I had already met my study goals for that day, and I just didn’t feel like piling anything extra on top of what I had already done.
So I didn’t.
And I don’t feel guilty about it at all.
This is where the juggling act comes in. Yes, you have to study. Yes, you have to study consistently. Every day would be best. But, on the other hand, you have to give yourself permission to slack off every now and then. There’s a balance here. If you never take a break, you might get burned out and quit altogether. That would be bad. If you take too many breaks or breaks that are too long, you might end up quitting and never get to where you’re going. Also bad.
So how do you find the balance? What’s the magic formula?
There isn’t one, unfortunately. How much is too much or too little will be different for each one of us. You’ll have to find that balance for yourself. My advice, for what it’s worth, would be to never take more than one day off at a time unless you are absolutely compelled to by circumstances.
While you are doing the work, it is more or less easy to continue doing the work. When you stop, however, it can be much harder to get going again than it would have been to keep it going in the first place. And that might encourage you to take a second day off…how blissful it is to rest your brain…and then inertia begins to set in…and that third day off begins to look mighty tempting.
Also, the earlier you are in your studies, the more important consistency probably is. (Don’t get me wrong, it will still be important a year from now, but the consequences of a day or two off probably won’t be so disastrous then as they would be now.) Especially early on, it is important to program that consistency into your day so that it becomes a habit. Maybe you’re different, but for me, taking a break is definitely easier than refusing to take a break, and continuing to take a break is definitely easier than getting back to work.
My compromise was to refuse to take on extra studying last night. This morning, it’s a new day. I’m almost done with my required flashcards for the day (Kanji review, vocabulary review, new vocabulary), and I’m thinking I might browse through those adjective flashcards later on. We’ll see. Daily goal – definitely. Extra stuff – maybe.