I prefer to do my studying in the morning. I might start dragging as the evening wears on, but, when I get out of bed, I’m awake, and the morning is when I am most likely to be able to find some quiet time. That’s when I hit Memrise for みんなの日本語 vocabulary review. If I get up early enough, that’s also when I do my anki cards – kanji review, general vocabulary review and, sometimes, new vocabulary.
I pretty much always get up early enough to do my Memrise words and my Kanji cards, because that doesn’t take long. My anki vocabulary cards, though, that’s a different matter. Where I might have 30 or less Kanji cards, I often have over 100 vocabulary cards.
Any of the cards that I don’t get to, I have to get to later in the day, but, and here’s the trick, I don’t have to get to them all at once. I can do them in pieces. Tablets are portable. You can even take them into…um…every room in the house. I work those cards in as time permits.
On the way to work, I listen to a Japanese101.com podcast. (If I’m really on the ball, I listen to Japanesepod101.com every time I drive anywhere, but that doesn’t always happen. I love Japanese, but sometimes you just need to listen to some music.)
This means that, by 8:00 or 8:30 in the morning,I might have all of that stuff done.
But I still have homework to do. I might do it at lunch or try to work it into the evening. I had quite a bit of homework to do this week, so I just scattered it throughout the week as well as I could. Around my house, Saturday mornings are usually pretty quiet, because everyone else sleeps late, so that’s prime time for homework.
The point of all this is that, if you really want to learn, you have make Japanese part of your daily routine. With languages especially, daily practice is absolutely crucial. You have to do the work, but you might to have to work to find time to do the work.
Don’t just hope that time will materialize – schedule the time. I do my studying in the morning because that’s what works for me. Do yours at night, at lunchtime, whenever it suits you. The best time is the time that works for you. And set yourself minimums that must be done every day. I have to spend 15 minutes with Memrise and review my anki cards daily. New anki vocabulary and みんなの日本語の宿題 don’t have to be done every day, just so long as I get the chapter homework done each week. That’s my schedule, and I do my best to stick to it.
Make your own schedule, set your minimums and stick with it. If you do, you’ll learn Japanese. It’s that simple. (Note that I said simple, not easy. Sticking with a daily schedule isn’t always easy, but it is possible.)
There isn’t a trick to learning Japanese. You just have to do it, that’s all.