Advice on studying with a busy schedule?

So up until recently I have had a job that has let me study during my down time at work; I don’t focus well at home so this has been the bulk of my study (up to 3-4 hours some days)!
I’m at the final interview stage for another position that would be a career change. There’s a lot of pros and cons to staying where I am or changing to this new job, but one thing I’m super worried about is time to study, as the hours are much longer.

I’m a slow learner in general and just studying on the weekends definitely won’t cut it. My (maybe) new position would give me 3ish hours in the evening, but as I’m an adult a decent chunk of that would go to general adult things, and I am hoping to work a part time job in the evenings as well. I’m usually more tired in the evenings and don’t study so well then, so I could aim to get up a few hours early and study in the morning instead or something like that? Do any of you do anything like that or is that insane?

My commute would be by bicycle so I can’t do reviews on the train, and lunch break would be an hour, so I could definitely use that for some WK and anki or something.

Does anyone have a busy schedule and still manages to make serious progress in Japanese? How do you do it? It’ll probably be the deciding factor on whether to switch jobs or not, so I’m stressing myself crazy about it :sweat_smile:

Sorry everyone, I forgot to specify but I already live in Japan! So I would be speaking/interacting with Japanese people every day and I have to improve my Japanese skills for my career to progress :cloud:


Honestly, Japanese is such a time sink that if I truly didn’t have time I would drop it.

But I realize most* people just think / say they don’t have time but really do, just arent strongly self motivated.

Its not impossible to find a time to spend about 30 mins/1 hour before bed every day if you are committed, otherwise wait for a better time in your life.

You sound like me a few months ago! Here’s my suggestions based on how I do things now!

First of all, if you do take the new job, be aware it might take a month or two (or longer!) for you to get a normal study schedule going, and you might not touch Japanese/do very little Japanese during that time- and that’s okay!

Once you have a regular routine down- see what you are up for. I wouldn’t recommend getting up a few hours early (unless you are super duper motivated and go to bed early!) but maybe get up half an hour to an hour early? You mention you’d be biking to work- would you be comfortable doing some listening practice as you ride?

I usually get up half an hour early and do some studying, study during lunch, and then study an hour to an hour and half right after work (after a shower since that helps wake me up, haha). I often do some reading or WK before bed as well if I’m not too tired. (I also do some part time-eque in the evenings, so I feel your pain with the tiredness and time crunch!)

Since I live alone, I usually leave the heavy cleaning on weekends, and I’ve started batch cooking my meals so I’m not stuck cooking during the weekdays, which helps save on time. One thing that’s really helped me is keeping a study journal, and planning out during the weekends how my “study week” will look.

These are the things that have worked for me so far- I hope some of my suggestions help! :smile:


Thank you for the honest opinion! Self motivation isn’t a huge problem for me - I used to work freelance and I’m used to kicking myself into gear even when I really don’t want to - and I’m in Japan and my new workplace is mainly Japanese people (my current one is just Japanese aside from me), so I have to improve my language skills for my career progression, unfortunately I can’t take a break yet! So I guess my main worry is more about the burnout…?

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That changes things. You’re in Japan.

Sorry if I come across a little negative, its just many people I work with can solve their own problems, just choose not too.

I myself am not perfect either. Sometimes I dont want to cut through 200 reviews, especially knowing I will miss about a quarter of them over and over. But I take a breath and do it, no excuses just focus mode for the short time and just go.

Same with the gym, but I still go and still lift like my life depends on it, because that’s what I tell myself.

Edit: I guess I didnt finish my thought here, but I am not sure what I would do in your situation. I see learning Japanese as a need to survive. I would make that happen no matter what. Follow some of sleepymangos ideas.

Thank you sleepy!! This was really helpful!!

I think a lot of my nerves comes from changing that routine and knowing I’ll be knocked off for a little bit :sweat_smile: It takes so long to form good study habits it feels painful to willingly choose to change them!

I forgot to mention this in my main post, but I live in Japan and the company is mainly Japanese, so I should be OK for listening practice (sorry coworkers for eavesdropping on you!!) but I like the idea of just getting up a little bit early and getting some studying out the way! I usually do my first round of kanji with a coffee anyway, so it wouldn’t feel too different to where I am now!

Batch cooking is a good idea too! I spend a good chunk of evening cooking and cleaning so anything to cut down on that to make more time for study is a win for me :face_holding_back_tears:

I just started a study log! I haven’t had time to reap rewards from it yet but I’m really glad it worked for you so far, I like the idea of planning the whole week ahead! I’m the type who loves goals lmao

Thank you!!

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I totally get it, it really is half the battle :sob: I got myself into a really great routine and I’m nervous to change it because I know it takes time to reform those habits again, but I know I won’t just wake up one day and magically know Japanese via osmosis so I gotta knuckle down and do the work :muscle:


Gotta say I agree with the replies and I like that they are encouraging.
Try to keep the WK/SRS ticking over and see how you add other ways of learning as you go.
And I would add “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” and don’t be too hard on yourself.


I like that! I’m a big fan of ‘be confident but rubbish’ when I’m talking to my coworkers, 9/10 I can get myself understood and when I don’t, well, it’s ok :sweat_smile: I’ll get em next time


I’m so glad to hear that! :grin:

Totally get it- when I started my new job last year, it was super rough getting into the habit of studying again. It really does take a long time (and sometimes you have to change those habits depending on how you feel/what you’re actually getting done), but definitely worth it after the initial toughness!

Haha, I’m in the same boat and totally do the same thing. Free native listening practice is always helpful (though topic of conversations are rarely very exciting :joy:)
Oh good- a smaller change like that would be easier to keep up!

Tbh, sometimes batch cooking does get boring, but it’s been such a timesaver. Plus, on the days I really don’t want to eat the same things, ubereats or demaecan is great!

Nice! I didn’t think having a journal would be as helpful as it’s been, but it’s really nice to have a check list of sorts and making it look pretty is also rather fun, haha.

Good luck! I hope it all works out well~! :blush:


It sounds like you could study for a few minutes a day and just try to integrate what you’re seeing into your daily conversations?

I’m pretty busy for much of the year too. The most important thing, in my experience, is just to not get missing a day or two get to you. That’s when it’s most tempting to give up, but you’re still far from having lost everything you’ve worked for.


I sometimes run a really busy schedule and use a combination of everything you mentioned to keep studying (even biking to work :slight_smile: ). I generally have 4 really short sessions each day during busy times:

First thing in the morning
Right when I get home
Right before bed

It’s nice for me because having to drop one or even two sessions for whatever reason isn’t the end of the world. Running late? No morning session. Lunchtime meeting? No lunch session. Getting home late? You get the idea. I just make sure to never miss a day. It always starts as just one day…

I’d say the most important thing if you’re looking to consistently study is to make it a habit rather than a chore. I no longer have troubles finding time for Japanese when I’m busy because it’s just a part of my daily life - it’s something that contributes to me being busy rather than something that consumes free time. If you are dedicated to studying I’m sure you can achieve the same.

Good luck, I hope you can find a schedule that works for you! :blush:


(Just a random thought that won’t really contribute but oh well)
These types of stories always make me a little melancholic. To each their own but I find it sad that modern times have the corporative world consuming most of an adult’s life. Who cares about taking care of themselves / doing things they like / resting / family and friends?! Absolute nonsensical things, silly me questioning it. :rofl:


though topic of conversations are rarely very exciting :joy:

This is so true, I don’t think I’ve heard one bit of juicy anything since I started working in an office, everyone is talking about the papercutter or whatever all the time lmao

Thank everything for demaecan!! I’m inaka so they are my lifeline to good food when I’m being lazy!

Thank you for your support and kind words!! Let’s do out best!!

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Thank you! At my current position I have a lot of opportunity to pester my coworkers, so usually when I cement a new bit of grammar or something I’ll start a conversation so I can use it (which really helps it stick) but I’m not really sure what the dynamic will be like in the new place!
Maybe I’m over thinking it, I’m sure they don’t all sit in complete silence all day :sweat_smile:

I completely agree!! It’s too easy to let yourself slip, but I promised myself I was gonna do what I need to do this time and the only way to do that is through not giving up!


Papercutter? scissors? or Katana?

Thank you for explaining your routine!! I like the way you split it up, I think I tend to associate ‘studying after work’ with sitting down uninterrupted for a few hours, which after a long day is really hard… so breaking it up into two is a great idea!

Thank you for your support!! I’ll do my best!!

Sorry if the translation was weird, I actually don’t know what I’d call it in English (native speaker just an idiot) but 裁断機 is what I meant! The big cutt-y things with the knife looking thing on it, we always have problems with ours so it’s a good chunk of office drama

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I was being tongue in cheek,
but here in US its called “paper guillotine”裁断機&lang=english#a

JPDB also show it as paper guillotine. Just for those curious.

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These types of stories always make me a little melancholic. To each their own but I find it sad that modern times have the corporative world consuming most of an adult’s life. Who cares about taking care of themselves / doing things they like / resting / family and friends?!

@ResFort If I think about it too much, I’ll cry :face_holding_back_tears:

I was being tongue in cheek,
but here in US its called “paper guillotine”

@Appleslicer93 European here, definitely never heard paper guillotine but that might just be me and not actually a linguistic difference :rofl: Guilotine gives me very different vibes