If I may, I think there are a couple of things at play here. As an aside, kudos for asking about discipline and not motivation! I reduce sticking with learning things like this to roughly two things. It’s either because you have to (ex: school, if you don’t want to fail, kind of like in your Japanese class you mentioned) or because it is fun.
We’re not too different, what with the whole Japanese-in-college and life-decided-for-us-for-a-time thing. I always wanted to be fluent in Japanese, but, subtly, this was just the issue. It was a whimsical want.
After reflecting for a bit, I one day decided on fluency. Everything changed when the fire…was lit in my soul instead of under my pants.
If you decide on fluency, Japanese must become real life. One benefit of this, by the way, turns out to be that pressure plays a lesser part in the equation because most people don’t find they have to pressure themselves to do things they would otherwise normally do.
Colleague: So, Orphen, what are your hobbies?
Colleague: …wut? >.>
You’ve got your “why” figured out; sweet! So what do we do next? I’d blithely say all Japanese, all the time, but you’re clearly asking about how to integrate Japanese into a somewhat sporadic schedule.
Do you have a smartphone with an English operating system? Not anymore. That sucker’s in Japanese now. You check your phone to answer a text hours later, and the interface is partly incomprehensible, and you wonder, “why did I do this to myself again?” And then you think about your host family and friends.
Do you use a computer in English? Not anymore you don’t. There’s us, trying to figure out why we made such a powerful device harder to use, when we remember the people we’re looking forward to talking with in Japanese.
Favorite websites? Their Japanese versions, if any, are your new favorites.
Do you cook at home? Try this recipe on the stove:
- Live stream Japanese news; set aside
- Crack 4 eggs
- Nae nae
Do you use public transportation? Or maybe use the bathroom? (Same question in some places.) That’s a fair opportunity to read or listen to Japanese.
Thinking and inner dialog–rethink those thoughts and rephrase that dialog into Japanese as much as possible! Can’t think of how to say something? There’s some additional study material to learn or to revisit.
You and I both fall outside of the category of needing to learn Japanese, so the next best thing is to have fun to keep us going. Read what you like, watch what you like, listen to what you like, play what you like, etc., but in Japanese as much as possible.
There are running themes in this thread, examples of which I want to collate in a way that’s totally not confirmation bias.
Cheers, fellow wayfarer!