Tips for making a study log and keeping motivation?

First time poster here. I find that lately I’ve been losing a bit of my motivation and determination to continue studying Japanese. It’s not that I’ve lost interest. I think I’ve just become a little tired of maintaining the grind.

I’ve had a hard time focusing on what to work on and getting though my tasks every day. I thought a study log of some sort might help me to actually see my progress every day and structure what I learn better. Does anyone have any tips for creating a japanese study log? Like do you do it physically in a notebook or use some sort of software to create yours? I know a lot of people post their study log in the forums, but I’m not looking to go that route. If you can show examples of your study logs that would be much appreciated as well. :slight_smile:


Would this thread help perhaps? :slight_smile:

I don’t have a physical study log, but I do write quite a bit - example sentences from a textbook, interesting sentences from books and news articles, etc.

Personally, I get overwhelmed with keeping a proper log and I never look back at at. I just have tons of messy notes over years of lessons… but!
I found that a simple tracking system helped me stay motivated when I was learning French and I could easily see where I needed to shift my focus.

You can create a monthly grid with 5 categories: listening, speaking, reading, writing and grammar. You could even have pronunciation and kanji if you feel that speaking and reading are too challenging for your level.

At the end of each day, reflect back on what you did during your studies and tick or dot anything that you did. With time you will see what you need to work on to have a more ‘balanced’ study session. If you see that you focused quite a bit on kanji and listening but did no reading or speaking, you can search for other resources to really deepen your studies. Or if you feel courageous, try the weakest skill.


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Thank you, I’ll try posting in that thread and see what comes of it.

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Oooh that’s an interesting idea. I’ve just made an excel spreadsheet where I can just color in the cell for each category for each day of the month. It’s a very low pressure way of doing things where I can keep track of them. If I get more ambitious maybe I can put the number of minutes spent doing each one in the cell and have them add up for amount of study time per day. I don’t think I could actually pay attention enough to track the amount of time though lol. Thank you for the suggestion!

I used to have a notebook for French words, but honestly it was more there so I would have something to write words in because I felt writing helped me remember better. I almost never reviewed the words inside.

You might want to try searching ‘study log’ on WK and seeing what sorts of logs other people have been keeping. Maybe you’ll find something you like!

Personally, however, I would try to set small, manageable, exciting goals that can be accomplished in the short term. I would also try to gear all these mini-goals towards a focused overall objective, like being able to write a particular type of sentence or knowing a certain set of words. That way, you might find new purpose in what you’re doing, and also feel like you’re making progress faster. This is just how I would approach things however, and might not suit your preferences.

I don’t think I have ever noted that down.

You will have to use your better judgement with your tracking. Quantity =/= quality. Of course, the opposite is true too!

I often have the radio on all day as a soft background noise. It’s wonderful for passive learning when I want to absorb information but not analyse it.

Then there were times when I spent hours working on exercises to understand some foreign concept… like conjunctions in the subjunctive :sweat_smile:

All in all, do whatever is best for you. Keep the goal in mind and adjust as you go.

I wouldn’t say that I log my studies and progress, although important things, such as patterns, key grammar and glossary list I enter as tables, picture and notes into Microsoft OneNote. I recently started document my WK problem items as well for more focused studies on them.

Why OneNote? Well, mainly because I always have access to it, whether I’m at home, in the office or on the road and it easily handles both pictures, pdfs and tables, all in one.

With it I can always double check a pattern or key items when I have some time to spare or just want to refresh if it ought to be a transitive or intransitive verb in the vocab, for example. After all, the main goal is that whatever is written into my OneNote shall be etched into my memory, sooner or later.

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I absolutely have tips for making a study log and maintaining motivation, although it may not work as well for you as it does for me. Hopefully there will be something in here that speaks to you though. So, here’s what I do.

I pay myself 50 yen an hour. :joy: The money that I earn studying is dedicated to any frivolous Japanese language related thing I want. I guess I’m a giant nerd, because for me that mostly means either very expensive illustrated children’s dictionaries, or novels I want to read that are way beyond my level, or really cute notebooks off Japanese amazon. I also buy manga, short story readers for Japanese school children, and cute bookmarks. At some point I’ll probably use it to buy DVDs of all my favorite anime. Anyway, you get the point.

I keep track in an excel sheet with these columns: date, start time, stop time, total time (in six minute increments, which make nice round numbers, .1 per six minutes), optional: comments on what I studied, pages read (this one is nice so you can go back later and see how much faster you’re getting), or minutes watched.

To keep track of the time, I usually just make a screenshot of the lock page of my phone, which features the time in large numbers, then later or at the end of the day I transfer my numbers.

The reason this works for me is that the reward reflects the core motivation I have for studying Japanese. I just really want to be able to read a Japanese novel in Japanese, or understand an anime without subtitles. Fifty yen an hour isn’t a lot, but I guess I’m so motivated to work for it because it brings me closer to something I want on a gut level (stacks of books), rather than something that I want on an intellectual level (understanding Japanese grammar).


In my experience, once upon a time, I thought a log would help me but then all it did was remind me of all the things I was forgetting and it would discourage me more than anything. I also spent too much time with the log itself.

I think what motivates me more than anything is having a variety of things to do so I’m never really “bored.” Wanikani is just one piece of the puzzle. Some days I study by practicing karaoke, reading manga, watching anime or booking a few conversation lessons each week.

I’m also getting better at just accepting/getting things wrong in WK reviews and moving on as having my apprentice pile re-balloon with old words can get demotivating. There are some words that just…keep…coming…back and for some reason I keep forgetting them. I used to get super mad/frustrated but as your level gets higher and your review piles get larger you just need to forge on ahead, throw an “n” in the answer if you can’t recall it and try to remember it next time haha.

Good luck in your studies!

I don’t know if this will help or not, as I’m just starting out myself (after a long break), but I got myself a daily journal/planner for next year (dated pages for every day) and plan on using that as a study log and study notebook. It’s got a few checkboxes at the top of every page I’ll use for daily goals, and the rest is up to me. One of the checkboxes will be for WK, ideally I want to go through 10-20 lessons per day, but at the very least do a few reviews every day. The rest of the page will be writing practice (I find that writing down kanji helps me remembering them), notes from Japanese classes and study books, and eventually also just journal-type entries, but in Japanese.

To me it’s important that there’s a page for every day, with the date, because I want to do something every day (even if some days I only have time to listen to one Japanese song and do 3 WK reviews, it’s something), and I’ve found with undated notebooks/journals I keep skipping days more often than not. I also want to stay flexible. As motivated as I might be right now, I won’t be able to keep up with big daily goals for WK for example, and once the reviews start piling up, I’ll lose my motivation and eventually might abandon WK. So no fixed goals like “WK level X by August” or other deadlines yet, instead I’ll keep a list of milestones I’ve achieved. Just low-pressure language learnig for fun, which will hopefully keep me motivated enough without getting super stressed :slight_smile:

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I kept a paper log for a while. Time was not my preferred way of tracking because some time is more valuable than others.

I kept a reading log with type of material (manga, short story/book, textbook level), and number of pages - mostly noted material type so I wasn’t comparing 6 pages of manga with 1 page of a book.

I also looked ahead for 1 week at a time to set specific daily goals (e.g. read chapter lesson on Monday, complete exercise section A on Tuesday, not textbook Wednesday because I have other plans, Exercise section B on Thursday… WK reviews daily, reading something daily) based on how I expected that week to go (e.g. busy week at work, maybe not planning to finish a textbook chapter, or will spread over 2 weeks).

Once I was in a routine, I found the log falling by the wayside (happens to me a lot when it’s writing things down), but it got me into the routine of thinking about what I planned to do for the week and following through, even if I didn’t go through and tick off my checkboxes.

I can’t offer any advice re: study logs (I just rely on the WK SRS for the most part) but I do have some strong opinions regarding motivation. I think time of day and making it a habit are important. I posted this reply regarding motivation some time ago: Should I just restart? - #12 by Rrwrex

As simple as it sounds, all it takes is making it a habit to DO YOUR REVIEWS EVERY DAY. :slight_smile:

I’m one of those people with a public study log in the forum, so I don’t know how relevant my advice is for you, haha, but I’ll try anyway :sweat_smile:

My biggest tip is to write about things that are interesting to you during your studies. I have a whole section in my log where I just write about fun encounters with Japanese outside of active studying, because I do a lot of passive immersion. So I write about moments where I could understand something new or unexpected to me, or moments where I encountered a WK word on twitter or in a wrestling promo, that sort of thing.

I doubt this information is relevant to the interests of many others on this forum (though I try to include enough context that it at least makes sense), so it’s mostly just there for me, but I find it really helpful to look back at these posts and see what I’ve accomplished in the time that I’ve been studying. It also helps me synthesize my knowledge and remember things better if I write about them.

I also don’t keep a daily or weekly log, and instead post updates tied to my WK progress. So I’ll publish a new log entry whenever I level up (roughly once every two weeks). I realized pretty early on that making these posts had become sort of a reward for leveling up for me, so I do them partially as an incentive to keep going. I’ll add to the post draft slowly over the course of a couple weeks, and there are always new and exciting things I want to share, but I have to level up if I want to share them!

I think the big thing with language learning is you have to find a way to let the small victories sustain you. You have to find ways to enjoy the hard, slow beginning, where it feels like you’re putting in so much work and not getting substantially closer to reaching your actual real goals.

I personally haven’t had much luck with to-do lists helping much with motivation. I also keep one every day for language learning tasks, though it’s in a physical planner and not online anywhere. Sometimes keeping a to-do list helps me complete an individual task that I otherwise might’ve been lazy about (if I checked all of the other boxes but hadn’t done any reading that day, for example, it might motivate me to read at least one page of manga so that I could check every single box), but if I didn’t genuinely really enjoy the process of language learning itself, I doubt the to-do list would be enough to change that. My study log has been much better motivation for me.

You can look at my study log and see for yourself what the layout of it looks like, haha, but the main sections I have in it are:

  • Section at the beginning where I briefly talk about what the WK level and the past two weeks were like for me
  • Section on fun encounters with Japanese outside of WK
  • Section on the lesson(s) I worked on in my textbook, Minna no Nihongo, over the past couple weeks
  • Section on reading/active immersion
  • Section on any new resources I discovered, sometimes with a follow-up section on new WK scripts
  • And finally, a section at the very end where I talk about my plans for the next level, and sometimes talk about something that is beyond my ability right now, but which I would like to revisit in the future

I’ve experimented with tracking the time I spend on my studies and that sort of thing, and it was helpful to do it a few times just to get a ballpark estimate, but ultimately tracking the time was itself a waste of time, so I forced myself to quit doing it :sweat_smile:.

I did work to establish a daily routine pretty early on with both WK and my textbook (my study log details both of these lol), and I have a routine with reading currently because I’ve been following along with the absolute beginners book club here.

Having routines definitely helps me accomplish my tasks every day, especially when I’m trying to balance so many types of studying at once. But having the study log really helps keep me accountable because I try to report on all of the different things I’ve been working on, and I feel guilty if I haven’t been reading anything, for example.

I also like my log being public on the forum because occasionally people will reply to my posts and talk about some of the things I mentioned, or offer me advice, or help with some of the Japanese questions I had, or just post general encouragement. I think staying connected to a community of language learners really helps keep me motivated, too, because I want to succeed so that I won’t let down the people who have been following my journey.


I’ve taken some of these suggestions into consideration. My husband joked today that he’d give me a foot rub if I finished studying the genki chapter I was on. Me, being easy to please, was like oh heck yeah! He’s now agreed to give me a foot rub at the end of every week I can get all my boxes checked for each day. :joy: That may sound incredibly silly, but it’s a small reward to look forward to every week.

I really like the idea to set aside money for the amount of time you study, to be used towards japanese related content, as well. There are many games I still would like to have whether I can read them yet or not. Since I can’t keep up with time I may do it based on the number of boxes I’ve checked off each day.


Thankfully, I don’t have an issue with doing my reviews here. Matter of fact my wanikani reviews are the only thing I’ve managed almost every single day. It can really get old after awhile though with SRS sites. I nearly quit kitsune altogether at one point. It’s not that it wasn’t helpful, I was just bored of the grind it came with.

Nice! I love it. :blush: