Too Much to do, Too Little Time

This is me wondering how do I make enough time to learn Japanese alongside other hobbies.

I’m very very dedicated to getting better at drawing and animation, which are already huge time investments, however school & doing my WaniKani lessons alone, without regard for any other hobbies, usually take up all my time on weekdays.

I really don’t want to quit Japanese, but I also want to have more time for drawing & animation, and if I continue learning Japanese I’m also gonna need to start using that Genki textbook that’s been sitting on my desk for a while, as well as add on a bunch of new vocab lessons from it and any other source of Japanese text I find.

So basically, how in the world can I manage school, art, and Japanese? Or is this a lost cause, and one of them must go?

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this is a tough one, as in the beginning its really hard to make time. You do one but it seems counterproductive to the other. How the two merge with depend on how serious you are about learning Japanese. For example in my first 2 years I was “learning japanese” but I spent most of my time doing things in English. In the periods I was more serious I would spend more time studying and eventually was able to transition to Japanese versions of my hobbies. I’m about 50/50 now and still have to force it, but one way is to find ways to incorporate your hobbies into your language learning.

Games were the big one for me, so I played through Dragon Quest XI in Japanese and learned A LOT from that experience. It has compounding interest if you will when you start implementing it that way.

TLDR Find a way to mix the hobbies with your language learning and you’ll begin to have more time for the things you love while using the skills you learned.

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it is hard to manage time indeed.

Nowadays I do one batch of 130 reviews around 6 pm when I get home from work and one last for the day around 10 pm, besides wk in the meantime I do a pile of 60 reviews a day on bunpro and I also have to watch anime with japanese subtitles. So time flies really fast and I cant do much more than play on switch for 40 min and watch some usa tv show. And end of the day, all over again next day.

as soon as I hit lvl 50 on wk I will slow things down more here keeping apprentice below 80 (today is 90) and do more immersion. I dont want wk and bunpro to become a chore for me.

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Coincidentally, we have the same problem haha! My way of dealing with things so far has probably been similar to you; neglecting art to study Japanese more or neglecting Japanese to draw more. I plan on trying to find a way to incorporate both into one if I can and I would definitely recommend doing the same! If you’re able to, maybe do listening and speaking practice while drawing or animating. That way you would be continuing to hear Japanese and get practice while also being able to draw. If you do digital art, a big thing that you could do when you’re far enough in your Japanese studies would be to change your art app or program into Japanese to practice while you draw. Other than that, I would just say make time for a little of each hobby every day or week in an alternating time so you don’t have to juggle it all at once. If it becomes too difficult, then cut one hobby out for a week and see how much you miss it. If you seriously want to continue the hobby, then you could potentially even wait until you’re out of school with some extra free time to pick it up again. Sorry if this was really long-winded but I hope my advice helps somewhat. Good luck with your art/animation and Japanese studies! :))

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I absolutely feel for you. I majored in graphic design in college and minored in Japanese, and then transferred to another college to study animation at a school where they didn’t have a Japanese program. Post graduation I’m trying to balance working on my portfolio and keeping up with studying Japanese. It can feel absolutely overwhelming trying to improve when your time is limited.

In my last two years of college when I wasn’t taking Japanese classes anymore, I absolutely fell off the wagon and didn’t study at all for a solid year. I was really hesitant to use anything like Duolingo, but one of my friends encouraged me to give it a try, saying doing something was better than nothing. And honestly, just taking the ten minutes a day to run though vocab and review grammar was very helpful to keep it fresh. But I didn’t feel like I was significantly improving until I started doing wanikani last year since kanji is one of my weakest points.

This might differ for you, but when I have so much on my plate, using a resource where you can put minimal thought into figuring out what you need to study has been best. I take out my Genki 2 textbook, meaning to do a deep dive and then never touch it. Instead every day at a certain time in the evening, I run though my Duolingo lessons to keep up my streak to learn vocab, and then switch to Wanikani for kanji. I know I’ll have to get back into learning more advanced grammar and should probably start to review a grammar point a day or something.

You definitely don’t have to pick up Duolingo or anything like that, but having a small goal you can stick to, even just 15 minutes a day to study, has been helpful to me with so much going on. You might not make as much progress as you want to, but you’re a busy person and it’s okay to take it slow! Doing something small is better than doing nothing at all. You can do it!

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If school and WaniKani alone are taking up all of your free time, then I’d definitely dial back a little on WK. Even if all you’re doing is school and studying Japanese, you’ll want time to learn grammar and vocab on top of kanji.

I think the best strategy is to establish a very solid daily habit of studying Japanese every single day for a consistent amount of time (if you’re going to be doing more SRS on top of WK, this is especially important, because SRS is very punishing if you miss a day). This will help you plan other things around your studies, because you’ll already have your Japanese study time set aside, so you don’t have to feel guilty using your remaining time to do something else.

How much time you choose to sink into it daily is another question. With Japanese, there really aren’t any shortcuts. Learning Japanese is a long-term goal. You’ll need to put thousands of hours into this before you get anywhere close to fluency. If you’re okay with progressing slower, you can put less time into it each day, but just make sure that you keep your expectations in check for how fast you’ll progress with the language.

Honestly, I’m not exactly sure how to advise balancing other time-consuming hobbies with learning Japanese, because I have personally made the decision to set aside most of my other hobbies for at least two years, until I’m able to reach an intermediate level with Japanese. The only hobby I’ve really kept is continuing to follow pro wrestling, which is very time consuming but also gives me loads of inspiration and Japanese immersion haha.

I have done a few other things, like I did an October drawing challenge, and I did NaNoWriMo in November, while also continuing my Japanese studies, but that was honestly not sustainable for me, and if I’d tried to do that level of work year-round, I probably would’ve burned out on at least something. So if you do try to keep a pretty demanding schedule, make sure that you’re not doing too much.

You might find that you can’t actually balance doing all of these things at once. Sometimes, it’s possible to give up some hobbies, or switch to doing the same hobby in Japanese, which could free up a little more time. I stopped playing video games (for the most part) and have held off on watching a lot of shows because I’ve been putting that time into language learning instead. But I’m very fortunate because my main hobby prior to studying the language was already in Japanese, and my work schedule is light enough, I can put a fair amount of time into both of my main hobbies (studying Japanese and watching wrestling).

How much time a day do you think you could reasonably commit to learning Japanese? And how much are you putting into WK daily, and how long does it take you to level up? Maybe we could help you optimize the time that you do have a little better.

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Daily, I probably put about an hour into WaniKani, doing my reviews twice a day (when I wake up and when I get back from school), and each time I go to do my reviews I do 6 lessons, so I think it takes me about 2 weeks on average to level up, partly because I have such a backlog of vocab lessons to get through before I can get to the radical & kanji lessons of a new level. I typically spend 7 hours at school, 8 hours sleeping, 3 hours doing various shenanigans (commuting, eating meals, morning & nightly routines), 3-4 hours doing homework, an hour on WaniKani, and the remaining hour or two just kind of disappears into the aether.
I would like to spend 2 hours a day learning Japanese, 1 doing WaniKani lessons and 1 learning grammar (or perhaps just 30 minutes learning grammar, so 1.5 hours in total), but that would leave no time for drawing or animation, both of which I’d like to do for hours. Though, since school is ending soon, perhaps I can just grind grammar over the summer to make up for when school will start up again, since I’ll have an extra 7 hours? I’m not factoring the 3-4 hours of homework into that b/c I have an online class for the summer.
That was long-winded and I rambled a bunch, but hopefully the information is useful

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Do you mind if i ask what kind of school is that? I dont think ive met anyone besides perhaps medicine students, who really had to lose this much time on studying.
With school taking 12 hours every day + commute on top of it (which i guess is by car? otherwise you could be doing reviews there) and also losing hour or two on stuff you are not really aware, its basically impossible to fit in even one hobby properly, let alone multiple. I would probably try to at least get better idea of how im spending my time - theres nothing wrong with just chilling two hours every day with netflix or games, not everything has to be about productivity, but its good to be aware of it instead of thinking they disappear.

With very packed schedule, I would say biggest upside of SRS in general is that you can do few reviews here and there, in between lessons at school, during commute, waiting for food do be done, etc, so perhaps filling some empty spaces here and there could save you that extra half an hour you want. Also can i ask how many reviews per day you have? 1h a day sounds like a lot considering speed of 6 lessons per day and still being in the early levels. Not solution for everyone, but maybe sacrificing some accuracy to try to do reviews faster could also be an option (e.g. if i dont know in 10sec, just mark it incorrectly,check what it was and move on)?

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