The system that worked for taking me through N3 last year, and up to N2 this year (we’ll see whether I actually pass, but I’ve been getting 70-80 percent on practice tests, so I’m around that level at any rate), was just having a set list of items to get to once a day. They usually included:
- Two JLPT Nihongo Sou-matome books (it divides its line into five books per level; I did one section in two at a time each day); replace with your preferred line of books
- Clearing out Wanikani’s review queue
- Clearing out iKnow’s review queue and trying to start ten new words on it unless I was feeling like that was too much.
- While going through the grammar and vocab books, and for anything else I encountered that seemed useful while reading/being out in the world in Japan, I entered it into a running Word Document so that I could search for them later and use it for review. I wound up with a ~40-page document during N3 prep and ~75 for N2. I still add to it when reviewing or reading. This sounds like a lot, but it’s hardly any extra work to take notes like this as part of grammar or vocab study time.
And that’s it. That system helped keep my study regular and upped my comprehension dramatically. As I finish off test-prep books, I replace that time with mock quizzes and tests, and have been building in more and more reading and listening time (comics, novels, TV shows, and grammar videos). For the last couple of months as I approach N2, I’ve shifted all entertainment time over into Japanese–I’ll mix English back in when the need to up my fluency is less urgent. I’ve made other small changes too like switching my phone to Japanese, etc. For context, I live in the country.
But you don’t need to do all that stuff at the bottom. The point is this: Have a list of things you’ll do once a day, every day. Guilt yourself about them if you haven’t gotten to them by the time you go to bed. The routine will stick. And as you transfer off of dedicated study material and into just consuming things in Japanese for fun, keep the same promises to yourself: Before the end of the day, I must watch at least one ________. I must read at least _________ pages. Have a routine you don’t have to think about, have a place to take notes (I like having a running Word Doc especially since I can cntrl+f and find my own explanations), and stick to it.
For resources, searching for translations from English into Japanese by native speakers via https://ejje.weblio.jp, reading Japanese grammar sites online, and Nihongo no Mori videos have all been big helps for clarifying small points outside of regular study.
I prefer iKnow to Anki because if I had to do all the maintenance Anki requires of its users, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get into a good vocab routine outside of the JLPT books. I’m paying instead, but to me the ease of planning is worth it. iKnow and WK are a pretty potent combo together. Anki’s totally fine if you’re okay being more active in setting up your own content though.
Edit – I also sometimes journal in Japanese, and in general daily life requires me to use it to regularly express my own thoughts (my speaking still lags faaaar behind my comprehension though, which I want to fix). If you’re not in Japan I would definitely try to build in either a writing or interaction resource of your own though (classes, a language exchange program, etc.). Vocab and grammar drilling are never going to stick anything half as well as actually having to use the item in context.
Edit edit – Oh, you’re just delving into resources other than WK. Get an elementary textbook (like … Genki, I guess; I recently asked if there were something better, but it’ll work), the corresponding workbook, and just apply the advice above about making it a set thing every day + take notes.