I'm Learning Japanese

I really think so

Tools for building consistency

Posted by drivers99 on December 19, 2011

It’s been about 2.75 years since I ran into AJATT and this phase of learning Japanese. Unfortunately I don’t have that much to show for it, and I am nowhere close to where I thought I would be by now. (Fortunately, no one is forcing me to learn this language by a certain time, so I try not to feel too guilty about it.) My biggest problem has been a lack of consistency, until recently. Lately I’ve been consistently working on my goals, Japanese and otherwise. So, I thought I’d share a few tools that I’m using to help keep me consistent.

The first tool I started using is called a “control journal” which is a concept I ran into many years ago from a website for housewives called FlyLady.net. Another name for it is “daily checklist.” Here’s how I set it up:

  • Download OpenOffice.org if you don’t already have a spreadsheet program like Excel. OpenOffice is free software.
  • Create a new spreadsheet. I keep mine in a DropBox folder so that I don’t have to worry about losing it. I call mine “control.ods”. ODS is the file format for OpenOffice spreadsheets.
  • Go to cell B2 and then select Windows->Freeze. This makes is so that you can always see row 1 and column A.
  • Across the top you’re going to put the date. Use one column per day.
  • In column A, down the left side of the spreadsheet, you’re going to put whatever you want to do each day. Organize it however you like, and put down anything you want to make sure you do every day.
  • Each day, in the grid, check off each item as they get done.

Every morning, I boot up my computer and use the checklist as a way to organize my day and get the same things done. Right now, for example, I am re-doing Remember the Kanji by way of Kendo’s Lazy Kanji + Mod which makes doing RTK really easy and fun. (You can try it too by downloading the “Lazi Kanji Mod v2” deck from Anki shared decks. There are a few mistakes in it but if you’re paying attention you can edit the cards as you go.)

The second tool I use is a new website made by Tynan called TaskSmash. The way I use TaskSmash is as a supplement to the control journal. I list things here that are just a goal for today, not something that I’m already doing every day. (Although there is a lot of overlap. For my major goals like learning Japanese, finding a job, game programming, or exercise I still usually have something in both tools.) TaskSmash lets you make a to-do list at the beginning of the day or the previous night. You ask yourself, what 2-6 tasks should I do today (or tomorrow) to make it a good day (to be satisfied with what I got done towards reaching my goals). Secondly, it keeps track of how many days in a row you were able to complete your goals for the day. I find this very motivating because I don’t want to break my winning streak. Thirdly, it lets you link up with your friends so you can keep track of each others’ progress and keep each other accountable. If you sign up, you really should find a friend or two to do it with you.

I’m sure you could duplicate either of these tools with paper, and if that works better for you you should do that.


2 Responses to “Tools for building consistency”

  1. Kanjiguy said

    Good post! I also use a spreadsheet in a similar way, but I found having it in google spreadsheets and opening chrome to be faster than openoffice. However it’s a great way to keep track of what you been doing and stay consistent!

    I also like the idea of tasksmash, but have the same problem I have with epicwin, that my day often keeps going after 12am so I have to move or reset tasks that it thinks I missed.

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