Remember before how I was all “I learned Japanese and held 3 jobs and was going full-time in college in a completely unrelated major”. Remember how I told you that?
Well, I’m sorry if I said it in a way to make you feel that you could you could learn Japanese “on the side” while going about business-as-usual. You can’t. It’s not like “I had XYZ going in my life, and Japanese on the side”. It’s more like “Japanese was my life, and but I also did the minimum necessary to handle XYZ”.
But it’s also not the case that I had infinite time and resources. I was taking university classes in an unrelated major. I did hold jobs. My budget was often lower than my IQ :). Which doesn’t say a lot, but there you go.
So, the point here is that despite whatever constraints there may be in your life, despite the fact that you may have a life and other commitments, you have to make Japanese the center of your life. This doesn’t mean that you don’t fulfill your other commitments (that is, if they absolutely must be fulfilled), but it does mean that everything else must subordinate to your study of Japanese. You don’t have time, you make it. Don’t wait until you “have” the time, because it’s not coming. The Time Fairy and her bucket of Magical Schedule-Opening Dust…it was all an elaborate conspiracy by your parents to placate you.
Now, even without the benefit of the Time Fairy, it isn’t as hard as it sounds. Just make a point to ask and answer questions like: “how can I make this bend to Japanese?”, “how can I do this in Japanese?”.
For example, one of my jobs involved sitting around and waiting for people to come and ask me questions (this was not an accident), so I put on my headphones, and listened to Japanese music while reading a Japanese book. Another job involved looking up programming documentation online, so I looked up the Japanese documents, and tried to make some code comments in Japanese, too. All these little things. Walking was another great time to learn.
My classes were about the only time I listened to non-Japanese dialogue for any extended period of time. And even then, I took my notes in Japanese (even if that just meant using kanji with Heisig meanings).
There’s a famous quote attributed Woody Allen, where he says something like 70% of winning is showing up. That’s true in learning Japanese, too. This isn’t the kind of showing up you to do a class, where you sit around bored into catatonia and listen to other students’ whining about how “kanji is hard”. No, the real way you “show up” to doing Japanese is by doing it all day; every day (all Japanese, all the time). Headphones on, book or computer in hand. Practicing, reading, writing, listening. Show up and you win. The more you show up, the faster you will win.
I would be lying if I told you I was perfect at applying these principles throughout my life. But I did apply them in learning Japanese. It’s with the confidence of that experience, that I’d like to share all this with you.
Look at your daily life. It has 24 hours, just like everyone else’s. There are bound to be times, places and activities you can Japanize. Find them ;).