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The AJATT 7-Step Victory Formula

0. Have no good intentions whatsoever. Just pick a good direction. No intentions.
1. Start off on the wrong foot.
2. Set your quitting time ahead of time (timeboxing)
3. Do a bad job. Quick. Dirty. Ugly.
4. Do only half the job (or less), using only what tools are immediately available.
5. Stop and switch games at quitting time, before quitting time or as soon as you get bored, whichever comes first.
6. Get more, better tools.
7. Return to step (1)

  12 comments for “The AJATT 7-Step Victory Formula

  1. October 28, 2011 at 17:30

    Awesome. I need to be less of a perfectionist.

  2. October 28, 2011 at 17:51

    I heartily agree with number 2. I feel like a lot of time is wasted on trying to learn how to do things the “right” way, and not just simply starting with whatever you can find, whether you think it’s good or not. You can quit doing that thing at any time, so you might as well start it!


  3. Rachel
    October 29, 2011 at 00:04

    Totally trying to use this kind of method while studying for law school finals.  I refuse to be a stressed out perfectionist!
    Quick question for anyone– I finished RTK last January and then pretty much stopped doing reps for several months. I was half thinking of getting back into it, but I’m up to 1721 due…. Should I work through them or just start over? Thanks!

    • ブライアン
      October 30, 2011 at 11:05

      I’m in a similar position for kanji (though I’ve gotten my backlog back down to 900 or so.)
      I would say work through it.  Small timeboxes, 5 minutes or so.  Expect a fairly high failure rate on your cards — don’t beat yourself up over it.  I don’t think going back through RTK from the start is necessary, but it’s worthwhile to have the book around for looking up primitives you’ve forgotten.  (Also, as insurmountable as that stack may seem, you’re undoubtedly at the point that each day’s due cards are around 10 or less… you can do 10+ cards a day, right?)

      • October 31, 2011 at 04:19

        After completing RTK, did you (and Rachel… and, anyone else who has finished RTK for that matter) move on to words and sentences? I’m asking because I also have a post RTK problem.

        You see, I’ve been answering more and more cards wrong. Not because I’m forgetting kanji, it’s because I’m learning new meanings for kanji. For example, this morning while working on my RTK deck, I came across “踊”, which I answered as “dance”, but in RTK, the keyword assigned is “jump”.
        Does this mean that I should try harder to remember the right Heisig keywords, or does it mean I’ve started to outgrow my RTK deck and should consider dropping it?

        • ブライアン
          October 31, 2011 at 05:51

          I did, and that’s the main reason my RTK deck got in that state in the first place! orz
          But yes, despite being only ~1100 sentences in, I’ve noticed the same issue with multiple meanings.  I’m not entirely sure what to do in response, but here’s a rough idea:
          The goal of RTK is to a) learn how to write the kanji and b) learn a meaning to keep it distinct from similar-looking kanji.  Once you have several sentences with that character, (b) becomes somewhat irrelevant.  (And production cards, in theory, can eliminate the need for (a), but I haven’t used them long enough to say for sure.)  I wouldn’t get too caught up on the Heisig meanings, we’re here to learn Japanese, not Heisig語.  (FWIW, though, it’s easier to maintain going keyword -> character than character -> keyword.)  If a particular character is being a pain, suspend it, and you can always bring it back if you need to brush up on it.  (There will be *some* useful cards in your deck though, so I don’t think a full-scale drop/wipe is a good idea…)

          • October 31, 2011 at 07:52

            Thanks for the advice! My deck is currently in a kanji –> keyword state, but seeing how I’m not trying to learn the keywords anymore, probably would be best to switch it all around. Although it may not be worth the trouble… too bad Surusu didn’t have a “Flip All” button for decks… OTL
            If not, I’ll probably just start weeding out those trouble some cards. Thanks again!

        • SomeCallMeChris
          November 1, 2011 at 03:02

          This is why at the beginning of the book Heisig explains that you should only test yourself on keyword -> kanji, not vice versa. At least once you start real reading, get rid of the cards going the wrong direction, they are doing nothing but creating confusion.

          • November 1, 2011 at 07:57

            Thank you for pointing that out!

            Originally, I had my cards that way, but I wanted to focus more on reading than writing, so I flipped them. I still think it was the right thing to do at the time, but now having completed RTK, I really need to do something about this… I may have to suck it up and flip my cards one by one… all 2042 of them… >.<

  4. Valerie
    October 29, 2011 at 04:09

    Hey Khatz, I’ve actually been kinda wondering… were you like the rest of us once too? Trying to learn Japanese and failing and whining about it and getting depressed over your lack of skillz, and trying to be the perfect AJATTer and then messing up sometimes and beating yourself up about it, etc.?
    It’s just that I’ve always felt like you can always so perfectly capture what it is that most of us are feeling, when we get discouraged about learning Japanese.  It’s like you know what it feels like to be a perfectionist whiney mcwhinerpants all too well yourself. 
    Was there a Khatzumoto BEFORE he mastered AJATT, who really wanted to learn Japanese the awesome non-traditional way but kept trying and failing and feeling defeated about it? I’m just wondering…because…HOW ELSE CAN YOU UNDERSTAND US SO DAMN WELL?

    • October 30, 2011 at 02:15

      In a summary from many articles, from what I remember, before learning Japanese, Khatz was trying to learn Cantonese, and at that point, he was whining about it, getting depressed, trying to be a perfectionist, and beating himself up over it. But then, he came across Japanese, and just sort of played with it. It wasn’t really as if he was trying to learn for the sake of learning, he was learning because he was having fun.

      I think for the most part, Khatz during his Japanese journey wasn’t “like the rest of us”, but probably only because he had that crappy experience beforehand with Cantonese.

      I may have gotten my facts wrong, but at least as a start, I hope this helps! 🙂

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