Time Budget: Easy to Drop

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A while ago, I talked about the idea of budgeting time like I do money–and I promised to let you know how it went.

In short, it flopped in record time.

Time is actually not like money at all. When we spend money, we know it–our purchase or bill is going to show up on our bank statement, and we have a chance to record it. Time, on the other hand, continues to go by no matter how frugal you are.

For example, whenever I sat down to work on my time budget, I was spending time, even though I was trying to save my time. All of my other activities counted, too–meaning that if I did anything, I’d have to record it. Actually, even if I did nothing, I had to record it.

It was also startling how quickly I would run out of the time set aside for relaxing and enjoying life, or with my family. Knowing that I had used it all up for the week and had to spend the rest working didn’t encourage me–it just meant that I only had more work to look forward to.

Even if I wanted to rearrange my budget mid-week in order to work around unexpected events, that just took more time and effort–and drained my attention away from the very things I wanted to make room for.

There’s probably a strategy out there that will work even for someone as easily-distracted as me. But, it looks like a time budget is not the right path.

Any suggestions for the next method I might try? I’m open to suggestions, and I’ll mention you next time if I use yours. Thanks in advance!

367 Kanji Later… (Review of 97-day Kanji Challenge)

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Anki StatsIn a previous post, I talked about the 97-day Kanji Challenge. Long story short, I’ve found it to be quite challenging indeed.

It’s now been over 50 days since I got started on that–well over half the amount of time that NihongoShark suggested. According to the card type breakdown (see the pie chart at the bottom of the image), I’ve looked at about 367 kanji at the time of writing. The total goal, by the way, is 2200. I’m not even close to being halfway done!

But you know what? I wanted to be a little discouraged at first. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is still an incredibly effective way to learn. Because of Anki’s system, I’m still reviewing each one as I go, and should be able to remember most of those 367 with some effort. On the other hand, when studying Genki in college, I only learned 317 kanji–and I often forgot them when the quiz was over!

This means that I’m learning more kanji, more effectively, in the last two months than I did in the previous two years. That really is a big improvement!

If I keep going at this same rate, it’ll probably take me about one year in total to get to that magic 2200 number. But, you can also see that I haven’t lived up to one expectation: study every single day. I was honestly intimidated by the amount there was to do. Now that I’m looking at it in this new light–that is, that I can do less than the suggested 20 each day and still learn a ton of new information–I might be encouraged to get at this every single day. That would help my pace a lot.

In the end, the 97-day Kanji Challenge is probably too much to expect for any sane human being. Sure, we can probably do 20 a day for a week or so, but that pace will burn most people out really fast. However, you can still use the same principle, and just do 5 or 10 new ones each day. It’s better to keep a steady pace than to run yourself into the ground.

Still, the principles behind the challenge–using the deck suggested, choosing your own stories to remember each one, and reviewing every day–work wonders, and I can’t suggest those enough. If you really want to learn all the kanji, I would try a 200 or 300 day challenge instead.

Time Management Idea: Time Budget

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Have you ever said to yourself that you wish there was more time in the day? In the week, month, or even year?

I catch myself doing it all the time. You’d think that I would know better–after all, I’ve made do with less money than most people think they have, and come out ahead regardless. But time and money are two different things, and I looked at time as much harder to manage.

But why should it be? Both time and money are resources that we get more of, but that we have to use wisely. And both can be expressed in numbers. There are 168 hours in a week, and I typically sleep about 56 and work 40. That still leaves 72 hours–the equivalent of three entire days every week!

As with many other ideas I feature on this blog, I’m only just starting to try it. I’m far from the first person to come up with this, of course, so there is evidence that it works, but I want to try it for myself. So far I’ve done it for the second half of this week, and found that I had a surprising amount of hours for things I never thought I’d have time to do. This blog, for example, was on the list, and I had room to give it two hours, but it really hasn’t even needed one so far.

What’s your time management trick? Think the budget is worth trying?

Returning Again

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As mentioned in my last post, a lot has been going on. Add in that I moved in with my fiance a week ago, and that I’m about to start a real job next week, and that adds up to being really, terribly, ridiculously busy.

That said, that is still no excuse to not write any blog posts for nearly a month, after declaring this as the end-all be-all beast of a website for me. I haven’t exactly done much to make people think I’ll keep that promise over the years, and this isn’t helping. All I can do now is apologize and get back on the ball.

It might be easier with a new time management trick I’m trying–but I’ll talk about that next time.