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Dec 22, 2010

Working Small, Getting Started

Starting is the most difficult part of doing anything - whether it be learning a second language or washing the dishes – getting the energy to do that first review or wash that first dish is more difficult than continuing to work once you've begun to move. Because it's so hard to get started, one of the best things you can do in your learning or work is to never stop. Stay connected. Always be in contact with Japanese so that you've never stopped and you'll never have to start again – all you're doing is changing from one task to another.

When it comes to starting there is always something there as a roadblock. You start thinking about beginning your Japanese studies and suddenly you've got to check your email, go browse a forum, or get started on tidying up your desk – anything to stop you from actually getting started. The best way to handle this is to simply refuse to be distracted, set a time to get started on Japanese (or any task really) and then get started when you said you would. No delaying, no excuses. Making excuses will only stop you from doing the things you want to do.

Another thing you can do is to break a task into small, manageable bits. Sometimes opening Anki and seeing a bunch of reviews waiting can be daunting and make you want to avoid working at all, but just set an easy number of cards to review and then stop. I typically do a set of twenty-five reviews per hour on my main Anki deck and by doing so I complete my reviews every day. So if you're unable to start because there's just so much to do, then break it into something smaller and focus only on completing that one piece – then go back and find another small piece and repeat until you're finished. You don't have to learn Japanese all at once and you don't have to do all of your reviews at once either. Go slow, work small, get things done.

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  1. The longest journey starts with a single step - or something like that.

  2. Breaking a task into small managable bits is good, I do that with drawing.

  3. I always have the biggest problem starting things. It takes me two hours to work myself up to do something that takes an hour. A real waste of time.