How To Find Time For Chinese — Even When Your Days Are Packed!

Everyone finds it difficult to squeeze everything they need to do into 24 hours, right? Wrong. There are people who have effectively mastered the technique of prioritizing important tasks and eliminating time-wasting tasks. 

This frees them up for what is essential. Essentials are the four or five things you want to make time for. That could be learning Chinese, exercising, reading, or changing the world. You can be one of these people!

The Time Barrel

We’re reviewing one of Hacking Chinese’s articles today: The Time Barrel: How to find more time to study Chinese.

Did you read the Elementary Chinese article where we talked about if you can become fluent in Chinese in three months? Short answer, you can’t. Read the full article to find out why. Still, part of the answer exists in the time barrel.

The time barrel is a cup. This cup is your day. All 24 hours of your day. The big things that go into your cup are the things you can’t get rid of. You have a day job right? Yup, go ahead and pop that into your cup.

Fill Your Cup With All Of The Things You Have To Do Each Day.

Here are a few examples:

  • Working
  • Commute
  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Family time
  • Any unique obligations

Written them all down? Great. Let’s put these aside and think about the smaller elements of our day. The pebbles. These are the things that we want to do each day. How do we fit these in around the larger rocks in our schedule?

For example, most people have a morning routine. A pebble I dropped into my morning schedule was to take a morning walk. I wake up around 4:45 am. I get out of the house around 5:30 am. I combine my walks with flashcards and my Chinese apps

Using Apps To Study Chinese

There are plenty of strategies to build your Chinese language from the ground up, and apps should be used a supplementary method.

Because I’ve already learned Chinese I’m using a vocabulary app called Drops to brush up on new words and phrases. I only use this app for 5-10 minutes per day. But other apps are available for a variety of language levels.

But, remember, everyone is different. When is your peak learning time? Can you slot some time around then so you have the most productive study space? And what do you use to study? Have you prepared your flashcards?

Once you’ve got your study platform of choice, you can drop a couple of pebbles a day to keep your mind activated in 5-minute time slots.

How Can You Add Pebbles Around Your Rocks?

These tasks don’t have a specific time slot so we were able to shuffle them around and slot them into our days:

If you’re going to use an app, try to use one that has vocabulary ordered by frequency or most commonly-used characters. When I used Anki, I often reviewed the 500 most frequently occurring characters. That way, I absorbed the characters that I would see most on signs and in everyday life in China. 

How do you find time to fit learning Chinese into your hectic schedule? Comment below. And, if this helped you at all please share this article with a friend. 

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Kwadwo [QUĀ]
Kwadwo [QUĀ], creator of Elementary Chinese, helps expats in China learn the day-to-day Chinese they need – to communicate what they want. He lives in Tianjin, China. Follow him on, Instagram or YouTube to learn the kind of Mandarin you can actually use right away in everyday China life.
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