I have discovered crack, and it is good.
I do crack whenever I have a moment. Well, a crack is actually a moment because the crack that I am using is cracks in time–little moments when I can do a little part of a dream: study a little Japanese, add a couple more sentences to my blog, look at the Circle of Fifths and wonder, what the heck!
“すきまの時間を活用する”：Use Cracks in Time
I didn’t even know I had a crack “problem” until I started to read Study Hacks by Ryuusuke Koyama (in Japanese). I didn’t even know the word すきま (crack, crevice, gap, opening) until I found this little pocket sized guide to how to more efficiently leverage your mind to learn what you want to learn. Basically, he says you should take advantage of any little moments available to learn and do what you want to learn. He makes two interesting points:
- Use the time you would normally be “doing nothing” to study.
- The short “crack time” creates a sort of nervousness that can lead to more effective studying.
Use the time you would normally be “doing nothing” to study/play
“Studying” has such a heavy feel to it, but part of what I’ve learned from using time limits is that “studying” is a game. Actually, maybe I’ve already known this and the times I’ve been most effective as a “student” has been when I’ve turned learning into a game. Somewhere along the line in some tweet by Khatz somewhere, he said, “Play it like Farmville.” I never played Farmville, but I got what he was saying–turn learning (insert what you are trying to learn) into a fun, somewhat repetitive game. Khatz explains in more detail in part of his series on timeboxing: “We need to cut up our work into pieces so tiny and so easy to do that we don’t even know or feel that we’re working any more. We need to turn our work into Farmville.”
Koyama says you should take advantage of time commuting to work, waiting time, etc to pull out your smart phone and check out your latest Evernote entries. (I’m still just playing around with this tool to capture notes for guitar scales, notes on Mangajin’s Japanese Through Comics, etc). You could also use Anki, Surusu, or any other SRS system. Or you could just pull out the fun book you are reading in your target language or subject.
You can do crack in the elevator, on the train, waiting for the train, while your children are up to mischief (oh how lovely! you’ve unspooled the toilet paper onto the floor–again!), etc.
“Crack time” creates a sort of nervousness that can lead to more effective studying
Koyama points out that short periods of study have a powerful little benefit. 緊張感。A feeling of nervousness. You set a timer for four minutes and try to get started on the paragraph. You get started and the timer begins to run out and you try to finish and get one more idea down on the page. Little chunks of time turn can turn everything you are trying to attempt into a little game.
And it works best when it feels like a game. If it starts feeling like work, play a new game or just space out.
I know there are going to be a lot of articles and promotions for how to achieve goals for the New Year. But just sit back, relax, and do crack.