I ran across something a few months ago that I'm hating myself for not seeing years ago. The guys over at Tofugu wrote a piece on "The 5 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Learning Kanji". It's a real eye opener and well, I'm only going to summarize here, but I recommend you check out the article for yourself.
|That silly guy from Tofugu.com|
Failure #1: Worrying about stroke count. If you worry too much about separating different stroke count kanji in your head, you're wasting your time. Stroke order, though, is important.
Failure #2: Ignoring the kanji radicals. Although sometimes radicals connect to form completely unrelated meanings, you can usually grasp the general meaning without knowing the kanji. Also, it helps to make up mnemonics.
Failure #3: Rote kanji memorization. Don't write the same kanji down the side of the page and expect to be able to use said kanji. Alternate between a whole page of different kanji and try to say each one. Avoid auto-piloting.
Failure #4: Learning kanji like Japanese children. Young Japanese kids learn kanji with the easiest meaning first. You should be learning kanji that's easiest to write first. Duh!
Failure #5: Drum roll please... not using the free internet tools available to learn kanji. I suggest Read The Kanji.
Ta Da! Now, go check out the article and learn kanji the correct way!