As my studies have progressed, I have found that immersion has been a very effective tool. Using Japanese is a very important supplement to active study. It can be difficult though. In many ways, it is so much easier to take the path of least resistance and do things in one’s native language, rather than struggle through with the language one is learning.
In addition to having Dailies of listening to Japanese and watching Anime in Japanese, I have found that Habits and Rewards are also effective tools. My own HabitRPG is set up such that my entire day is governed by it. If something is not an activity that is a Daily, a Todo, or a positive Habit, it is something that I have to pay for as a Reward. While in some ways, this might seem a bit kibishii, it really is quite effective in tipping the scales away from English in favor of Japanese.
The basic theory is that using Japanese gives me bonuses via positive Habits, and I have to pay to use English using Rewards. I started this with video games, but I have extended this to other areas as well. I can play a game for a half of an hour in Japanese for 5 Gold pieces, and I can get one to three “pluses” under my positive Habit of “extra Japanese,” depending on how much Japanese I had to use in the game. In a role-playing game, such as Dragonquest IX, I can get 3 “pluses” if I have to get through a long plot line or a talk to a lot of people in a town to find out what to do next. I only get one if I spend the entire time fighting monsters in a dungeon, and I get two “pluses” for anything in between. To play a game in English, it costs me 30 Gold pieces to play for the same half of an hour, and there are no available rewards for doing so. So, I can play a game in English if I really want to, but…
I have extended this to many other areas. I now have to pay to watch any television or videos in English or with English subtitles (even if it is with my spouse, who is not studying Japanese), while at the same time having a Daily requiring a minimum amount of Japanese Anime watching, with positive Habit of extra Anime. I also have to pay to listen music in English or to talk or chat in English with my Nihongo senpai (who are also dear friends). I actually recently had to raise the price of talking in English with my Nihongo senpai because I got into some rather bad habits surrounding that.
In order for this to work well, I think it is important to keep the Habits and Rewards very specific, and decide what they really entail. For example, I first started with a negative Habit of unnecessary English, but that did not work at all. What is “unnecessary”? Creating costs for specific defined uses of English was far more effective, at least for me. The ability to create a combination of bonuses for Japanese and costs for English has really helped me to ganbaru in Japanese, much more than I would do otherwise.