Learn kanji radicals first. Study them in order of stroke count, and associate them with mnemonic meanings.1
Learn kanji in order of increasing written complexity. Contrast this approach with how Japanese children learn: they learn kanji with simple meanings first, e.g. learning 曜 (weekday) before 勺 (ladle).2
Consider the 80/20 rule: Learn kanji on the jōyō kanji (commonly used kanji) list.3
For pronunciation, focus on being able to read words aloud in context. Don’t try to memorise all of the on and kun readings.4
- Jōyō kanji (2,136) – the official list of commonly used kanji.
- 1,026 kanji taught in primary school (kyōiku kanji, “education kanji”).
- 1,110 additional kanji taught in secondary school.
- Jinmeiyō kanji (863) – additional “name kanji”.