Alongside pandagator's strangely resonant common Chinese words list (see previous post), another blogger Matt, stuck a harmonic with his comment on subconcious development(specifically the need to give the brain a little simmering time).
Matt was reffering to his martial arts in the second part of this post, however I find a similar effect with my Chinese learning.
I manage to do something at least everyday, towards learning Mandarin. Sometimes if I have been pushing it though I can't take anymore of a certain aspect. Often I switch, maybe just spend a few days concentrating on one aspect that doesn't seem too hard or reading around the subject in a general way.
These periods usually coincide with a night or two of very heavy dreams, then when I return to what I was doing before, I find I have made significant progress by 'doing nothing'.