Here are the tips:
- Buy a wide rule notebook - I know, I hate them as well but especially when you first start with characters you need the extra room to write them.
- Get a language exchange partner - A language exchange partner is someone you help with english and they help you with their language. Some people will be so impressed with you wanting to learn their language that they would be willing to help you even if they don't need help.
- Use Flash Cards - Use Index Cards to make them. Put the character on one side and both the pinyin and english on the other side.
- Carry a little notebook with phrases - You can use this to study important phrases while you have 5 minutes waiting on line.
- Listen to Chinese while exercising or driving - If you have language CDs copy them to a MP3 player and listen to them while you are at the gym or have any free time.
That is all I have for now. If anyone has any other ideas please post them.