Best way to avoid burnout

Hi there,
I’m thinking about starting to learn Japanese again; I’ve been on a break from it for 2-3 years. I quit because I studied way too much and got burned out after about a year; I was doing Wanikani, Anki decks, constantly looking in my dictionary and organizing stuff, and starting to learn grammar from Textfugu. Hours a day, in addition to listening to Japanese normal conversations.

I wanna get back into it, but I’m overwhelmed and don’t know if I can handle it. I was only like a level 8 or 9 on here, but that’s because I was busy doing so much other stuff in addition. I want to resubscribe but I am slightly afraid of the mountain of reviews that will come with it. I also feel like many of my ‘burned’ items have been forgotten about.

What stuff have you used to avoid burnout?
Have you ever stopped learning for a long period and come back to it? What helped?
What are some things that motivate you?

Guess I’m just looking for suggestions of stories from people who have been here before. Thanks! :slight_smile:


Not studying works great!


Perhaps the best thing to do in your case is choose an appropriate level to reset to, maybe all the way back to one if you feel like it. I haven’t started level 9 yet, and I’ve already learned more than 1,000 items, so that’s the potential pile you face. If you’ve forgotten most of it, reviewing forgotten material likely will only hurt you and discourage you more. Perhaps doing the lessons all over again would be better.

As for preventing burnout, it’s as simple as pacing yourself, but it’s much harder to put that into practice than it is just to say it. For example, keep your apprentice items between 50-150 at an amount you feel comfortable with to control the amount of daily reviews you have.

Consider only doing two Japanese related things a day. WK and grammar, WK and listening, WK and comprehension, etc. Set yourself a daily limit of 2-3 hours or something similar you feel comfortable with, and don’t forget to set aside some time for just you, to enjoy yourself.

When I start to get overwhelmed by Japanese, I remind myself that something is clearly wrong. Because I’m learning this language primarily for a sense of fun. So I do what’s fun, and if I’m not having fun I know I need to change something.

I’m sure others here have much more expert advice to offer than me, but I hope some of this was of help. :slight_smile:


I’ve just come back to Japanese after several years. I’d say a big key in not burning out is not giving yourself too much study to do. When I burned out before, I had hundreds of anki reviews every day, in edition to heisig for kanji - and when I did anything else, I always treated it like study too. Eventually this killed it for me.

So instead, keep study time reasonable and sustainable. Just do wanikani, and make another vocab thing set to go pretty slowly. And then aside from that, just play. Watch dramas, anime, movies, read manga, play video games. Don’t look up everything, just expose yourself to things you can follow along with. It’s more fun, and exposure is probably what really counts in the long run anyway.

It’s working for me.

Good luck!


I completely burned myself out a few weeks ago. Everyone advised me to stop; take a deep breath; and reassess by priorities. I took a few days off of the studying and felt wayyyyy better. I jumped right back in afterwards, but at a more relaxed pace and didn’t feel as stressed. Of course, I’ve always been one to just keep pushing through, but most people would rest for more than just a weekend, which is what I would recommend :joy:
Just watch some anime and have fun, or try reading a novel or manga in Japanese. Enjoy yourself, and Japanese can be really fun to learn. 頑張ってください! :slight_smile:


I don’t know you’re physical situation, but I have found that moving really improves my mood about studying. I spend all day at a desk for work. When I come home, I do WK or participate in the forums here, and spend even more time in a chair. Eventually my back locks up, and then my focus is on being comfortable. I physically can’t sit at the computer and study, and that makes me apprehensive–My reviews are piling up and I’m in pain.

Like others have suggested, try to go slow, or maybe study indirectly by trying to use what you have. Take a walk and describe things to yourself. Walk through a mall and try to name the things you see. It doesn’t always have to be books and SRS.

Here’s another tip: Why are you studying? Probably to communicate or enjoy additional content. Do some of that now. Enjoy content. Live a life outside of studying a language. One of the worst stereotypes about language learners is they are boring. Well, some of us (myself included) spend so much time learning how to speak we forget to do things that are worth speaking about.


Answering to follow… This is of interest to me as I find myself already struggling to keep up with WK, Bunpro and, plus the book clubs I’m part of. I end up doing a lot of reviews everyday but having no time to actually dive deeper into sentence construction or grammar point. It’s partly because I’m a beginner, so if I want to keep up I have to stay at a general comprehension level when reading, otherwise I’d be spending an hour on each sentence and I don’t have that kind of time.
I’m also curious as to where do all of you find so much time a day to study? I have a pretty laid back life (no kids and a self scheduled job), but still there’s no way I can study Japanese more than 1h30/2h a day, and it feels like I would need much more to get anywhere near basic comprehension…


Might want to edit that link. Accidentally swapped the ‘s’ and ‘t’.

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Step 1, have fun and imagine the things you can do once you gain a certain proficiency in Japanese.

Like most have said you need to pace yourself and also enjoy it. There was a period of about 3 months, when I was pretty sick.

This was due to review after review (not so much Wanikani mostly Memrise [at the time]). It got soo bad, within that three month period, all i was doing in memrise and wanikani - no other study. The amount of reviews daily was coming to high hundreds per day. In addition I had work for 8-9h per day (travelling included). My head was going all weird, felt strained and I was forgetting everything. Eventually, I binned of memrise and was just doing wanikani, which also sufferred badly all my enlightened and master was coming in and most were falling back to apprentice. This was massively depressing. This is why I was on level 9 so long - even know i never give up wanikani, i did with everything else. Now I try keep my queue around 100 review. This allows me to do wanikani, grammer study, kitsun[vocab[own deck]/genki[community]/katakana4.5[community].

In addition to pacing yourself, another huge thing is sleep. I feel plenty of sleep is required for study. There a days, where I feel like a studied too much and my mind is too strected. Nothing sticking or making sense. I would read a grammer point or soemthing and its just not making sense. Go to sleep decent amount of time and go back and the point I was trying the previous days clicks and makes sense. I should also note, when i came out of my 3month period borderline burnout, i slept like 18 hours, and I have never slept that much, I mostly stuggle to get 7 hours sleep per night. It really shocked me, but i guess my body needed it.

Another reason, remind yourself why you learning. I initially started Learning Japanese, is because i always said I was crap at languages, so I set myself a challenge. Why japanese, I didnt want to learn one that uses the alpabet and I guess something interested me about japan - even if i didnt know what per say. How does this help? I set myself a goal to learn a language and I am stubborn, i’ve invexted too much, cant quit now…

Now one day I would like to be able to watch Movies (without subtitles), Podcasts and Read literature in Japanese. I already watch movies with subtitles (and while i may not get most of what being said, i kind of grab the gist of the story), also feels good when you do understand something, count your small victories like that… its important.

[edit] I should also note, I only spend about 1-2 hours on study as I do have work and even that can feel too much, for new grammer I seem to study that more at weekends where I do have more time, but i try do bunpro daily…

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Basically what @LeeDavies87 and I are saying is make sure to get W.A.S.T.E.D.


This is my personal opinion, but I think if you’re doing so many srs reviews that you’re not interacting with native material, cut off one of your tools. There’s nothing worse than feeling in the mood to go interact with some native material but realizing you really need to do 300 reviews first. Cut it down until it’s manageable. You can always do whatever you’re doing on kitsun AFTER wanikani, or AFTER bunpro. Or any other combination.

I have a similar thing, where I want to dive into a core 10k deck I have, but have ended up deciding to finish a different 3000 deck I’m already in the middle of first, for this very reason.

I wonder this too! Struggling with the 3 times a day (30 min in the morning, 15 min at noon and 1 hour in the evening) and I only have cats and a SO. I often have to skip the morning (and therefore noon sessions too) and still have a hard time keeping the one hour in the evening. And that is only WK! That my Japanese in regards to grammar and more is not improving at all is no wonder.

So, at topic:

  • I treat WK as an intro into Japanese vocabulary (ultimately, I need to know vocabs and not kanji, but I need kanji to learn vocabs).
  • Therefore, I focus on the kanji and see the vocab as a bonus as I plan to do 10k Anki after WK.
  • I cheat on vocabs up until Enlightenment if (a) I do not care about them (baseball terms, economic stuff, politics etc.) or (b) I believe they are frequent enough that I will encounter them will reading (which I try to find time for).
  • I cheat on vocabs even on Enlightenment if they are leeches, baseball terms or economic stuff. Or politics.
  • As English is not my native tongue, I cheat if I got the concept correct, but inputted a synonym/incorrect word.
  • I use vacation mode liberally (sometimes for a day, sometimes for up to one week) when I know there is no way I have time for evening reviews (I always turn on at 6pm and off to, so the times align).
  • I try not to feel too bad about staying for 20/30 days and more on the same level.
  • Every now and than I try to remind me why I am doing this

Yes, by default Bunpro is the one taking a back seat most days because I use kitsun to learn vocab from the books I’m reading :slight_smile: But that leaves me with a lot of vocab and no grammar… I’m sure I’ll figure out the balance at some point, or I’ll get enough grammar under my belt for things to not feel as tedious when I interact with native material…

Since Wanikani already has tons of vocab, I’m not even putting any additional vocab or SRS on my plate until I get through everything WK has to offer. My 3 main sites are Wanikani, Kaniwani (which is super brutal but thoroughly shakes out my leechy/struggling items like a steamrolling machine), and Bunpro. Wanikani is my #1 tool, Kaniwani is #2, and Bunpro I do reviews every day but only add new items on the weekends or when I’ve got time to really focus.

I always take some time during the week to engage with native material that gives me lots of joy and reminds me why I’m studying and so hungry to learn every vocab and kanji. Japanese YouTube channels, blogs, games, manga sites, twitters, etc. This helps gauge my progress (how much can I understand or not understand today?) and gives me lots of motivation to keep going so I can read without getting roadblocked by unknown grammar or kanji.

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Yes, that was my original plan but after reading (and verifying via HouHou) that a lot of the WK vocab is not the most commonly used, I started using other SRS with a more defined goal: to learn vocab that allows me to understand the basics of the books/mangas I’m reading. Flofloe is also a great resource for this as you can prelearn the vocab for a number of books, which makes reading easier. Delving into grammar is next on my list, but I’ll have to take a break from reading for that to happen I think…

I think, especially if you’re flirting with burnout, that giving yourself time to just read/listen WITHOUT adding words to srs or even looking them up is a better idea than adding more work to your plate. But, ymmv.

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Lol I’m not yet flirting with burnout, just seeing that I would need longer days to feel like I’m not in “catching up” mode. The problem right now is that I’m too much of a beginner to read anything without looking words up. It’s getting gradually better, but I figure it will take me another few months to get to a point where I can get even the general meaning of a sentence without having prelearned the vocab… Getting there slowly, I just need to figure out a way to insert grammar into the schedule. Maybe I’ll just stop SRS on the weekends to study grammar exclusively…

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Honestly I think many of thoses with fast level up times here don’t work, work part time or full time students.

Working full time and taking college classes I struggle to level up and keep up with reviews.

For example:
Yesterday I woke up early to do lessons and reviews, worked then got home had to do everything else I needed to and go on a jog. By 11pm I got on wanikani and was too mentally tired to do more than 10 reviews.
Meaning I still have like 100 reviews to do today

I have a hard time imagining that those with full time jobs and other responsibilities are completing 60 levels within a year.

Though it’s not a race but I also don’t want to do wanikani for 4 years

Random rant but I’m starting to feel burnout

Some user here had a pretty awesome idea (sorry, I forget who you are!) but they would take every Saturday off from WK. Just put it on vacation mode for a day and take a breather.

The person mentioned there average correct went up.

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I personally do in fact have a lot of free time, but as far as SRS is concerned, I actually tend to do 50-100 reviews during my mandated breaks at work. Also in the toilet : o
I don’t do set times. I do them when they’re available and I have 10 minutes.