Coming Back After a Break

First off, I’d like to apologize if this is in the wrong category, I really didn’t know where else to put it.

I’ve just come back from an almost four-month break (sad, I know). I’ve forgotten a lot of things but I just didn’t have the motivation to do anything, and there are still some lingering clouds above my head:

  1. How do I stay motivated in the future?
  2. What can I do about these 700~ reviews in my queue? How do I whittle them down?
  3. Should I just reset, considering my forgetfulness and low level?

I didn’t do vacation mode, partly because I thought ‘only a few more days of this, you deserve it’, like, a lot. Oops.

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You can use a reorder script so that you can review things in order of levels I think I have read, and most people just recommend breaking it up into short chunks and wittling away at it. Let the SRS thing take care of itself, if you get it wrong it’s okay. You might be surprised you remember more than you think. I have reset a couple of times and I end up regretting it because I find that I start to remember everything as soon as I get going.

Glad to have you back! You can do it! Don’t do any more lessons for a while until you get your reviews under control.

  1. Can’t help with that one; it’s up to you to determine why you want to learn Japanese. Without a concrete reason, it will be very difficult to continue learning a language without burning out.

2-3. Resetting is a pretty strong decision, but I would recommend gauging the need first. Set a percentage goal for yourself and review in smallish (25 to 50 items) chunks. See if you can exceed your goal percentage. If you can, continue through your review items in chunks until they’re gone. If you start to drop below your goal percentage, check through the items your missing and figure out what level range in which they’re located. Resetting one or two levels may be a decent option, but I wouldn’t recommend resetting below level 4 unless you’re practically failing everything.

Rather than relying on motivation, try relying on habit. If you can manage that then it no longer matters if you are motivated or not, it is just a normal part of your day. The easiest way to manage that is by setting review times and sticking to it.

If your lifestyle doesn’t really allow for such structure (like mine). Try adding items in your surroundings to keep Japanese fresh on your mind. One thing I’ve done is added my review count to my desktop, as well as having an area of my screen change colour the more reviews I have. As can be seen in the picture below

Another thing I do is I have a whiteboard by my computer, written in permanent pen is the words “Today I Will______”, every morning I put a post-it note with a list of things I will do. For myself I also tie a reward into it, if I manage to achieve all the things on my list for a full month then I get a reward that I decided on at the start of month. Though right now I have a lot of reviews so I better get onto them or I’m not getting the reward.


If you that you can’t remember the most recent levels, it could be worth it to reset your level back a couple - but I think if you just let SRS do it’s thing you should be fine =)

I’m working my way through a backlog of >2000 reviews after 2 months off, so I understand your position. I recommend you use the reorder script, which has already been mentioned, and set a goal of my how many reviews you want to do a day, or how much time you’re willing to spend on reviews in a day, and stick to that until you’re down to 0. SRS will figure out how well you know the items, so it’s not necessary to reset unless a large backlog is a psychological burden on you. I’ve been doing 150-250 reviews a day for the past two weeks and am down to 400. I have a lot of those reviews coming back now, so I expect it will take another two weeks to get down to 0, but I just have to be persistent, as do you.


I used to be level 33, and around the middle of October I had to take a break from WaniKani due to personal life issues that I needed to take care of. But then the months went by and in January I tried to get back into it. However, I had a bad habit of trying to finish the kanji lessons/reviews as fast as possible to optimize my level up times. This led to me having a huge backlog of LESSONS that were up in the 400+ range IN ADDITION to the overwhelming quantity of reviews.

Consequently, I made the decision to drop my level down to 30. It reduced it a decent amount but I still lost the psychological battle and ended up going back to my comfortable hiatus for another two months.

Yesterday (Feb 22nd, 2018), I was finally able to find the drive again to attack my WaniKani review stack. I decided that I need to change my mindset about leveling up and forget about trying to go for speed. And so I sat there, staring at my review stack in the 600+ range wondering if I could really get it back down to zero again. Even when I was doing WaniKani every day back in September/October, I haven’t had zero reviews in so many levels due to me re-ordering to complete the kanji reviews and ignoring the vocabulary.

As I attacked those reviews I realized just how rusty I was. It would take AGES to finish just 10 items. This made me recognize just how deep my previous self’s bad habits took root. I felt like I didn’t really know anything at all. This made me decide to try decreasing my level again in a few increments.

First I decided to drop down to level 28. But it honestly didn’t really feel like it changed much. I ended up getting distracted—browsing the forum, wiping my scripts and trying to start that over again, chatting with people on Discord.

Then I decided to drop down to level 25. However, the main difference here is that I also started to implement the re-order script so I can review in increasing levels. This helped me effectively measure how rusty I have become. It was actually kind of surprising how much I remembered from earlier levels. I was able to still burn a decent amount :fire::turtle::fire: !!!

When I started getting to the items in level 24 and 25, I had to actually keep forcing out incorrect items. It got to a point where I literally just couldn’t remember any item for the life of me. So that is where I figured my memory faded the most. Luckily, I didn’t lower my level too far down and managed to strike the best balance between what I did and didn’t remember.

And now I’m here, browsing the forums with zero reviews and WK Anti-burnout preventing me from doing lessons and typing out my comeback story for you to read to give you at least a little bit of motivation.

If I were to do anything different though, I think I would try to use the re-order script to measure what level I would start to practically fail everything, and THEN reset to that level. It’s surprising just how much you can somewhat recall!

Good luck!


Wish I could like this a million times just because of Chie.

On a more topic related note, how did you achieved your desktop thingy?

To do that I use a piece of software called Rainmeter which allows scripts to run directly on the desktop. The script I use is modified to add the colour circle and a more slick design. The original script can be found here:

A user last year also released an edited version of the script last year, it’s a minor change but pretty nice. That can be found here:

As for the modified one I made. Didn’t release it, this was done the first time I had ever used Rainmeter and it isn’t exactly the best made.

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I’ve done both pulling myself out of a review backlog of about a thousand reviews, and then a reset later. The reset I did at the start of this year was primarily because I had formed some very bad habits of neglecting vocab lessons in an effort to progress faster than what really fits into the obligations in my life, and wasn’t really about a backlog review. I wouldn’t suggest a reset just to get out from behind a bunch of reviews, personally.

If your habits are good and you aren’t in that kind of mess, I’d highly suggest digging your way out of the reviews. To do this, when I did it previously, rather than focusing on doing a certain number of reviews per day, I made it my goal to get down to a certain number of reviews at the end of each day. So, using having over 700 reviews as an example, on that first day I would commit myself to being at 700 reviews before I retired for the night. Then the next day, my goal would be to be down at 650 (or 675, if there were a lot of mistakes that brought a lot of things back quickly), then the next day 600. There were days where I did more or less, but I tried to commit to keeping it to a multiple of 25 or 50. If on the 600 day I was feeling a bit ambitious in one run and dropped down to 587 or something, I’d then change the challenge to get down to 575. If a lot of things come back due to mistakes, hold the same line for a couple of days. Aiming to get down to a certain number felt more like measurable progress to me, even if it was only 25 less than the previous day. Take advantage of the Wrap Up button so you don’t feel like you’ve got that entire mountain right in front of you when reviewing and do it in several chunks through the day if you can.

Recovering from a review backlog this way can take a few weeks, but in my opinion is far better than just powering through and burning yourself out doing them all at once, and then having piles of them return later either due to being knocked down to a more frequent SRS level, or having a bunch of stuff go up and still be on the same SRS interval to surprise you later.

Good luck!

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How did you add your reviews to your desktop? That’s pretty cool!

For the OP, after over a half a year break I reset my level from 14 to 4! Didn’t regret it at all. I feel like my base kanji knowledge is so much stronger than the first time around. :blush:

Clearly didn’t go through the whole thread did you? I answered that 2 or 3 posts up.

No need to be rude, i honestly thought I skimmed the thread for an answer, but guess I missed it! Thanks for the response.

That was rude? I had no such intent, my apologies anyway.

No worries, I think my lack of sleep made me blind in the first response. :slight_smile:

I reset from 13 to 0 last summer, and I’m still only back to 8. I’m not even doing any lessons at the moment. I just do my reviews in Anki mode (irrelephant mod) and do Bunpro reviews. It’s better than nothing. At least I’m not going backward or giving up.

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