Daily Schedule For Consistency and Retention: Exactly 14 days per level and about 10 lessons per day

I’d like to share the schedule I’m using for WaniKani: 14 days per level and about 10 lessons per day. This still takes a considerable amount of time every day, but I’ve found this pace delivers the optimal balance of consistency and challenge.

Before level 30 I was averaging 9 days per level but found that while I was proud of reaching level 30 in the middle of August 2020 after starting in early December 2019, that pace was no longer sustainable for me. I thought about my goal, develop the ability to read in Japanese for enjoyment, and decided it was more important to space out the time I spent studying across the whole WaniKani program so I would stick with it and retain a higher percentage as I learn.

Fortunately, there is research showing that greater time between study sessions leads to a higher learning rate. Check out this study of training British postal workers to type. The finding was that the group that was the most spaced out had the best performance and their improvements lasted the longest. Interestingly, that same group reported that they felt like they were making the least progress. A true tortoise and the hare situation.

This is the 14 day per level schedule that I devised after reaching level 30. The basic idea is to do 10 lesson per day at 5pm and then the first set of reviews at 9pm. This shifts all the remaining reviews to the morning which is most convenient for me. And as a bonus, there are way fewer reviews in the evening, clearing the way for either grammar study, reading practice, or just relaxing a bit.

The standard template for each day (shift according to your daily sleep cycle):

  • Morning: Reviews until the bulk are completed
  • Late Afternoon: Lessons 10
  • Evening: Reviews for the 10 items learned in the late afternoon.

I should state here that I don’t use any reorder scripts. The way that standard WaniKani levels work is that you must finish the vocabulary for the previous level before the radicals for the current level appear in the lessons. Once you reach the radicals for the current level, this could be considered the real level start. You must reach Guru for the radicals before the second set of kanji unlock. Conveniently, when the second set of kanji unlock, they appear first in the next lesson session. Hooray! Then it’s just a matter of reaching Guru for the remaining kanji until you reach the level up threshold (number of kanji in the level minus 3). There are exceptions to this pattern in the later levels (AKA “short levels”) but I’m not worried about that for now.

The full 14 day schedule for leveling up looks like this. (The standard template always applies. I’m just calling out when the critical path items appear.)

  • Fri -
    • Late Afternoon: Lessons Radicals @ Apprentice 1 (Start Level. Learn all the radicals.)
    • Evening: Review Radicals @ Apprentice 2
  • Sat -
    • Morning: Review Radicals @ Apprentice 3
  • Sun -
    • Morning: Review Radicals @ Apprentice 4
  • Mon - Standard
  • Tue -
    • Morning: Review Radicals @ Guru 1
    • Late Afternoon: Lessons Kanji Group 2 @ Apprentice 1 (Learn all the kanji in the unlocked set.)
    • Evening: : Review Kanji Group 2 @ Apprentice 2
  • Wed -
    • Morning: Lessons Kanji Group 2 @ Apprentice 3
  • Thu -
    • Morning: Lessons Kanji Group 2 @ Apprentice 4
  • Fri - Standard
  • Sat - Morning: Lessons Kanji Group 2 @ Guru 1 (Finish Level. This is the level up. You did it! Go look at the funny gif in email notice.)
  • Sun - Standard
    • Checkpoint: Getting lessons below 100 by the end of this Sunday should usually make it possible to start the new level’s radicals by Friday with 10 lessons per day during the week. Use this checkpoint as a guide for doing a extra lessons as needed so you can start the radicals for the new level on Friday.
  • Mon - Standard
  • Tue - Standard
  • Wed - Standard
  • Thu - Standard

Notes:

  • After you start the second set of kanji, you can usually miss 3 and still stay on this schedule. Because of the length of this schedule, if you want to catch up, you can do so by doing some extra lessons for a few days. But you could also easily take extra time, just don’t do the lessons for the radicals for the new level until you’re ready to start the cycle again.
  • Any level that has more than 140 items will require that some extra lessons are added to keep the 14 day schedule on track. I find it is most convenient to add these extra lessons starting on the Saturday that reach the level up. But you can spread these out across any days you prefer.
  • One more thing that I should have mentioned in the original post. Some of the early levels have a lot more items, too many in fact to learn 10 lessons per day and still level up every 2 weeks. My advice would be to feel it out and go at a pace that works for you. It’s reasonable in my opinion to stay at 10 lessons a day and take longer on the earlier levels so that 1) you don’t burn out and 2) you don’t have a huge bunch of reviews whenever they come due. But if you feel like you can go faster in the beginning, go for it. Just remember that you can slow down the number of lessons per day later to keep the number of reviews per day manageable.

Why does this work for me? Firstly, I want to keep a consistent schedule. By creating a daily habit with specific timing, I can get past the resistance that I feel to start the work. As a bonus, I don’t have any stress about lessons or reviews building up because I know where I am in the cycle and it’s totally okay to see 130 lessons in the queue. Secondly, I want to keep a challenging pace. Fourteen days per level is the right amount of difficulty for me. Some days are a real struggle but occasionally some days are a breeze.

Finally, here’s a bonus science term backing up the need for challenge in learning: “desirable difficulties”. This is the idea that when we are learning, we should take on tasks that are hard and continuously get harder. Find out more about it here. Learning enough kanji to read Japanese is certainly both desirable because it opens up access to everything written in Japanese and difficult because it requires a big commitment over long period of time. Plus, “desirable difficulty” just sounds cool.

Let me know if you have any questions about the above. And if you try out the schedule, let me know how it works for you.

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This is great! I am new to WK and just starting out but I’ve decided to rush to level 18 and then slow down to 2-3 weeks per level as needed through the end of 2021 as I have some big things coming down the life pipeline.

I had been specifically wondering how a 2-3 week pacing would actually look in real application so this is extremely helpful to get an idea of how to pace appropriately with a specific time frame in mind!

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Thanks for sharing! This is really helpful to see. I’m currently doing 8-10 day levels but expect will want to slow down some once I get to higher levels so noting this for later :slight_smile:

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I want to do something similar to this schedule, though I’m in the long levels now and I have way more radicals and kanji, that will make it hard to do a lot of them in the same session (for example I’m having almost 40 radicals so only one batch is already 20 in one day, same with the radicals, all at the same time will lead close to 30, I guess for me it’ll be still 2 days for radicals and 2 days for each set of kanji.

i just reset from 34 to 33 after spending 44 days on it (am 9 days average like you were as well) because my brain just suddenly refused to intake more info.

i’m gonna aim for a 14 day level up after this fiasco as well.

thanks for sharing the details of your plan.

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I’ve been trying to schedule my next level (level 5, leveling up in 2 days from now, level 4 has taken like 24 days :rofl:, to be fair about 7 of them were finishing level 3 vocabulary) following the pattern but I’m thinking that if by sunday you have 100 lessons left that would make it 20 lessons a day to start doing the radicals on friday, right? Level 5 is pretty much a nightmare in number of lessons, with almost 200, so it’ll take me like 20 days again (which I don’t really have a trouble with, I’m just playing around with a comfortable but still efficient schedule).

Wow. I had forgotten that some of the early levels have so many total lessons! I think at that time I was probably doing about 20 lessons per day. But go at a pace that works for you when there are so many. The number of lessons decreases quite a bit in the later levels.

By the way, the reason that 100 lessons remaining at the end of Sunday works is that after leveling up those lessons are mix of previous level and current level, so usually about 40 of those are from the previous level. Once you get through the 40 over the next 4 days, then you’ll see the radicals from the current level on Friday. Of course the counts vary, but it’s been relatively stable from levels 30 to 44. But you can actually look up how many lessons from the former level are still in there by going to the Levels page for the former level and counting how many vocabulary are still marked as new. Since I usually don’t feel like counting all the items each time, I just estimate.

For example: today (Saturday) I leveled up to Level 44. And now I have 138 lessons. Knowing that doing 10 on Saturday and Sunday will only get me to 118, I decided that I’ll do 15 lessons per day for 4 days. That should get me through the remaining vocabulary lessons from Level 43 and then I’ll start the Level 44 radicals on Friday. Hooray!

That sounds very familiar!

As an example of how I’ve adjusted recently, I took an extra week recently on Level 41. My daily review counts had increased and I was struggling with a lot of the older items were coming up. So I only did reviews for that week and that helped lower the number of Guru items quite a bit. I think the Guru count when from almost 500 to about 350 or so. That really lowered the pressure.

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I understand now. I’ll be playing around with the schedule to see what works better.

Sorry, this is my first ever post but I came across your post by searching and I’m really interested in this ‘two week’ model. One thing I’m not getting is… you’ve mentioned where you blast the radical lessons (the first day/Friday) and then Kanji group two (day 5/Tuesday) but when do you do the kanji group one lessons? And what do you mean by ‘standard’?

Thank you so much if you’re able to reply, I know I’m a few months late :sweat_smile:

Hi! And welcome to the community. Happy to explain.

The way that the lessons are ordered, as soon as you finish the lessons for the radicals, the kanji for the current level come next. So you’ll automatically start doing the kanji lessons as you do your 10 lessons for the day. Those are the “kanji group one”, which are the unlocked set that you see on the dashboard when you start a new level. The locked set of kanji on the dashboard is what I’m referring to as “kanji group two”. And “locked” just means that even if you did all the available lessons in one sitting, these locked kanji would not be available yet. These unlock after you guru the radicals in the level. So that’s why I call out the radicals in the schedule to mark on which day they go from apprentice to guru.

By “standard” I mean that you would do a set of 10 lessons in the afternoon and then review those 4 hours later. I do my 10 lessons in the 5pm hour so I can review them in the 9pm hour.

And on every day, I try to do most of my reviews first thing in the morning (or at least after I’ve had my first cup of coffee).

One more thing that I should have mentioned in the original post: Some of the early levels have a lot more items, too many in fact to learn 10 lessons per day and still level up every 2 weeks. My advice would be to feel it out and go at a pace that works for you. It’s reasonable in my opinion to stay at 10 a day and take longer on the earlier levels so that 1) you don’t burn out and 2) you don’t have a huge bunch of reviews whenever they come due.

Does that help? Let me know if you have any more questions.

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This is incredibly helpful, thank you so much! I’ve just come back to WK after a long way away, though my first attempt didn’t get me very far (barely unlocked level 2). I’m starting over and taking a fresh look at how the SRS system works and how to create a good schedule/routine for myself.

I’ve seen other posts about schedules, but yours has been the only one that has made sense to me! I’d like to spend between 10 - 14 days per level, and it seems like 14 days would be best for me given my work schedule. I’m thinking about doing lessons in the morning, reviewing those during my lunch break, and then having another review session before sleeping:

8 - 9 a.m. - 10 morning lessons
12 - 1 p.m. - review of morning items during lunch + 10 new lessons
5 - 6 p.m. - review of afternoon items

So far, I’ve just been doing reviews as they pop up, and doing no more than 10 lessons a day. I restarted with level 1 6 days ago, and a script I installed says I can expect to reach level 2 in 5 to 6 days. I’m looking forward to trying out this schedule when I unlock level 2!

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Makes sense to me. I think that could work. Especially if it fits your daily schedule. Let us know how it goes!

This is close to the schedule I am using right now, only I do the lessons right after my reviews. I still get less than 100 reviews a day. Based on your schedule and at your level, how many reviews do you get per day? Is it more than 100? Because if it is, I may have to go even slower when I reach your level. I don’t want to do more than 100 reviews a day.

(I recently reset WaniKani from somewhere in the 20s because I was on vacation mode for over a year and I couldn’t remember anything.)

I am using a similar schedule and I have found it really useful.

Coming into this year I set myself a goal of doing 24 levels this year, which is pretty close to 14 days/level. I am happy to say that I’ve this is now the longest continuous period of time that I’ve stayed on WK since joining almost 4 years ago. I’ve achieved nearly a third of my levels during this stretch.

My schedule for anyone who is interested:

  • During my morning routine getting ready for work - Do reviews
    Commute to work - do 10 lessons
  • Lunch break - do reviews (This is almost always only the reviews that I did on my commute so it is super manageable to knock out during lunch)
  • Commute home - do another 10 lessons
  • Night - do my last batch of reviews for the day.

I find doing it this way that I achieve 0 new lessons/0 reviews at least once per level. Also, because I only do reviews at set times I am worrying less about things and my reviews are just about always at the same times every day. Also worth noting in my schedule is that I use Wednesdays as my “break day” and I never do any lessons on those days. Just gives me a day to relax a bit since I find learning new stuff more strenuous than reviewing.

I think in general though the most important thing is to keep a schedule and get consistent whether you are going fast, slow or somewhere in between. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another because there life schedules are drastically different.

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I’m in agreement with you 100 reviews per day is a challenging but doable number. I think I get slightly more than 100 reviews a day but pretty close. Tomorrow looks like 107.

Usually, if I keep my Guru items between 300-350, then the reviews are in this range. Right now I have 346 Guru and 47 Apprentice.

A few levels back my Guru items had ballooned up to almost 500 and the daily reviews were too much. So I took an extra week and just did reviews, bringing the Guru items down.

:100:

Absolutely right. As you said, once you figured out a consistent schedule that fits in with your life, you were able to stick with it for the longest period yet. That’s awesome.

@zurt That was super helpful, thank you!

So just to clarify - using your above schedule, you just hammer through all the radicals regardless of how many on the Friday, and… on the Saturday do ten lessons of the kanji (group 1) and continue with ten new lessons each day until Tuesday? But then on Tuesday it says “learn all kanji in the unlocked set” - does that mean that’s the plan for the next few days a la ten lessons a day, or hammer through all the new kanji in one day and then vocab as ten lessons a day afterward?

So I guess I’m a bit confused about whether you learn all the radicals and each group of kanji in one day, and then the ten daily lessons are vocab, or if you do all the radicals at once (which is doable) and then only learn ten kanji a day after this?

Sorry if you’ve explained this already :see_no_evil:

@zurt oh and sorry, one more thing - is this schedule assuming you don’t make any mistakes in your reviews? :see_no_evil:

In the lower levels, there are more radicals per lesson and more kanji are unlocked after guruing those radicals. Later on, you often just have ~5 radicals and unlock maybe 6-8 kanji by guruing the radicals, so it becomes more managable to tackle them in one go :+1:

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