I know what you mean. I lost my mother in September. Between August and December, I did no lessons. I did manage to keep up with reviews, mostly, though some days I only did like 5-10. Enough to maintain my review streak (which is nearing the 1 year point!), but not a lot more. Still, at one point I hit around 500 reviews waiting for me.
Other’s have mentioned the reorder script, and that does work. I did lowest WK level first in my reductions. In that way, I was hitting the oldest material first, and, assuming I did enough reviews each day, nothing I did review could get worse. Higher level items were basically abandoned to fate rather than doing a reset. I don’t like resetting. I’d rather just let the SRS do its thing and I’ll catch up on the items I lost as I go.
My strategy for lowering the queue, once I had energy to do so was to set a goal of reducing the pile by a certain number per day. Generally 50 on weekdays and 100 on weekends. If I hit that number at any point during the day, I considered it good. If I could do more, I would, but it was entirely by choice at that point.
I tried to do reviews in small batches through the day. Often, I’d start a review session and immediately hit wrap up so I’d just do 10 at a time. I’d often do a few of these ‘sprints’ in a session, but again I only worried about one and a time and would stop if I felt my brain was starting to lag. If that happened, I’d wait an hour or two before doing another small batch.
Normally, I let WK pick the orders, but for pile reduction, I like to do reading/meaning back to back. It means I can go a little bit faster on the review and am less likely to make a mistake when two similar looking/meaning things come up at the same time. I have a tendency to correctly enter a reading/meaning for a review, then if a similar item comes up in the review, entering the other reading/meaning for that one rather than notice it’s a different thing altogether. And ‘similar’ becomes much broader when I’m drained which was all the time these last few months, so it was important to not let that kind of stupid mistake happen.
I went through the reviews quickly, just to get the pile down and have the psychological feeling of making progress. Working slowly, I’d probably have gotten more right, but been demotivated by the pile not shrinking fast enough. YMMV on that.
I have gotten back to it, more or less. I started lessons again, and actually leveled upon Christmas a few days ago. I’ve kept my apprentice pile (which I use to measure how many lessons to do) lower than I used to, and will continue to do so until I really feel ready. Right now, it feels slow, but I’m on winter break, so I want to make sure not to up it until I’m back to work and can assess whether it’s really slow.
Take it easy, figure out what is the right rate (and it is probably not what it was, at least for awhile) and you should do fine. Good luck!