Have you got advice on how to keep on top of reviews?

Skip the first paragraph if you want to read my question!

Hi there, I’m now a week into WaniKani, and I’m absolutely loving it. After a year of trying and failing to learn Japanese (through DuoLingo, LingoDeer, Kanji Tree, Kanji Study etc) this has been the only program that has gotten things to stick in my stubborn head which is an absolute testament to the SRS, the mnemonics and WaniKani (for properly implementing SRS and mnemonics).

A week in, and new terms are starting flow in fast and free - daily at this point. I live a rather busy life - I work 9 - 5 and I also am studying at university. I know the team at Tofugu have the “if you want to do it, you’ll find time” mentality which I totally agree with. However, I’m worried there are going to be days where I am burnt out and my brain cannot do any more - and if that happens the reviews will be way behind and all of a sudden I have 150 reviews. So, my question is: as you move through life’s twist and turns, how do you manage to stay on top of this course?

I already have some ideas: don’t do lessons on days I’m burnt out; if I am burnt out, try to do some reviews to get them to a manageable level before it snowballs out of control and also download the unofficial mobile app (the way the web version on mobile makes me click the text box every time I want to answer is so annoying to me).

Just was hoping some of the more experience learners could give me some advice on what to top, please and thank you :slight_smile:

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  1. Do some reviews every day (even if it’s only a few)
  2. Don’t do lessons unless you are comfortable with the amount of reviews you are doing - there are various methods like Apprentice<100 or x lessons a day
  3. The reorder script can help if you have a really big pile of reviews (but don’t abuse it)
  4. Use the ‘holiday’ function to take breaks so you don’t burn out
  5. Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t work. The kanji will still be there to be learned tomorrow/next week
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I have actually been feeling this way lately, and yes, the first thing I do is not do any lessons, unless I have 0 reviews. And even then, if I’ve been struggling for a bit, I will put off lessons for a couple days, until I feel on top of my reviews again. I was too busy tired to do my reviews most of yesterday and the day before, so while I did do some in the mornings, I definitely did not go to bed with all my reviews done. Even tonight I still have 100 reviews pending, even though I did a couple batches of 50 today. And that’s okay. I’ll do them tomorrow, and next week sometime I’ll get back into lessons.

I’ve been pretty regular up to the past week, so I’ve had my reviews concentrated in the evenings, and I usually have them at 10pm at the latest, and usually less than 150 per day, so it’s been mostly no issue getting them done every day. So I think having a regular schedule, and making your reviews come in at times you know you usually can do them, is a good way to prevent yourself from burning out on WK.

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I try to do two things:

  1. Keep a schedule of doing reviews twice a day (morning and night, usually while eating breakfast and just after dinner). I might not be able to do all the reviews – I use either the wrap-up button or @Kumirei’s "Review Queue Sizer” script (see this thread) if it’s really too many (like 200 and I only have time for 50).

  2. Only do new lessons if the forecast for the next day for the number of reviews do looks reasonable. I don’t worry too much about getting behind on lessons. Language learning isn’t a race, after all, and it’s better to keep to what you can manage.

Even so, I have burnt out a few times and had to take breaks for a few days. When I come back, I just try to get back on schedule and tackle reviews in manageable chunks.

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My advice:

  1. Do all your reviews, twice every day. It only takes 2 x 20 minutes. I do my first set before I get out of bed, along with any lessons. Build it into your routine and you won’t have any unpleasant surprises. If you break routine, they will build up.
  2. Only do lessons when you’re happy that you have time. If you’re stressed or busy, don’t do any.
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Good advice everyone, thank you.
Here’s what I got out of this, in essence:

[EDIT: Added extra points to the solution, I didn’t think this was going to get any further discussion but it did :slightly_smiling_face:. Tried to get all the new information added in but sorry if I missed anyone]

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All good advice. If you haven’t yet, I also recommend reading this guide as it has a lot of useful information.

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I’ve made it a relaxing and therapeutic part of my routine. I wake up, clear the cobwebs by browsing the forum. Light some incense. Put on some chilled out music. Then start clearing my review pile. Taking breaks whenever I get frustrated by ranting about a specific kanji on the forum somewhere (which has the added side effect of helping me remember it easier next time).
Then if my apprentice pile is less than 100, do 5 lessons.

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One more thing, if it’s convenient for you: do the reviews on a computer instead of your phone.

It’s a little faster, and you’re slightly less likely to make typos. That small difference adds up quickly if your schedule is packed.

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Use a workload estimator plugin (or calculate it yourself) and accurately find out how much time you have and how much time you’re willing to spend on wanikani. If 1 review is 1 unit of work, then each item you have produces units of work based on how often they come up per day

Apprentice 1: 6 units of work (it appears after 4 hours. 24/4 = 6)
Apprentice 2: 3 (8 hours)
Apprentice 3: 1 (…etc)
Apprentice 4: 1/2
Guru 1 : 1/7
Guru 2 : 1/14
Master : 1/28
Enlightened : 1/112

If you then set the unit of time to equal 10 seconds (the time it takes to answer the 2 reviews per item, recognition of meaning and writing), you can estimate how much workload ON AVERAGE your current work is. This breaks down with small quantities where they change levels as you go through them, but gives you a rough idea in real terms of how much time you need to spend to stay on top of your review stack.

Again, this is on average. If you put 1500 items on enlightened the same day, somehow, it will be aminimal amount of work (over 4 months) but its still going to hit you with a 1500 review day. It assumes they are spaced out.

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And don’t listen to people that optimistically tell you to do your reviews every day. It’s very possible that you won’t be able to. Wanikani is a great platform, but it absolutely doesn’t give you the tools you need to estimate future workloads further than 7 days ahead. Even after 20 levels, I still dont have an intuitive understanding of how many units of work it is to start a new item (or a new level) and send it from apprentice all the way up to enlightened. Wanikani’s own innate pace (the rate at which items unlock) also produces very high workloads that you most certainly can’t meet if you have a day job AND a main second occupation (your university).

This will only become apparent to you once you reach a full “stack”, which is when your level 1 items start hitting enlightened and youre at lvl ~7-10 apprentice. You need to internalize that it takes 6 months minimum for an item you start as a lesson to fully disappear as a future workload. For those entire 6 months, you are increasing your sum workload. It will only start stabilizing once things start leaving your stack as they become Burned.

EDIT: No i guess that’s wrong. The workload gradually decreases as your stack becomes top-heavy (enlightened) and gradually increases as you insert new items in the bottom. Equilibrium can be found even without burning items and depends on the rate of new lessons to reviews. See, I told you I dont have a good intuitive understanding

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Where is the holiday function?
What are scripts and how do I use them?

The holiday function is somewhere in your user settings.

Scripts are found in The New And Improved List Of API and Third Party Apps and Visual Guide on How To Install A Userscript but it can get a bit technical. See if you can follow the instructions there.

Let’s talk about this again in a few months. :wink:

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I realize I didn’t actually offer any immediate advice. Well, here is what I’d suggest:

Stop doing new lessons after every level up and only do reviews for a week. Start doing this after level uhh… 5. Every once in a while stop for longer until you feel the workload becomes manageable. It will take a long time for you to calibrate this.

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