How do you deal with burnout/frustration?

Having a goal in mind helps. If you study for the sake of studying I think you’ll quickly become tired and unmotivated, so when you keep messing up reviews you won’t want to continue. My goal is to have more vocabulary to speak with my Japanese friends. It’s not study for the sake of saying I know kanji; it’s study to improve my friendships. It doesn’t mean you won’t still get tired of studying but I think having a real goal will increase your motivation.

Something else – very minor – that I’ve been doing is using a Pomodoro app since I get “rewarded” for studying. I kind of like management/farming games (think Stardew, Animal Crossing, not FarmVille although I’ve never actually played that), so I found some Pomodoro apps that having a farming mechanic, so that’s been very as far as using studying as a motivator to progress in the game. I think I also found some on mobile that are in Japanese, although that could backfire if you use the apps to encourage studying but then you can’t understand the app itself.


I know pretty well how you feel, and I feel the same at times. Plus, I’m a bit older and my brain does not work as well any more as it used to, which is utterly frustrating. :woman_shrugging:

There’s two things that I would like to point out. First of all, what is it that you are studying Japanese for? Do you want to read manga? Books? Play videogames? Watch anime? Something else? Or do you simply learn for the sake of learning Japanese, maybe because you are intrigued by kanji? All of them are very fair and good points (even the last one!). Have you done any of this yet? You can try out a very simple one first and see where you can get to already. And especially reading is extremely helpful for retaining kanji because it shows them to you frequently! At some point you will probably want to get off of WaniKani (or you simply burned everything) and then reading is the way to go to keep the kanji fresh in your mind.

The other thing is: Do you just do WaniKani, or do you also do other things regarding Japanese studies? If not, it would be about time to start studying grammar and to start studying words that are not in WaniKani (there are a lot of words that don’t even have kanji, and you need those too, plus the WaniKani vocabulary is mainly geared towards letting you practice different kanji readings, it is not aimed for you getting a well-rounded vocabulary base in Japanese. (Although it’s getting better and better.)

Now that might sound like I’m trying to overload you even more, while you’re already struggling. But I’m not saying you need to go full-speed with all of them at the same time. You can have a slow phase in WK, not doing any new lessons, and study some grammar on the side, and maybe some core vocabulary deck. Then once you made some progress, you can relax on grammar and rather make progress in WK. And don’t forget to add in some manga or whatever! Those are also excellent study tools, if you really try to figure out the words and grammar. That’s my mode of studying anyways, I’ve taken a lot of breaks from WK so far. As you can see, I’m not even level 60 yet, but I’ve read a bunch of books (that’s my passion with Japanese) - and I’m talking books geared towards Japanese adults.

So in short, getting to WK level 60 is not the goal - learning the language is the goal! Kanji and WK are only a small fraction of the fun.


I use bursts of energy to do hundreds of reviews at once, and not fretting if I can’t finish them all. Also, not necessary do lessons once they came out. (I also sorted to prioritize lower levels and vocabularies, but I can’t say I recommend that.)

Then, to add to motivation, that would be resilience. What if motivation drops? – Simply come back quickly. I won’t exactly say to do reviews everyday, but come back quickly, perhaps not missing more than a few days. Also, doing multiple sessions per day is fine.

There are also endurance tricks. Things like Pomedoro timer, but try out yourself to find out. I find it correlates with being self-conscious if I feel tired, but decide well to either keep at it or not. External factors may help, but use in moderation.

I don’t totally trust SRS. At least, priming for initial memorization can be done better than SRS. Perhaps simply blinding a series of questions every five minutes or so, until you can do initial recall, should do the trick. Otherwise, medium/long term forgetting is bound to happen – perhaps SRS is better for that.


I understand completely, you just have to keep going, for a long time I was inconsistent and just feeling tired and dreading doing my lessons, but after a while I eventually made up my mind because I didn’t like my progress, I’ve been continuing the consistent pace, even when I’m not home, you just have to do it.

I also forget the kanji from earlier levels, learning new kanji seems to be slightly more difficult but I trust that I’ll get them in the future, I just need to keep pushing through. The progress isn’t going to be that evident just from doing WK. When you branch out and read, you’ll notice kanji isn’t just random hieroglyphics anymore, even if you can’t read it. And when you can read it, that’s something you couldn’t do when you started, right?


Whenever I feel like I keep forgetting the same kanji, I skip doing new lessons for about 2-3 days and re-read the mnemonic for each kanji I am messing up. Someone said it before as well, if after this I still miss this kanji, I then work my brain to come up with something for myself. I think if you have access to do so maybe you need to start listening to some interesting Japanese podcasts or watching drama etc to remind yourself that Kanji knowledge is not the end all be all for Japanese (as important as it is).

Lastly, you can go on holiday mode for 2 weeks or so and see if you miss it enough to return.


It’s possible you are going too fast, or in other words ‘rushing’ yourself? I once tried to go fast but started to get burnt out and then hit a wall. I ended up resetting to a previous level (made a post After a long absence, I reset (to level 7), and I’m glad I did), and then decided to focus on enjoying learning Japanese, rather than playing the ‘fastest to level 60’ game. I found a thread with like-minded folks at :durtle_hello: Let’s Durtle the Scenic Route :turtle:, and now I focus more on making steady, enjoyable progress.

Haven’t had any issues with burnout since then! Even been able to handle a recent 3 week absence (and forgetting to turn on vacation mode), leaving me with 700-ish reviews. Just worked away at them bit by bit (and stopped doing new lessons until I got things back to normal), and since I’m not pressuring myself, it’s still actually fun.

Your case reminds me a lot of how I felt the second time I hit a wall and came back to a bunch of reviews (over 9000! 2000!). I ended up choosing to reset to a previous level (see link above for how I made that decision), and if you’re experiencing similar frustration, I highly recommend at least considering whether or not a reset to a previous level would help. Many people report positive experiences when resetting. Something to think about! :blush:


One thing that I’ve been doing recently in order to ‘give myself more successes’ is to actually un-burn (aka ‘resurrect’) previously burned items from lower levels that I feel a bit fuzzy on. I call it ‘visiting old friends’. See, since I’ve already burned them once, the second time around they are much more familiar, and I often get a better feel for the word/kanji/radical including better mnemonics and better ability to distinguish them from other items that are similar/confusing.

I’ve found that this makes working through large review backlogs more fun, because at least I know I’ll have some items that I mostly remember and that gives me some positive reward feedback to keep me motivated to work on the newer or more-difficult review items. It’s like adding some flavouring to bland food to make the whole meal more enjoyable. :yum:

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Oh that’s a big fat no for me Lol. Even if I unburn them and I happen to get most—if not all of them right— I would feel even more stressed out. I’m tired of doing reviews so the fact that I would get some right would not give me a boost.

I just want to get rid of all reviews and rest for a long time while I just immerse with videos, anime, and reading

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heh, I’ve been stuck on level 27 for 5 months now for many reasons (JLPT/MEXT, conferences, life drama and whatnot). 1.5 weeks ago I cleared my reviews, now I have 350 pending reviews, and I have not even done a lesson. This proves what others said: stopping using SRSs is the worst mistake you could do. Once you’re in you gotta go all the way down.
Try finding some enticing material to keep your morale up! With level 12 you should be able to read children stories or even play pokemon, and obviously get through genki if you haven’t.

(I should get back to work…)

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Fair enough. I know the feeling.

… however…
If you’ll allow me…, let me give you a very simple, easy, virtually no-risk challenge you could try, if you wanted to:

The first two levels, 1 and 2, have that ‘accelerated’ SRS timing, so that the Apprentice items go twice as fast: 2 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours, and 1 day, to get all the way up to Guru. So, in the worst case scenario, this little experiment would only really risk a couple of days with a few (not many!) extra reviews.

So, the idea is simple. Just pick a few of your already-burned Level 1 or Level 2 items – say 5 or 10. You could pick them randomly (using the Levels menu on the homepage it’s easy to do) or you could pick ones you’re already familiar with (if you want to minimize challenge), or you could pick ones that are a bit less familiar than others (you’ve already burned them, but maybe they’re a bit fuzzy, or maybe you can’t quite recall off the top of your head, but when you look at the WK page they come back to you easy enough).

Then just resurrect some of these. Try five, maybe. Or even three, or two, or even just one. Come on, eh? Just one? You’d barely notice it! Just for an experiment.

And besides, you will easily re-burn it anyway, shuffled in with all the other items you’ll eventually burn. And it’ll be the easiest item to burn, since you’ve already burned it.

A grand total of 8 reviews of an item you’ve already burned once. It would take, what, like maximum 1 minute per review, and that’s a super-conservative estimate. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, you could probably do all 8 reviews in less than 60 seconds total! But let’s say 1 minute per. That’s still less than 10 minutes of your entire life just to try this little experiment.

The purpose of the experiment is to see for yourself: Does ‘re-visiting old friends’ like this (only occasionally, mind you) really create stress? Or…, perhaps, … might it actually be a little bit de-stressing, as I’ve personally found it? Or, maybe it’s just neutral, no stress, no de-stress, just no plus or minus either way? Ya never know till ya try! :thinking:

And hey, if it turns out to be a bit de-stressing – or heck, maybe even a bit fun and enjoyable as I find it – then you’ve found a new way to bring back some of the enjoyment of WK/learning-Japanese once again. Could be a handy tool to help ward off frustration and burnout. Just a thought. Worth a shot, IMHO, even if it’s just to experiment with a single item, or maybe a handful of them. Got virtually nothing to lose (but maybe maximum 10 minutes), potentially useful technique to gain… :thinking:

I get you, I am currently at level 16. I get so frustrated when I seem to can’t remember a word that I know I have used. It’s been really frustrating for me the last few levels.

Half of me wants to take it easy. Stop rushing the levels and just do some reviews for a week or two without lessons then continue, but the other half is scared that I won’t be able to pick it up again by then.

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I really appreciate your response. It’s reassuring to know that there’re others struggling too :sweat_smile:

Give yourself some credit too. You’re already halfway through the pleasant section.

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Learning to slow down is definitely a skill :sweat_smile: but it is something I’m practicing. I really appreciate the response, and best of luck to you as well.

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I really appreciate the response. Good on you for jumping back to WK; it definitely takes some will to face 1500 reviews.

Working on slowing down does feel like part of the language learning process, I’m just now getting that.

Best of luck, and hope you keep at it.

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Honestly a really good reminder to remember just what you’re doing this for, so I appreciate that.

I haven’t tried any pomodoro apps, but I’m open to experimenting! Really appreciate the response.

It definitely is important to remember what you’re doing this for. For me, it’s to improve (establish) reading comprehension for things like light novels, manga, etc. Then, hopefully being able to speak at a conversational level.

I have been using Bunpro recently, though I also feel like I could/should be doing more admittedly.

But you are completely right in that I do need to pace myself and remember what this is for :relieved:

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My method thus far has mostly been to routinize my lessons, for the same reason you just explained; when motivation drops. That’s what’s kept me consistent, but I do need to work more on pacing myself when even that fails :sweat_smile:

I really appreciate that perspective. It is encouraging to at least see progress in those instances.

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Finding some material is a good idea! Do you have any recommendations?

I do struggle when it comes to trusting the process, but you are right, burnout isn’t sustainable :sweat_smile:

Also best of luck with your studying. 20 years takes some dedication!f I hope I have half the persistence you have.