Seems like there have been a number of posts lately with a common theme.
“I took a week off and have 500 reviews. What do I do? Should I reset?”
“I took two weeks off and have 1000 reviews. What do I do? Should I reset?”
“I took two months off and have 2000 reviews. What do I do? Should I reset?”
Rather than comment the same thing over and over, I’ll just put it here - some thoughts from my recent experience. The experience of logging into WK for the first time in ages, back in mid-December, and finding over 3100 reviews waiting for me.
Sure pulled the wind out of my sails. I’d told myself there would probably be times that would be daunting and I’d want to just give up. This was one of them. But yet here we are now, about two months later, and it’s business as usual. In fact I just had my fastest level since all the way back on Level 3.
To take a step back and see how I got into this predicament… L23 below is when I took a trip to Japan. 10 days over there, and took a while to finish that level off. When I got back, I just lost motivation. Trip to Japan had been my primary objective for studying - to be able to get around there as best I could, talk to people, etc. When the trip was over, it was kind of a “Okay… now what?” feeling. I kept at it, but slipped and slipped and eventually after taking another trip somewhere in the middle of summer I just stopped. For almost six months. Came back with more motivation having booked myself another Japan trip later this year.
So. Some thoughts for those who find themselves in a similar situation:
Yes, You Will Get A Lot Wrong. That’s Fine
When I first started digging through my review pile, I was getting maybe 30-40% right. That’s pretty discouraging after usually having been in the 80-90% range. Feels like you’re getting practically everything wrong. But on the other hand, you’re also getting a lot right! I think I had ~2500 burn reviews, and a 40% success rate means that even after 6 months away you can come back and know 1000 cards so well that you burn them for good.
No, You Shouldn’t Reset
Obviously opinions will vary here, but the more I think about it IMO it doesn’t make much sense to reset here. Does more harm and good.
Looking at my level times there, I clicked over into L32 relatively quickly (only had a few kanji left to clear), and it took me ~26 days instead of my typical ~8. So that set me back 18 days. If I’d reset… how far would I have gone? Back to the early 20s, around my Japan trip time? 9 levels to re-do would easily have been at least two months rather than 2-3 weeks, and would have thrown away a lot of hard work and progress.
Set Realistic Goals: Decrease The Review Pile By “X” Per Day
3000 reviews really isn’t that much. If you’re accustomed to doing ~200 a day, that’s only 15 days worth. It’s surprisingly manageable if you’re realistic about it. I started back up on December 13th, I wanted to be down to 0 reviews by January 1st. It wound up being about 170 cards a day. That’s not bad at all! And at first it’s actually… easy. If they’re burn reviews anyway, either (a) you get them right and you’re done for good, or (b) they drop down to Guru and you won’t see them for a bit.
At the end of every day, have a number to hit. 3050. 2880. 2710. 2540. You’ll feel like you’re making progress, because you are!
There’s A Calm Before The Storm
I mentioned that at first, making your review number go down will be relatively easy because cards are either getting burned or dropping to Guru. But eventually you’ll get to the lower level cards, Gurus come back around, failed Gurus drop to Apprentice, etc.
By the time I got to 0 reviews I had like 450 Apprentice and 1200 Guru or something like that. It’s a lot of reviews every day. But if you’ve gotten this far you just need to hunker down and ride it out. It’ll probably take a couple weeks, but eventually those will clear out and you’ll get down to a manageable level.
Wait For Clear Skies
The question then becomes at what point do you start taking lessons again? (Of course through this whole period you shouldn’t be taking on new material!). I think it’s best to really clear that Apprentice count down to < 50. Get the daily reviews down to a very small number. Let yourself get a clear run at new material without a lot of stuff lingering. When you do, 7 days and 10 hours later you might find that you’ve already moved forward one level more!
Hopefully that’s insight worth something for someone at some time they run into this. It’s really not as bad to recover from as you might think!