Overcoming the WaniKani wall

I just reached level 29! It’s not the most notable level to celebrate about, except for the fact that it took me 371 days to get out of level 28.

My pace on WK was relatively steady until then. Early on I had read a lot of posts about how other users structured their review times, and adopting that kind of structure is what kept me motivated to come back everyday and stay on top of the ever-growing review pile. I averaged around 9 days per level and I liked that I was able to count how many days until I’d level up next. I had kept this system up for myself ever since I subscribed at level 4, and judging by the fact that I was approaching level 30 after only 6-7 months, I thought I was well on my way to kanji fluency by the end of 2021/early 2022.

Around this time last year, my family and I were moving houses so I gave myself a week off of WK. Once I came back, suddenly I couldn’t do it anymore. All that routine I had held up for half a year disappeared within a week. Every time I would come back and tell myself that I would catch up on my reviews, I would see the review count grow by the hundreds and give up on sight. I really wish I had taken a screenshot of how many review items I had at one point, it was probably around 2.3k. It was an intimidating number and quite honestly demotivating to see. Multiple times I would come back, work on reviews for a few days, and then forget about it for another few months. I found it incredibly difficult to re-establish a daily habit, even though I greatly wished to be back where I was when I was still consistent.

I made it a firm goal for this summer to be able to clear that review wall, and I finally did it. It took about two full months to get back into the rhythm, and boy am I glad to be back. I look forward to continuing my journey to level 60, and I’m hoping that I’m able to bounce back if I ever encounter that wall again (knowing that I’ve already overcome it once before).

Has anyone else encountered the dreaded WK wall? If you managed to make it out to the other side, what was the process like for you?

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I totally get you. I’ve found that pretty much every time that I’ve had a major disruptive life event that I fall off the WK train for months. I’m still working out the kinks of how to improve my reaction to these events,

Something that’s worked for me is setting a minimum. Not trying to finish or do everything, but just forcing myself to do a little. Even doing just a little will help over time. For example, I changed one of my goals from reading one volume of manga every week to reading a little every day. Since changing to a goal of every day (just a few pages counts!) rather than focusing on the completion, I’ve found myself able to read more and more. Since the Read Every Day Challenge has encouraged me to record the number of pages, I can actually plug that data into a graph to see that I am reading more over time and that has made it possible for me to reach my goal of reading a volume per week even though that’s not my focus now.

If you have a period like this again, I recommend changing your goal from being completion based (clearing reviews) to being a small minimum that you can increase as you improve (doing 10 reviews a day and increasing to 20, 50 etc.). As you slowly add more to your plate, you’ll reach the point where you’re clearing more reviews daily than you accumulate.

As a caveat, while this has done wonders for my reading, I haven’t really successfully gotten myself to do it with WK yet. I was slowly increasing my reviews at one point and then for a month, I only did 10-20 a day. Today I’ve set myself up to finally clear all my reviews for the first time since Feb. In the future, I plan to get myself to treat WK more like I do reading now and I also plan to keep to my minimums during major life events and also vacations. Who cares if your family or friends make fun of you for studying on vacation? You’re making progress and if you’re sticking to a small minimum, less than 30 minutes to an hour of your day won’t ruin your vacation and shouldn’t be impossible in most circumstances.

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Congrats! That’s not an easy wall to climb. Life happens.

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Nice job! I’m going through a bit of that right now. I’ve been off and on since I WaniKani about 5 years ago. Usually am able to go daily for 4 or 5 months at a time, and then stop for a year. Now I’ve stopped for quite a while (maybe a little over a year), and am working down 1.2k reviews. Really glad they added the ability to review cards that have been burned, because I definitely missed some small chunk of those.
I’m making my goal for each day to just do 100 reviews of the regular, and 100 reviews of my burned cards. That way the big number of reviews doesn’t intimidate me. And then I’ll slowly add more to my daily number. This way I have a nice structured system, and a good routine for productive things to do the first thing in the morning.

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I’ve had big piles a couple of times. My method from the last time it happened is refined from a couple of other times.

  • It is important to build the habit of doing WK. That means not making it too painful to do it every day. Meaning I usually start at about 10-20 reviews a day, whatever amount I feel I can handle.

  • I will never start doing more than maybe 100 reviews per day though, because I’ve never gone fast enough that I have more than that daily. And if I do a lot more than that in a day, I might get big review dumps when they come back later.

  • I usually start by focusing on reviews from higher SRS stages. Those are the ones I’m most likely to remember, and if I do, they disappear up to a higher SRS or get burned. Meaning I won’t see them again for a while. And even if I get them wrong, they won’t fall all the way to apprentice, so they still won’t come back that quick. Basically my goal is to reduce the pile as much as possible without making my pile grow quicker by having loads of apprentice. (I’ve used scripts for this in the past, but now I’d use WK’s new review order option.)

  • I make sure to be okay with this process taking time. Latest time I came back to a pile, at the beginning of this year, I allowed it to take as much time as it took. I cleared it in late April.

  • I reset a couple of levels, both to reduce the review pile, but also because I knew I wouldn’t remember the items from the last couple of levels because they didn’t have a chance to get far enough in SRS (aka I hadn’t seen them that many times). That means I both got rid of a few hundred reviews, and I also got rid of a lot of the low SRS stage ones. And I would probably have failed them all (or 90+%) so it wasn’t like I lost anything. I’d already lost them.

Those were basically my strategies. And I think I started right after new years for the latest pile, although I didn’t start doing reviews almost every day until later January, I think. And it wasn’t until March until I was back to definitely doing it daily. And I generally did 10-20 reviews for the first month, then I started pushing to often go to 30, and then when I was getting closer to the end of the pile, I had the motivation and habit behind me to start pushing to 50ish reviews per day and sometimes a second session.

It means I wasn’t done with the pile until late April, but I also had a super solid WK habit by then, so when I started lessons again it was easy to just keep going, and here I am still doing the stuff. :slight_smile:

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Hey the same thing happened to me. I documented it here:

Same as you, around the 6-8 month mark was when my regular life started to rubber band back in and I put off WK until it snowballed into a mountain of reviews.

I made it to 60. You can too. :relaxed::+1:

And, honestly, I learned so much from going through the process. I think one of the most important lessons was that I didn’t want to do it again, so if I hit a day where I didn’t want to do reviews, I’d always remember that it’s way easier to do the 20m review right now than to claw my way back out of a hole again.

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Level 28’s the worst… congrats on surviving it!

Source: Spent a year on it and reset to 22

hurriedly runs away to do lessons

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What is it with people taking breaks and not going on vacation? Is it only me that gets upset at this? Lol since we have vacation mode there’s zero excuse to not use it. When people complain about reviews pile instead of having empathy or trying to be helpful I instead get upset.

It’s like making a U turn when you see the no U turn sign and a police car right in front of you. You still decide to make a U turn and then you get a ticket. You go to court to try and fight even though you know everything’s against you. And then you start to complain about it.

That’s how I see it :confused:

i hit my (first) wall about a year ago. i was going at a frenetic pace, had just reached level 24, my first burns… and then i went away for 4 days, for a wedding. and my whole routine fell apart completely.

and i’m almost at level 29 now :sweat_smile:

(the second wall was in december, after a bit of a breakdown).

the biggest things for me in overcoming the wall were learning to be patient and forgiving with myself, and finding a system for working with WK which is a bit more flexible if i can’t do all the reviews every day.

my main tool for making WK more flexible is to reorder my reviews by srs level. if my master or enlightened items have to wait a few days longer there’s no harm done, but even if i only do 20 or 30 reviews i’ll probably have done the most urgent apprentice items.

as for patience, well… hard-earned lessons, there…

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Life got in the way and WaniKani was the furthest thing on their mind, they underestimated the review pile they’d return to after being away for what seems like just a few days, they didn’t know vacation mode existed in the first place, etc. There are all sorts of situations where someone may end up not using vacation mode.

@notjustine I’m proud of you for clearing that hurdle, and I wish you similar success with any walls you encounter in the future. It sucks to fall off a well-established routine, and it feels difficult to get back into the grove at times, but I’m sure you’ll get there again.

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I never saw a good reason to use vacation mode. Because then I would lengthen the SRS timing even worse than just letting them pile up and getting to them when I can. At least if I understand how it works correctly. Basically, all reviews and their intervals go static right? So say I was gonna have a review show up tomorrow, then go on vacation mode. Then whenever I got off vacation mode, that review will show up the day after that, correct?

To me, it feels like a dumb idea, if say, I took a 6 months long break, and then start up the reviews again as if I was never gone. That would mean that something that I just reviewed into enlightened (before the break) is still 4 months away, rather than a 2 months overdue burned review.

I’d rather have the pile, than have a lot of reviews show up after their normal interval + however long I was on vacation mode. Just because you think vacation mode is the right choice, doesn’t mean everyone else agrees.

And also as @hiwamari mentioned, far from all breaks are planned (I’d guess most are unplanned), and I think most of us thinks “I’ll be back at it any day”, so even those who might use vacation mode doesn’t activate because they mean to get back. And eventually a lot of time has passed. Or you know, life hits someone so hard that WK doesn’t enter their thoughts at all.

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There was a thread earlier this year about a WK user clawing their way out of 3k+ reviews. It was a hard slog, but they done did it, though.

I ended up with a 2k+ pile myself last year, and I just went through it. If I got the review right, I got it right. If I got it wrong, I took the lumps and kept moving. But I eventually fought it all the way back down to 0.

Edit: I did 50 reviews an hour when time permitted.

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I don’t see how you think getting into a pile of reviews is better than getting back to how things were before you went on vacation.

The key is to take a vacation in intervals of 7 days. If you go on a Tuesday at 9am then you have to get back on a Tuesday at 9am. Nothing would shift this way.

Getting things wrong after 6 month vacation is not an issue because srs will take care of it. But you won’t lose your mind/motivation as you would getting back to hundreds or thousands of reviews.

If you want to just take a break for 1 day or 2 then you may as well take a week vacation or simply let it pile up for a day or 2. That’s not gonna kill you but if you know for a fact that you’re gonna get lazy— and it’s not because something unexpected happened to you just couldn’t do reviews on that day— then you should go on vacation mode.

None of those are excuse in my opinion. I know many people will disagree with me but that’s how I see it. If life gets in the way or you just get lazy, go on vacation mode. Simple as that.

Edit: well not knowing vacation mode existed is a valid one Lol

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Tofugu is apparently experimenting with a way to retroactively adjust the timings as if vacation mode had been enabled for a prior period of time.

It’s very simple Lol. Nothing to experiment. If there’s no activity in 3 or 4 days activate vacation mode. Or just add something in the menu for us to activate:

If I don’t do reviews or lessons for X number of days, activate vacation mode for me

That’s all that’s needed. Give the user control and viola.

That’s sort of what OP’s request was in the thread I linked LOL - you should comment that there

Oh really? Lol I’ll check that out

Well done!!
I was stuck with masses of reviews on level 17 (my current level) after being absent for a long time so reset to level 10 and worked my way back up to where I was. It’s taken me months but I’m excited to finally start learning things I’ve not encountered before now I’m out of that slump :slight_smile:

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What I’m doing is taking a rest from learning new kanjis and vocab. I reached level 10 a few weeks ago and I’m doing reviews for a couple of months or until I got more items into the burned and enlightened piles.

I will do this every 10 levels.

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