sorry for the incoming wall of text! But here we go…
This is a bit of a confession now since what I’m going to write borders on blasphemy or just being a bit, fat phony. And I would not write about this in other threads of people asking for advice since most people here will think it is bad advice so I have kept this to myself. But I think you and I have similar ideas on a lot of topics and you are coming to the same conclusions that I came to. It all boils down to the “you are overtesting yourself” article in the end and some other stuff, doesn’t it.
A while ago, I realized that I am spending too much time on WaniKani and this is not a good use of my time. I’m spending so much time here that there is less time for immersion. And I was wasting sooooo much time on learning vocabulary that I was just not ready for because I had never encountered it in real life. I noticed that it was going much, much better when I had first seen a vocabulary item here and then encountered it in real life content. Everything before that started to seem like too much effort at the wrong time but skipping vocab was not an option for me either since I see the benefit of learning readings that way and enforcing the kanji.
But since I was spending so much time here, there was too little time left for other things like grammar andreading & listening. Yet I still wanted to get kanji out of the way. I’m guessing that is also where you are at.
I even tried RTK two or three times because I wanted something easier and faster but even though I disagree with some of the things that WaniKani forces you to do, I just like it more and came back here every time.
I think not all people here are comparable. Some seem to have a lot of free time (I’m assuming students and people with regular 9-5 jobs and without a ton of other responsibilities in their life) and others had a high level of Japanese already before starting WaniKani (people like Leebo and Naphtalene) which would make the whole experience significantly different. If you start WK right when you are learning Japanese and don’t have a ton of free time, I think it is easy to fall into the trap of spending most of your study time here, neglecting other areas of study, going even slower in WaniKani because you are not reinforcing the kanji & vocab you are learning here in the real world. Oh my, I’m sorry, I’m still at the introduction but I felt like I had to explain myself for my upcoming big confession
So, here is my “cheating my way through WaniKani but getting exactly what I want out of it” approach. There are multiple things I do and some rules I have set up for myself about it.
1.) I use a modified version of the Anki mode script (and a modified version of Allicrab where I can use it but previously, I had it running on an Android device that I was using for just that purpose). My reasoning behind this is: even if I am learning things a bit less efficiently because I am not writing stuff out, I am still learning. After all, tons of people are using Anki without typing the answers and they are still progression. Not having to type also leaves me more time for other things. Instead of focusing on exactly what answer I have to type or adding synonyms, I take my time to repeat the mnemonic if necessary, look at the stroke order diagram and maybe even draw the kanji in my palm (or on paper but I rarely take the time to do that). This also resolves the issue of being a non native speaker of English and getting answers wrong because I couldn’t think of the correct English term (I’m here to learn Japanese after all; my English is good enough to get by).
2.) I use a script that shows me if an item is about to be burnt or not. I am 100% serious and not cheating about burning items but everything below that I take less seriously and I mark thinks as correct although.
For me that is a bit of a hack to simulate longer repeat intervals in Anki. Sometimes when my day is stressful already and I have 150 reviews piled up, I will just go through all the vocab items, read them, mark them as correct and move on. I still had some exposure to them: great. And I cleared my queue and have time for either new kanji or studying other thing.
On other days, I take more time with the vocab and really try and come up with the answer on my own. But even if I get it wrong, I just mark it as correct. There are only two exceptions: 1.) If the items is about to be burned, I mark it as incorrect so that I will see it again. 2.) If I got it wrong because I did not recognize one of the kanji, I also mark it as incorrect. My main goal here is to learn the kanji and get some idea of the vocab that is being used in. Learning the vocab perfectly can come later. If it is a N5-N4 level vocab then I will see it again in Anki in one of my decks and it will stick better.
For kanji, I always want to get the meaning right, otherwise I pass it. The only exception might be an item on the current level that would stop me from levelling up soon. However, I don’t care about the readings anymore. I still read the mnemonic and try to answer it but if I get it wrong, I figure I will just get it right over time via vocabulary elsewhere.
3.) For time efficiency, I even wrote a little script that will automatically fills in the answers during the quiz after some seconds. I never use it when adding new kanji but when I have a bulk of vocabulary items, it is helpful to just get them out of the way a bit faster. I still try to recall the answer on my own but if I don’t get it right, I still add it to my queue. For kanji, I don’t use this script.
Coincidentally, Matt just recently posted a YouTube video about RTK and some things he realized. He was advising beginners to do RTK (which also focuses just on the meaning, not on the reading; that is obviously where one of my inspirations is coming from; I’m abusing WK a bit to modify it into a “lazy kanji” format with some vocab knowledge sprinkled on top). BUT when he was doing RTK, he was already on a higher level and had tried to study kanji before. Of course, for someone like him getting through RTK and maintaining that knowledge was easier. For a beginner who can’t just sit down and read novel after novel, it might be a different story. Matt himself actually started with “Lazy Kanji” and I think, if I remember correctly, that was his new advice to people but he still seemed to think this through. I found it interesting that he arrived at a similar conclusion than I had.
So all in all, of course you can not really adjust the SRS times but I’m using mainly the Anki mode scripts and some rules I have set up for myself to reduce the workload here. My burn rates have not gone down yet since there is so much time between enlightened and burned that you can forget stuff anyway if you haven’t come across it elsewhere or it is easy. And I feel more like I’m in control of WaniKani know instead of it being in control of me and my schedule. My workload is obviously much more manageable and when I have a busy day and a long review queue, I just get the vocabulary out of the way in a few minutes since I know it will always come back later. No need to be hung up and stressed out by whatever WK thinks is best for me.
This leaves me more time for other stuff, I even started learning to write the kanji (there is a nice WK based Anki deck for that) and I have a WK kanji deck on Anki that I’m going through separately. It will show me the kanji only as the stroke order diagram which I like.
What I wrote above is probably more a starting point, maybe you can use some of these ideas for yourself. If you have any questions about the scripts I used then let me know. I haven’t posted all of my scripts since I don’t even want to know what kind of responses I would get on e.g. an “auto complete quiz answers” script…
P.S.: Anyone else who might have read this wall of text: you are free to have your own opinions about this approach. It feels right for me and I did not come here to be lectured about it and am not planning on defending myself. This is just a reply to @Ncastaneda who seems to be on the same page about a lot of other topics as I am. I’m not posting this as general advice for anyone (although I think there might be people who would prefer such an approach and have not even considered it yet but I know that the community will not agree with my blasphemy).
P.P.S.: Sorry, did not proofread and spell check any of this and I have not had coffee yet