Staying motivated?

Welp I dished out for the lifetime membership when it went on sale and then promptly dropped the ball during my winter holidays.

I finally caught up on my 300+ review queue and have whittled my lessons down to 125, but my kaniwani stack is now over 500.

How do you all stay motivated with no financially imposed time limit? What do you do when you fall behind? Grind the stack down in one grueling day or slowly wear it down over a week? It’s too soon for me to burn out! I haven’t even burned anything yet!


I think you are actually asking 2 questions, the first one would be “how to deal with a enormous stack of reviews?” and the second would be “how to stay motivated?”.
I never got such a great number of reviews at once but i would suggest to do it in bits multiple times a day, for example 100 review each hour until you empty it.
For the second question i suggest you to remember why are you learning japanese, this should give you some motivation. Also since you are at level 10 I would suggest to start reading in japanese, doesn’t matter how simple the texts are the beginning, being able to decipher them will surely give you some satisfaction and motivation to keep up.


I don’t have lifetime, but I also don’t have a financially imposed time limit, so my answer might be useful.

I just do it at the pace that I want. Went fast for 30 levels, but right now I have like 1.8k reviews, so I gotta get that sorted out. It’ll probably take me like a month.

There’s no point in burning out, but some might say that there’s no point in doing things slowly if you can get them done quickly. It’s up to you.


I actually live and work in Japan and am fairly proficient already. My Kanji has just lagged wayyyy behind my other skills so I’m using wanikani to catch up. You’d think working in a Japanese-only office would be sufficient motivation… and yet…
Doing it in bits does seem more manageable… I’ll get down to a reasonable number eventually. I’ll try not to let those big numbers discourage me!


Hi, I actually have around 500 myself. How about a little challenge?

There are 5 days until Monday… So by Monday morning, we have to attain 0 at least once? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


Most of the time I’m not that motivated. I’ve just made a habit of it so I always sit down at the same time every day and do reviews.Its taken years to build that habit, but at this point its just automatic.


If your vocab isn’t too bad and kanji reading is the reason to be here, then just drop kaniwani?


My suggestion would be:

  1. stop/pause Kaniwani. It should half the time you need.
  2. I’m not sure how much time you can dedicate to WK, but do your reviews in batches of 50, at least 3 every day.
  3. Don’t do lessons till you get to zero.

I woke up to 200+ one day last week (due to a large number of lessons). It took almost two days, because new reviews kept adding themselves to the pile, and the number didn’t seem to go down.
But it will go down. Just do them slowly in small batches.

As for the motivation thing, I don’t live in Japan. But when I paid for WK, it was because I had finally decided to do it. To learn Japanese for real! And WK is the first big brick I need. Learning kanji the first time is something you do only once. Afterwards it’ll be just adding new information (new readings, new meaning, new words).
I believe this is the hardest moment of our Japanese journey, so just think about the real and more enjoyable learning you’ll do afterwards. Should help with the motivation.


I almost lost motivation few months ago. To keep motivated, I decided to slow down the level up. I do reviews every day but I never do new lessons if:

  1. number of apprentice items > 120

  2. number of reviews next day > 200

This helps to keep the number of daily reviews below 250 which is what I can manage.


I’ve had an off-and-on relationship with WK since I started. Here are a few tips I’ve learned:

  • Don’t burn yourself out. Do a reasonable amount of reviews every day and don’t do any lessons until you clear the queue. (For me, reasonable is however many reviews would become due within 24 hours once you’re done with them for today)
  • Keep track of how many days in a row you’ve practiced. You’d be surprised how motivating “not breaking the streak” can be.
  • Use a review reordering script (I use this one) to sort reviews by level. It ruins the SRS somewhat, but it makes it so that you don’t have the same items popping up repeatedly over and over until you’re more caught up, which keeps the queue more manageable. Just be sure to switch it back to normal once you are caught up.
  • This is just a general WK tip, not specific to a large backlog, but make it so you can focus. Turn your phone on silent, no TV or YouTube in the background, and only use music if it helps you focus.

As far as keeping that momentum going and continuing to stay caught up, I don’t really have a perfect answer. My current strategy is to use a visual indicator of my streak in a prominent place I’ll keep seeing it to remind me to study. (For me, that’s using this habit tracker’s “history” widget on my phone’s home screen.) It seems to be working so far, but it’s still too early to tell for sure.



I think my answer applies to learning Japanese, not just doing WK/learning kanji. Keep in mind I’m not doing WK anymore (I’m learning a different way) so that’s why I’m only level 4. The way I stay motivated is I do multiple things. Number one is I stay on a schedule. I’ve kept the same schedule now for almost 2 months and it’s just become a daily routine for me now. Secondly, I try and make it so I’m able to find the stuff I learn “out in the wild”, when I find something I’ve learned and I remember it, I get excited and realize I’m one step closer. Thirdly, and most importantly, I have the mindset of “if I stop now, then I won’t be making progress. However, I will ALWAYS be making progress, even if I’m moving at a snails pace if I continue studying”. This is super important to me because I love to go fast and I want to learn Japanese as fast as I can. With that said, if I don’t feel like I’m making much progress I start to lose some motivation. The thing is, you’re always making progress whether you feel like it or not because the alternative is not doing anything at all. Which is worse? Anyways, that’s just how I’ve stayed motivated, especially with me hitting Japanese at full force, hitting 300 hours of studying in less that 3 months.


Just show up every day and do the work. After a while it becomes second nature.

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I don’t think money ever is a motivator for very long, unless it’s life-changing amounts.
And as an office employee, 9$ a month wouldn’t be much of a motivation anyways, would it?

Anyways, a stack of 125 lessons or 300 reviews looks intimidating in the beginning, but it’s really not such a big deal. It can be gone in a few hours. Plus a little more time for follow-up reviews of course.
Also, I wouldn’t worry so much about the numbers. Any time you have a review ready, it’s a good learning opportunity. Just do as many reviews and get as many learning opportunities as you can. You will constantly improve your knowledge. As others have said, once you get into a steady habit, you don’t need motivation anymore. The reward of having learned will be a constant companion.
By the way, i have 300 reviews right now, but i’m just calmly doing as many as i can (=

Also, imagine this:


Oho! I am definitely motivated by challenges. You’re on!


Doing the vocab in reverse really strengthens my knowledge of the kanji, and I don’t know all the vocab already. In the interest of absolute fluency, I don’t want to drop it Just yet :confused:

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This is… good advice. I don’t usually look closely at upcoming reviews or current apprentice items when I’m starting lessons


oop mine was financially imposed time limit .-. i got lifetime after 60

i g u e s s … do reviews as soon as you get them. which sounds obvious but even if you have free time you might be like “i’ll do it later” no do it now because you might be busy later and forget about it and then they pile up and oop 400 reviews but you don’t wanna do them and they keep- and then you have no motivation to do them all.


I would advise dropping kaniwani. It is a lot of work for little benefit. Just do Wanikani and start immersing yourself in native materials once you hit lvl 20-30 or so.


I don’t. Motivation is the biggest issue for me.

my current plan is to start Kaniwani when i’m 60 on WK, i’ll use the time i don’t need for WK anymore. I think Kaniwani can be quite beneficial if you have the time, though WK, grammar and immersion is probably more important.