I used this plan to conquer 1350 reviews. If you found yourself in a pit full of reviews, I think it can help you, too.
Realize you don’t want to waste it.
Make a plan and write it down.
Set a goal. Envision some practical and emotional gains you get if you win (better preparation for the trip to Japan, hope to someday learn Japanese, everybody is in awe at your knowledge during the trip, the moral right to write an article and get famous for being so clever and beautiful). Envision some practical and emotional pains if you lose (more problems during the trip, no hope, gonna look like a fool during the trip, public humiliation).
Divide Reviews into manageable chunks, set aside time each day to complete a chunk. Don’t try to complete a chunk in one go.
Go to WaniKani → Account → Settings → App and change “SRS update indicator during reviews” to “No” — this will turn off all these red “Apprentice” labels you’d see otherwise. I can’t think of anything more demotivating than this. We’re here to go back on track, not to study. Studying is planned for later. Studying is not going to happen without getting back!
Don’t do Lessons! See the previous point for reasons.
Start your first chunk right away.
Look up mnemonics for everything. If you can’t remember the mnemonic — don’t force it. Write some gibberish and go read explanations for every kanji and a word itself. Don’t run — walk.
Finish the first chunk and plan the time for the second.
Note how much time it took you. Adjust your goal accordingly.
Stick to the plan. Do reviews. Look up mnemonics. Don’t miss a day. Don’t do more than planned. Write down your progress.
Finish all reviews.
Celebrate! Report about your success and humbly brag about it.
Continue to do new reviews every day.
Reach a point when there’s too few new Reviews every day.
Start doing Lessons.
Continue. The goal is still level 60. The goal is still to read in Japanese. The goal is still to be awesome.
Things that helped me to reach the goal of getting back on track:
Egoistic motivation #1
I’m traveling to Japan in 4 months with a bunch of friends and colleagues. None of them been to Japan. I lived there for 9 months. I’m an ambassador of the Japanese culture among them though I can barely speak the language. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to embarrass myself and get everyone in trouble.
Egoistic motivation #2
This post. If I dig myself up from the pit of 1350 reviews, I’ll have a moral right to brag about it. Maybe even help someone along the way. So here I’m, eating cake, being a douchebag. And a winner. Probably both. I should just stop right here.
Writing it down helped a lot for setting expectations. Nothing outstanding, just do the damn reviews everyday. First 100 a day, then 200 a day, when it started to feel too slow.
Turning off the "SRS update indicator during reviews"
I think I’ll leave it off for good. Feels much more relaxed. No more hard feelings. I can fail a word 5 times straight with no regret. WaniKani is a marathon, running it while hearing “Ha, back to Apprentice, loser!” all the time is too much.
Conquering procrastination with a bigger procrastination
100 reviews started to take exactly 30 minutes after a few days. So I did 50 reviews for 15 minutes 2 times a day during working hours. Great cheat if you’re working in an office. (Please don’t tell my boss).
“R” to see the correct answer, “Space” to see everything, “Enter” to proceed. No need to move your hands around. Saves a lot of times.
It’s also a great tool to brute-force some of the most persistent kanij and words. Mnemonics doesn’t make sense so much it refuses to stick no matter how vividly and frequently you read and imagined it? Burn it to ashes. Just break this wall with your forehead. SRS will do the rest.
The North Star
Being able to read (and speak) in Japanese is my dream. English is my second language and learning it changed my life dramatically. I know how it feels when a language stops being foreign. I want to experience it once more.
Some smaller things that might help:
Publish your goal and plans on social media and/or on WaniKani forum (use this post!). No turning back now
Ask a friend to check up on you every day. Choose someone you don’t want to disappoint.
Come up with a reward for every review session. Want a coffee? Do 50 reviews and go get it! Ever tried a coffee with the taste of small achievement? You won’t even need sugar!
Turn some Japanese music on. It can create the necessary mood and usually helps to get into the flow faster. Don’t do it if it distracts you, though!
As a matter of fact, get rid of all possible distractions. Like an open Notion for writing down ingenious thoughts about this post…
I’ll be glad to read your stories of getting back to WaniKani. Share your techniques!
Yup. At the end of the day it’s very simple: output has to be larger than input.
On WK dashboard you get the information of how many reviews you’ll get in the next 24 hours (“Next Day”). Do that many reviews today and some more. Do this for several days in a row. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Ok everybody’s gonna hate me now, but when I was desperate, totally demotivated, exhausted, and on the verge of giving up, I had around 500 reviews and in Tsurukame, I just klicked them all right, without even looking at them. I had no items to be burned, so I knew they would all come back eventually.
The feeling was sooo liberating and I felt so great afterwards, that I am not ashamed at all and hey - I‘m still here
So, as a last resort, and before giving up, do this. And then get back to it.
If the result is getting back on track and continue learning, then whichever method worked is a great method. And yours is quite smart one, actually, I didn’t think about. Hope I’ll never got to use it in the future, though…
I actually just went from a year long absence and 2.200+ piled up reviews on level 19 two months ago to just having leveled up this morning! Finally!!!
I achieved this by doing my reviews anytime I could and not caring if they were right or wrong. I didn’t reorder by level, but I used a script to get reading-meaning 1 on 1, since I felt that this was easier on my nerves. And I started to write all the things I got wrong down after a while.
I documented it a bit more here, if anyone is interested:
Thanks for this thread, I’m sure lots of people will find it useful!
It’s the good old Ultimate Reorder 2. You can do lots of other stuff with it (like going level by level, so you get the stuff up for burns out of the way first), but for me, just having reading and meaning 1x1 was perfect and enough.
I just love this. I was up to around level 15 or so when I got buried as deep as you did. I wish I would have seen this post then, as instead of buckling down and digging out of the hole, I nuked it and started back from 0. It’s slow going, but the dream of becoming fluent is so exciting! Thanks for this encouraging post
I just came to the forum looking for advice on this very thing. I don’t have nearly as many reviews piled up, but it’s definitely easy to be overwhelmed. After seeing you crush 1300 reviews in 3 weeks, 440 feels manageable. Thanks for the guidance and push I need to begin getting things back under control. I’ll keep you updated and let you know when I hit 0 reviews!
Thank you! It’s awesome you know Korean. Does knowing it helps with Japanese? Or the opposite?
Thank you! Looks really powerful.
Thank you! I was thinking about nuking it all and starting from the beginning, too, but then I realized I can’t even re-play games or re-read books when I know what to expect. And doing WaniKani everyday for 18 levels without anything new expecting me sounded impossible, so I chose to defeat the pile of reviews instead.
I see you’re on level 9 already, this is amazing! Hope you’ll reach level 15 again soon! And beyond
I had high hopes for such outcome, and now I’m very pleased with myself
I’ll be glad to know when you finish off your reviews, so yeah, please let me know
Saw this post in my email summary. Just checked in to say I thoroughly enjoyed it and that you could be a great motivational writer!! (amazing considering you said English is your second language).
I’ve never had that many reviews in my backlog (I got to around 400 once when my son was born, and decided it was all too hard), however I have reset back to 0 a couple of times from around levels 28 and 18, so I can definitely relate.