So You Fell Behind on Your Anki

May 11, 2024
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A woman in front of her computer in despair.
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Falling behind on Anki can feel incredibly overwhelming. The sight of “due: gazillion words” can weaken the will of even the most determined language learner. And the worst part is that overwhelm leads to inaction, stopping you in your tracks before you even get going.

Maybe you should just torch it - delete all your words, make a new deck, make a fresh start?

No, don’t do that. That’s a waste of the time and effort you put into making your deck in the first place.

Fortunately, there’s a simple two-step formula for catching up on your Anki without drowning in a sea of overwhelm.

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. Don’t try to catch up all at once.

Don’t Panic

Meditate, drink some chamomile tea, or tear off some demon heads in DOOM Eternal. Whatever floats your boat. There’s not a lot to this step, honestly.

Don’t Try to Catch up All at Once

Seriously, don’t try it. The only way to stop learning is if you give up, and trying to do sixty billion words in one sitting is a recipe for giving up.

Be realistic: if you’re used to reviewing 40 words per day,  you’re not going to review 400 words - ten times your usual amount - in a single sitting. Your attention fairies can’t handle that, and herding them is a pain, so just don’t. Instead, here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Set your new cards per day to 0, if it wasn’t already.
  2. Review for as long as you usually would. Maaaaaybe 5 minutes more, if you’re feeling super fresh, but don’t push it.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 tomorrow. Repeat until you’re all caught up.

The beauty of this approach is that, yes, it might take you a while to catch up, but that whole time Anki is serving its purpose: you are learning vocabulary. That’s what Anki is for. It’s not for showing you “congratulations, you’ve finished this deck”; it’s for learning vocabulary.

So go on, catch up on your Anki (gradually), and before you know it you’ll be back in the swing of things.