A buildup of reviews is inevitable. You are going to get caught up in something non-Japanese and your numbers will grow. You forgot to turn on vacation mode. Now you have a vicious number staring you down.
You decide to make today a full burst review day. You’ll spend hours on end to reach that beautiful “0 reviews due” you crave.
Initial success and glory
It’s not easy to spending several hours to a full day doing nothing but chipping away at a large review number. But it can be done. It has been done by countless people before you. The monstrous number actually has an unintended benefit. It is motivating. You probably think the opposite – that there is a correlation between the size of your reviews and the size of your motivation. One goes up, the other goes down. I think this is only partially true.
Having a big number of reviews drains your motivation. 250-400 is usually a motivation killer. It is most likely caused by a recent lapse, and you can feel it painfully growing with time.
Having a massive number of reviews does something slightly different. 1000 reviews is a dungeon boss threat. Overcoming this is no easy feat. It’s a challenge worthy of a Japanese slayer. From this comes unexpected motivation.
What’s more rewarding?
- Fighting and winning against a small barrage of strong monsters daily.
- Fighting and winning against a seemingly insurmountable foe.
This is why 300 reviews often turns to 1000 reviews and then eventually back to 0. The rewards system is set up this way. Except there is one remaining problem.
The next days are brutal
When you defeat a major boss in a game, you don’t then immediately return to a super hard dungeon of new and frustrating battles. You get a break, return to town, get some interesting story, then face weaker enemies, working your way up to the next boss.
Flash card reviews do not work this way. Slashing 1000 to 0 is only the beginning. The next several days include all the reviews you marked wrong, as well as all the others that would typically be due.
Day 1: 1000
Day 2: 700
Day 3: 500
Day 4: 300
Day 5: 200
Every day feels like a continuous boss battle, that slowly gets better over time.
Day 1: 500
Day 2: 300
Day 3: 200
Day 7: 500
Your review count can actually go back up after going back down, even if you are zeroing out your reviews daily. This happens either from cards marked incorrect, or from recently learned cards marked correct that all come in for review again at the same interval.
Prepare for the long battle
The 1-day victory can feel good, and you should feel proud. But any time you face an unstoppable number, you need to mentally prepare for a drawn out battle. By doing so you prevent victory from turning into defeat. By doing so you grow stronger. By doing so you promise yourself you won’t let it happen again. Overcome enough of these battles and you’ll be surprised where you end up.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.