The number that seems to endlessly follow you everywhere you go: reviews due. When it hits zero, you get a rush of dopamine. When it hits 300+, you curse your existence. So you focus on getting to 0. But what you do before then can change your motivation drastically.
Looking at your reviews while you review?
Whether you use the Jalup app or Anki, there is an option to see how many reviews you have left before you hit 0. I never, ever, ever used this. I know some people love it. I hated it and turned it off 12 years ago the second I saw it. But while I didn’t see reviews while reviewing, I did see them before and after sessions. And it wasn’t till just recently that I decided to do something about this.
Adam, didn’t you say you quit Anki a while back? I did – for Japanese. But I’m on card 5,762 of my iOS Dev Programming deck. And the reviews take longer than Japanese reviews, and pour in daily. My new solution to keep myself motivated is simple:
Don’t look at reviews due… until they are 0!
Either my app is already open to the specific deck, or when I re-open the app, I intentionally avert my eyes from any number. The “you’re done!” message pops up, and I bask in 0 reviews due glory.
Is this really better?
I see two very different perspectives on this. And since I’ve walked down both paths, I can talk to what ended up working for me. Let’s assume that you woke up with 250 reviews due. And reaching 0 reviews for the day is your victory.
Motivation technique #1
You wake up – 250 reviews due! That’s a big bad monster. It’s going to take some time to knock it down. However, as that number goes down, your energy goes up, especially as you get closer to the final strike. You have a goal and you are breaking it down into many smaller pieces, with the end in sight. You are done, and it feels great!
Motivation technique #2
You wake up – how many reviews do I have due? Maybe it is 100. Maybe it is 300. You don’t spend any time thinking about it. You just start. You don’t know when you will reach the end. You don’t even know when you are near the end. You might have a feeling you are about done, but that feeling will often be off. So you just hack and slash. Then out of nowhere you are done! And it feels great!
Less Thought, More Surprise
The less time I spend thinking about my reviews, and the more time I spend just doing them, the better I’ve done. The tangible reviews due was an ugly number for me. A number that made it harder to start. But more importantly, that surprise of hitting 0 when you don’t see it coming is amazing. That feeling of sudden celebration pushes up this method for me an extra level.
It took some time to get used to it. I was tempted to see the review count. I often gave in at the beginning, especially when I thought I was near the end of my reviews for the day. But every time I gave in it only made me feel worse. Once I stopped giving in, I unlocked something magical.
Do you look at your reviews due?
In the review session itself as it counts down one by one? Before and in between sessions? Or have you decided to block out everything until 0?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.