Monday, March 29, 2010

Flashcard Zen? (My Morning Routine)

Because Supermemo (As well as other Spaced Repetition programs) requires that you review a piece of information a minimal number of times, the number of items you must review on a daily basis goes down quite quickly.

For the past couple of years, I have probably reviewed only 200-350 items per day. Thanks to being able to use a Nintendo Wii Remote with my computer, I can now review items almost as quickly as I can recall them; very little time is spent actually pressing buttons (Mainly the A and B buttons on the Wii Remote).

After a bit of reluctance, I have started increasing the number of items I add on a daily basis. As a result, the average number of items has jumped to around 500-650 per day. But strangely, the amount of time I spend on them is around 1 to 1.5 hours; this increased workload has not changed my morning routine much at all (Wake up, do Supermemo, jog, eat breakfast, leave). In fact, rather than feeling more stressed ("Oh no! I have 600 items today!"), I feel more refreshed and excited in general.

(Update on remembering Chinese words: It is indeed working, and I am able to remember words very quickly, although not as quickly as I did Japanese words; before they are "locked" in my memory, I usually get the tones wrong a couple of times.)


  1. If 200-350 reviews a day is a lot to me, 500-650 would be absolutely impossible, I think. One reason might be I encode complete equation deductions in my cards, so while some cards take a couple of seconds to answer, others take around 5 minutes. I reckon you take 3-5 secs for each card, so I assume you favour short and very "direct" cards, as stated in the (excellent) Supermemo pages.

    Those numbers are impressive, to say the least!

  2. Yes, with a few exceptions (Certain things simply take lots of words, or my skills are still not good enough), context should be established as quickly as possible. If they take too long to deduce, I simply mark it "wrong" and deal with it when I do a final review. If I worded it wrong, I reword it (And then reset it, possibly) or delete it.
    I've never thought about equations, that would certainly take some time to review...

  3. Can you say how many words do you have in your base?

  4. Total there are nearly 40,000 (Probably more like 39,800, I think); the number has been jumping around a bit, mainly due to "spring cleaning." I've been removing quite a few topics (Articles) that I don't need and item duplicates, which there were a BUNCH of.

  5. Thank you for answer. In future do you plan increase number of words or will stay at this number?
    Second questions is when you learn new words if at morning you only repeat it? And how long you learn 40-50 daily words?

    Thanks ^)

  6. Yes, I plan on increasing the number of words I put into Supermemo. Right now the priority is learning characters. Once characters are taken care of, I will move onto words. I do not add Japanese and English words frequently.

    I usually do repetitions in the morning, but I add new flashcards throughout the day. I usually make no effort to remember a word before I put it into Supermemo. This means most of the words are marked as "fail" a couple of times before I can recall it. It usually takes a week (at most) to recall a word I put into Supermemo.

    I try to limit new words to 10 or 15 each day, so the work is spread out over the following week, rather than all of them falling on a few days.

    Recently I have been adding about 40 new flashcards per day to Supermemo. This includes knowledge on various subjects, languages, etc.

  7. It takes me a lot more time to go trough my daily repetitions (2-2.5 hours = 400-500 reps), how ever I do it in two separate sessions, after I leave home and before going to sleep. Highest priority material is reviewed in the morning.

    I have constantly the same feel of easiness on the late night repetitions, I wonder is just that I'm being less demanding while evaluating items correctness.

    Do you feel like, any kind of items get easier over time, or some special type only?

  8. I think it depends on how well they are formulated. In the past I have had many difficult items in Supermemo and it never really got easier. It was once I started deleting or changing ill-formulated flashcards that it became more enjoyable.

    Trying my best to follow the "20 rules of knowledge formulation" has helped considerably.

  9. I've seen a post of yours, in some language forum its says you know over 40,000 items, this seems real great speed in learning, which you attribute to good formulation, would you mind posting some exemplary items.