Chris Lakin

Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition experiments; how I use spaced repetition / Anki.

This page isn’t quite finished, but may still be useful.

Spaced repetition is a tool that makes remembering a choice.

Unfortunately, however, spaced repetition can be difficult to start: its benefits go unseen for the first few months after starting. Moreover, first learning about spaced repetition can be overwhelming.

But it’s amazing to be able to exert control over what I remember. I have 2,500 Anki cards, each accounting for a single fact or connection, and I only spent 20 minutes a day studying.

If you don’t know what spaced repetition is, read this before proceeding, it’s the best introduction that I’ve found.

There are a few applications ("spaced repetition systems" [SRS]) for spaced repetition (SR); I use Anki, the most popular one.

With Anki, you create digital flashcards and Anki tests you on them on an exponential interval. First it will test you the day after, then three days after, a week, two weeks, a month, etc.

While it’s intuitive to use Anki to remember facts, nowadays I mainly use Anki for my math classes.

note: have to see how finals work out with these

(When I say “Ankify”, I mean “adding cards to Anki for”.)

I use Anki for

How I organize my decks:

I have one deck for almost everything. I try not to separate my Anki decks based on topic because real life isn’t separated based on topic. (Plus, serendipitous idea sex occasionally occurs from observing otherwise hard-to-relate ideas in succession.)

I have another deck for example problems from classes. I don’t like to keep these in the main deck because they take longer to do. I may fiddle with the spaced interval for these in the future, too.

Another deck called ‘Everyday’— max interval of one day. For making new habits.

Another deck called 'Unforgettable'— a max interval of 20 days. Ensures I remember passwords (I don't put the actual passwords in anki of course) and anything else that cannot be failed softly.

Another deck of downloaded subdecks. I like to keep this separate from my Default deck, particularly because cards created by other people aren’t as important.

Last of all, I have a master deck for decks I have not made myself. This has the feature of being restricted to ~10 new cards per day; it’s difficult to do more than this consistently.

Be careful with Anki complexity, though. Your use of Anki will get more complicated over time. But it's really easy to get too caught up with trivial things in this way. I try to avoid almost all of this complexity until I absolutely can't—otherwise I'd've gotten lost and given up. The greater error is to become so overwhelmed you quit, not the slight loss of efficiency in studying a few more cards daily.


Posted 2020 July, last updated 2021 January 6.