the cedar ledge

Lessons Learned from How I Use Anki

Date: July 9 2023

Summary: Some insights into how I use Anki and suggestions on how to get started

Keywords: #anki #blog #archive #anki #spaced #repetition #learning


Not Available

Table of Contents

    1. Motivation
    2. How To Get Started with Anki
    3. Effective Anki Philosophies
    4. Other Personal Strategies
      1. What about Add-Ons?
    5. Advanced Techniques
      1. Incremental Understanding
      2. Anki for Mathematics?
    6. Concluding Thoughts
    7. Footnotes
  1. How To Cite
  2. References:
  3. Discussion:


Recently, I was sharing with a few online communities (namely the Neorg and Anki Discord Servers) my success with Anki. I was somewhat surprised at how many people were both curious and excited about what I was up to and how I was learning things with Anki. After writing up some advice across the servers, I decided it best to coalesce my thoughts here on how I use Anki for mathematics, languages, and incremental reading.

How To Get Started with Anki

Anki is perhaps one of the greatest learning tools made. To quickly summarize, Anki is a software for creating digital flashcards and then quizzes you throughout the day, everyday on cards according to how well you can recall each card. To get started with Anki, here are some tips I would give to myself if I had to start over again and to anyone curious about getting started with Anki:

The basic and cloze default templates are great to use and cover a wide range of use cases you may have.

If you start with 100 new cards on day one, that means the next day you would have to study 100 new cards AND 100 reviews of your day old new cards at minimum. In practice, this will hike up your number of reviews between the two days to well over 300 cards potentially.

This can help prevent feeling overwhelmed.

These are Deck Options like New Cards, Lapses, or other Advanced fields and scheduling. [1]

To emphasize the last point, while there are numerous Anki resources offering "best settings for success" such as on YouTube or blog posts (even this one – go do Anki!), be cautious not to get caught up in "productivity porn". Focus on consistent usage of Anki and trust in the effectiveness of the default scheduler and most of the review settings.

Effective Anki Philosophies

These are philosophies I have found useful when I work with Anki. Feel free to incorporate, ignore, or use them:

If you even hesitate a moment, DO NOT ADD IT. [2]

Review Anki. Have a break between a PvP session while playing Destiny 2? Review Anki. Stationary biking at the gym? Review Anki.

Learn, live, ~~loathe~~ love it.

Do this until you feel more motivated or your review count is back to a comfortable level. [3]

Other Personal Strategies

These are my highly personal review strategies. They may be wrong, but they help me consistently manage all my Anki reviews:

This helps me track performance and if I may need to reduce or increase the intensity of my recent Anki sessions.

What about Add-Ons?

I do use a couple Anki Add-ons! I tend to more focus on aesthetics and statistics for my Anki set-up. Here are some that I always use:

Advanced Techniques

These are advanced techniques that I am experimenting with. Reader be warned!

Incremental Understanding

I didn't find Anki particularly well-suited for Incremental Reading and instead created an iterative process I call "Incremental Understanding". What the process entails is this:

  1. I pull content from what I read such as a paragraph or a few lines.

  2. For each chunk of information, I add that to a card that only has three sections: the content, associated thoughts, and their reference.

  3. As I review each of these cards, I edit them into my own language. (I max out how much I spend on each card per review to 3 minutes)

  4. I repeat steps 1 - 3, until each card I feel is sufficiently described in my own language and then I suspend and tag the card for transfer into my personal notes.

  5. For each note that is tagged for transfer, I then move and stitch them into my personal notes

To make steps 3 and 4 easier, I use the Tag Toggler Add On. For 5, this is an intentionally manual process that, although labor intensive, forces me to think how this new content fits into my knowledge base and any existing notes I have.

Anki for Mathematics?

It's an evolving process, but I have written a separate dedicated blog post dedicated to the processes I have been developing for this.

Concluding Thoughts

I hope this small guide on getting started with and using Anki was helpful! Again, these are my own personal notes and takes on how to use the tool. To that end, if you have any suggestions, thoughts, or feedback, please let me know!


[1] Even for me, I do not mess around with the default algorithm much at all. I find it does a great job as is and I have only recently even thought about messing around with the FSRS algorithm.
[2] If you are not careful, you can create "Anki Anxiety" where, instead of being excited about learning something via Anki, you dread the reviews you have to do every day for information you are not too excited about.
[3] Aside from The Office, I actually got this idea from Danika Dakika from the Anki Discord server; it was a game changer for me so a huge thank you to Danika!
[4] I wanted to also say that I didn't come up with this idea specifically but I was unable to find where it was sourced from exactly. If you know the right reference here, please let me know!

How To Cite

Zelko, Jacob. Lessons Learned from How I Use Anki. July 9 2023.



CC BY-SA 4.0 Jacob Zelko. Last modified: November 24, 2023. Website built with Franklin.jl and the Julia programming language.