A lot of smart people had said a lot of good things about Anki. That made me want to try it. However, I have yet to stick with it successfully.
My first attempt
About three years ago, I decided to give it a try. At the time, I wanted to learn the Java standard library better. I remember installing it and looking for shared decks. There were quite a lot but most were not very good. It felt like most were created by students taking "Introduction to Java" classes. Despite that, I downloaded them anyway. I tried to use them but I lost interest pretty quickly.
Shortly after, I abandoned Anki for the first time. I feel the mistakes I made here are pretty obvious:
- Most of the cards were either too easy, too trivial or just not useful
- I did not fully understand the content of the Anki cards before trying to learn from them
- Although I made a few of my own cards, I never got into the habit of making them
My second attempt
About a year and a half ago, I wanted to try it again. I had learned from my previous attempt. I knew that I had to make my own cards instead of using existing ones.
I got into the habit of finding a tutorial on a subject I wanted to learn about and writing notes on the important points. I would then go through my notes and make Anki cards.
This worked better than before but it didn't last. Although I stuck with it for a good few months, the approach still had many problems:
- I wasted too much time trying to make the cards look pretty (e.g. surrounding all code in
- I found that when reading "introductory" tutorials, my cards were often too basic and should have been combined into a smaller number of cards
- I only created cards in designated study sessions and never when I was in the middle of programming
This time will be different
I'm determined to get Anki to work for me. I have read many good things about it and I believe it could be great if only I could start using it better.
I recently found this article by someone who has created 10,000 Anki cards. I recommend reading it but here is the advice I took from it:
- "Why" questions are more important than memorising facts (this feels obvious yet all my previous efforts had been focused on creating factual cards)
- Don't just create one-way connections, sometimes you need to remember something when given different prompts
- There is no need to create multiple decks, one massive deck is just fine
- Images can be better than plain text
Some guidelines for myself
Specifically, here is what I plan to do:
- Review every single day and whenever it is most convenient for myself
- Make an Anki card whenever I learn something worth remembering
- Avoid creating too many purely factual cards or cards with little value
- Use a single massive deck and sync it with my Android phone
I could write more about this but I think I just need to start. I will create another post in a month or so with my progress.