In response to this article on binging and purging, I got this really cool comment from Maya, one of AJATT’s best link-suppliers:
Just out of curiosity, does anyone have any examples of when they started to fall behind in something and they eventually caught up by making it more fun/changing their style? I’m not doubting that this is the way to go; it’s just that I’d like a concrete example.
Lately I’ve fallen behind with my sentence reps (whereas I have no problem maintaining an immersion environment)… I think the problem is that I’ve come to look at the reps as “work/studying” (whereas as anime is always “recreational”)… even after deleting a decent chunk of sentences, the problem seems to persist. I’m currently almost a week behind in reps, and still can’t motivate myself to get around to doing them. I’ve obviously been doing something wrong, but I can’t figure out what.
Here is my response:
Just one idea here (I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone else has to say):
Delete even more.
Don’t go to your SRS to do reps any more.
Go to delete.
Go for deletions. Deletions are your new “target metric”. Delete until you hit a sentence that you give a crap about. Then delete until you hit the next one like that.
You’re probably overloaded with “should-learn” sentences — “shoulders“, like I was in Cantonese. Or maybe you have cool sentences, but they lack the punch they had when you entered them. Those are now “shoulders”, too.
Get rid of anything even remotely sucky. Delete. Delete. Delete. Don’t worry. You obviously don’t need them. You’ve been off the SRS a whole week, right? That’s a sign. A big, freaking sign.
Delete boring things from your SRS, otherwise they will “delete” you — they will “make” you never want to touch that SRS again.
Basically, Maya, you great discoverer of all things Disney and Japanese, you have two choices.
a) Delete bad sentences, however many there may be, so that you can do at least *some* SRSing.
b) Never SRS again for the rest of your life.
Right now, you’re on a collision course with (b).
Don’t get rid of the whole deck in one go. A lot of people do that. I personally think that’s ill-advised. Delete. One by one. There will be some leftover items — “keepers“. The keepers will be the seeds of a renewed deck, a deck of keepers (mostly), a deck that makes you actually want to do reps. The keepers will have a pattern to them — format, length, source, content, whatever — that will guide you in acquiring more keepers.
If you’ve got a really sucky deck, you could end up literally halving your cardcount — I once did. In the extreme, you could end up with only 10% of your original deck. No biggie. Let it go. Fuhgeddaboutit. Remember what’s at stake. Sentences are interchangeable. Motivation to learn is not.
Let me share some of my Japanese sentence deck stats for today with you, to give you a quantitative perspective on the whole thing:
- Repcount: 135
- Added: 2 cards
- Deleted: 100 cards.
- Total: ~235 cards processed, ~42% deleted.
135 reps and 100 deletions is infinitely better than 0 reps and 0 deletions. Now let’s extrapolate — assuming about the exact same daily performance over the course of one week, that comes to nearly 1000 reps and 700 deletions. 1000 to 0. That’s not 1000 times better, M-star. That’s “even more infinitely better” than 0 reps and 0 deletions. ∞:0 ratio.
So, go break some eggs and make that omelette 😀 .
We all have such noble intentions with our sentences. We all want to be good kids; we want to do the right thing; we want to eat everything that’s given us. But being an obedient doormat and being an effective learner are not, repeat, not the same thing.
Know your “rights”. The right to enjoyment (= the right to veto boredom) is one that school — my favorite scapegoat for everything — would tend to try to discourage you from exercising, so we often forget that we even have it; we equate exercising it with being “lazy”, unproductive, irresponsible. But now you know to say no to uninteresting sentences.
You can keep being liberal about what enters your SRS deck, just be liberal about what leaves it, as well. Garbage in, garbage out.
Written from painful and rather embarrassing-to-share experience,
Through the magic of deletion, Maya has since turned SRSing from a chore, back into a game and now lives a full, happy, besentenced life 😛 . In her own words:
Thanks to everyone for their advice!
To sum things up, I’ve gone through my deck and deleted ~450 or so cards that were boring/unpleasant/so easy that they had become useless. I’m not quite done yet; I can still realistically see myself deleting another 50-200 cards, but I think I’m getting much closer now.
I’ve also decided to change the pace at which I add/learn sentences. When I started doing sentences, I wasn’t actually done with RTK; I was just impatient, and I figured that I could “pick up” the remaining kanji on the go. This never happened/isn’t likely to happen, and my incomplete knowledge of kanji is creating problems for me, so I want to go back and finish learning them properly. I’ll still add/learn sentences, but at a much slower rate (at least temporarily); I actually see this as a really good thing, because it will encourage me to only add a small quantity of really good sentences, instead of adding tons of nonsense, as I seem to have been doing the past while. Needless to say, my overall immersion environment won’t change.
Thanks to everyone for your advice/anecdotes/encouragement!
Today was my first day doing reps anew – I went through a hundred of ‘em in under half an hour. This definitely wouldn’t have been possible a couple weeks ago
Everything felt fresh and simple <3