- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 1: The SRS Is a Servant, Not a Master
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 2: Fun
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 3: Don’t Go Looking for Items, Let Them Come Find You
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 4: Collect ‘Em to Throw Away
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 5: Timeboxing
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 6: Maintain Only the Baseline/SRS Holidays
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 7: The Place of Pre-Mined SRSing and Other Ramblings
- How To Banish Boredom from Sentence-Mining (Sentence-Picking)
- Popping Bubblewrap: Tips for Better SRS Sentence Items
- SRS Precedence Rules
- The SRS Victory Formula (SRS Formula Victoria? :P )
This is part 6 of a multi-part series on smoother SRSing.
I don’t know about y’all, but…OK, first of all, I don’t even use “y’all” in actual conversation, so I don’t know why I insisted on writing it just now. Just…bear with me.
I don’t know about you, but…I found memory decay to be the biggest problem for me in language acquisition. I would learn stuff, only to forget it. My brain was like a leaky bucket. The SRS more-or-less plugged the hole for me. I don’t know if I’d have become literate in Japanese without it. It changed my life.
But it does get tiring…finding stuff, adding it, doing reps. No one’s denying that. This doesn’t, however, mean (I don’t think), that it’s time to throw the SRS out; just that it would be wise to change one’s usage patterns.
There exists in English the phrase “to throw the baby out with the bathwater”. The concept of throwing out babies with the bathwater was invented by the ancient Greeks, who invented everything, including architecture, thinking and pederasty. The Greeks held throwing out the baby with the bath water to be the highest expression of nambla, and the quest of every Greek citizen (free male). Aristotle in his namblogues writes that: “After having me some fun with the little boy, I kick that Macedonian tail to the curb….with the bathwater”.
A problem many of us have is that, when we’re fatigued and a situation seems hopeless, we throw our hands in the air and just give up all control, letting ourselves fall into a downward spiral of helplessness-fueled un-productivity and escapism. I go through this a lot, so I know, bro. The saying goes: “you can give up control, but you can never give up responsibility”. If that is indeed, the case, then, it behooves us to not give up control in the first place. Remember what the guy said – every person is self-made, but only those who succeed are willing to admit it. No one wants to be on the sharp end of a quote like that!
So, if we’re responsible for the situation anyway, and we’re going to have to answer for the situation anyway, and we’re going to bear all the consequences of our actions anyway, we might as well turn things to our advantage right from the beginning.
What I do is use the 80-20 rule. Like I said, I get tired, too. I can’t safely run on caffeine and amphetamines like Paul Erdos. But I still want to “get ahead”, as it were. My technique is to go find the minority of work I can do that’ll give me the majority of the results I desire. When it comes to SRSing, that minority of work is this:
Take an SRS holiday. But not a total holiday. Just stop doing SRS additions. Stop adding items. Just do reps [and even then, not necessarily all reps – you could just timebox a few minutes a day; part of the key is to avoid doing nothing at all, because the psychological inertia that results can be a bit of a beast to overcome]. The holiday can be as long as you want. I’ve just come off a Cantonese SRS addition holiday that lasted a good two weeks and change. And I feel great. I kept enjoying my environment – I kept watching the TV and the movies and listening to the music – and I kept reviewing things added in the past, I just didn’t bother to add anything, even stuff I thought interesting enough to add. Maybe it’s not a perfect situation, but I think it’s a healthy imperfect situation.
Many personal development books will tell you that looking for lost things is one of the single largest time-wasters of all, and (rightly) recommend having “a place for everything and everything in its place”. As I see it, losing a memory isn’t all too different from losing one’s keys, iPod or tax files. Think of all the time you’re going to have to spend essentially re-learning from scratch, versus the time you could have spent just refreshing. That’s your time, and it’s never coming back again. You might as well spend it well. You might was well avoid forgetting in the first place.
So next time everything seems to be going to pot, a war is being lost abroad, and a Liberal Communist Muslim black man is president…rather than throw your hands up in defeat, try to see if you can’t make rice pudding out of the rice.
Thanks for reading. Check back soon for the next installment: part 7
 Whatever people might say about a memory never truly being lost, if it’s irretrievable, then it’s the same as being lost (or even never having been), and the time burden to relearn is the same as if you’d known nothing. Then again, I’m not a neuroscience expert right now, so you may want to take my homespun wisdom cum grano salis there.