How to beat Anki backlog

Have you ever left Anki alone for a few weeks and come back to a huge card backlog?

Several months ago I got overwhelmed by my Anki decks. I’d been on holiday and not reviewed anything. I’d started a new course and was behind with adding new words. I basically stopped using it because it felt like a black cloud hanging over my head.

I didn’t want to delete all my cards and start again. I liked having them there as a reference, like a personal dictionary.

Here’s how I tackled my huge Anki backlog.

Part A: Out of sight, out of mind

1. Create a new deck called “temp”

Transfer all the decks you are behind in to this new deck.

Although you can’t see it, most of these decks have 50+ reviews due. See Step 2 to find out how I hid the numbers.

2. Create a new options group “backlog”

Change the settings for this new “temp” deck to a new options group called “Backlog”. Set it to 0 reviews and 0 new cards.

Change the settings to 0 reviews and 0 new cards.

The problem has now disappeared from sight but the cards are still there when you’re ready to tackle the backlog. You can now continue using Anki to learn new cards without getting a visual reminder about those 90, 300 or 1000 cards you should review.

Secretly there are 498 due cards, hidden right there in my “temp” deck.

Part B: Tackling the backlog

Although you’ve hidden your backlog, the cards are still there waiting to be reviewed one day. So, what do you do when you’re ready to tackle the backlog?

3. Move one of your decks out of “temp”

Drag and drop one of your backlogged decks from “temp” to your normal Vietnamese deck.

The settings should revert to whatever your usual settings are (ie. Default). You can, however, double check if they’re using ‘Default’ or ‘Backlog’ settings.

You can then start to catch up on this deck – little and often. I like to review about 10 cards at a time, 2 or 3 times a day.

In a week or two of normal using Anki in short bursts as usual, you should be back to a more normal and manageable number of cards to review every day.

4. Repeat step 3 until all your decks are out of “temp”

This may take weeks, or even months if you have a large backlog. In the meantime, you still have access to your cards if you want to search them and you can keep learning new cards without a black cloud over your head.

No more Anki rain cloud.

Over to you: Have you ever been behind with flashcard reviews? What did you do?

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  1. Lindsay Dow

    Thanks for this post! I’m totally feeling like the person in the picture with the black Anki cloud right now! Will give this a go 🙂

  2. Katherine

    Such a good idea for a post, Ruth Elisabeth! I try to keep my decks current by always opening them up any time I get on the metro, but they usually pile up faster than I can get through them. You’ve suggested a good method here 🙂

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