Anki is a multi-platform—mac, windows, ios, android, Linux—flash card program. The main advantage of using Anki is that it supports spaced repetition. As I am constantly trying to learn, I am also a champion at forgetting what I am learning. I have been using Anki for about 6 months now to try to help me remember.
I created more than 1000 cards and I am amazed by the results on my memory.
However, the results you get are highlight dependent on how you create your cards. Engagement is also affected. I suspect two main reasons people fail using Anki are:
- Bad flash cards.
- weak review habits
How to create useful flashcards
First you should be able to create them at all times and you should create them as soon as you have learned something new. Don’t wait for the end of the chapter or even worse the end of the book. It will only make it painful for you to create all the flashcards as it will take you a lot of time.
It simply means I have installed Anki on my phone and I use it to create cards when I am on the move.
It is also really important to make your cards:
- memorable: don’t hesitate to suggest yourself acronym you could use to help you remember. Take screenshots of the actual book or video you are watching. It will help activate your visual memory.
- easy enough: if they are too hard, you will resist reviewing. You want each card to activate as a trigger for your memory. It is OK if your card requires you do write some code, do draw something as practice is also important to memory. Make it easy to do and reasonably short.
- clear: As I wrote card I improved their clarity. At the beginning they were basic but I have now included some tools like Skitch, Recordit and Markers. I don’t hesitate to write on books I read.
Find what works for you and try to improve the clarity of your cards as soon as you have difficulties remembering something.
Here are some examples from my deck.
I always use the same colors when I highlight. It helps me to quickly scan answers and still find what’s important on my screenshot.
Your review environment should rock
It is setup with automatic reloading and I preloaded all the libraries I am using in my cards. The goal is to have a quick starting point for all the questions I have in my decks.
At the beginning I created a lot of decks. This was a mistake. Another learning trick is to connect your knowledge. If you can build roads between different knowledge, they will stick more easily.
Nowadays I have few decks and I am using a lot of tags to classify my cards. I changed the default display of cards to show tags at the top. This way I can have questions on different subjects with one glance at the tags on my card I know which subject I am studying.
To use Anki effectively, you must make the experience personal. Customize your learning environment. Make it efficient and enjoyable to use.
Use external tools to help you create interesting cards. Try to connect different subjects together to make your new knowledge stick!
Create cards as soon as your learn something new. Don’t wait too long before creating cards. It is just too painful to create a lot of cards at the end of a book or course.