Alternative to SRS for reviewing?

(Dead Man) #1


I have a question. I am looking for an alternative to spaced repetition software to review things, that I have learned. I used different SRS (like Anki, Supermemo …) for a couple of years, but there was always one problem. Sooner or later I got bored with the software and stopped reviewing. As a result of that I forgot, what I had learned.

Does anyone have an alternative strategy to review and repeat the things you learned with mnemonics, memory palaces etc without the help of SRS? How do you get the information into your long term memory and prevent it from being forgotten?

Thank you.


This might help you : Learning Decalog.
(Help you to get back to spaced repetition, not to find another system ; because I don’t put much hope into finding an alternative)
Also, having failed many times does not mean that the method is never going to work for you. You may find a new motivational trick, or a new stronger resolution. I’ve experienced this many times with running, cold showers, bodybuilding, mental calculus, non-violent communication… I stopped these activities many times but I also got back to them many times. So keep trying.


As for motivation, have a look at these articles :
Making it a game
3 steps to motivate yourself
How to become a momentum machine
The 20 second rule

I personally review my digital commonplace every day, noting down “révisions faites” every time, and awarding myself 50 XP on LifeRPG, an app I’ve been using for 10 days. And seeing my stats (percentage of characters never reviewed, reviewed once, twice, thrice…) evolve is really motivating.
When I think about it, unless you have a look at the stats, SRS only tells you what’s not good : what you have to review today.

(Dead Man) #4

Thanks for yout answer, but maybe I did not express myself clearly enough (sorry for that):

I am not having a problem with spaced repetition per se. I like the idea of a good spaced repetition system and I know by my own experience that it works. I am having a problem with spaced repetition software.

Therefore I am looking for an alternative for spaced repetition, that is not so reliant on software like Anki, so that I can do spaced repetition without flipping so many (virtual or real) cards.


Yeah I had noticed that, but what actually happened is that I was able to infer your identity from your username and a very powerful neural network. After hacking Google’s information about you, a quick look at your recent searches made it clear that you were having trouble with the Rubik’s cube : although you knew it was one of the most useful skills you could master in life and one of the best paths towards knowledge and general improvement of the human condition, you just couldn’t get yourself addicted to it. So I thought I might put into use Dale Carnegie’s principle #16 in my edition (a principle that’s actually dangerously close to a manipulation technique) : “let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers”. By (seemingly) giving an inappropriate answer, I was actually laying the foundation for your next big idea : “But… Even if Rodent was too dumb to understand my request, I might actually use his articles to get back to the Rubik’s cube !”, thus changing your destiny.

  • if you know how to code, you could design your own spaced repetition software. It’s going to be inferior to standard SRS, but it’s going to be yours.
  • you could use a commonplace. I’m personally using Cherrytree. Every time you add something, note down the date. Then every day, review something like days D-7, D-30, D-120, D-365… It’s probably going to be passive recall (unless you put questions into your commonplace), and item difficulties won’t be handled. But after all, many things are not well suited for active recall, would undermine your motivation to go through reviews if formulated as question & answer, and are better reviewed passively. A little program can tell you what dates to review every day.


By your last comment Dead Man, it sounds like you want to do spaced repetition without doing spaced repetition: “…so that I can do spaced repetition without flipping so many (virtual or real) cards.” There is no better alternative.

I would also surmise, as I think Rodent has, that the issue is not the software, but motivation, which, as Rodent implies, waxes and wanes.

However, your motivation’s waxing and waning, could partly be blamed on flash cards. if all you’re doing is flipping flash cards when you are reviewing your material on a spaced repetition timetable, then that is probably pretty boring.

So, you might find the journey method of loci more entertaining and motivating (as Dr. Kelly implies in her book, “The Memory Code” (great book)). Of course, you will still have to do spaced repetition of your journey, but it might not be as boring.

(Dead Man) #7

That sounds interesting. Could you explain the journey method of loci a litte bit more? Is it the same as the loci method?


In reality, the loci system is always a journey. I emphasized journey because it might seem less boring than flipping flashcards. Loci is where you place items you want to memorize in specific pre-memorized places which are often some journey that you can take physically and therefore in your imagination.

Many people may use a journey through their home, or a well known neighborhood or landscape which is always traversed in the same order (so you won’t forget items). So during spaced repetition, you either physically (and mentally), or virtually in your imagination take your journey through the landscape or neighborhood, and so review your items.

This might be much better in terms of not getting bored (as when flipping flashcards) during a spaced repetition review timetable. Dr. Kelly describes her journey through history in her book, “The Memory Code”. That provides a great description of a journey/loci experience. She also talks about the joy of going on her journeys and the emotional experience it can be. So, if you could do that kind of journey it would be self-motivating and review wouldn’t be as much of a chore.