Anki can feel like punishment

Have you ever opened Anki after skipping a few days, only to be greeted by a hundred reviews?

Missing just a single day can make everything feel daunting. You skip one day, and suddenly you have twice as many cards to review. This can create a lot of stress and make it really hard to stay motivated. Instead of feeling like you're making progress, you feel buried under a mountain of tasks.

The app design itself can be discouraging. When you open Anki and see a huge number of flashcards waiting for you, it's just daunting. There's not an easy way to pause or delay.

Anki also encourages you to create a ton of very specific, atomic flashcards. While this approach can be great for breaking down information, it means your deck can quickly become massive. The system doesn't understand the connections between these cards, so it just piles them up without considering the bigger picture. This makes reviews more challenging because you're dealing with a sea of isolated facts rather than interconnected ideas.

People use Anki in all sorts of ways, adding another layer of complexity. Take, for example, a card that helps you remember a key binding in an application. Reviewing that type of card takes maybe five seconds—quick and straightforward. But consider a more complex card, like a math problem. These more complex cards can't be quickly checked off, and they often need more time and thought. This mismatch in review types makes it hard to maintain a consistent flow.

A major consequence of these psychological barriers is user churn. Many people start using Anki with enthusiasm, but as the review tasks pile up and the stress builds, they often end up abandoning it altogether. The sense of overwhelm and frustration can be a significant deterrent, preventing users from sticking with the app long enough to see its benefits. This high churn rate highlights the need for improvements in the user experience to help people stay engaged and motivated.

While Anki can be a powerful tool for memory retention, it often feels more like punishment than help. The overwhelming review stacks, the pressure of missing a day, and the fragmented approach to learning can all create significant psychological barriers. We need to focus on creating tools that truly support users, helping them stay motivated and making the learning process more manageable.

Have you felt this way when using Anki?

#Anki #flashcards #ux