Retaining what I learn through Spaced Repetition Software

How I record and review what I learn to engrain it in long-term memory.


Recording learning

I've made a habit of making a note whenever I learn something. These are things I learn while studying, working, talking with people, etc. This includes code syntax, faces with names, scriptures, and anything else I want to remember. I use a spaced repetition software for these notes called Anki.

Spaced repetition software (aka SRS) is used to cement short term memory into long term memory, just before you would normally forget something. So, for example, I learned that on a Mac, you can open up mission control with a keyboard shortcut (control + up arrow), so I made this “card” in Anki:

I use templates to fill in the repetitive stuff, so when I review the card it looks like this:

Reviewing in calculated intervals

Each day I go through the cards that bubble up from the spaced repetition algorithm (max of 20 a day, which takes about 5-10 minutes a day); I view the question, think of the answer, then show the answer and see if I was right. I can then answer how difficult it was for me to remember so the software knows when to show this to me the next time.

Every new card starts with short review increments (10 minutes, a day or two etc) then gets longer the better I remember it. Some of my cards are up to four years between reviews now so it is very efficient; the algorithms are optimized to only have you review something when you are about to forget it, which cements it in long term memory.

Oranizing by category

I have all of these cards organized into decks by category:

Study statistics

With software like Anki, you get nice stats over time:


No matter what your career or types of things you learn, I think using SRS can benefit your brain. SRS ingrains knowledge in calculated, ever-increasing intervals, just before you are about to forget things. I've been doing this for a few years and my skills, knowledge, and memory have dramatically improved. I recommend giving it a try!