Using lists to reduce item due count?

I have a crazy number of items due. Here are two “cheating” ways I have used to reduce that count:

  1. I changed my study settings to just definitions. This got my items due count down from 4,000 or so to under a thousand.

  2. I am using lists, starting with my oldest textbooks and moving up, so I have those basics down.

I wonder if studying based on lists would be the preferable way of studying for me. By default, I would Skritter with only certain lists. These lists would represent my current vocabulary aspiration.

Problems this would solve for me:

  • too many items due
  • weird items in my list but don’t have the heart to prune
  • SRS algorithm feels slightly wrong for my way of learning

My tendency is to add words to Skritter as I come across them. But it’s not realistic for me to try to remember all the words I have ever come across.

Banned items would just be another list.

I might reactivate some lists depending on what I am doing. Say I moved back to Shanghai: I could reactivate some Shanghai-specific lists. Or if I take on another consulting job in the field of logistics, I can reactivate my list of obscure shipping-related words and brands.

I’d still need to do some pruning on my list of “Miscellaneous words”, words I pick up here and there and aren’t part of a specific list.

Forum item on marking items inactive:
Anki’s tags to control what is currently active

Forum item on multiple lists:
Studying Multiple Lists

I also use both of those methods when my reviews exceed 1000. Studying only reading seems to be the fastest way, as this knocks off up to 5 items due per “word” studied. Presumably it reviews the pinyin AND tones at once.

As for lists, I go back to HSK1 and see if there are any items due. Then I move on to HSK2, and so on. I feel like studying these words clears the queue quicker because, assuming I know these basic words, they won’t be appearing again for a long time.

With that said, once I get back to 0, or as near as possible, I start adding words again and studying all lists simultaneously.

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Skritter team - is this correct? If it is, this could change the way I study!

Regarding lists, this is how I catch up too. I go to the Advanced Study section in the iOS app, and select one list. When I’ve cleared out the queue for that one list, I add one more, so now I’m getting reviews from two lists. Wash, rinse, repeat.

One thing I do in addition to this is I keep adding new items through this process. Not a lot, maybe two or three a day. This helps keep interest levels up, as there are new challenges every day.

This method keeps the number of reviews manageable - I never feel like I’m not making progress against a huge number.