The LeanAnki Manifesto

We don’t blindly strive for efficiency — we strive for freedom. The freedom to do other things we care about, or the freedom to answer exams knowing full well that you’ll pass.

The first step to efficient studying is by addressing the things that are making you learn inefficiently in the first place — NOT by “learning 10X faster” or “becoming 10X more productive.”

Specifically, efficient studying needs you to address the processes that create waste:

  • Having a poor or nonexistent productivity system to organize actionable information and externalize mental open loops
  • Having a poor processing strategy that causes restudying
  • Knowledge gaps (that get bigger over time) due to forgetting and/or poor processing

In order to do that, we need to get exposed to a different way of thinking.

Michael Nielsen — one of the pioneers of quantum computing — said in his essay:

Anki use is best thought of as a virtuoso skill, to be developed: Anki is an extremely simple program: it lets you enter text or other media, and then shows you that media on a schedule determined by your responses. Despite that simplicity, it’s an incredibly powerful tool. And, like many tools, it requires skill to use well. It’s worth thinking of Anki as a skill that can be developed to virtuoso levels, and attempting to continue to level up toward such virtuosity.

Using Anki effectively and efficiently also means thinking like an Anki Virtuoso:

  1. The Anki Virtuoso recognizes that Anki is just a tool, not a magic pill. Anki is an effective tool to commit information into your long-term memory, but it is not the end-all be all of studying. Anki alone won’t save you if you suck at managing your workload and/or your information processing strategies are wasteful.
  2. The Anki Virtuoso knows that Flashcards are Time Assets. Quality flashcards cost you a little bit more time now, but save you exponentially more time in the future. Bad flashcards are the opposite — they save time now, but cost you exponentially more time in the future. (Often in the form of forgetting and failing)
  3. The Anki Virtuoso realizes that Effective Anki studying requires skill. Much like pen and paper, simple tools like Anki require formulation and study skills if you want to do more with it.
  4. The Anki Virtuoso knows that Anki is the lead domino of accelerated learning. Anki is the ONE thing in learning that makes learning easier and makes all nighters unnecessary. Retention makes learning easier, and spaced repetition makes the regular all-nighters unnecessary.

As you can imagine, memorization and understanding work hand-in-hand — none is “better” than the other.

And because that’s the case, it means that getting increasingly better academic results is a product of a continuously improving study system, rather than a longer laundry list of “best” quick-fix hacks.

As systems-first thinkers, we prefer other solutions: Principles, common sense, and iteration.

These solutions bring better results in the real world as compared to obsessing over every little “research-based hack” and shiny “new tools for students”, or worse, copying what top students do.

“One-size-fits-all solutions” like these don’t exist. They’re delusions at best.

Diagnose the underlying study problem first and then design a proper solution for your context.

If these words resonate with you, I invite you to join the tribe.

Be one of us:

All members get my best free material, which will help you:

  • Have the right mindsets on efficiency, getting results, systems, etc.
  • Never have to go back to what you’ve already read (instead of re-reading every chapter 3 times)
  • Understand concepts and not just memorize them
  • Know exactly what to do each time you start studying
  • Have the confidence to score well in a difficult entrance exam (especially if the tactics you used in high school don’t work anymore)
  • …etc.

Sign up below to get started.

To your academic success,
– Al Khan