I only recommend the best resources here which, of course, includes my own stuff. I synthesize and condense everything I’ve learned from both science and experience, so you don’t have to spend your time searching the whole Internet to find what’s useful.
What I can tell you is that I’ve read a lot of books, consumed courses, and thrown out what’s high friction (or impractical) just to put out the content I’m making.
- The 20 Rules of Knowledge Formulation by Dr. Piotr Wozniak. This is really important — if you don’t see an Anki guide recommending this, then they don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to creating better flashcards. Treat it like your 20 commandments.
- How to Use Anki Efficiently (Root Cause Edition) by yours truly. Endless tweaking isn’t going to make you “use Anki efficiently.” If it’s taking you a lot of time to study (and remember what you learn) with Anki, the problem isn’t necessarily Anki itself — but rather on your entire study system. Stop focusing on the minutiae and focus on the bigger picture. In this mini-course, I’ll show you how.
References for my content for the curious ones
If you really have the time and curiosity, these are references for (almost) everything you see here on the blog. They’re what made the Anki Fundamentals guide and the study system course. That being said, I feel like I’m doing most of these sources a disservice because when I wrote those two projects, I didn’t have a system for writing and developing my ideas. More importantly, here they are:
- Personal experience since 2017 (IIRC, it may be 2016). Seriously, why don’t content creators test whatever they’re preaching anymore? It’s all about “citing scientific articles” or “telling this story about Mr. Feynman” but hey, if you’re giving advice, you better make sure you’ve tested the principles for yourself. If it’s not, then don’t promise quick results and clickbait people. Don’t you think that’s shitty and ironic?
- Bradshaw, G. L., & Anderson, J. R. (1982). Elaborative encoding as an explanation of levels of processing. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 21(2), 165–174. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-5371(82)90531-X
- Craik, F. I. M., & Lockhart, R. S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 11(6), 671–684. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-5371(72)80001-X
- Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview. Theory Into Practice, 41(4), 212–218. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15430421tip4104_2
- Atkinson, R. C., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1968). Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 2(4), 89–195.
- Hunt, R. R., & McDaniel, M. A. (1993). The enigma of organization and distinctiveness. Journal of Memory and Language, 32(4), 421–445.
- Pyc, M. A., & Rawson, K. A. (2009). Testing the retrieval effort hypothesis: Does greater difficulty correctly recalling information lead to higher levels of memory? Journal of Memory and Language, 60(4), 437–447. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2009.01.004
- Roediger III, H. L., & Butler, A. C. (2011). The critical role of retrieval practice in long-term retention. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(1), 20–27.
- Rohrer, D., Dedrick, R. F., & Stershic, S. (2015). Interleaved practice improves mathematics learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(3), 900–908. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000001
- Sweller, J. (2011). Cognitive load theory. In Psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 55, pp. 37–76). Elsevier.
- Tulving, E., & Thomson, D. M. (1973). Encoding specificity and retrieval processes in episodic memory. Psychological Review, 80(5), 352.
- Watkins, M. J. (1975). Inhibition in recall with extralist “cues.” Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 14(3), 294–303.
- Zettelkasten.de Blog and Forum. The principles helped me refine and articulate the principles that made Anki work for me, and that allowed me to share them in this course, too. I also wouldn’t be making an entire course if it wasn’t for my archive.
- Nat Eliason’s blog. Nat was great at changing how I saw things — especially my perspective on the quality of information I’m reading.
- PARA system by Tiago Forte and various books on productivity. I’ve read too many because I was addicted to efficiency around 3-4 years ago — but mainly, Deep Work, The Motivation Hacker, and The Productivity Project. The last one is especially good, but you could easily get “consumed by productivity” too much if you read that book 🙂 But I might have to reread it again and take notes to adjust my current daily routine for some quick wins.
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Yes, this is a startup book. But it helped me emphasize that even your study system should be “iterated” and “validated.” You can never create a perfect system in your first try, and not even on your 999th try. You just create a viable system and then improve it. But what if you don’t have a system? Ah, that’s a problem. Now you’ll feel like your study problems are your brain’s fault rather than your system’s.
- Other books. I may keep adding here when I recall them. And I don’t feel like adding descriptions to each. But out of everything I’ve read, they’re most influential to getting results — up until now that I’m in Grad School.
- Lean Thinking by James Womack
- The Toyota Way by Jeff Liker
- Make it Stick by Peter Brown
- Learning How to Learn by Barbara Oakley
- A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley
- How to Become a Straight-A Student by Cal Newport
- The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
- The ONE Thing by Gary Keller
- Getting Things Done (the principles only — I haven’t read the book I bought at all)
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
- Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
- Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
- Personal Kanban by Jim Benson
- How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler
- Arthur Schopenhauer’s Essays On Reading and On Thinking for Oneself
Other Useful Resources I’ve Read
Just in case you want to learn more about learning or spaced repetition in general, then here are some of them:
- How To Remember Anything Forever-ish by Nicky Case
- Spaced Repetition for Efficient Learning by Gwern
- Augmenting Long-Term Memory by Michael Nielsen (must read)
For medical students: