In order for an SRS (Spaced-Repetition System) to really work, you need cues to remind you to study (or at least most of us do).
For me, that mean means setting up email cues. Before I explain how I use email cues to study, some background on my situation might help.
Why not use some other method?
Every time you open it up, it tells you how many reps you need to do. Unfortunately, I always forget to open up Anki. That makes me miss lots of reps, which kinda defeats the purpose. I even tried putting it in my startup items, but I only reboot my computer every few weeks, which means once I close Anki, I might forget about it for over a week. Plus I hate having lots of startup items.
- Calendar Software:
Calendar reminders work… when I remember to open my calendar program (notice a trend). There’s nothing worse than opening my calendar and getting 16 overdue appointments to study Chinese.
- Cellphone alarms:
Cellphone reminders work… when I hear my cellphone (basically never).
After a while, I realized that the only thing I actively look at is my email inbox. A full inbox leaves me with that un-brushed teeth feeling. I can’t ignore it, which means the best place for my reminders is in my inbox.
Using Boomerang for SRS
Boomerang is an awesome email service for Gmail. It lets you put an email on the top of your inbox whenever you want, send messages in the future and other cool stuff. The interface fits works great and it fits into Gmail perfectly.
I’ve been using Boomerang to send myself reminders to study my vocabulary. After I finish studying, I use Boomerang to setup another study reminder email in a couple of days. I’ve also been using it to send myself reminders to read articles I saved for later and to send myself inspirational messages and to remind myself why I’ve made studying Chinese a priority
Boomerang’s a great SRS because it solves the reminder problem. And because it uses email, you can add whatever content to your emails, including words you want to memorize, sentences you want to study, or podcasts you want to listen to. You can add attachments (audio, pictures, whatever) without having to play around with weird settings or hard-to-find options.
Once you create an email with the content you want to study, boomerang it back at a set date. When the date (and time) arrives, the email magically comes back to your inbox where you can review it. I’ve found this works best with super short study sessions (1-5 minutes). Making them that short means I’m more likely to review the email.
I love this system because of it’s flexiblility. I can scedule it for whenever I want, easily. I can make stuff I want to review again come back (or reschedule it for another day).
If you’re a Gmail user looking for a way to keep up your study habits or remind yourself to study, then give Boomerang a try.