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Can I pause the flashcards scheduler?
Can I pause the flashcards scheduler?

RemNote doesn't offer an option to delay your flashcard practice until a more convenient time; here's why and what you can do instead.

Soren Bjornstad avatar
Written by Soren Bjornstad
Updated over a week ago

Suppose you’re going on a vacation or summer break, and you don’t plan to practice your flashcards for a while. Since flashcards become due regardless of whether you actually practice them, it’s common to return from such a break to find a large pile of overdue cards. So a natural question is, can you pause the scheduler so you can resume your flashcard study where you left off? In other words, shift the next practice time for every flashcard forward a week or a month?

The short answer is no – because while this sounds like a great idea at first, it turns out to be a surprisingly bad one! The core problem is that, just like the flashcards that are building up in your queue, the natural process of forgetting builds up over time when you don’t study. RemNote tries to model what’s going on in your brain to the best of its ability so that it can present cards to you at the right time, and if you paused the scheduler, its model would cease to reflect reality. Specifically, it would believe you had a much greater chance of remembering all the paused information than you actually did.

Of course, sometimes you won’t want to or be able to practice flashcards for a while, and that’s fine! There’s more to life than flashcards, so taking a break, forgetting some cards, and relearning them later is often the right choice. But pausing the scheduler wouldn't just make you more likely to forget the cards that you were supposed to see while you were gone – it would substantially increase your chance of forgetting every flashcard in your knowledge base, because even the cards that you could have started reviewing again immediately (and on time) when you came back will be delayed by some period of time. A pause of this nature would have an extremely long-lasting negative effect on RemNote’s ability to accurately schedule your cards – weeks, months, or even years, depending on how old your flashcards are and how long the pause lasts.


So we don’t want to shift the review times of our cards using a “pause scheduler” function. What can we do instead to reduce the pain of coming back? You’re unlikely to be able to practice 2,000 flashcards in one day when you return!

RemNote offers three tools to help.

The first tool is the daily learning goal. This will usually be enough to get you back on track when you’ve only missed a couple of days. Set this figure to the maximum number of cards you think you can get yourself to practice every day. RemNote will calculate how many cards you need to do each day to reach the bottom of your queue within 7 days, then ask you to practice either this number of cards, or the daily learning goal itself (if the number you’d need to catch up in 7 days is larger), every day. (This number is called Today’s Goal in the Flashcard Home.) As long as you don’t keep adding a huge number of new cards, you’ll be caught up soon.

The second tool is the stale card state, which comes into play when you're more significantly behind. If a card hasn't been seen for twice as long as it was scheduled for (or a week, if that's longer), RemNote concludes that you'll likely need to relearn the card and marks it as stale. Stale cards are withheld from the flashcard queue and slowly re-introduced over time, so you can relearn them without being overwhelmed. By default, 30 stale cards will be reintroduced each day you practice flashcards, but this can be changed to your liking in Settings > Flashcards > Stale Cards Per Day.

A final tool is flashcard prioritization. Returning from a long break is a great time to re-evaluate whether you still need to remember all the content you’ve created flashcards for in the past. If you find documents that are no longer exciting or relevant to your life, you can set them to Paused or Maintaining to stop seeing them at all or make them appear only once you’ve finished practicing your active cards, respectively.

Sometimes people also consider resetting the schedules for their flashcards when they’re very behind. This is even less efficient than pausing would be, so it's not normally a good option. You can read more about this in Resetting Flashcard Scheduling.

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