View Full Version : How to Check A List for Errors


ADDarkD@y
06-26-13, 09:41 PM
So let's say you have a list of items, maybe names of clients or something else that is dry and boring. You have to check this, quite possibly excruciatingly long list, against some source of information such as another list, a collection of bills, time cards, or whatever it may be. As you have discovered, your memory doesn't work for #@^# and so as you try to check the entries in the list one at a time, you constantly make mistakes, lumbering along at a snail's pace. Your focus is no good either so intruding thoughts keep interrupting. Pretty soon you burn out and from that point on you will be lucky if you finish before midnight. Sound familiar? :rolleyes:

Here is a solution: remember things as pictures in your head instead of as "things". In the list checking example you would look at the thing you are checking the list against, for example, an invoice or time card. Don't try to remember the number or text just let it burn into your mind for a second. Then look at the list. If it FEELS like it's the same thing you just saw moments before then it almost certainly is. Check it off and proceed.

You might be skeptical but I have tried this for myself and the increase in speed and accuracy was about 200%. For reasons beyond my current understanding, ADD seems to impair visual memory less than non-visual memory. I have found this to be true in my case at least but I think it will be true for most everyone.

Once I took a psychological exam that demonstrated how my visual memory is superior to my non-visual memory. I was showed an image made up of many different objects twice and I had to determine if anything had moved the second time. On the trials where there were only a few objects I did terrible but on those with many objects I performed normally. Why? Because in the first case I tried to remember the location of each object. This is the default method teachers and parents encourage. I couldn't succeed because my non-visual memory is deficient. But in the second case there were so many objects that remembering each was hopeless, so instead I remembered the image of what I saw. My visual memory is not so impaired and I accurately identified the images which had changed.

I would like to know if this method can help you too so below is an experiment designed to test this.

There are two lists A and B and some of the numbers in list A also appear in list B. Which ones are they? Try to figure this out the normal way by remembering each number from A in your head and checking to see if it's in B. DO NOT PUT THE LISTS SIDE BY SIDE, USE YOUR MEMORY. Record your time for this task and how many you got right. Now, come back tomorrow and do the experiment again. But this time, remember each number as a picture in your head. Don't try to see it, just let it sink in as you look at it for a moment. Record your time and accuracy. Which way was faster? Which worked better? :D

LIST A

1145
4956
6943
0098
3904
2957
2987
3978
8378
3872
5899
3897
2983
2879

LIST B

8926
5886
5899
3872
3978
3897
2983
9825
2879
0583
8378
9082
3548
2471

SquarePeg
06-27-13, 08:46 AM
Too overwhelming for me to attempt but visual clues help most people. I teach young kids to learn English as a foreign language. I used pictures, cards, objects and body gestures. They only need the merest glance at a visual to "jog" the memory.

ADDarkD@y
06-27-13, 03:17 PM
Anyone going to do the experiment?

stef
06-27-13, 04:08 PM
yikes! the only way i can check a list of numbers is using a ruler to block out the other lines.
this goes for proofreading documents for typos as well.

ADDarkD@y
06-27-13, 06:19 PM
yikes! the only way i can check a list of numbers is using a ruler to block out the other lines.
this goes for proofreading documents for typos as well.

Try the experiment!!!

The whole point is to demonstrate that you can use your visual memory (at least if you have ADD, not sure about ADHD) instead of your non-visual memory.

Seriously. Won't anyone else just TRY this?...Don't be scared. It will work.

namazu
06-28-13, 09:44 AM
Interestingly (well, to me, anyway!), when I was in college and struggling with reading, I went to the university's optometry clinic to get my eyes checked, since I already wore glasses but hadn't had my prescription checked for a while. In addition to the regular visual acuity and color-blindness tests, they gave me some tests of binocular vision and visual processing.

They then had me try a computer program designed to improve how much visual text a person can take in/remember at one time.

One of the exercises was very similar to the list experiment you have above.

They would flash a number on a computer screen for a fraction of a second, and then you'd have to type it from memory. The number wasn't displayed long enough on screen to read it out loud and encode it in an auditory fashion, so they idea was that you were stretching your visual memory.

After a couple of sessions trialing this software, I hadn't improved at all. I usually remembered the gist of the number, but would get the sequence wrong (especially the digits in the middle). To my surprise, instead of saying I should practice with it more, they actually recommended that I shouldn't bother continuing because the software wasn't likely to help me. (I guess I just stink at this!)

So now what I do (besides avoiding cross-checking lists when at all possible!) is either have someone read one list to me while I look at the other list (or vice-versa), or use text-to-speech software, or try to automate the process using software (if the lists are in a spreadsheet or something).

I'm glad your system works for you, though! To each his/her own!

ADDarkD@y
06-28-13, 07:50 PM
hey Namazu, that's very interesting.

However, I am still pretty certain my method will work for you as well. Have you tried the experiment? I can't remember numbers visually either unless i get a very good long look at it. My idea is that you don't have to remember the number exactly, just the gist of it. When you look for it again in the new list in this experiment it will click in your head when you see it. I would be most curious to see if this worked out for you.

namazu
06-28-13, 07:56 PM
On what basis are you predicting that it will work for everyone? (I mean, it would be great if it did...)

One caution, though -- I'm not sure the experiment (as it is currently set up) is valid, because if we test your method after we test the "regular" method, we will already have some practice with the numbers, and know which are repeated.


So it would not be surprising if your method comes out faster -- simply because we already know or are primed for the answers.

Maybe what we need is two separate lists, with different sets of numbers.

Or maybe some people could try your method first, and the "regular" way (checking individual numbers) second, and others could do it in the order you describe here.

Those might provide fairer comparisons than having everyone try "regular" first and "your method" second using the same list.

But in any case, my eyes glaze over when I look at lists of numbers...

ADDarkD@y
07-01-13, 02:02 PM
Hi Namazu,

As for it's validity: when I tested this method on myself I originally used two randomly generated sets of numbers. That's how I know it is valid. Since that time I have used the method in some limited capacities and the results have been good.

As for whether or not it will work for everyone: I was wrong. According to my research into ADHD it is not a disorder of attention, despite the name, but of generalized executive functioning (inhibition, time sense, working memory, etc.). And from what I have learned so far working memory is only a single part of the problem in ADHD. So while my method should make people with ADHD more effective the change would probably be minor because the other more serious or equally serious deficits won't be affected.