Memorizing Ordered Lists and Processes

Memorizing these two things and anything where there is a set order of things that you have to memorize has been my bane. It takes me an ENORMOUS amount of time to get them inside my head and I always, forget them. I figured Anki might help with this, since I am using cloze cards ( I used cloze overlapped as well before but now it is hidden behind a pay wall) to help break them down.

I am using
-I have combined these acronyms with imagery as memory palaces and made them into cards of their own
-drawn out mind maps based on these acronyms
-used colours
-and I am testing myself on what these acronyms stand for

However I still do take a very long time to get the word which the acronym stands for into a fully formulated sentence. Even more so when I try to recall the next letter of the acronym and repeating all of that once again.

And much more mnemonics to help get around this but I almost end up wasting too much timetrying to recall the next step or I am forgetting it altogether.



I’ll volunteer to be maybe-not-that-helpful: This has been your bane because it’s extraordinarily hard to do. I’m not sure there are better techniques than the ones you’re using.

Even the best guidance says you should avoid trying to memorize sets (lists) and enumerations (ordered lists) whenever you can – Effective learning: Twenty rules of formulating knowledge - SuperMemo – but it does offer some ideas about how to substitute something else to learn instead of the set/enumeration.

Best of luck!


I have the very same problem and, after a preliminary research and my experience from decades of studying against evil material and teachers meant for you not to pass (pulling all the possible tricks to make the material as hard and unnatural for memory as possible, including lots of ordered and unordered lists), I’m going to try with cloze filling for Anki cards like this:

Question 1: Which item is missing from this list?

  • Apple
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Olive (Item to recall, being blank in the question)
  • Grape
  • Peach

The answer being “Olive”

Question 2: Which item is missing from this list?

  • Apple
  • Orange
  • Lemon (Item to recall, being blank in the question)
  • Olive
  • Grape
  • Peach

The answer being “Lemon”

And so on for each item in the list.

I need to test if this procedure helps with the keys to remember as much as possible from a list for my use case, these are my requirements:

-I need to recognize the items from the list, not from pure memory but to recognize them when reading them
-I need to remember its place in the list, as close as possible
-I need to get the feeling of the related items, which belong to the same list and not to another similar list
-I need to disregard items which don’t belong to the list, even if they are intentionally deceitful
-I need a procedure which doesn’t take forever to write and to test/practice with, because I need to study lots of lists

Disregarding deceitful but wrong items is what my use case needs the most (because I need to beat an evil procedure), I will post my results after testing.

For sane learning (i.e. for actual useful knowledge, not simply to defeat a process designed to make you fail), I think the better approach would be to try to link the items somehow, like following a story or recipe, and focusing on active recall for each step. Like in incremental steps like this:

Question 1: Which was the first item from the list?

  • (Being blank in the question) Apple

The answer being “Apple”

Question 2: Which was the second item from the list?

  • (Already in the question, to help you recall the next step) Apple
  • (Being blank in the question) Orange

The answer being “Orange”

After being comfortable with partial questions, you could also continue with advanced cards in which you need to recall all items, one by one and not just one, to test for ultimate mastery with the list.

Cloze would bring these very important advantages:

-Making cards is fast and systematic, you only need to do a card for each item from the list in which each item is blank. I didn’t try cloze plugins yet but you can probably just input a list and the cards will be automatically made

-Less taxing while studying and recalling than alternative methods for lists which are based on pure memory, because the other items would trigger your associative memory

-Easier to establish the link between items inside a list than alternative methods for lists, because you will always look at linked items

But if this actually helps to remember the list outside of the Anki practice scenario, at least for me and my use case, is something to be proved (which I’m going to test).

For me, mnemonics is too time consuming to make and to practice, I save it for fewer lists which I ABSOLUTELY need to remember. I think if I used mnemonics for many lists it might lose power as a technique because it wouldn’t be a special trick for a list, but if cloze doesn’t work for me it would be my next method to try.


:+1:t4: I think you hit the nail on the head there. The best first step for anyone trying to do this is to figure out what you actually need to know from the list and how you’re going to need to produce it.

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A bit late, but I have been using cloze overlapper and it did not help much with the memorizing of lists. I have tons and tons of lists and learning all of them takes a very huge chunk of my time. Is there a different tool or method you could suggest me.

After using images as basically memory palaces, with each part of the image symbolizing a step of that process. The problem is that it was getting too repetitive, so I conflated it with something else. Other problems arise, like too much valuable time spent designing the flow of the steps on top of the image, or that the parts of the image (even though I recall what the image is and what it is about) are too vague in my head, which poses a problem for me since I use the parts of the image as cues. Ergo, I have to basically have to have the Image in HD in my brain.

It can be done, but I believe I am using a lot of time in doing so, would be creating unnecessary work for me and in the end I would still get the bad result of me not being able to recall the information in time or at all.

I was thinking of using an image to symbolize each step, but I dont know if that would pay out… I am hopeless

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I have linked my further discussion on discord here.
I would appreciate any more ideas :disappointed: :pray: Discord

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I don’t know if this is something Cloze Overlapper does (I’ve never used it), but I’ve managed to learn a few long lists using Anki. Take the chemical elements ordered by atomic number as an example. I’ve had cards that with Front→Back pairs like these:

1 → 1 hydrogen H
2 → 2 helium He
3 → 3 lithium Li
4 → 4 beryllium Be

But cards like these are not effective for me on their own, so I also have cards like:

1, 2, 3 → 1 hydrogen H, 2 helium He, 3 lithium Li
2, 3, 4 → 2 helium He, 3 lithium Li, 4 beryllium Be

Triplets (or quadruplets or quintuplets or whatever) like “1, 2, 3” have made it possible for me when it previously felt impossible. It’s still hard, but I find that the surrounding context gives me a mental hook to hang things on.


I have also found it useful to go not only from numerical index to list item, but from list item to numerical index, as in:

hydrogen → 1 hydrogen H

So “1” is not merely my prompt for hydrogen, but also something I have to remember about hydrogen.

I don’t know if this is something Cloze Overlapper does (I’ve never used it), but I’ve managed to learn a few long lists using Anki.

Yeah well, the cloze overlapper does that. I am not saying that the cloze overlapper fails to make me learn. It is just that it takes a huge amount of time and my fail rate is massive.

hydrogen → 1 hydrogen H

I thought about this and actually implemented this technique, but when the processes and lists that I have to learn got more piled up and got bigger, it becomes too strenuos to learn the number index of each item in the long run.

When in pilot training, we are given many lists as acronyms, that must be learnt and produced in action. For example, BUMP (simplified) is used once we have joined a circuit for landing (and are usually on the downwind leg); we must check Brakes (free and functional?), Undercarriage (down?), Mix (fuel and air mixture set correctly?), P (has the propeller pitch been set correctly).

It might help to invent a tune (e.g. ‘the BUMP song’) and sing the words to yourself. If you sing them, you are using an additional area of memory to memorise them and thus you are less likely to forget them. Just sing the song and picture the action that should accompany the word you are singing.


Do you know of an Anki addon or something that could generate random tunes?

Sorry, no. You might try applying it to a simple tune such as used in a nursery rhyme.

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