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GoldList Method Explained Part 5 – The GoldList Book: The Distillations


Headlisting is the first thing you do in the GoldList book and, at the beginning of any project using GLM, for a time it will be the only thing you’ll do, but in the long run only 30% of our time is spent in this activity, and 70% on the distillations, as the graph below, which refers to a typical performance, demonstrates:

The blue 30% is the amount of overall time you’ll spend putting your materials into the Headlist, and the remaining three areas of the book (top right, bottom right and bottom left areas of each double page, respectively) you have before you now are 21%, 15% and 10% of the total, respectively, so that this book (which we have intimated before is the “Bronze” level book and what is coming up is hinted at in the left hand part of the diagram) makes up in total 76%, a little over three quarters, of the time and effort needed to bring a project to its conclusion, given the assumption that we stick to 70% distillation. And 70% distillation is on the conservative side, as you will find for yourself no doubt, in due course, ie. it is not adventurous.  Mainly you will find you can distil down to 65%, 60%, and occasionally even better.

That was a glimpse of the so-called ‘big picture” and maybe you got that right away, maybe you were confused. Never fear; we will now take this all step by step.

5.1 The First Distillation

So, now you are at a point in time where two weeks have passed since you last looked at the material in the Headlist. You will hopefully NOT have not been looking it over in the meantime trying to remember it, because if you have, you have basically been doing an Anki or Supermemo without the computer and those methods work the other way round to the GLM requiring more work. They can’t really be combined together with the GLM, even though many underlying ideas are the same, because of how the workflow is modelled.

You need to have Headlist lines that you have not seen as such for two or more weeks. Remember the minimum is two weeks, there’s no upper deadline set in stone, although some people work to a soft deadline of two months, just to pace themselves, but that’s entirely optional.

If you happen to have come across some of the same words while carrying on with studying the language in the GoldList, it doesn’t matter. Don’t get worried about that and also don’t get worried if you see in a minute that because you forgot a word you included it again in the Headlist.  That happens and it’s quite natural. All it means is you get a better distilling result for that page the second time you come across it. It all comes out in the wash.

Common words will be encountered almost every time you work with the language and of course you will learn them, so no need to worry if you see them too often while working with the GLM.

OK, so now, you can make a distillation, which means taking what you don’t know from the Headlist and writing it out again in a new List which will always be on the top right of the double page, opposite where your Headlist is. It will have its own numbering system, and of course through all the books any retained item will have a number about 70% of the one it had in the previous list.

You can make a distillation plan or just distil straight of you prefer. You can test yourself, by covering up half the page, if you want to do that. I personally feel no need to.

Basically, if you make a plan for the distillation, you are marking up the previous list (in this case the Headlist) to show that you remembered the item to your satisfaction and won’t therefore include it again at all, or that you have some recall, but maybe not enough recall, of the word or phrase or information the line contains, and you therefore Combine it (or in later distillations possibly reCombine it) with another line in order to lose one line. It is also possible to Combine more than one line at once.

I use a cross with a circle around it for outright kicking out, and the same cross with a circle but with lines coming out to indicate lines I want to join in a Combination (or Recombination, for those Combined on an earlier distillation – more on this below). You can pick your own symbols and develop them, but I have a standard set I use which are as follows:

As you can see there are a lot of signs which can be made and some specific to your own needs as a learner and even differ from project to project. The main place to use such symbols is in the process of distillation planning – an optional part of the process which helps to make sure you get the most out of distilling. Please note the comments section below where I am indebted to Arrowhead for requiring a closer explanation of some of these symbols.

If you make a Distillation plan, it should be done not long before the actual distillation, maybe just before it. The plan should not be done prior to the end of the two-week “fermentation” period – as any good whisky maker knows, you first have to ferment before you can distil! You may prefer to use the term “Settlement period”, “Consolidation period”, “Isolation period” and others. People writing blog posts on the Method around the internet are tending to find their own words to explain this one. Maybe they are not keen on whisky. All the more for us who are.

So, whether you test yourself or you make a distillation plan or do neither of these things, effectively the questions you are asking in order to decide what happens to a line are the same, and this is actually very important, even though it becomes a habit that causes the decision to be done almost without consciously going through the steps. At the outset you probably should go through them more consciously:

  1. Do I have any recall whatsoever of this line, or does it feel as if I must have been blind drunk (on that whisky) at the time and have no memory of ever seeing it before?  If there is total absence of recall, and it feels like you are looking at this line for the first time, then you need to write it out again as it is, i.e. Retain.
  2. Do I feel I have total recall of the line, and have even been thinking about it or actually using it recently, since the two-week fermentation period ran out? Or would I know pretty well what it means and remember any irregularities about the item that I included on the line?  If so, then the item should be discarded and not included in the next list at all. If you have remembered it for more than two weeks, the chances are functionally high enough that you won’t forget it and it’s probably made it through to the long-term memory. That is, you can Discard it.
  3. I feel like I know this info but not quite well enough to be comfortable losing it entirely going forward. Can I find some lines about which I feel the same way to match with in a Combining of lines? If so, then you can Combine the lines. If we are in D2 or later Distillations we may find the need to reCombine, which is break up and rematch the less remembered parts of phrases we Combined in a previous Distillation.
  4. There’s also a question as to whether I even need the information. Sometimes on mature reflection we simply decide that something we copied from the material earlier is vocabulary we wouldn’t even need in our mother tongues, and we can kick such things out as well, but there really won’t be many in this category if we were wide awake when we did the Headlist. We can call this kind of Discarding to Cancel.

  5. Sometimes when we are using the GLM to learn explanations which we copied from the textbook, and this is especially the case when using the GLM for non-language work, we can Summarise or Abbreviate and make fewer lines from an explanation we copied or paraphrased before in a greater number of lines. This is also valid Distilling, and in my experience plays well to the long-term memory also.

As you can see, the process of Distillation is one of deciding for the information in every line whether to Retain, Combine, reCombine, Discard, Cancel, Summarise or Abbreviate it so as to have less to do going forward in the learning algorithm. What we do write out again we write with an engaged mind, as ever not trying to rote learn anything there and then, but taking an interest in what we are writing down, not doing it with our minds elsewhere. when we come to it again the next time after another resting period of over two weeks, it will be possible to make further reductions using precisely the same process of Distillation.

5.2 How do I Combine the Lines?

There are several approaches to Combining lines

  1. Produce a collocation which reflects actual usage of the words involved. (You can do this best if you have it in the materials, some courses do, in Assimil for instance the exercise parts of the lesson are very good for this, Routledge Frequency Dictionaries likewise), or
  2. Combine them so that you have like an imaginary title for a picture or poem. You can then imagine what sort of picture of poem or story that might be. Because this is a use of Creativity, it does not switch on the Short-term memory like forced repetition or forcing mnemonics can. Creativity was identified in part 2.8 as one of the things encouraging long-term memory, and the fact that there are more letters and syllables in the Combined version than in either of the initial lines doesn’t stop it being easier to remember than either was alone. Because you are giving context. Have you noticed that it is sometimes easier to remember people’s names by remembering the full name and not only the first name? or
  3. ReCombining is when you are in a later Distillation and you look again at the lines that were combined and see a situation where one part is, against the odds, learned a bit better than the other. Now you can combine them again using the less-well-remembered parts, into a new title for an imaginary work, and lose another line. Imagine that you didn’t remember four words, the word for “cope with”, the word for “stew”, the word for “asparagus” and an expression for “shady business dealings”. In one distillation you make the sentences “I can’t cope with these shady business dealings” and “Is there asparagus in this stew?” and have two lines from four. But reviewing it next time, let’s say you’ve remember the shady business expression and you also remember the asparagus, so the clear strategy is to recombine with a new sentence “I can’t cope with this stew”, and have one line where there used to be two in the previous Distillation. That’s the idea of Combining and ReCombining.
  4. Listing things together which are usually recited in order is a good use of Combining, for example, numerals, the colour series of the rainbow, the days of the week, the months of the year, etc. These are naturally recited in order and so when Combining you could take a Headlist where you have the seven days of the week and put them in D1 as “Monday, Tuesday” in one line, “Wednesday, Thursday” in the next. You might have that ReCombined as “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday” in the second Distillation, and in the third you might be able to drop out parts and either abbreviate them or kick them out altogether, because you’ve already found in between times that you remember them pretty well.
  5. It can be useful to list opposites together also, “black and white”, “big and small”. This helps for adjectives most of all, but even phrases like “more or less” are useful, and in some languages you’ll note that they say “less or more, as in the Polish “mniej więcej”.
  6. If you cannot be sure that you know it, and cannot easily Combine it, and you feel that it is a waste of a whole line still including it, because it is a word you probably won’t use as you don’t use it much in your own language either, then you can also chuck the word out.  We are aiming for a big passive reserve, therefore we DON’T keep words included which we know passively and would be perfectly able to understand in reading and writing, just because it doesn’t spring immediately to mind when we are trying to make a sentence. This happens in our native language also. This is why testing oneself into the target language from one’s own language leads to overly pessimistic results, unless you are a real superstar (like Lydia Machova, one of the best-known proponents of the GLM, who actually manages to do this) so I don’t recommend testing yourself that way.

    However, IF you really must, then test for understanding by covering your existing language, rather than the target language.

  7. Finally, when it comes to Distilling, remember Newton’s Third Law of Motion:

    Lex III: Actioni contrariam semper et æqualem esse reactionem: sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse æquales et in partes contrarias dirigi.

Which basically means that “to every action there is always an opposed and equal    reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts”. Stated in another way, the action force is equal and opposite to the reaction force.

When you think that the same Creator created both the world of physics and the human mind, moreover placed the one in the bounds of the other for the time we are now experiencing, it is no surprise to note that in psychology this also works very well – restated as “for every conscious action there is an equal and opposite unconscious reaction”. If we consciously throw something away, we rarely go looking for it because we tend to remember very well what we have thrown out. We look around for things we accidentally lost, but what we intentionally threw out, we tend not to need to look for, but remember the object. Well, we can harness this in distilling too. Hence, Newton’s Third Law of Distilling reads thus: “If in doubt, chuck it out”.

Combining, by the way, is very flexible and has been the thing which has been the biggest hurdle to those who have attempted to make apps for the GoldList Method. You can combine at will in the Excel version, but doing it in an App seems more tricky and nobody has seen a way round that yet. If you are an App programmer and you think you can programme that functionality, let me know.

OK, so we have done our First Distillation. Most people at this point experience a positive surprise that the Method, counterintuitive as it seemed at first, did indeed lead to them being able to comfortably distil the list down and they are starting to get that if they rinse and repeat this process through the further Distillations, then they start to feel “Hey! I really am going to get all this material into my long-term memory, and as long as this David James, James Davies or whatever-his-name-is bloke isn’t lying about the activation process (I’m not) then it is starting to dawn on me that if I keep doing this I will inexorably get to where I wanted to be in terms of learning a foreign language which I never could before”, or, for advanced learners “…really am going to be able to get more out of my decreasing available learning time”.

There is a minority of people, that’s become clear, who are not experiencing this quite yet and so we need to explain and recap a bit in the hope of helping those who are not getting the pleasant surprise most users are experiencing at this point.

5.3 What if I don’t manage to reduce a page by 30% on distillation?

The first thing to say is, for sure some pages are never going to be a 30% reduction. You may have tried to get to something like 17 lines or 18 from your 25 (or 13-14 for 20 line method folks) and either found it easy to do much more than that, or struggled and given up with a lower reduction, maybe only 10% down in some cases.

On a page-by-page basis, this is not something to worry about. It is not necessary for every page to have exactly the right amount, but if you distil, let’s say, a hundred lines, and are not somewhere between sixty and eighty lines as a result from that hundred, then you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have I understood the above criteria for Discarding, Retaining outright, (re)Combining, Summarising and Abbreviating? Or am I setting myself too high a standard, as if the objective was to be continually active and not passive in the language? Because this misunderstanding about what needs to be done in actual fact is the single main reason some people (thankfully only a minority of attempters, but you also matter to me, be sure of it) baulk at their result at this point.  Please go back and be sure you understood the Eight Basic Concepts in part 2, and see how these are reflected in what we did with the HeadList and the Fermentation Period and the process of Distillation,
  2. The next reason for a lack of success can be mixing the Method with short-term memory methods which is done by approaching the same material with another method during the Fermentation Period. The GoldList Method is the opposite approach to most Staged Repetition methods, which means you leave them to be forgotten if they are only in the short-term memory. We are not renewing those synapses in the short-term memory so as to get ourselves confused at the time of Distilling. In particular people getting better than 40% consistently and then complaining that later on they forgot things they were supposed to remember forever, might well be doing that,
  3. Being ill, stressed, on medication, on alcohol, using drugs – these things are all not conducive to the normal function of the long-term memory,
  4. Ignoring what I said about the breaks is likely to cause your long-term memory to have gone on strike at some point in the process, leaving you with your short-term memory or nothing,
  5. If you really don’t like or trust your materials then you probably will subconsciously reject them, meaning the unconscious memory, the long-term memory, won’t play ball here either,
  6. Distractions, irritations and also music playing in the background are likely to mean you cannot harness the long-term memory to what you want.  Some people say that they like to work, even revising for exams, with background music, but I will tell you as an absolute promise and in just a moment prove to you, that you cannot work this way with the long-term memory. I need to write a bit more on this than on the other points, bear with me.

    As it is an unconscious process, you cannot dictate to the long-term memory which of the various inputs going on around you it should be sampling. You say you have success before, revising for exams with music? Yes, that figures, I am sure you have had such experiences. And I’m equally sure that if I put the same exam in front of you more than two weeks later, the retention rate would be very disappointing.  Not a problem if all you intended to do was pass an exam, but if you wanted to build on that info in your brain and use it throughout your life, as you do when learning a foreign language, then that was a fail, I’m afraid.

    Think about this, background music study fans: how many pop songs do you know the lyrics to, without ever having made an attempt to rote learn them the way you needed to do for a handful of poems force fed to you by teachers in your early teens? And how many of those poems do you remember? I guess that you know lyrics, at least in part, to hundreds of pop songs. If I asked you to write down what lyrics you could remember from song after song of which I would play you just some opening bars, you would yourself be amazed at the huge long-term memory store you would be regurgitating onto the paper, and sometimes for songs you hadn’t heard for many years, but used to like listening to.  None of this did you ever purposefully intend to learn, but you would have difficulty reciting poems you did try very hard to learn at around the same time.  By now, if you have been reading all of this carefully, you’ll know exactly why this phenomenon exists and you’ll recognise that your long-term memory was busy sampling all these songs effortlessly while your short-term memory was engaged at the other study.

    If you love music, for sure that will be the first thing the long-term memory will sample, leaving what you think you are studying for the short-term memory which you don’t want for this, or no memory at all – which you don’t want either.

    I’m not taking any responsibility for failure to get effects with the GoldList Method if users had music playing or insisted on trying to study while some distractions were going on in the background, even maybe some interesting conversation in a cafe. Try to keep these things to a minimum. If there are no other inputs for the long-term memory, then it must sample the language work you are doing, especially if you are motivated, interested, enjoy your chosen materials and have trust in them,

  7. Don’t just expect to be able to push your unconscious mind around. It is not always going to play the way you want. Ensure you are healthy, with plenty of fresh water, fresh air, exercise, sunlight, a balanced diet with no deficiencies, no bad molecules messing with your system, and plenty of sleep also. Then you can expect to get the best from all functions of your body, the conscious and unconscious ones alike.
  8. If all of the above is still not helping, you might like to try looking into the harmful effects of wheat consumption. Dr William R. Davies may have an explanation that will work for you. The fact is, there are people with such a permanent mental fog induced by wheat products that they don’t even realise what is going on with them until they stop eating it and it clears up. I think that a chemically healthier without the gluten and exorphine effects Dr Davies writes about cannot help but work and study better, including with the GLM, indeed this has been my own personal experience recently, hence my recommendation. Indeed I have found that a low carbohydrate approach couple to regular fasting and exercise is very beneficial to both the body and the mind.


5.4 Practical Example of the First Distillation

If you refer back to 4.2, you will see some photos of the Headlist I made for Indonesian from the German textbook by Assimil “Indonesisch Ohne Muehe” used by kind permission of the publisher.

What you saw there was the first six double pages, that is the first 150 Headlist lines of this Project.

Here we see photos taken of the same double pages after the required two weeks of “fermentation” have passed, in fact nearly one month has passed as you’ll see and there’s absolutely no problem with that.

So, here you see some signs of Distillation planning on the right hand side of the left hand page, the Xs in circles, sometimes incorporating brackets to plan Combinations, or in some cases condensations of text using Summarising and Abbreviation.

This is maybe not an entirely typical case as I kept a little more of the H in D1 because of interesting things in the German text as well as the actual Indonesian being learned. People do ask me from time to time, “can you learn two languages at the same time with the GoldList Method?” The answer is ‘yes’, but especially ‘yes’ when using one to learn the other. I had, for example, forgotten since high school and dear old (young at the time) David Morgan chugging through Hammers German Grammar with us, that “meines Nachbarn” takes an -n and probably would have said “meines Nachbars”. Anyway 25 goes nicely into 16, and there will be more analysis of what’s kept and lost on this page when we look at the second distillation.

So as you know the absence of a date at the top of this D1 list simply means that the one from the previous double page still is valid, i.e. we’re still on the 8th July.

Again we used a distillation plan with symbols. You might see an arrow showing to take info in the combination from several lines below, too long to use brackets comfortably.

Here the numbering of D1 goes from 17 to 33 because the previous page went up to 16. Each distillation level has its own sequential count over the entire length of the project, regardless of how many sequential bronze books need to be used.

33/50 is a very nice 2/3 ratio.

Here we have much the same thing. A date is still not required, we still see evidence of a distillation plan, we are still using the sequential numbering, this time from 34-50 and 50/75 is still a very nice two-thirds ratio, showing us that we are on a good track.

In fact, on this one, the fourth page, the date hasn’t changed, but I did put a reminder on the top of D1 to show that we are still on the same date. This is just to reduce possible time looking back and forth by me later on when I am checking review limits later on.

You’ll notice that in this one I didn’t bother to do a distillation plan but still ended up with the same ratio, showing that it’s not always necessary to do such plans. If they help, do them, if not, don’t.

And here’s the last one, very similar to the previous. I end up with 100 at D1 for 150 in that batch in H.

I mentioned the word Batch, and I might take a sideline inito it here, but it is a diversion from the main flow of ideas. The above was, in my mind, a single batch of work. I did those six double pages to H then waited while I was working on a different project (Agriculture, FWIW) and then did all six pages together to D1. I cannot go back and do them to D2 immediately, so either I could switch to working on one of my other GoldList Projects or develop the Headlist for more Indonesian. Well, 150 lines of a language won’t get anyone very far, and so there needs to be another set of work done on Indonesian before I can go back and do D2 on these six pages. So I call these Batch A and the next set I call Batch B. I will just show you the first and the last pages of Batch B at Headlist level and you’ll note the dates of it.

As you see, it’s still the same date as I finished the D1 on Batch A. I went on and started the H for Batch B, and I also noted that this is Batch B.

So in the end I did 500 words in Batch B, before going back to do D3 on Batch A because enough time had elapsed to allow that. If you are not really into working this way and prefer to be less systematic, that’s also perfectly fine.

5.5 Second Distillation

OK, so now another few weeks have gone by, and we see that we are all caught up to within two weeks of the Headlist as far as the First Distillation is concerned, and also some of the D1 list, which we dated every new day, is now also older than two weeks and is therefore “ripe” for distillation again.

So we make the second distillation at the bottom right of the double page, right under the place we had the first distillation.

Let’s just remind ourselves of the image I showed you earlier in Part 4:

As you see, we are following round in a ring on each double side, for purely ergonomic reasons. Last time you got used to moving distilled items from left to right, now from top to bottom. Both of these are directions in which we naturally work in languages using the Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, etc., alphabets.

If you are working with a Semitic writing system such as Hebrew or Arabic in at least one of the languages (the target language or the language of instruction) you might choose to start with H at the top right, then go top left for D1, etc., i.e, make a mirror image of the above. I would suggest that would be more natural and ergonomic for those scripts.

So, in the majority of cases, D2 is on the bottom right and to get to that list we distil the D1 exactly in the same way as we distilled the Headlist to get to D1. We are asking questions about the contents of the line to see whether we leave it out altogether going forward, because we know that we remembered the meaning at least passively (doesn’t need to have remained active), so that we know what it means, would also know if it were written incorrectly, and can remember any irregular info about the word(s) on the line. For two-line explanations, we are maybe trying to Summarise and Abbreviate them to single-liners, or reduce three-line explanations to two lines. We are building series like “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday” that might be a bit longer that the series Combined in D1, and we are making ReCombinations of the lines Combined at D1 with the objective of losing further lines.

In the main you’ll often find that a page’s worth which was hard to reduce by 30% in D1 is actually a lot easier at D2, while it’s possible also to find you did a better than 30% reduction in D1 but aren’t able to be so aggressive in D2. These things tend to happen and if you notice that, it’s normal.

You’ll also often notice at D2 that items Combined in D1 were easier to remember in their Combined form. By this time, you’ll also be noticing duplicates you made in the earlier work and they will be falling out too.

You do not need to be looking at the Headlist; you are deriving the D2 list from the D1 list, and already at D1 you shouldn’t have needed to check back to the materials if you were Headlisting properly. You may suddenly have doubts about something if it seems to conflict with something you learned later, and in such cases, you’ll want to look back at the materials, and, if the confusion still exists, check in other materials, or on-line. Unfortunately, few materials are entirely free of errors, and therefore it is not a concrete rule that you shouldn’t check back; you should simply be attempting, when you Headlist, to need to do that as little as possible.

In short, everything about Distillation from 5.2 above is true here. You will start to encounter ReCombinations and there is some value in doing a Distillation plan just prior to actually writing out that Distillation, using your own set of marks or the ones I developed in the above picture. There’s no rules around the notation you use for that, nor even about whether you self-test covering over half the lines or not.

Your D2 is once again about 70% or so of the D1, so therefore it is clear that you now have learned to the long term memory just over half of the HeadList material as 70% of 70% is 49%. However, don’t forget that doing what you just did means that you’ll have another 30% of 49% going into the long-term memory, you just don’t know yet which lines they are, until the two-weeks fermentation period is out and you come to distil again.

Therefore, referring back to the pie chart at the start of this section, you will be pleased to note that having completed the second distillation on a certain number of lines, you’ve done about two thirds of the entire work to be done on that material. It’s all plain sailing from here, just a question of rinse and repeat, as long as we stick to the two-week cooling off period, that is, the Fermentation Period, every time

5.6 Practical Example of the Second Distillation

Just as we have seen before the example of an Indonesian learning Project at H and at D1, lets now look again at these same pages showing the first 150 words of Headlist as they appear in D2.

OK, so once again it’s dated and you’ll see the date of 28th July is a full 20 days after the date for D1 which is in turn 29 days after the Headlist. I reiterate that the upper limit doesn’t matter, we just make sure we keep to the minimum of fourteen elapsed days.

Again, we start with numbering D2 from the number 1, and that will be kept through all the pages so that we can easily calculate overall relationships. Some people don’t care about this and don’t want to know that, and have asked me do they really need to count? Well if you won’t use the numbers and won’t be motivated by the numbers, then you don’t have to count. At the same time such a mindset is likely to be less attracted to this Method in the first place as this is more interesting for those who do like to score and track progress at any task using numbers.

Again we have a small distillation plan done just shortly before the distillation, and we are able to reduce 16 lines to 9.

Here there is no distillation plan but the resulting 15 words in the D2 list is not very well distilled. This is perfectly normal though, they can vary, so if it happens just occasionally it is not an issue.

Again, 14 words in this part, still not so fantastic but without a plan, and it’s numbered 25 to 38 because each distillation level has its own sequence of numbering, and this is the third double page of it. I am labouring this because it is a frequently asked question and people seem to have difficulty getting it.

This time we got 12 lines at D2, bringing us to 50 which is half of the H of 100. D2 should, after some time be running at roughly half of the H number.

Here we have what looks like a much better level of distillation. Note the date appears here because we started a new day, it is a day later than the previous four sides of D2.

Here let me go into a little more helpful analysis, so that we can really get at the core of what this distilling business is all about (and my thanks go to Alvaro Molina on the GoldList Method User Group on Facebook for encouraging me to prepare this explanation)

You may/should note, in this example, 40% of the lines of the headlist still exist, rather than the usual 50% ish. The Headlist has 138 words and D2 has 83 words, so 60% of the words are still left in 40% of the lines.

In fact, at least 80% of the important info of the H is left in the D2.

So doing GLM this way you could say is a lot about summarising and condensing the info, which is a very good stage for internalising the info.

Probably in D3 it will be hard to condense more without outright deletion, but by this time I will be able to delete more with confidence.

And here’s the last of the Batch A D2 work, for completeness’ sake:

5.7 Third Distillation

This starts to become a case of rinse and repeat. Those using 25 in their Headlists will have tried to eliminate something like 8 lines to get to a D1 of something like 17 lines, and then 5 lines to get to a D2 of something like 12 lines, although sometimes you are going to be on 10 or 15 lines.  Don’t worry when that happens. Now you’ll be looking to reduce by 3 lines to get to 9 lines per double page in D3, but I could show you examples where I don’t have anything left at all at D3, and also where I have 13 or 14 and it is a sweat to fit it in under the Headlist.  The average run rate should be something not that far off 9 and anywhere between 5 and 11 is still absolutely fine.

I do like to be a little more aggressive in distilling at D3 than I was at D1 or D2 if I can get away with it, and the architecture of the double page means that you are more squeezed for space here than you probably were for D2. I like to be slightly less aggressive in the next distillation, for reasons I’ll come to, so the time to be a bit pushy is now.

Right now those of you who have been kind enough to read pretty much everything I’ve written before now on the GLM might be saying, “Hang on, you haven’t told us that before!”, well, for sure there has to be something new for the book right? Otherwise you senior user guys won’t need to read it.

The process of making this third distillation on the bottom left (or the bottom right using the Semitic mirror technique mentioned above) accounts for 10% of all the work, as you saw in the pie chart, so by finishing the D3 stage you’ve covered 76% of the work, more than three quarters of what you need to do for all that material.

“What about the other quarter?” I hear you ask. I hear you go on to say, “We have a quarter still to do, but we don’t have any space left in our books.  You never thought of that, did you, you fat Englishman?” Well, yes, I did, actually, so don’t get hasty with me. The solution to where we go from here is in the next Part, which is unsurprisingly called Part 6.

5.8 Practical Example of Third Distillation

Here we continue with the same example from the Indonesian project:

As before, we see a fresh date which is at least two weeks later than the date of the second distillation at the bottom right. There is evidence of a planned distillation, and we can see some distillation plan marks on the second distillation, three of them in fact and sure enough the number of lines reduces from 9 to 6. The numbering of the third Distillation is once again a continual list across the entire book or set of Bronze books in its own right, starting at 1 here and we therefore expect the number at the top of the third Distillation on the second double page to be 7…


… so no surprise there. As you can imagine, six lines is hardly a decent session’s work on the GoldList and so there is no need for a new date on the second sheet. This time you can see a rather aggressive level of distilling so that there are 6 lines planned to be Discarded and in the event I even manage a seventh, going from 15 down do 8 lines this time.

This is worth maybe taking a moment to comment on. You see the leeway that we have here, and there is really nothing unusual about this. The first double page went down 25-16-9-6 and the second page went down 25-17-15-7. The biggest reason for the hefty reduction in lines in the second double sheet at D3 is the fact that I was being more conservative and cautious at D2. You’ll note that it sometimes works that way. Items that don’t go in very well the first time sometimes go in well the second, and what doesn’t go in well on the second often goes in well on the third.

That having been said it is not a bad idea to be aggressive on the third distillation and allow a bit more leeway on the fourth, coming up, so that a little bit more is visible in the D4, which is the equivalent of Headlist for the silver level. One can always be more aggressive again on D5. On average one tends to be a little bit more adventurous on the odd-numbered Distillations.

This is fairly similar to the last. The date has been added although it didn’t change from the first page, simply for future convenience. Again the actual reduction going through is more aggressive than the plan, by one additional line. It is good to check this so that you have a way of spotting whether you left out only the lines you wanted to leave out, and didn’t skip one by accident.

You’ll note a lot of the language of instruction is simply falling out at this stage because I baically remember the meanings and the explanations, and just want to be sure I remember the actual shape and inner sound of the words in Indonesian.

I find it is nice to have nice round numbers at whole hundreds, and I managed that in this case. We can see nice and clearly that so far this exercise has yielded a 67% rate of retention at D1, 50% at D2, and 30% at D3.  The planning of Distillation seems to have fallen by the wayside, by like I say, that’s not an essential. It can be useful, but not always.

Here we still have 8 lines from 10, but then again getting to 10 lines at D2 is more aggressive than average, so we have the reverse situation to the one on the second double page. Anyway, you see how these things often “come out in the wash”, so to speak.

And now the final one in this set:

A date change happens even during this side, which means I may have been interrupted the day before or run out of time. There is no distillation plan on this sixth double side. In any event the whole batch goes down 150-100-70-45 and you can see how each of those numbers are 66.7%, 70% and 64.3% respectively so these retention rates, taken over the first six double sides of the Project, are fairly consistent.

The next time we look at this, in the next Part, we will see how many of the 45 lines we have at D3 here will become the first 25 lines of a new D4 “Headlist Equivalent” in the Silver Book.


Anyone wishing to share in the funding of the coming GoldList Method Book and other coming resources can now do so here.

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