Complex projects, lists and events are often managed best when divided into smaller chunks or portions. The same holds true for memory. To live or remember well, it’s important to think about not only the what but also the how.
Our memories are comfortable holding and remembering about three to five things at a time. This is why multiple number items like phone numbers, social security numbers or longer zip codes are split into chunks of three to five. Anything more is cumbersome and won’t be remembered without additional assistance.
Last week in our ongoing #MemoryMakeover series, we discussed essential organizational tools to help memory. These simple, yet highly effective tools are a lifesaver for remembering day to day activities, appointments, new information, and larger projects. But organization should include not only the what but also the how to be truly effective. To wrap up our monthly theme, let’s end with some general how-to tips to maximize our organization.
Organizational How To Tips:
Identify the most important issue to begin. For most of us, this is what impacts our daily lives-organizing appointments or bills, or cleaning out the frig or closet. Whatever impacts or distracts memory and mind most is where we need to start.
Focus on one part of a project or area to organize at a time. Identify the various components and begin with one section to make a direct impact, like the daily schedule. For a larger project, break into manageable sections and focus on just one before moving on. If multiple items absolutely need to be addressed simultaneously, minimize by prioritizing the truly important.
Organize sensibly. Whether it’s using a calendar, making a grocery list, or sorting holiday recipes, how it’s organized needs to make sense to you. This is where understanding our learning style comes in. I’m largely a visual learner, so visual cues help me remember and organize well. Contrarily, visual disarray distracts and bothers me. So, I often use color coding or another visual cue to assist in any organizational project.
It’s good to purge! It doesn’t matter if it’s transcribing random post-it notes into a calendar, creating a master to-do list or sorting pictures, some things just need to get tossed. Start with one thing, physical area of your home, or designated portion of a project and throw out or recycle what isn’t needed. It makes no sense to organize what is out of date, unwanted or unnecessary. Purge and there’s less to organize!
Chip away but finish something small for a win! Often large projects are daunting, but chipping away provides a sense of accomplishment. I’m cleaning backlogged emails by managing as many as possible in a small time frame daily. Managing even just a bit of a big project is rewarding! Do and finish something small then keep going, if time allows. If not, note where to begin again and make an appointment to finish later!
Organize when energized. For many of us, this will be in the morning after our brains have rested. Beginning and working on an organizational project needs full brain power, so it’s best to do when our minds are functioning at peak effectiveness.
Don’t wait, just start. Doing small things matters. As explained previously, procrastination hurts our memory. When we continue to delay, we’ll eventually forget or learn to dislike whatever we’re putting off. Start small, chip away and see some progress. This will do wonders for our attitude needed to continue.
Finish completely. At times, enthusiasm wanes as large or time-consuming organizational projects lose their luster. Persevere to finish completely, even over a period of time. The sense of accomplishment will buoy spirits and encourage continued forward progress with other organizational areas and memory wellness.
Keep it organized! Once organized, let’s keep it that way! Every day or routine maintenance applies to keeping up with calendars, to do lists, closets, living spaces, grocery lists, and leisure projects. Staying organized requires less effort and creates helpful memory habits for our lives.
This week’s #MemoryMakeover homework is simple-try these how to tips and organize with the tools from last week in at least one area of life to enhance daily life and memory wellness. Let me know how it goes!
Organization may not solve every memory issue, but it can help us remember what’s important today. Becoming and staying organized is one the best memory habits we can employ to assist us now and in the future. The question is will we execute on it? Come back next week for that next step in our #MemoryMakeover!