My Brain Needs a Defrag

(Laura’s note: I’m on maternity leave, and while I’ll be blogging occasionally over the next few weeks, I wanted to use the opportunity to run guest posts by my favorite bloggers. Enjoy!)

by Lorie Marrero

When your computer hard drive slows down, you can run a defragmentation utility on it, rearranging the pieces of its memory to make it work better again. Sure wish you could do that for your brain! I’ve been traveling a lot recently and have had several projects going at once, along with everything that I normally do with my family, and it definitely is harder to remember things when you have so much stuffed in there.

Memory is inherently faulty and unreliable, so that makes it even more important to rely on organizing techniques and systems. Here are some thoughts I have on organizing and memory– I wanted to write them down and share them before I forget.

  • Make sure you have multiple, solid “capturing tools” that work well for you. For me, I have a paper notebook nearby along with my smartphone’s calendar and other apps like Evernote. I also use my camera and ReQall as capturing tools. ReQall is a free service that lets you leave a voice mail message for yourself that gets transcribed and emailed to you within a few minutes. I use this often in the car as random thoughts occur to me. (Read this post all about your capturing toolbox.)
  • Set up foolproof reminder systems. Capturing information is half the battle, but if that information is time-sensitive, you also need to have good CUES. (Read this post all about setting up good cues, including the 5 factors that make cues work.) You might use alarms on your calendar and phone, sticky notes, or even good old fashioned wake up calls to remind you of things at the right time. iPing.com does reminder phone calls, as well as WakerUpper.comMembers of my online program get a customized email reminder system they can set to remind them of anything recurring, like changing water filters, giving your dog his medication, or whatever you like!
  • Put objects away in established places that make the most sense.When you are deciding where something belongs, stop and think– don’t stash– and consider where the BEST home is for that item. A logical place may be where other like items already reside, such as putting crayons with other school supplies or incoming bills with the other bills in your office. You can also store something at its “point of use,” like putting pot-holders near the oven. Being as logical as possible means you probably can figure it out if you forget later.

Your organizing systems should be as trusted as a bookmark– what I call “The Bookmark Principle.” If you were reading a book, you surely wouldn’t run around thinking, “I’m on page 78, I’m on page 78, I’m on page 78…” all day long. Of course not– you’d have a trusted system called a BOOKMARK that remembers that for you. Put systems in place that you trust as much as a bookmark so you can let go of the information and feel free and confident that it will be there when you need it.

Does your brain need a defrag?

Certified Professional Organizer® Lorie Marrero is the bestselling author of The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life. She is also the creator of ClutterDiet.com, an innovative program allowing anyone to get expert help at an affordable price. Her organizing books and products are sold online and in stores nationwide. Lorie is the spokesperson for Goodwill Industries International, and she is a sought-after expert for national media such as CNBC, Family Circle, WGN News and Woman’s Day. She writes weekly as the organizing expert for Good Housekeeping’s Home Style blog.

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