Memory Strategy: Reduce the Clutter

Are you one of those fairly organized people who find that as your schedule gets more hectic or you have something that disrupts your routine, the clutter in your home or office starts to accumulate? Day 4  of the 7 day memory fitness plan focuses on creating effective strategies and that can include taking time to de-clutter. Many people will agree that they can tolerate it then one day it is time to reorganize in order to clear the mind before moving forward with something new.

That is something I can totally relate to and after writing this blog, I am going go through the house and sort through what has not found its home in a few weeks. Between speeches, book projects and seeing patients these last few weeks, things got done but working out of my car and having my office in my home has its challenges. Add to that a few weeks of feeling under the weather and an upcoming speaking engagement out of town for a few days and I am well aware that this is the day to restore order. Coming back from a trip brings all the new stuff to deal with. Sound familiar?

What is your system for getting back on track? It can help to use the OHIO principle for starters. Only Handle It Once may mean you take your mail, for example, and start the sorting process that way. Recently I had a client who had some mild memory problems and a kitchen table stacked with mail and papers. Her niece helped with bill paying but was frustrated because it took so much time to just sort through all the papers. This woman had moved from a large home to an assisted living apartment and had lost her system. After getting 5 boxes, labeling them and putting them on a shelf she began to sort and toss. Based on her needs, we created several different boxes. She threw the junk mail immediately in the wastebasket, then decided if the item belonged in the box labeled to pay, to file, donations, or things to read. Within a week her friends were able play bridge at her  kitchen table and her niece greatly cut down on the time spent just sorting through the growing piles of stuff..

Where to begin can be overwhelming but now I am off to spend a few hours getting things in their proper places. Since I already had them in smaller piles, which is a habit I have acquired for my own sanity, I expect to have it done in an hour or so. Then I can begin the newest project which, of course, will create a new challenge but maybe this time I will organize all the papers it will create as I go.

Tackle a little at a time and happy de-cluttering!

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. Hans Hoffman

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About Kathryn Kilpatrick

Kathryn Kilpatrick received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1968 from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked in a variety of settings, primarily in Ohio, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and for decades in the area of home health care. Kathryn is president of Memory Fitness Matters ( and Communication Connection( She offers memory coaching for all ages and has a geriatric consulting practice. She is a national motivational speaker and author of more than 30 products to enhance communication and connection as well as a Memory Fitness Toolkit. Kathryn brings her decades of experience as a speech-language pathologist to all those wanting to enhance their quality of life, particularly when there are communication, memory and cognitive challenges. Her websites offer information on a wide variety of topics related to elder care concerns as well as memory fitness and successful aging.
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