Braille Monitor                         March 2021

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Using Labels to Assist us in Our Life Hacks

by Danielle McCann

From the Editor: Being organized is a virtue many of us are too slow to embrace. Of course, we all have excuses. Mine involves a newspaper story my grandmother read to me when I was about eight years old. It was about a robbery in our neighborhood, and the victim was blind. The focus was not on what was stolen or any violence committed during the crime. The thrust of the article was about the sinister behavior of the criminals not only in robbing a blind man but in keeping him from calling the police by rearranging the furniture in his home. The newspaper reported that the blind man was so disoriented that it took him two days to locate his telephone and call the police. My grandmother was outraged at the robbing of a blind man, but I was disgusted by the coverage. At the time I thought it was completely absurd that someone could disorient me so significantly that it would take two days to find the telephone, and I rebelled against the idea that I needed to be organized or that everything needed to be in its place for my sanity and tranquility. I had a memory; I could remember where I put things. Often that meant that I put them where I last used them, and periodically I would go through and put them where they belonged. As my schedule got busier and I obtained more things, my rebellious assertion that I could put things wherever I wanted and have no trouble remembering where they were gave way to the reality that I was wasting a lot of time and energy. Maybe the article had been wrong in its focus, but people arguing for organization weren’t wrong, and whether I was blind or sighted, I benefited from having a place for everything and having everything in its place.

Danielle McCann is a treasure for making the mundane interesting. Recently we were talking about labeling and how much harder it is for blind people who do not have a labeling system. When I was explaining all the systems we have (whether or not we use them), she observed, “You know, it doesn’t have to be that hard.” I asked her to explain, she did, and now I am passing her wisdom along to you:

Whether we’ve put a word to it or not, I’m sure we’ve all figured out easy and efficient ways to simplify mundane tasks. In other words, we’ve all used “life hacks” to accomplish what needs to get done. As someone who is disorganized by nature, I admit that I was well into my thirties before I understood how valuable organization can be.

Once I purged my belongings, I was left with piles of stuff, and without realizing it, I started unofficially labeling items as I put them in their new places. I say unofficially because I didn’t use traditional sticky paper or plastic. Instead, I used what was on-hand at the time, and it has evolved into quite a reliable technique.

I put like items in similarly textured bags. For example, I use packing cubes to store clothes. That’s it; no exceptions. If I relax this rule for myself, I’d end up shoving papers, cosmetics, or other bits and bobs in the cubes, and there goes my strategy to be organized. My Seeing Eye dog’s paperwork, including veterinary documentation and his extra equipment, live in a hat box. Its differently textured from standard cardboard boxes, so even when we’ve moved to a new house I’ve been able to find it easily. The same can be said for my vital documents, technology chargers, and even my pocket slate. They all go in my leather portfolio, technology pouch from ebags.com, and empty plastic “super pack” gum box, respectively. All of these holders feel extremely different from each other, so, I’m confident in finding things no matter where they sit.

I hope these small labeling hacks are useful to you and that you figure out a system that works best for your possessions.

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