LabelsEverything has name
“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” – A.A. Milne
Organization eludes most people with ADHD. While the concepts and information from Organizing Your Brain and Lists can help bring your ideas and your to dos together, and Bags, Boxes and Binders can help you bring your stuff together, a final, necessary step for even greater peace of mind could include labelling. When your brain is racing at a million miles a minute, visual cues can help us from just putting things or ideas or messages in unorganized piles. If you think again about the joyfully managed chaos of a preschool classroom, notice that there labels help maximize fun and learning. You can try the same concepts in your adult life.
Why labels are important
Imagine that you’re just back from work and you have a big stack of mail. Or you just successfully made a grocery list, shopped and are now trying to put items away. You also really want to sit down at the keyboard and write down some of the amazing ideas you had on your way home. More often than not, you just go through that pile of mail willy nilly, doing it as fast you can, maybe piling up your bills in one growing mound. With the groceries, you just quickly put the items that need to be refrigerated where they fit, stuff the freezer items where they’ll go, and shove dry items and cans onto disorganized shelves. You tell yourself you’ll go back and organize later. But you never do, and frustrated and ashamed, you stress out when it comes time to plan a meal or pay your bills or get those holiday card addresses entered onto your list.
Labeling helps take the time you otherwise spend being disorganized and makes you part of the system of organization. You get home from the grocery store and efficiently organize all your food items. Your bills to pay and memberships to renew (whatever you need those labels to be) don’t just pile up. Your emails have a logical place to go. Your notes make sense. You can get through your day with more joy and less anxiety, just like the pre-school classroom.
How to work with labels
There are two types of labels – physical labels and virtual labels. Most of us live in a dual world of physical items and digital items. Physical items are fairly straightforward to track. If you have a favorite activity or sport, for example, putting labels on the shelves or drawers where those items go takes the guesswork out of finding them and makes putting things away less of a chore. The visual cue of a label, especially a printed out label, provides structure, which is exactly what the ADHD brain needs. If this feels like too much betrayal to your free flowing mind, invite a super-organized friend over to help you figure out the best way to label the stuff in your life.
Labelling and tagging in the virtual world is trickier. You want to have the just right amount of labels and tags – not overdoing, not underdoing. The good thing is that you can easily edit and move things around, without without wasting paper or labeling ribbon.