One of the greatest experiences of my life was working as a program aide during college summers at the renown Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. This remarkable experience steeled me for a career in teaching and even prepared me for fatherhood. I learned much about patience, serving others, and how to never, ever lose my keys.
My job at Perkins was basically to assist with the needs of five blind, autistic students, and help out with their extracurricular activities and outings. I helped them get to class, assisted them with their meals and care, and I made certain they had fun. We spent a lot of time together in and out of the cottage that was my home during those New England summers.
Until I arrived at Perkins I had never been around a blind person. I was studying to be an educator, and I had hoped to hone my teaching skills with the boys in my cottage, however it was they who really taught me. The lessons in patience and the service of others were reinforced during every minute of the day. Learning how to never lose your keys came from my observations of the students’ daily behavior and practices.
Organization for my students was a crucial part of their day, not only because of the challenges they faced with their sight and autism, but also because they, like everyone I’ve ever met, wish to avoid being late, getting frustrated, or having their day derailed because of a misplaced key or other necessity.
Here are a few of the lessons I learned that helped me to always find my keys and other items of importance:
- Become a minimalist. My students identified what was essential and got rid of what wasn’t. This reduced the clutter and rewarded them with time, less frustration, and a greater appreciation on what they had. Each of us can take some step today on minimizing our homes and work areas.
- Things of importance need a place of importance. My students put their key in the exact same spot every day, immediately upon entering their room. Now I do the same. One hundred out of a hundred times my keys go into the exact same spot in my desk drawer. The exact same spot in my bag, same pocket in my jacket, and then back in the desk. Repeat after me, “Every thing has its place, every place has its thing.”
- Two is one, and one is none. My students had a backup copy of their key stashed away in case of an emergency. They never needed it, but just in case they dropped one on a trip and couldn’t find it, they had a built-in solution. Nice.
- Take responsibility. If something came up missing my students knew it was their responsibility. They never wasted time blaming someone else. Find it or move forward.
- Practice. The only way you will master organization is through practice. So, find out what is essential, assign it a place, make a copy if you can, take responsibility for what is yours, and practice until perfect.
I’m not going to pretend I never misplace an item, but on that extremely rare occasion that I might, I will remember the tips I learned from my friends from Perkins outlined above.
Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker. His presentations have entertained and amazed audiences across the nation including corporations, schools, churches, conferences, and wherever people come together to be entertained and improve their lives. Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.