Being organized is more than just “putting things away.” Being organized is about finding what you need when you need it. You didn’t spend all that time finding a home for items only to forget where that home is? That’s why labeling and learning how to label is such a huge part of the organizing process so your home is functional.
Why is labeling an important step in the organizing process?
People think that once their home is organized they’ll know where everything is. While some are really good at remembering, others are not. This is where labeling comes into play. But believe it or not, labeling is often skipped.
Why? Because people aren’t sure how to label.
I’ve seen many clients lose items simply by storing them in bins and tucking them out of sight. Well, without a label you’re not going to know what’s in that exact bin, are you? There’s nothing wrong with storing various items together. But that’s why labeling is such an important step.
Without them, not only would your stuff be lost, you might get lost in the process.
Think about any store you walk into. This could be a grocery store, a bookstore, or a clothing store. How do you find the section you’re looking for? Signs. Labels. They’re hanging from the ceiling. They’re painted on the walls. Every place you go has labels leading you in the direction you need to go in. Imagine if they weren’t there. You’d spend hours looking for one thing.
Organizing is meant to help you find items faster. Saving time is one of the key benefits of organization. So it stands to reason that if you’re a forgetful person, labels are your best friend. There’s no need to be ashamed of having labels all over your house. If it helps you maintain a clean and organized home, that’s all that matters.
How to label areas of your home properly
It might seem strange, but there is a methodology to labeling. It goes beyond naming a file or bin what it is. Knowing how to label is one-half of the battle.
When you label your stuff you need to label it as if you and your future self are two different people. You need to think outside of yourself and consider others. Label things as if you needed to direct another person to find them.
Imagine you broke your leg. A friend or family member is going to come over and take care of your everyday chores while you’re recovering. Would your labels make sense to them? Would they be able to help you effectively?
What about your job? Let’s say your boss wants you to make things easy to find for new hires. It probably won’t help them if all the labels say something similar like “Quarterly Reports.” It’s always best to make labels as detailed as possible. Have it say “2020 Q2 Reports” or “2021 Gala Guest List.”
Another thing I see is people not making temporary labels. There's nothing more cringe-worthy than seeing a permanent marker used to label a plastic bin.
How do you know you’ll always use that bin for what you wrote on it? It can be a hassle to try to find a label that will fully cover it up. Make sure when you use labels they’re temporary, easy to remove, and sturdy. Storing bins in attics and basements will loosen the adhesive over time so use tape to secure the label.
Another big labeling tip is to keep names broad enough for growth. I see this all the time in bathrooms and pantries. Don’t create a label that says “Nails & Hair.” What if you add makeup or medicine later on? Instead, label it “Health & Beauty.” It gives you a general idea of what’s inside but also gives you room to add things that may not be in there yet.
Pantries are not different. Generalization is always the way to go. Some broad categories you can use are:
Grains & Pasta
Chargers & Cords
Learning how to label your home properly comes down to functionality. Can you label more precisely within those broad categories? Of course. But you also don’t want to label too much in case you move things around and change the way you organize them.
Labeling is a direction. It leads you to where you need to go. If things are organized you’ll be able to find items quickly. But don’t think labels need to be boring to be functional. There are many ways to make labels fun and creative.
Gone are the days of labels in black ink on a white background. Unless that’s your preference, labels can be bright and fancy. You can tailor them to you as an individual. If you’re a creative type, get creative with your labels. A great tool for creative label making is the Cricut Joy. You can use it to personalize just about anything.
If you prefer labels to be simple and practical, the Brother P-Touch is a professional organizer’s go-to machine. But don’t think you need to stick with that black ink on white background motif. Amazon and nearby office supply stores will have a ton of different label colors to choose from. Many label makers also come with different font styles to give the label some personality.
Another labeling option is handwritten labels. You can create these on sticky notes, masking tape, or blank stickers. Sometimes basic is best. So long as you can read the label and it’s functional to your life, that’s all that matters.
Besides changing the way labels look, you can get creative with the wording. For example:
Instead of “Taxes” you can write “Crap I need for Taxes.”
Instead of “Coffee” you can write “Survival Serum.”
“Important Documents” can be renamed “Secret Codes for World Domination.”
Whatever wording you use, make sure it makes sense to you, and anyone else using the containment solution.
We love labels at Dexterous Organizing. We’d be lost without them. And we love teaching our clients how to label so their homes and businesses are functional and easy to navigate. Want to know more about our process? Check out our FAQ page for answers. After that, schedule a complimentary consultation call.
Consider your home right now. Do you think labels will help? Have you always wanted to label areas but never knew where to start? Comment below. We’d love to offer you some suggestions.