To Label Or Not To Label
A little while ago, one of my lovely virtual clients asked what I thought was a particularly apt question: when organizing, what should one label and what items are unnecessary to label? Sensing that such information might benefit the masses, I’ve summarized the guidelines below.
– Shared and communal items or areas
If many people access the item or area on a regular basis, then it’s helpful to apply labels so that everyone is on board with the system–especially so if the system isn’t intuitive to everyone (for intuitive think the silverware drawer, which essentially any dummy knows their way around).
– For the benefit of assistants, housekeepers, etc
This is essentially the same note as the one above, but more specifically targeted to clueing any hired help in to your organizational system. If you have a preference as to the placement of things, it’s much fairer to extend the courtesy of offering insight into those preferences, rather than expecting someone other than you to read your mind. Again, it’s all about keeping multiple people in the loop on one system.
Anything that gets stored in tubs, boxes, containers, bags, and which you aren’t likely to access for many months should certainly get a label. Going with the assumption that you’ll remember what’s inside that sealed box come Thanksgiving? Well, that’s just silly, cause ya won’t. Come on now.
– Identical storage containers
Anytime you use lots of the same storage container in one area, it’s helpful to label each one. Obviously, it’s difficult otherwise to differentiate from the outside when they’re all identical.
– Containers which are intended for specific uses, the contents of which routinely get depleted
If you have specific containers for things that get used up, such as food items, then it’s helpful to label the container so that even when empty, its’ purpose will be clear. Otherwise, it might accidentally be absconded with by some well meaning person for some entirely different use.
– Any newly implemented organizational system, at least until you’ve got the hang of them
– Files, always
– For the benefit of children (for more on this, check out Alternative Labeling Methods for Children)
Don’t (necessarily need to) label:
– Items or areas of which you are the sole owner and user
If it’s an area or a category of belongings that you just have down pat and no one else has need to access it, then chances are you can skip the labels.
– Individual items
Logic has it that labeling the thing as “the name of the thing” would venture into the realm of redundant. It’s clear by looking at the toaster it’s a toaster, and unless you’re labeling everything in the vicinity in a foreign language a la a real life flash-card system, you can safely forego labeling.
The exception would be when individual items reside in specific locations, and then it might be helpful to label the action surfaces: i.e. the spot for the toaster is on the third shelf in the pantry, and so you label that spot on the shelf.
– So much that you look totally neurotic
Image credits: Country Living, Livet Hemma, House Beautiful, Home and Design, The Painted Hive, unknown
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