How to Make Labeling Your Things Easy and Doable

labeled closet

This Thanksgiving, I asked my Mother if she had any thick colored paper, a hole punch, and a red Sharpie pen. This is what she said:

“The colored heavy stock is in the large closet, right-hand side, 3rd shelf down on the left side. It’s labeled – you’ll see it. And the Sharpie pen is in the same closet on the 2nd shelf, also labeled. You’ll find the hole punch in my desk in the 2nd drawer on the right side. The outside of the drawer is labeled.”

WOW!! You can see why she’s my inspiration! I had everything I needed in less than a minute and put it all away in just as little time.

When I work with people new to labeling, it sometimes seems intimidating. Just look at all the photos of perfectly-labeled closets that are all over Pinterest! Here are my 3 tips for making a labeling project easy and doable:

  1. Don’t get too fancy with the labels. Make it easy on yourself. I happen to be in love with my labeling machine, but it’s an extra step to get it out every time. If you know you won’t keep up with it, don’t bother!

    Try this:

    • Use your own handwriting; it’s faster
    • Write words big and boldly so you can see them quickly and easily
    • Keep color coding to a minimum. It’s an extra step for your brain to recall what each color stands for. I’ve seen people use 5-7 different colors and they lose track of what color goes with what subject and run out of that particular color.
    • Bonus tip: Get everyone involved. When kids (and spouses!) are involved in the organizing and labeling process they take ownership of it. Have kids label their toy bins using photos along with the words. Or, ask them to draw a picture instead of using a photo.
  2. Make a Few Extra, Unlabeled Bins. After you’ve made labels for what you have, make a few containers for future items. That way you’re already ready for your future needs. Put a blank label on it so all you have to do it write on it. It helps to have a variety of container sizes in one style so you have options but consistency too.
  3. Go for Practicality, not Perfection: My dog’s clothes (ok…my dogs wear jackets) are in a bin and not perfectly folded or organized by color. I open the bin and scrounge around for what I’m looking for. Folding dog clothes isn’t worth my time!

    Try this: Put like items together in one container. The contents inside the bin don’t have to be organized, just make sure whatever is in that box is what’s labeled on the front. For example, one box could be labeled “Pain Medication,” another “Tape/Glue.”


That’s it: three pro tips to make organizing with labels manageable and fast. Need an incentive to start? Imagine the joy, relief and extra time you’ll have when you can find what you need in 20 seconds or less!

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