Want to make your life easier? Start labeling!
Sure it may sound a little ridiculous, but labeling can save you time, energy and reduce stress. I label everything (yes, this is the non-surprise of the century) and I’ve found the more realistically I label my life, it becomes easier for myself and those around me.
Label items that look exactly the same. We have three assessment notebooks at work that are very similar. I put stickers on the side and the front so can easily grab the binder I need quickly and I know the right information is inside every time. Easy! Your label doesn’t need to be fancy, it can be anything you use to distinguish differences between your similar items–stickers, post-its, permanent marker, tape or color-coding–what works for you is what works!
Label things that you freeze or don’t use often. I prepare all of my healthy-food items in bulk so they’re ready to use when I need them. I freeze everything I won’t be using immediately. Sure it looks like rice right now, but what about in a month when I need to use it? I’ve tried it before without labeling and I couldn’t determine our frozen applesauce from our frozen teriyaki sauce–a pretty important difference if I’m only making stir-fry. Easy! Label all bags and containers when dry and before you put the food in them. If you forget, label a piece of office tape and stick it to the bag or container.
Label things that others use. In our office, we label all of our supply and copy paper drawers (well the outside of them, at least). With 40 people using the office, I don’t need anyone to try to remember where things go or guess where to put them back. Now I can train them once and we’re good moving forward. This really helps us not to over-buy supplies and makes it easy for everyone to find what they need where it is supposed to be. Easy! Take 15 minutes at the start of your work-day to label the commonly used or misplaced items in your office, then train others on your system when they arrive–it will save you time in the long run!
Label things that change often. Our kids have one cabinet with 5 drawers each for their clothes. Each season the items inside shift slightly to accommodate for the new clothes needed for changing temperatures. I label the front of each drawer with the name and a small picture of the items to make it easy for everyone in the house (even the 4-year-old) to find what they need to get dressed each morning. Easy! Prep kids in advance for the changes and, if possible, get them involved in the process. Kids can help label, learn to read labels and help put clothes away by looking at the label/picture.
Label items that need specific directions. It may be relatively easy to tell what the item is, but if it has specific directions, putting a label directly on the item makes it much easier and quicker for everyone to use these items correctly. This is my homemade powder laundry detergent and liquid laundry detergent, stored in our laundry room, right now only one is labeled. Which one seems easier to use? The labeled one! Easy! If something will be used more effectively with specific directions–label the item with the directions (we do the same thing with our office printer’s special paper tray)
Save yourself time and energy and invest a small amount of time each day to a labeling project until you’ve completed your list. Labeling most items should take 15 minutes or less and will save you in the end. Yes, label-makers are amazing, but remember, you can use anything to label your house, office, life and if it works for you–it will work wonders for you. Label!