52 Weeks: #22 What’s the big deal about labels?

If you are new to 52 Weeks of Organizing, catch up here!

So here’s the thing.  I’m NOT a label freak.  Definitely a freak in many other ways but labels not so much.  I don’t walk around with my label maker glued to my hand, foaming at the mouth just waiting for the opportunity to label something.  I promise you my kids do not have labels on their foreheads 🙂

I label when it is warranted.  When it’s necessary for my sanity.  In my book, Clutter Rehab, I talk about the importance of not striving for perfectly organized but just organized enough so as not to complicate life more than you need to.  This will look differently for each of us, it’s about finding our own groove and knowing when enough is enough.

So how do you know when it’s a good idea to label something and not just your desire to do it because that’s what all the “organized girls” do?

Let’s start with an example.  I don’t label where my food goes in the cupboard..in other words I don’t have a big label beneath my soup cans that says soup cans here.  I’m the only one in my house that puts the groceries away after I purchase them (my choice…if I’ve got helpers they are to put everything on the counter for me) so it’s just me that needs to know this.  Anyone else taking something out of the cupboard knows where they pulled it from and typically puts it back in the same place.  If they don’t I just rearrange it myself…no big deal.  Remember because I menu plan I only purchase what we need for the week so my pantry stock isn’t huge.  Now having said all that, this situation may be a big deal in your house.  Like is not with like in your cupboards (ie: boxes of crackers in every corner), no one can find what they are looking for and it’s downright annoying to you.  In this case labels are warranted to knock your stress level down.  Just do it, what are you waiting for? 🙂

Next, I think anytime you have a closed container that you can’t see into warrants a label.  If you have to open it up every time to see the contents you will waste precious seconds of your life each and every time.  Believe me, those seconds add up throughout the day!  Save yourself this valuable time and smack a label on it.  For other things in clear containers labeling might not be necessary.  For instance, I use one of these clear plastic drawer units on wheels to store some miscellaneous stuff including my lightbulbs and batteries.  You’ll notice it’s not labelled.

I can see what’s inside so I just can’t be bothered to do it.  It’s good enough for me.  However my good enough may look different from your good enough.

Now when it comes to kid’s toys though, I do think labels are necessary.  It’s a visual aid to help them and if you want to get them on board with clean up you need to remember to do what you can to set them up for success. That usually means labels…picture labels are especially important for young ones.

Get your free printable toy labels here.

It’s all about paying attention to the things that annoy us and asking ourselves, could this problem be solved by putting a label on it?  Sometimes it’s as simple as that.   Label makers are fun I will admit but if you don’t have one don’t sweat it there are many other ways to label your stuff.

  • masking tape and permanent marker
  • mailing labels either written on by hand or printed off on the computer
  • pretty scrapbook paper taped or attached with velcro
  • simple key tags tied on

Some of you might remember I told you a couple of months ago about the annoying problem I had with my labels not sticking on my plastic bins?

I came up with such a great solution (if I do say so myself..lol) to solve this problem and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  But I’m going to be mean and make you wait until next week.  I think it deserves a post all on it’s own because of it’s awesomeness 🙂 hahaha

In the meantime I can’t wait to see what organizing tasks you’ve been up to this past week.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Are you a label freak or not so much?
  2. What did you organize last week (and yes every little bit counts!)?  Did you run into any problems?
  3. How are you feeling about the progress you have made so far?

Please feel free to share your organizing journey and encourage one another in the comments. You are also invited to link up to the linky below with any posts related to your 52 weeks of organizing participation or to any post of an organizing nature that you feel will inspire and encourage others in their quest to get organized. Please remember to link back to here though so we can reach out to as many people as possible in need of some inspiration.

One other thing to consider: by including your link below you, you are giving me permission to use parts of your post including pictures as a spotlight in future 52 Weeks of Organizing posts. Proper credit and links will of course be provided. If you are not okay with this please do not link up. Thanks!

Filed under: 52 Weeks of Organizing, Organizing Basics


30 Responses to 52 Weeks: #22 What’s the big deal about labels?

  1. 1
    April @ Birch in the Breeze says

    I have a label maker, I love the idea of the labels but I need to work out where I can put stuff first!

    I finally did something for the 52 weeks challenge this week and cleared out a junk drawer for day to day jewellery.

    I’m looking forward to all the other news from people on the challenge which should help me be inspired for next week.

  2. 2
    Lisa Jean says

    I don’t have a label maker, but have always wanted one. I make a lot of labels mostly for my child care business. I use the name of the item for the shelf or basket and then a photo or catalog pic and then laminate with clear contact paper. It is great for kids that can’t read to know where to put their toys. I use the plastic baskets and have also figured out a way to make labels stick. I use scotch tape through the holes. Works great. I am new to this site/blog, but love it. I do have a lot of things organized in my house, but also a great deal that needs to be. With a child care business and very little storage space in my home (no closets) there is always something looking for a place to belong:)

  3. 3
    Allison P. says

    Fun post! I make labels to hang on bins. I use 2 mailing labels (so you can’t see through) and stick them to the backs of cute pictures in ruined kid books. I then cut around the label & punch a hole for string. Each kid gets one theme — son labels are all from a Franklin book, baby from Dora, etc. I’ll do a post on this once I’m organized enough to do it!!

  4. 4
    Sinea says

    Exactly my sentiments. Labels should make life easier and not be obsessive. I do love labels!

  5. 5
    Melanie says

    I’m a label nut! In fact, our SALTS have different labels. It wasn’t enough that they’re in containers with different lids. I knew that would require too much of my precious, new-mommy brain power to remember which lid was for which kind. So I labeled them! At work (I’m a teacher), we label EVERYTHING. My classroom has paraprofessionals in it, and I want them asking as few questions as possible while we’re working with kids; labeling accomplishes that for me. I just have to give general directions, and they find what we need! It helps with my students as well to know that it all has a home. We’ve even gone to visual aids like taking a picture of what our game cabinet looks like and then we posted it on the side of the cabinet on a sign that says, “How I Need to Look.”

    What I organized last week: The baby’s closet and our linen closet! Your linen closet post inspired me, so I dug out our vacuum cubes and went to town!

  6. 6
    Nickeletta says

    I love labels, and my label machine which I use quite often. Someone in my house moved it from it’s home, though, and I’m not sure where it is. I don’t open storage either, usually just baskets and other closed storage. I would probably label the plastic drawaer unti just because I might not know what is in the back of the drawer, or to help my kids put things back in the right palce.

  7. 7
    Corrie (Brennan's Mom) says

    Uhm… Well, remember your thought on how no organizing system will work unless you use it? My husband bought me a new, fancy and totally cool label maker – so I could be more organized and it would help us find our stuff and make life better.

    It is still sitting in the package. I really want to use it, I do… But I guess I’m not organized enough yet! 😉

  8. 8
    Sarah says

    As I was reading this, I was visualizing all the well-labeled things in my house: the alphabetized “junk drawer” cabinet, the spice rack, the boxes of sheet music…and then I got to the second floor and visualized the eight 6-drawer mini bureaus where I have to open every drawer to find our passports, or an envelope, or (ironically) the label maker…

    I guess I have a project for this weekend!

  9. 9
    Jenna says

    I think I’m like you, I label but not when I can see into a container. When organizing the closet in our home office, I used mostly clear bins for storage. I’d originally planned to label them, but then decided it was obvious enough what was in them and decided not to. I’ll save that label tape for more necessary labeling!

  10. 10
    Enjoy Birth says

    I actually bought a label-maker this morning! I am in the process of organizing our entertainment center and tried to make some labels with address labels and they don’t look pretty. If I am going to have labels, I want them to look good!

    I haven’t opened it yet, so we shall see how useful it ends up being.

    I did a lot of organizing this week. It was fun.

    I feel like I am making lots of progress. It is amazing how a little at a time over many weeks makes a huge difference!

  11. 11
    [email protected] says

    I really love labels, but don’t label everything. I mostly label stuff for others, not for me. My hubby and kids get in and out of the pantry a lot so it’s labeled to keep things orderly. We also have a lot of people who come over and house sitters, so it’s just easier to have them know where everything goes 🙂

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

  12. 12
    Jodi says

    Yeah, I pretty much love my label maker 🙂 I don’t do the pantry, I’m usually the only one in there like you, although as I’m typing this, I did organize my pantry with some baskets and those have little plastic pockets on the front and they are labelled (chips, snacks, baking needs, etc) I guess I follow the same parameters as you, if it’s helpful, I’ll do it.

    Even though my clothing boxes are clear, they are labelled by age so I can quickly get in the right one. I have the kids toy boxes with pictures and words like yours. It also makes clean up so much easier when a friend is over to play, there’s no excuse of “I don’t know where it goes.” It just simplifies life in our house!

  13. 13
    Megan says

    I am a masking tape label maker. I wish I were a “make a pretty label on the computer” gal, but I’ve got 3 kids and a constantly low ink cartridge. Some day

  14. 14
    Jenn says

    I love labels! I think I like the cuteness factor even better than their function. I must say though, I am always wondering if my husband actually knows how to READ!

  15. 15
    The Bearded Iris says

    Hi Laura!

    Just writing to say hello. I have had a bit of a setback with my 52 Weeks list. A few weeks ago I bit off more than I could chew and I am still trying to dig my way out of it. I have several organizing projects in the works, but none of them are finished. I’m having some technology problems too and have to get that sorted out before I can get back to my list.

    But I will join back up when I have some good news to share and progress to report! Just didn’t want you to think I’ve dropped out. Still in! Just lagging. I’ll be back! 🙂

  16. 17
    Tina says

    lamination and zip ties! :o)

  17. 18
    Cheryl E. says

    I’ve been reading your blogs for a few weeks now…getting ready to jump in and do something. I have a terrible mess, way beyond what any “normal” person might have-my home sits on the boarder of those with “compulsive disorders” and just plain sloppiness. I have never actually known the HOW of organizing and the way in which it could possibly “set me free” from so much distraction and angst!

    Those that seem to have “organized lives” have never been able to give me any helpful answers to the HOW of it-their responses are often patronizing or condescending-as if I should have learned all of this somewhere along the way.

    I thank you for your 52-Week plan, as a starting point for those of us who have no idea of “where to begin”. And, the most important I feel, is that taking each task as its own accord sets the plan in motion. Everything does does not have to be accomplished in a day, two days, two weeks, a month-we can take 52 weeks to accomplish our full goal-you can’t imagine (or maybe you can!) how “free-ing” that is for someone who has constantly “set themselves up” for failure for so long.

    I started the program with a small project-one in which I was certain I could accomplish in less thn an hour and would give me immediate results. I have an older apartmentment with a wall-attached sink, there is a 3 1/2 foot open space between the sink and the wall that holds the shower. I have no counter space, and the only mirror (with good light) to put on my make-up is the bathroom.

    I have a tall plastic drawer bin I had been using for sewing supplies, but hadn’t been doing much sewing lately-so I decided to use that drawer bin in the bathroom instead. I separated the sewing supplies into clear zip-top bags and put them into a box labeled SEWING. I think this was the first time in my life I’d ever had all the “stuff” for one particular craft in one place all at the same time.

    I washedand dried the drawers and put them back in, and fit the drawer bin into the space between the sink and shower. Width-wise it was a perfect fir-I had measured(!), the length was a little longer than the sink itself, by about 3″ and blocked the sliding shower door by a little bit. I decided I could live with it. It was also about four inches higher than the sink, which turned out to be very good-now having “counter space” for make-up. The whole thing just seems to work for me. For someone else, the extra inches over and beyond the sink and shower door might be too much of an intrusion.

    This ittle cabinet has worked out so well, I can keep make up in the top drawer, oral hygene stuff in one drawer, body lotions and sun products in another, tissues in one and trash bags in another. And, the counter top is clean!

    This was my first project-took about 40 mnutes-removing the sewing stuff, washing, moving the container.

    I’ve decided to “help myself” by having several small successes that make a big impact for the first few weeks which I think will build my confidence in tackling many of the major organizing dilemmas here.I will most likely be “behind” and get to that “pantry area” in a month or so……

    As to the labeling-I am anxious to here your soultion for attaching stickers & labels to those plastic bins-In my job we have hundreds of items in those same types of bins which in deparate need of stick on labels-we cant get them to stick and stay on!

    Thank you again for your great comments and this blog-I love that you state “whatever is good enough for you-is good enough”!

    • 18.1
      Laura says

      That’s wonderful to hear Cheryl! You are on the right path…every little bit counts and it’s definitely what works for you. All the best to you on your organizing journey, you can do this!!

  18. 19
    Angelica says

    I wouldn’t call myself a label freak but I believe that being organized really helps you to do things more comfortably. It’s true whenever I’m working at my desk and when I have everything in place ready for me without requiring time to search, it just saves time and takes the stress of looking for things away.

  19. 20
    Amanda says

    I am a new convert to labels for several reasons:
    1) It helps me remember to put things away where they go….(not my first inclination but when I see the label sitting there it makes me more focused in this process)
    2) It helps my husband know where in the world all my new organized stuff is…
    3) Seeing things nice and labeled makes me happy and feel like I could actually do this and become an organized person.

  20. 21
    Sandy Jenney says

    Hi laura,
    I tried to link up to your party. It kept telling me there was no backlink. I’m not sure what I was doing wrong. I’ll try my other post, but I’m doing it like I normally do. lol

  21. 22
    Sandy Jenney says

    Ok.. figured it out. I’ve never had to post my link on my blog before I put on the link party. Makes sense. Thanks

  22. 23
    kthreads says

    I started writing a post on what I do with labels and then deleted it. As I wrote, I realized that I have a label addiction. lol

  23. 24
    Elke says

    Hi, I just came across your blog today. I started decluttering my kitchen drawers today and started putting opened packages such as lentils etc into glass jars and labelled them with masking tape, that can easily be removed without a hassle. I noted down, what kind of lentils and how long they have to soak/ cook.

  24. 25
    Ak says

    Yesterday I went home & created a homework station for my my 6 year old daughter. I can’t believe the peace we both felt. She just sat there on her chair enjoying her little corner. Thank you for helping me bring a smile to my sweet little girl’s face & bringing a smile to mine. I didn’t know i could do it. From Trinidad & Tobago.

    • 25.1
      Laura says

      That is so wonderful to hear! Yay!


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