Bet you didn’t wake up this morning thinking you were going to be reading a blog about labels, did you? I didn’t think I would be writing one. Yet here we both are. Let’s get stuck in.
I was asked the other day, what is one part of an organising job that you would recommend to every single client no matter what? Labels are the answer. Labels for everyone. Let me explain…
They are often the icing on the cake to finishing off any project. Even if you can’t afford storage solutions, we can all get our hands on a Sharpie and a pack of white stickers and start designating categories to things. That way, even if you don’t have a physical container to “zone” out and categorise your space, you have this mental barrier. Most of us will think twice putting jeans on the shelf labelled “T-shirts” for example. It is an unconscious way of maintaining your new clutter free space time and time again. Rather than put something in the wrong place, you are forced to address why you can’t put it in the place labelled “jeans”. Of course, it isn’t going to work in isolation but is one of the many, many tricks to maintain your home.
I also can’t really think of an area of the home where labels don’t help you. I have been sat here trying to think of an example of where labels wouldn’t help, and I am stumped! There aren’t many universal storage and organising tips that are suitable for everyone and every space, so they really are quite special in my world.
So let’s address all the ways that I implement labels with clients as I am sure you can relate to at least one of them.
For when you feel like a solo tidier
Or if you are like me, frankly you are the only tidier in your home. I am the only adult and my children are little so their help is limited at best.
Everyone’s brain works differently and systems that make sense to you, don’t necessarily make sense to someone else. However, if you would like the rest of the family to get in board with your system, a nifty label can really help that. It takes the guess work out of the whole situation and helps everyone else know what the thought process is. At an unconscious level, if someone opens a cupboard and there is a box with a label on it and they are holding that item, they are just as likely to put it in the right place. Most of us aren’t just rebels for the sake of it.
Make it easy and they will follow.
For those who struggle to maintain clutter
Let’s for arguments sake say that you have a cupboard and you have cleared it out, but it just keeps getting back in a mess again. You feel like you are constantly doing it. If you can’t add any storage solutions, a label is a great way to help you keep on top of the space BEFORE it is full up.
Sticking with the cupboard here. Let’s say it is in your bathroom and there are two shelves. If you stick 4 labels on the shelves – everyday cosmetics, self-care cosmetics, cleaning products and kids bathroom bits. That way as soon as each little category is full you are less likely to shove it in one of the other categories and mix it up as you have a constant reminder that this is not what you wanted. You then start removing what is not needed or keeping in the right zones more often rather than just waiting for the whole cupboard to fill up.
For those with children
Children are naturally pretty bad organisers and are the worst when it comes to letting go of anything. Labels won’t help you when it comes to getting them involved in the declutter part of the process but they will help with the tidy up part of maintaining an organised home.
The beauty of this is, labels don’t just have to be words, you can put a picture of each category on a shelf, basket etc and this will help them decide where to put it.
Invertedly, this also helps with independence and choice. If children know where something is, they can start practicing some independence and choosing freely what they would like and getting it out on their own.
As the grown ups, tidying up becomes quicker for you too as everything has a place and a category that the children will be more willing to maintain if they know it means they can find their own toys easily (not always, I have kids too, I know sometimes they like a shortcut)
My favourite part. If all the toys are hidden in boxes or baskets and the only element a child can see is the label (it can be obvious such as a massive Paw Patrol picture for a label so they know it is Paw Patrol toys inside) then you know if they haven’t chosen that category for some time, they won’t miss it if it disappears. This is great around Christmas and birthdays when we start to have a natural cull of what is no longer played with/ what they have outgrown. Instead of being tempted by the colours or noises of a toy, they are actually choosing what they are interested in at that time. Of course you can get out categories to encourage a rotation but it is always interesting to see what children really want on a day to day basis.
For the infrequently used items
Your loft is a great example of this. We bundle up all the memories and photos and things we aren’t quite ready to let go of and throw them in the loft. We then never see them again until we move or have another reason to put more up there. There are many other areas of the home where we have infrequently used items but let’s stick here for now.
One day you need to find something. You know you haven’t used it in years and you know it is in the loft somewhere. Somewhere.
Just by sticking a label on a box with what is inside it can save you an incredible amount of time long term. It seems so obvious I know but how many times have you been hunting around all those boxes and bags or shelves of things that are home to the infrequently used items only to have to open them all up to discover you put it somewhere else.
I know, the simplest and cheapest options are usually the best and yet so many of us just don’t do it.
So, there we have it. My reasons why labels are life. Why they are so important for any declutter and organising project and why we should all always have them in our homes, at least in some capacity.
If you are about to embark on your next declutter or organising mission and would like to know the steps I take to declutter success, you can download my free guide right here.