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Why Labels Matter More Than You Think

Do you ever get frustrated with your spouse or other family members who never seem to put things back where they belong?  It may seem unfathomable that they wouldn’t know where things go just as well as you do, but actually, this may be the case.  Even if someone has lived in the house just as long as you have, they may not interact with the organization system to the extent that you have.  In fact, the logic of your system may not even be obvious to them — or they might not even have noticed it.

Label It!

Whatever the reason, if there are people in your household always asking where things are, and/or putting things back in the wrong place, try using labels.

  • Specific Items.  When they’re looking for something, most people aren’t analyzing the space, so they’re probably not thinking,  “oh, this is the Office Supplies drawer!” Instead, they’re just scanning for the object they need. So when they go to put it back, it’ll likely end up in the wrong spot, or maybe even in the wrong drawer altogether.  If you want so see the scissors in a particular spot, simply put a label right there.
  • Categories. Perhaps you like to have all the mixing bowls together on one shelf, and casseroles on another.  Label the shelves accordingly, to keep others from guessing where things should go.

If you’re worried this might seem contrived or controlling, explain to your family that it’s meant to be helpful.  Labels help people find things and remember where to return them, so that no one needs to be frustrated by chaos or waste time looking for things they need.  Note how we rely on labels in other situations — road signs, for instance. Drivers should know the speed limit on various kinds of streets from reading the manual, yet most would agree it’s helpful to have signs posted reminding us of the rules.

Make neat, durable labels with a label maker that uses laminated tape. Placed on the top edges of drawers or inside cabinets, they’ll be invisible except when the space is opened and in use. If you have duplicates and want a specific pair of scissors in a specific room or location, say kitchen shears, it can help to label the actual object.

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