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How To Use Labels To Organize Your Home (And Life)

How To Use Labels To Organize Your Home (And Life)

You always promised yourself you’d keep a clean office space, bedroom, kitchen, or living room. You browsed websites about organization for tips. You had images in your head of neatly stacked folders, an easy-to-navigate storage system and quick access to tools and supplies. Instead, your home may look more like a warzone than the well-organized fantasy you’d imagined.

If you know your belongings are overly cluttered and impossible to sort through, you’ve probably made a few attempts to organize your home in the past. However, you may have made a few common mistakes along the way, resulting in a difficult-to-manage filing system and a pervasive mess. Experienced sorters, cleaners and labelers—those who’ve managed to get their lives in picture-perfect order—have some shared tips and tricks for organizing and labeling your belongings and life.

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Use multiple labeling systems

Don’t be afraid to switch it up depending on what you’re trying to sort, and don’t assume you have to label everything the same way. For example, use a chalkboard or dry-erase board to label boxes, containers or areas that change their contents frequently.

A bin to store clothes in can alternately be marked “winter clothes,” “summer clothes,” “swimming clothes,” or some other category. A food container for long-term storage of goods like grains, flour or cereal can be easily relabeled with a dry-erase or chalkboard label, allowing you to identify what’s inside quickly without worrying about making new labels or creating labels generic enough to loosely identify what’s inside.

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On the other hand, you don’t need erasable labels on everything. Your child’s toy bin will likely stay a toy bin for a few years, and your miscellaneous drawer of extra cables and plugs will likely stay that way too. Feel free to use labels with a longer shelf-life, like a vinyl label, to identify bins or containers that will stick around for a while.

Print out custom labels

One way to sort through which labels to use is to do away with buying labels entirely and focus on creating your own. You can design and print out labels using a word processor and adhesive paper, or you can purchase a label maker for between $30 and $60. This will give you greater freedom in the size of your labels.

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Making custom labels gives you more freedom in terms of where you can put labels, such as on cords to identify which lead to what devices on an outlet, on binders, or on light switches to indicate what they correspond to. You can also identify objects as yours if you’re prone to sharing or lending items.

Organize your labels too

If you’re overwhelmed by a collection of bins and boxes, labeling alone may not help you, particularly when it comes to any hard-to-classify items. Should your hairbrush be labeled a bathroom item or a personal beauty item? In that case, you may wish for an easier solution.

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One idea is that you could create an index of your bins and stored items, so that you can more easily identify what’s in what box. Rather than coming up with a generic term for everything you’ve placed in a bin, create an index by labeling the bin with a number or word, then drafting a list of everything you’ve placed in the bin. Do the same with every bin you package, and keep the lists in a binder.

This works best for items in long-term storage, such as goods you’ll shove in a garage and only need to bring out a few times a year. However, a similar binder system can work for labeling in the kitchen. For example, drawer 1 is the drawer for spices, drawer 2 the location of utensils and napkins, and drawer 3 the spot for plates and bowls.

Get creative with your labeling, and adjust your labels to your needs. Rather than coming back from a home goods store with an assorted collection of labels you thought looked nice on the shelf, first evaluate how you want to organize your home, then purchase or create labels accordingly.

Featured photo credit: StickerGiant Custom Stick via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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