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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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