A few weeks ago, I was driving home from a client appointment, feeling happy with the progress that we had made. After organizing items in a shelving unit, we used temporary labels so that the client could test the new system.
Just as scientists test hypotheses before coming to conclusions, individuals can test new "homes" for objects before affixing permanent labels. Locations might change after a bit of interaction with a new system. Using masking or painters' tape can be a great way to aid our memories as we familiarize ourselves with new set-ups. Apparently, it can also be a great way to annoy a cat who has exactingly high standards.
You can imagine my surprise and ensuing laughter when I received this photo from the client (shared with my client's permission). What a determined little kitty!
Cats can sometimes be mischievous during organizing sessions. They frequently like to plop down into the middle of any space that is being organized. Sometimes they even insist on sitting squarely on top of a pile that is being reviewed. In these cases, we banish them to another room for the remainder of the appointment. In this case, though, I was quite surprised. This particular cat is traditionally well-behaved and utterly uninterested in our organizing efforts.
This amusing fall-out from our organizing session perfectly illustrates the need to ask a critical question before affixing labels. What elements will the labels face, and thus, which should we use?
Is it time for young children to start putting their toys away, even though they cannot yet read? Do the labels need to withhold the stress of enthusiastic little hands? If this is the case, you can print images representing bins' or shelves' contents. Then you can laminate and attach them. Alternatively, you could print photos of the actual contents that will resonate with the eager little helpers.
Below are other scenarios that you might want to consider.
(I have included links to various products to give you some ideas, but I am not endorsing these products. You will be testing them at your own risk. Thus, you will want to ensure that the labels work for your particular surfaces, especially those that might be delicate.)
If the labels will be used outdoors or will need to withstand heat and cold inside garages, basements, and attics, you could give "extreme" Post-It notes a whirl: https://www.post-it.com/3M/en_US/post-it/products/~/Post-it-Products/Extreme-Notes/?N=4327+8750143+3294529207+3294857497&rt=r3.
Are you looking for something quick and easy that will not break the budget? How about painter's tape? You might be surprised at how many options are now available. Here are just a few:
Exterior" weatherproof" tape: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Scotch-1-Pack-1-41-inPainter-s-Tap/1002260746
If you like the chalkboard look, you could use chalkboard tape: https://www.scotchbrand.com/3M/en_US/scotch-brand/products/catalog/~/Scotch-Chalkboard-Tape/?N=4335+3293692109+3294529207&rt=rud.
How about dry erase tape for those labels that will need to be changed frequently? https://www.scotchbrand.com/3M/en_US/scotch-brand/products/catalog/~/Scotch-Dry-Erase-Tape/?N=4335+3293692116+3294529207&rt=rud.
Are you looking to avoid eventually dealing with hardened tape residue? How about reusable labels that slide directly onto the edge of a shelf? https://www.containerstore.com/s/office/labels/shelf-clip-labels/12d?productId=11011586
Will labels need to be changed frequently on kitchen jars and Tupperware? Perhaps Jokari erasable labels will do the trick: www.jokari.com/products/erasable-food-labels.
Need to label finicky surfaces like rattan baskets? How about bin clips? https://www.containerstore.com/s/office/labels/white-bin-clip-labels/12d?productId=11003245
You can change categories in a flash with vinyl adhesive reusable labels: https://www.containerstore.com/s/office/labels/smartstore-adhesive-labels/12d?productId=10034526.
If none of those will do the trick, you can always use a trusty label maker. They can work wonders if your penmanship leaves others wondering whether you assigned a specific spot for alfredo, potatoes, or tomatoes. Consider yourself warned, though: labels take a fair amount of time to create when using a label maker. If you have a large volume of tags to make, do yourself a favor and overestimate how long you intuitively think it will take to finish the task.
Label makers have come a long way. Remember manual label makers with large circular dials? I am shocked that they are still being produced, especially given how long it takes to create a label, not to mention how painful those label corners can be when they jam under a fingernail: www.walmart.com/ip/DIY-Manual-Label-Maker-for-9mm-Embossing-PVC-Label-Tapes-Portable-Label-Printer-Mini-Handhold-Typewriter-2PCS-9mm-Embossing-PVC-Label-Tapes/874543719.
As for electronic label makers, I prefer QWERTY-style keyboards so that the buttons line up in the same fashion as a computer keyboard. Although faster than the circular dial label maker, they can take longer than a Sharpie and tape. On the flip side, they might last longer than the tapes listed above. Label makers now come with all sorts of bells and whistles: lovely fonts, symbols, colored tape, borders, and bar code creation. Some models can even embellish ribbon and washi tape. For you crafters who already give Michael's a run for their money, please back away from your favorite search engine before it's too late!
There are label makers that connect to computers via cable or wifi, which should translate into time-savings: https://www.brother-usa.com/products/ptd600.
Some can connect to both computers and phones. Studies have shown that dictating can be three times faster than typing. Suppose you typically hen-peck text messages and are willing to use your smartphone's microphone feature. In that case, you could potentially save even more time than typing on a computer: https://www.brother-usa.com/ptouch/cube/family.
I have seen an increase in thermal label makers on the market in the last few years. The resulting labels look like those on packaging envelopes. If speed is what you are after, this type of label maker might suit your needs. This one apparently prints a whopping 71 labels per minute: https://www.staples.com/dymo-labelwriter-450-turbo-label-printer/product_796630.
If you absolutely cannot bear to use unsightly technology, I doubt you will find anything on the market that is cuter than these label makers: https://phomemo.com/.
Whichever label you use, think about how long it will take to create the tags, how much money you are willing to spend, how long they need to last, and what pets or children might test their longevity.
Whatever label you use can be immensely helpful, especially when sharing a home. Imagine the eternal bliss that could result from the absence of hearing those dreaded words for the umpteenth time, "Mooooooomm" or "Honnneeeeeeeyyy," "where can I find the scissors?"
Author: Judith Dold
Musings from yours truly about all things organizing.