Fast and Easy Labeling with Dry Erase MarkersPosted by MeckMom on Jan 29, 2010 in Popular Posts: Organizing | 2 comments
Labeling is a critical step to getting and staying organized. Without it, whatever wonderful system you set up will be impossible for your family to follow and consequently fail before it gets off the ground. That being said, there are lots of instances where ‘officially’ labeling something with a sticker or tag requires way too much commitment. The fact is that when you’re in the middle of an organizing project, there are times when you just aren’t sure what will work.
For example, I just did an overhaul of my cluttered garage shelves. If I were on an organizing show they would probably make me go through a very deliberate (and time consuming) process such as…take everything off the shelves, purge the excess, divide up the remaining stuff into clear categories, make spiffy new labels for the shelves, measure the shelves to determine where everything should go, and then finally place all the items in their assigned locations. Well, my little guy only naps for an hour at a time so, unlike the makeover shows, I needed a fix that would be faster and more flexible. My solution? Use a dry erase marker to create temporary labels.
I still went through the basic steps. I scanned the shelves and moved or pitched anything that didn’t seem to fit in (like the cordless drill stashed on the bottom shelf or the bike pump I found behind the pasta). Then I used my dry erase marker to make quick category labels on the shelves. Once I started moving things around, I realized that my paper towels were a little too tall to fit on the low shelf I originally planned for them so I erased that label and reassigned them to a higher one. I did the same thing with my 25lb flour sacks. They were too big to fit with the other food storage items so I added them to the empty side of the cleaning supplies shelf and then wrote a quick label beneath them. You could call it a trial and error (aka lazy) form of organizing, but I find it be much faster. All in all, the entire project took me about 25 minutes and that includes the time it took me to take the random stuff (like the drill and the bike pump) back to their correct spots in the house.
You might ask, “Now that you’ve got your system all worked out, did you go spend hours creating beautiful, weather-proof, permanent labels? Isn’t that what organized people do?” To which I would answer, “Are you kidding? I had 35 more minutes of kid nap time to kill so I spent it doing important stuff like checking my email and browsing blogs.” The simple fact is, the garage shelves aren’t a high priority and their contents change frequently so it seems kind of silly to create permanent labels. Rather, I left up the dry erase labels as a solid, temporary fix. They’re clear enough for my family to follow and low-maintenance enough for me to rearrange and adjust as I see fit.
I often do the same thing with my organizing bins. For example, I’ve got most of my kid’s old clothes in these blue rubbermaid bins (I’ve got over 20 of them). I have a nice plastic-coated label on the front which is great because they look really neat and organized when they’re stacked in my basement. However, functionally, having a label on only one side of the box isn’t terribly helpful. After all, sometimes the boxes need to be stacked sideways, sometimes they don’t get put away correctly so the label faces the back, and sometimes I’ve got several out at a time and I don’t want to constantly flip them around to figure out what’s inside.
To solve the problem, I grab my dry erase marker and label the top, back and sides of the box. It’s not a pretty fix, but since no one else ever sees the other sides of the box I don’t really care about aesthetics. Plus, once we’re done having kids and it’s time to get rid of all the clothes I can easily wipe off the labels and repurpose the bins for something else (FYI – a lysol wipe works well if the ink is stubborn). It’s a simple organizing solution that saves me time and trouble. Just thought I’d pass it on.