Label Me, Label Me Not…

posted in: Essays 2

A few months ago I covered the word “label” in a Hidden Power of Words entry.

While I dove into the word origins of labels and whether or not one actually needed language or symbols to write on a label (color-coding anyone?), I started thinking about physical or man-made labels.

There’s so many different types of labels: simple ones with black lettering against a white background, to shiny, rainbow-colored and glossy labels with dramatic lettering, a few words written across a piece of masking tape… From the simple to the complex, the item (or items)  found inside a box, jar, can, or other packaging is still that same product, even without a label. Besides, a definition can change in an instant and then you are stuck with having to remove those really hard-to-peel-off labels that leave that yucky, sticky residue behind.

A great example of the power of labels is comparing name-brand items at the supermarket to the no-frills brand. Sometimes a name-brand item is better in quality than a no-frills brand, but sometimes the no-frills brand can be of comparable or even superior quality to you than the name-brand. I’ve always marveled at the labeling on no-frills brands (labels are simple, direct and well, no-frills) versus name-brand items (complex, colorful and sometimes flashy affairs). It is a perfect example of judging, or not judging a book by it’s cover.

Does one always have to label items? Well, it certainly helps to do so at the supermarket, library, or office when you don’t have the time to sift through loads and loads of text, books or files to figure out what is what and if lots of people are trying to identify an item over the course of a day. Sometimes though, it is easier to minimize the size of a label or even get rid of it altogether when something is familiar, repetitive or just plain to see? When’s the last time you had to label the door to your bathroom in your home? Or label the glass from which you are currently drinking with the beverage contained inside? Or label your closet full of clothes “clothes?”

Do you find there are times when it is better to label something/to not label something when at work/home/school?

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.
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2 Responses

  1. Todd Gillette

    Much food for thought here. This is something I’ll be contemplating as a attempt to reorganize my room. I’ve already reorganized a couple of drawers with some concept in mind for what types of items should go in which. Part of me is tempted to label to ensure I remember what the drawer is for, particularly if the theme isn’t obvious. Then again, I may soon decide that some other theme or variation makes more sense. I have some inchoate ideas of how to handle these things, so we’ll see where that goes (maybe a model of my room on the computer with labels?). I hope to see more posts on this particular topic! (and I should look through the archive to see if I’ve missed some already!)