The Great Debate

Scales of Justice photograph by Jenny Bardsley Photography:

The Great Debate

In my time as a professional organizer I’ve discovered that there are really two types of people out there: 

  • those who file vs. those who pile
  • those who eat the frog vs those who need to build motivation
  • those who ask for directions vs. those who don’t
  • those who prefer the toilet paper over vs. those who like it under
  • those who take labels off bins vs. those who don’t

Which is right?

Actually there’s no WRONG way to do anything. It’s what works for you individually. It’s what helps you to get set up for success – and this is what I take into consideration with each client I work with.

Organizing is not one-size-fits-all. It’s meant to be customized to your specific needs: your height, if you’re right handed or left handed, if your single or have a big family, if you have ADD or are chronically disorganized. There are so many variables to take into place.

But when it comes to removing the labels on storage containers/bins, I’ve found that both answers work for different people and here’s why: 

Plaintiff: Remove those brand labels for a clean look

Most clients I work with do want the brand labels removed so they have a more clean, uniform look to them. Plus I typically add on my own labels whether using my label maker, chalk board labels, or tags with client specific terms (once a client had me label his “To Do” file as “Get this $%*^ Done!” – no joke).

One organizing colleague likens this to removing the tags from clothing after you’ve purchased them. You wouldn’t leave the tags on after wearing, so why do that for bins?

It’s typically easier to remove the labels when the bins are new, which is why we organizers do it immediately. But sometimes we remove the labels and then the client decides they don’t want that bin and returning it becomes a bit trickier at certain stores.

So it’ll depend on your individual preference.

Defendant: Leave those labels be

Some of my clients prefer to leave the brand labels on bins for two reasons:

  1. In case they want to return (less used reason)
  2. So they know the size/brand when they want to reorder

Once I realized this, I thought – that’s a good plan! So if you want to leave on those brand labels so you know what size bin (whether dimensions in inches or in liters/quarts), go for it! Just turn the bin around so that label is in the back, and use your own labels identifying the category on the front for a more uniform look. It’s like the best of both worlds.

You can also take a photo of the bin label before removing it, and store it somewhere safe for you to recall later (this is a more advanced organizing technique; for those with a blackbelt in organizing).

So see – both sides have valid points and there’s no wrong way to approach this great debate. So which are you? Share with everyone in the comments below (and feel free to share your stance on the above topics earlier in the post).

Lauren Mang
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