Labelling can be an underappreciated activity when we think about packaging and moving our goods or putting them away. We tend to be too engrossed in packing things away safely and boxing them up, that we may overlook the need to label what is inside those boxes. We sometimes put away some less used things like antiques or gifts, in a closet or storage, only to forget about what is inside the box.
A little attention to labelling activities at the start of the packing process can go a long way towards ensuring that when unpacking, it does not become overwhelming by the enormous number of unlabelled, sometimes similar looking boxes staring at you!
You can achieve three things when you label your boxes well:
- You organize your items effectively.
- You find those items easily and quickly
- They are treated like they should be treated
Read on to find out how you can master the art and science of labelling your important items for storage, so they are easy to identify and retrieve.
1. Gather your labelling supplies
Elements of labelling resources include items like
- Tag holders
- Colour markers
- Colour labels
- Masking tape
- Packing tape
2. Decide on a labelling system
Instead of using bland white paper to cut out slips and scribble labels upon, choose an appropriate labelling system. Depending on your requirement, select from one of the following two proven systems:
1. Numeric labelling system
Let’s suppose you have a box full of mountaineering gear, containing ropes, helmets, boots, etc. Conventionally, you would think that you need to write down every item that the box contains, on the paper. Listing every item in the box means that you will have to tack a long list to the box at the end. This is where the numeric system can be a saviour.
First, label the boxes numerically – i.e. 1,2,3, and so on. Then, on a single Master Sheet you write the number and against it, you write the contents of the box. For example, if box number 5 contains mountaineering gear, then, in the Master Sheet, you make an entry for both of them in a single row in separate columns.
This way, you won’t need to change labels on the box. You can simply update the contents in the Master Sheet.
2. Colour-coded labelling system
If you need a labelling system that helps you quickly find the stuff you need, this is the one.
Choose a colour for a particular set of objects. For example, green could be for gardening, pink for kid’s stuff, and yellow could be for clothes, and so on.
Once the colours are decided, use the appropriate coloured markers, tape, and labels for packing up the boxes. That means you use green masking tape, a green packing tape, and a green marker when boxing up gardening items. You can also use a green post-it and write the contents with a black marker on it.
This labelling system wins because even in an ocean of boxes, it will still be easy to find the right box once you know its colour. You don’t have to go through each box and read the white labels on them for their numbers or contents; just look at the colour.
3. Create the label
While labelling, it is important to remember the three characteristics of every label, namely:
- It should be legible
- It should be easy to edit and replace and yet the gumming should hold while undertaking intended movement.
- It should last. It should be able to withstand normal wear and tear.
To adhere to the first one, write as clearly as possible in large, easy-to-read handwriting. Use capital letters, if possible. Never use pencils or erasable markers for labelling. They can wear off quickly and defeat the purpose of labelling.
Also, be detailed while writing the contents. Instead of writing ‘paintings’ on the box, specify which paintings are in the box, in the order in which you kept them. Ideally, mention if they are of a uniform size. If not, write the size against the painting name.
No matter the labelling system you choose, you must always specify the directions for handling the contents of the box. Fragile, expensive, delicate, or sensitive items need to be handled carefully. Once boxed, your items can go through multiple hands in transit and storage. Since you cannot ask everyone to remember to be careful with specific boxes, you take the help of labels by writing ‘fragile,’ ‘this side up’ with a black/ red marker so that the information is conveyed.
4. Affix the label
Ensure that the label has stuck properly to the box from all four sides. You don’t want friction due to contact from other boxes to tear away the label. Use the tape generously.
Also remember, never to stick the label to the top of the box. If the boxes are stacked on top of another (which is highly likely), then accessing the label will become difficult. Hence, paste the label on the side.
This short, simple and complete guide to the art and science of labelling will help you move and store your household goods or business goods easily.