The Dangers of the Miscellaneous Supplies
Naturally, with time, an office space becomes a bit unorganized. Little things like post-it notes are without a home, so they seek refuge in that infamous abyss known as the miscellaneous drawer. Within a few short weeks, that drawer becomes stuffed with other equally homeless supplies dubbed miscellaneous. All seems peaceful, after all, it is just one drawer, but deception and betrayal are lurking nearby. The miscellaneous drawer is seeking new territory; it is beginning a campaign to take over the entire cabinet. Chaos now rules the office.
Time to Organize Supplies?
Luckily, there are ways of avoiding that type of problem. Here at ChromaLabel, we realized that maybe we had let the ball slip just a little. So we decided to take some of our own medicine and organize our newly renovated office space. We thought it would be a great way to show just how easy it is to make sure everything stays in its correct place. That said, it isn't that bad if you have a miscellaneous drawer, the trick is to make sure that drawer doesn't become an excuse for clutter. Organizing an office can be taken to an extreme, like marking out the outlines of where your stapler should sit, and this can be overwhelming for the first time organizer. As a general rule, we encourage the peaceful middle ground where things remain tidy.
A workplace should be neat, with a system in place that promotes efficiency and productivity. For the most part, companies operate off an established and effective system that makes everything run smoothly. However, efficiency is not only attainable with complex systems. Something as simple as a kraft dot labeled "gluten-free flour" can prevent waste for a cook. If he is baking bread and uses the wrong flour, not only is it a waste of product, it could cost him twice the amount of effort and time. Based on the principle of opportunity cost, it may prove more profitable to spend money on labels and prevent waste of product and the valuable time of your employees.
I am sure I am not the only one who has spent a large chunk of time trying to figure out where something is. If you have the guts to ask someone where it is, then you have to decipher what they're saying. Maybe it's just me, but a shelf, a ledge, and a table are synonyms when I'm giving directions to the napkins at a party. When you’re at a party, this problem isn't a big deal, but if you are in a rush at work, a marked label can make a world of difference. At this point, some may counter with, “There is a designated spot for everything in my office”, then without hesitation, I respond, “Even if there's a designated spot for all your supplies, color-coded tapes or labels can ensure that after being used the item gets replaced.”
Assess, Plan, and Execute
A friend of mine once said, "Just because you get your tasks completed by their deadlines doesn't mean you're good at managing your time." I was confused at first until he explained that time management has nothing to do with the deadline; it's about accomplishing the task as soon as possible. What sets a due date in his eyes is the bare minimum; you only approach a deadline if you manage time poorly. Now, if we apply this idea to not just time but life in general, then it's clear that good enough is not acceptable. Anyone can devise a system that works in a bare-minimum sort of way. What stands out from the crowd is a person who can design a system that maximizes productivity to the fullest.
When implementing a system, make sure it works for you. Merely implementing another's method is a sure way to abandon your quest for efficiency. You have to make a system that works for you and your team; take another's plan and then improve on it and make it your own. The first step to organizing is to see what you have and then determine if you still need it. Prioritize how much you will use things (if you use it once a week you don't necessarily need it at your desk). Next, see how much space you have available. If stuff piles up it won't look organized, and it will be less accessible. Beyond that, it's up to you and your team. What works, what makes sense to you, and why you chose a particular color to label something are questions that only you can answer.
What Stickers to use?
There are a plethora of organizational supplies to choose from out there. We'll be the first to say it; you can't organize with sticky dots alone. It helps to place certain items in containers or separate them with dividers. However, if the contents are not visible at a glance, you'd better believe it, a dot label could be the answer. For shelves in cabinets, we find it easier to use Color-Code tape because the adhesive sticks better to the slightly curved surface. Dots, due to their round nature, stick better to flat or nearly flat surfaces. Color-Code Tape can also be cut to fit your exact needs and removes very smoothly without leaving any residue.
Sometimes, it may help to label the outside of a drawer or cabinet. For instance, in a fast-paced environment, you may want to know that an item is in that place and not another. Just don't make it look too unprofessional. As a rule of thumb, plastics and stainless steel don’t look horrible with exterior labels if you spend time the time to label them properly. Wood, on the other hand, may need more labeling finesse. For filing, I suggest going with the stalwart dot. The reason for this is that a dot can be subtle while still serving its purpose. Not to mention, a dot does have a type of classiness that tape does not possess, particularly with the metallics and the Earth Tones™. My taste may be different than yours, so luckily you can choose from 38 different colors. If only 10 fit your fancy, you can mix and match and create a nearly infinite number of combinations. If you don't trust your tape cutting skills and still want to label where the dots dare not go, consider going with Color-Code Rectangles.
Versatility, the True Hero
It’s a weird quirk of mine, but I have to make counter-arguments before I can convince myself that something is worth my time and effort. An alternative to using Color-code dots and tape is to use a label maker. It’s possible to label everything in your office in this way, and it can look super sharp. So what’s the drawback? Well, there aren’t any necessarily. For the most part, a label maker does its job just as it is advertised. It may take more time and all together it may cost a little more than dots and tape, but that’s not what convinces me. It is the fact that the same product of colored tape and dots can be used for multiple purposes and in that way it outshines the label maker. As I was spending time organizing today I was moving a cabinet and the doors decided to fling open. Well, I was just color-coding with tape, so the answer to my problem was pretty clear. I taped the doors up real quick and went on my merry way. Even though a label maker does do its job well, the color-coding tape is more versatile. It may not be the legendary Duct tape, but it does come in handy. The best part about Color coding tape is that it removes cleanly, so if you need to swap out labels every week there’s no need to grab the Goo-Gone.
Not Just Your Average Office Product
Some things are just so useful you wonder how people ever went without them. Things like the wheel, duct tape, and indoor plumbing fall into this category. Now Color-Coding may not be in the esteemed class of the aforementioned company, but when it comes to organizing it is a real game-changer. Moreover, it finds its place across a wide spectrum of human activity. There’s always room for a little more organization and color-coding is just a dot away. Offices, Schools, Factories, Restaurants, Libraries, and Hospitals are just a few examples of where color-coding is beneficial. There are so many uses, that listing them would start to sound spammy. However, I guarantee you will find a use or two for color-coding products if you were asked to use it for a week. Have you ever had to deal with a huge tangle of cords? Well, Color-code tape maybe the answer. Not only can the tape tame the extra length, but it can also show which cord is which and keep them organized accordingly.
Making Storage More Effective
For a Business
Storage is another area that an organizing system is essential. From a business perspective, any storage space needs to have a system that makes everything easy to find. It’s easy to let organizing slip a little in the dark corners of their storage rooms. Storage rooms, generally, are not a high traffic area, so organizing that space is put on the back burner. When it comes down to it, unorganized storage rooms are a waste of money. Think about the price of your building by square footage.
(Example: If you paid $25,300 every year for a space that’s 2200 square feet, then you pay $11.50 per square foot. Let’s say you have an 8ft by 8ft storage room, that’s not organized. That’s 64 square feet at $11.50 or $736 a year that isn’t used efficiently.)
Organizing storage may not be a priority, but if you want your business running as efficiently as possible, it may be worth looking into implementing a system.
For the Home
There’s nothing worse than cleaning out the garage and finding the thing you needed two weeks after you replaced it. Then, you have to deal with having multiple things you don’t need. In my case, it doesn’t matter how many hammers you own, they never seem to be around when you need them. Whether you’re cleaning out the garage or your workshop, do yourself a favor and label the odds and ends so you always know where things are. Consider using a larger dot to label storage bins, so that they can be seen from a distance. The more you label your things, the easier it is to locate them, and keep them organized, which can save a lot of time whenever you end up moving.
How does ChromaLabel practice what they preach?
Do you hear that? It's the ominous sound of crickets chirping, just kidding, we're not that bad. At the start, this task began as preparation for an open house. It was just a question of minimizing the clutter that had built up in the transition of moving back into the office. Little things like the shredder and the printer were set up in one of the cubicles. Random boxes were holding spare office supplies. There's no use denying it; something was lacking in the organization department. However, we saw the opportunity to correct this little problem by using our labeling products, and we jumped on the idea. That's not to say that in five minutes the task was completed, alas it wasn't even finished in five hours or five days. This simple task took some planning beforehand to decide where stuff should go, how we were going to deal with the cords of the printer in the cabinet, etc. Now, most people would say that we were stalling, but the goal was to devise a system, not just organize. We only wanted to do this once, and in such a way that it worked in everyone's best interest.
Update from April 2021
Whether it's your home or business, keeping things clean and orderly will create a stress free environment, and will also help you find the things you need, when you need them! Nothing is more frustrating than trying to find a document and not being able to remember where you decided to store it. You can start devising an organizational system with a few simple items such as stickers to color code.