Organizing is about more than fancy labels |

Organizing is about more than fancy labels

I’m a professional organizer, and I don’t own a label maker. If that sounds weird, let me tell you why it’s not.

I own a consulting practice helping people streamline and get organized in their homes and businesses. I’m a dad, a husband, and I’ve got hobbies besides obsessing over how my underwear is folded. I’m a writer, a speaker, a coach, a volunteer, and a mentor to people in my community. I spend my time growing my professional practice, staying healthy, and networking with other social entrepreneurs and thought-leaders in a wide variety of industries. My priorities lie in building meaningfully collaborative relationships, cultivating life-enriching experiences, hanging out, cooking great food, and having fun. In my personal space, I can’t be bothered with fancy labels, designer containers, and immaculately folded underwear drawers. It’s just not that important to me. It doesn’t make me any less organized — I just choose to focus my energy and resources elsewhere.

Many of my clients love their label makers — and their labels are gorgeous. I’ve personally spent countless hours meticulously typing and printing labels for everything from filing systems to refrigerators. I’m a firm believer in using a well-placed, easy-to-read, neatly affixed, logically titled label. A label’s purpose is twofold: 1) I want to know the contents of my inventory and its location at a glance. And 2) I want the other people in my spaces to know where to find and put things away, quickly and effortlessly. Labels are an essential part of getting (and staying) organized. Period.

Some care what their labels look like. I don’t. It’s a preference thing, like favoring one piece of art over another. It’s not right or wrong to have a preference. This is the key: the aesthetic and function of our systems should inspire us to maintain those systems. If a label maker is going to help you create a desired aesthetic that will ensure household understanding and collective buy-in, outstanding. For my family, it’s simply not essential. For those who want to get started, but don’t want to spend the time or money on a label maker, skip it. The same is true for designer bins; if you need a container (an essential element of getting organized) use whatever you can.

Through my business, I help people to simplify so they can focus on the things that matter most, and that is: who we love, what we do, and how and why we live. Because everything else is just stuff. As an organizer, my professional practice is all about helping people to simplify their stuff and get organized so they can live unencumbered, with more intention and deeper purpose. Whether or not the bins in my garage match, or how the labels look in my pantry is completely secondary to my process and my ultimate goal, which is to focus my time, effort, energy, resources and passion on what makes me a more fulfilled human being. On my death bed, I doubt I’ll look back on my life and wish I’d used a label maker more often. But that’s me.

I’m not knocking label makers; I use them every day. In fact, step three of my 3-step method is to intentionally choose an aesthetic that motivates you to maintain your systems. Personal preference for how things look is an important part of staying inspired. A clean, immaculate kitchen is easier to keep clean and immaculate. I’ve had plenty of clients tell me, “I want this place to look like it came out of Dwell magazine.” Uniformity and matching containers often help to achieve a specific look that jibes with an individual’s personal sensibilities. My system is a framework that anyone can apply, no matter their budget — whether or not labels are printed or handwritten on a piece of duct tape. Many people who want to clean up and get organized are under the misguided impression that they have to go out and spend a lot of money to do it. My point is this: You don’t.

Evan Zislis is author of the bestselling book “ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World” and “Aphrodisiac: Clearing the Cluttered Path to Epic Love, Great Sex & Relationships that Last.” He is founder and principal consultant of For more information, like ClutterFree Revolution on Facebook, call 970-366-2532, or email

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