Thursday, January 28, 2010

#27 Color Me Happy

#27-I've been suggesting lots of places to put your stuff over the last few weeks as I moved through the list of 30 Things in 30 Days.  Boxes, bins, baskets, binders, blahblahblah.  Choose what works for you or skip them all in favor of glass jars, tyvek bags or wire containers.  My over sweeping point about containers is always that every thing in your life should have a home, and all the people in your life should know where that home is.  People often ask me about labels for these containers, and labels are a very personal decision, they can be very helpful but they can also make people feel like their home has turned into an overly anal office supply store...not good.

Today's idea is intended to nudge you in the direction of labels, but not have you rushing out to buy the newest product available from the label printing people.  Research has proved that learning to divide things by color streamlines the time it takes to make decisions and sort information.  Using color can help a busy family with everything from schedules on the calendar to toys to hats and gloves.

Assign each member of your family a different color.  Use as many as you need, enlist their help in the selection of hue if they are able, and don't assign black to anyone (if you can possibly help it.)  Once everyone, including the adults, has solidly taken ownership of this color, you can begin to use it to help you organize.  Use a different color pencil or marker when filling in dates for each person on your master calendar and with a simple glance you can see who has events concentrated on which days and during what times of the day.  Not assigning black to any single family member allows you to use it for family events where multiple people are included or generic events that are not specific to any single person.  Use a folder, a binder (or a colored tab in the binder), or a tray in each person's color to hold important paperwork, homework or small items like library books/cards.  Use a ribbon, card, sticker or some other indicator on baskets, drawers and shelves to assign each person their own place for toys, seasonal gear, and other items. 

You could take this color theme as far as you want to.  I have a client with a house full of kids who uses color to help her shop for winter gear.  She has children close in age and therefore close in size and was always breaking up squabbles over "That's my hat!  No it's my scarf!"  So now she always buys a red hat/scarf/glove/boot combo for kid #1, blue for kid #2, purple for kid get the point...this list goes up to kid #7.  She has found that the time she regained now that even the littlest ones know which items are theirs far out weighs the few dollars she would have saved by passing outerwear down from kid to kid as they out grew things.  It was life changing for her but maybe you don't want to go this far.

My point.  If you're not ready for labels, maybe you're ready for colors.  You can be extreme or proceed with caution and just use this idea on your calendar, but get some color.  Its looks good on everyone.   

1 comment:

  1. I'm not big on labels since I switch around containers a lot, especially toys. It works great at preschool, but not so much at home where the tubs get swapped around with each new purge/reorganization.

    But there are some containers that do stay fairly static. If I were to get a label maker - which one would you choose?

    Or is it just better to use nametag labels on your computer printer?