Check your labels

February 7, 2012

Authenticity, Self-discipline

This is a story about labels: the paper stick-on kind and the psychological tattoo-on kind. I just bought the book Getting Things Done by David Allen, productivity guru, (more on that later, I’m sure) which brought up the topic of labels.

As part of his system, David recommends buying a label maker and explains how to use it to keep a neat file system. Though I had been reading along contently, I found myself suddenly scoffing, thinking: Well, there’s no way I’m doing that! I’m not an organized person. My papers will forever be haphazard and disheveled.

But why? Why can’t I be an organized person? [Defiantly]Maybe I am an organized person!

For me, that’s a label. Let’s call it: Places little importance on personal organization and pays bills late and gets electricity shut off. A loving gift from my dad that I might follow in his footsteps. And there are more. And I accepted them.

Another big one for me is the label: I’m not a morning person. I’ve spent my life “knowing” that I don’t do good work in the morning. Now that I’m unfettered by the work schedule of The Man, and can work whenever I want, I find the morning to be a productive time for me. Maybe I am a mid-morning person!

Labels are sticky. We’ve got to make the effort to peel them off when they don’t make sense anymore. Keep the system functioning smoothly.

What labels have you accepted that need replacing? What ways of being have become second nature for you but really aren’t working? I’m going to be on the lookout for mine. As for David Allen’s label maker changing my life…I’ll get back to ya.


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2 Comments on “Check your labels”

  1. Sara Martin Says:

    Great post, and such an important topic. It’s amazing how many opportunities we miss because we don’t believe they’re for us. We don’t believe we’re the type of person who could take advantage of them.

    It’s scary to release the labels we apply to ourselves. It can make us feel untethered. But if we can learn to be comfortable with the mystery of ourselves and our potential, a whole new existence is possible.

    Thanks for sharing. I love when every-day lessons like label-making take on existential dimensions!


  2. Kel Says:


    High fives! You’ve gone and done it again!

    Another awesome post!

    Keep up the great work!

    A loyal follower,


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