This simple tip will save an amazing amount of time and confusion.

  • If you are testing three widgets that all look the same, they get labels.
  • If you discover something is broken but you can’t immediately bin it, it gets a massive label saying “BROKEN” so that someone else doesn’t waste an hour discovering the same thing.
  • If you configure a device to have a static IP address, it gets a label with the address.
  • If you have separate boxes for “version 1” and “version 2” assemblies, write them a label in inch-high letters, even if technically you can work out which is which if you squint at the part numbers long enough.
  • Wires and plugs get labels, even if you could technically work out what they are by reading the manual or tracing the cable.

A label printing machine is cheap and does a neat job, but I just use white duct tape and a sharpie, it is much faster.

Often it feels like you don’t need to label stuff because you are only doing a quick test and you’ll be able to remember what everything is. But labels will reduce the likelihood of making stupid mistakes and make it much easier to resume work after the inevitable interruptions.

Don’t be shy about labelling other people’s stuff too if you are working together, they will soon come to appreciate it!