We know these labels don't work, but why don't they work? Simply put, they don't tell the story of the contents or the specific action needed. Also, they are housing things that probably never should have ended up in a file folder in the first place. So now that you know what not to do, you're probably asking what to do. Here are some ideas:
1. Be as specific on a label as you need to be so that any hypothetical six year old who can read can tell you exactly what's inside.
2. If it truly is important/urgent/active, do not put in an opaque folder. Instead, put in a clear plastic file folder, on a clipboard on, on the wall, or on any other device that keeps it visible until it's done.
3. Break out your to-dos by specific action type, such as "To Pay," "To Buy," or "To Mail." Like in #2, to-dos should also never be in an opaque folder, as in the case with the "Follow-Up" folders pictured here. If these are the only loose things on the desk (as in, everything not active is put away), then you have my permission to leave these loose on the desk. To-dos are exactly what desktops are for, as long as they get done!