Monday, July 6, 2009

Organize Your Stuff Challenge - Week 7

Welcome to Week 7! Wow, you guys have come so far, thanks for sticking it out with me. Hopefully you're starting to see some progress by now and you might even be able to see a glimpse of your scrap table! This week we're going to focus on one of my favorite topics - IDEAS! I love this topic because it took me years and years to find a system that works, but I finally did get organized and it's made me very happy. Not calorie-free cheesecake kind of happy, but still happy.

Thankfully, there are really only 2 sources where we can get layout ideas - print and digital. You can go all print, all digital, or a mix of both. It really depends on how you scrap - do you have access to a computer when you're scrapping? If not, you may want everything in print. But if you have more room on your hard drive than in your scrap space, or if most of your inspiration comes from online sources, then digital may be the way to go.

First off - HOW to organize your ideas. I found the best way to do this is by theme. This will work for both print and digital. What exactly do you pull out for ideas? Let that be your guide. Some possibilities include titles, journaling, photography, layouts (theme or by number of photos), quotes, tips and tricks, techniques, color, designs, basics/accents, borders, card ideas and mats. You can have any number of categories that work for you - as long as you'll know where to go for that idea. You know best how your mind works. One caveat - do NOT have a "misc" category. It's a catch-all and really useless - you'll never reference it!

Second - now that you know how to divide up your stack, let's talk storage options. If you go digital, well, you're set! Print has a lot more options. Here are some solutions I've found (please note that the links I posted are intended to give you a visual idea of what it is I'm talking about - it doesn't mean I endorse the product or the store):

Put ideas in 3-ring binders, with or without page protectors, divided by category
On note cards in a Cropper Hopper photo case:
Upright in magazine holders (if you decide to keep the magazines)
On notecards in photo storage boxes or note card files:
In a mini photo album
Tacked up on a large corkboard/"inspiration board"

Choose the best method that will not only fit your space, but also the way you tend to look for ideas.

Now, the dreaded topic of magazines. I think there are 3 camps of scrappers here. Those who tear out ideas and toss the magazines. Those who either flag the articles in the magazines or are so into them they know every article and idea. And those who keep the mags because of hoarding issues, haven't looked at them in 5 years, but are petrified to toss them. I used to be #3 until I realized that my bookcase full of magazines could be holding scrap supplies instead. That gave me enough incentive to go through them and only keep what I needed. Because seriously - have you checked out the September 1991 issue of Creating Keepsakes? Will you REALLY reference anything in that magazine? I hope not! If you do decide to keep the magazines, one option to organize them is with colored sticky notes. You could assign one color per topic and flag the layouts or articles appropriately. That way, you have the best of both worlds - keep your mags and still have your ideas organized! Most magazines also offer a yearly reference, you could use those as a guide instead of using a tagging system. Personally, I prefer tearing out ideas - I found it was much easier to flip through an idea book essentially tailor-made for me, rather than several magazines that had a handful of what I was looking for. It's saved me a lot of time over the years, even though the setup was fairly time consuming (I had a backlog of 10 years of magazines to go through!) But once it was up and running, it was great. Whatever you decide is up to you. Just keep in mind - whatever you choose to keep in your space is less room you'll have for other supplies.

What about idea books? One nice thing about books is they don't HAVE to be in your scrap space. You can store them just about anywhere. But what about the ideas inside? With books, you can leave them as is, you can flag them, or you can scan them. I chose to get rid of a large number of my idea books and only keep the ones that are specific to a topic or a technique now. For the remainder, I went through them and scanned any layout ideas I liked. I then edited the scans to fit a 4x6 note card and printed them out. They are filed with the rest of my ideas. It took a little time, but was easy to do - and even better, it's made me VERY selective about the books I buy now, because I don't want to scan more!

My system has 3 parts - layout ideas, general ideas and cards. General ideas and cards have their own 3-ring binders. I use scrap paper and notebook paper to glue my cutout ideas on. Just a quick 3-hole punch and they're off into their respective categories!
My card idea binder has no categories, just ideas.
My idea binder is separated by dividers - once again, just quickly glued in on scrap paper:
Now, for my layout ideas - I LOVE scraplifting. Not so much for the ideas as for image placement - I have such a hard time getting the pics to look "balanced" on a page. So all the layouts I love because of the design are in my Cropper Hopper photo case. It contains 4x6 notecards of all my favorite layouts, divided up by number of photos in a layout. They are in all sizes and orientations - when I go to my idea file, it's because I have a certain number of photos I want to scrap and need ideas on how to lay them out. Size doesn't matter! So, in getting these ideas TO the file, I take these steps. If it's a print idea, I cut it out and paste it to a 4x6 notecard. If the print idea happens to have a sketch as well, the sketch goes on the front and the image of the layout goes on the back. I put the number of photos in the layout in the upper right hand corner so I can re-file it quickly. I also LOVE the 4x6 size, as it's the size of most of my photos - which means if I come across an idea which would be perfect for a set of photos but I'm not ready to scrap them yet, I can stick the card in with the photos - easy solution! If I find ideas online I like, then I save it to my "to print" folder. I use Photoshop Elements to cut and paste the idea onto a 4x6 page and re-save it, deleting the original. When Walgreens has their $0.10 print sale, I do a batch upload and file the pictures when I receive them. If the print image is too large to put on a notecard, I scan it and then edit it to fit on a 4x6 notecard using Elements and save it with my digital images.

Another solution I found - quotes and YOUR layout ideas. My kids are always saying funny/weird things that I want to document. I'm also always getting ideas for layouts - and of course, nothing to write them down on! I found these wonderful spiral bound index cards:^freeText~note+cards^paramValue~true^refine~1^region~1^param~return_skus@4q55w63cprodPage~15^paramValue~true^refine~1^region~1^categoryName~Cards+%26+Card+Filing^param~return_skus^categoryId~cat270002^return_skus~Y^parentCategoryID~cat_10003
Almost any office supply store has them, in various sizes and colors. I bought about 5 of them - for the rooms my kids play in the most, my car, my purse, and in my nightstand (SO many layout ideas happen as I'm falling asleep!). So once you write something down, the card easily tears out of the pack and the rest stay together - and you can file your quotes in a card file (you can assign different family members different colors if you get the colored cards), and file your layout ideas with your actual photos. This has been a great help to me!

Keeping up with the system - now that's a different animal completely! First off, I have a central location where all my ideas go. Well, 2 actually - one for print, one for digital. On my computer, I have a "to print" folder. If I find any ideas online, they get saved to that folder. If I find print ideas in magazines or the like, I tear them out and put them in a hanging file on my wall labeled "ideas." So the ideas now have a home, at least - which is better than piled up on my dining room table. What I have discovered that works for me is to put my idea filing in my datebook. Just like with photo backup - if it's on my to-do list, it'll get done. For me, I chose the 20th of the month. On that day, I scan in my "too big" print ideas and edit them to 4x6s. Once I get these prints back after uploading on print sale day (usually the next day or so), I label and file all my new images, and cut/paste or hole-punch the ones in my wall file. Within 2-3 days, everything is in its place and I'm ready for a new batch.

In closing, I want to add my 10 rules for organizing. I'm going to post these at the end of every challenge, because I think they are very, very important. I want you to keep them in mind as you tackle each of these projects - they will make your life easier and the task less daunting.

1. Label your containers.
2. Be consistent in your methods.
3. Don't be too specific - your search for your items within your space should be short and simple.
4. Your organizational method should be easy to take out AND put away.
5. When organizing, break any large piles into smaller groupings. Have a 2 foot tall stack of paper to sort? Do it in 1" high chunks, it will be easier to handle mentally.
6. If it's something that you use on almost every project, then keep it within reach of your main scrap area.
7. Don't stress your containers. Get a new system or purge your stash.
8. For most items, product packaging adds bulk. Toss it. With once exception - rub ons.
9. Repurpose when you can - almost anything can be painted or covered in paper/fabric.
10. THE GOLDEN RULE - FIRST choose an organizational method, THEN choose a container that fits your space and style. Always shop for containers with a list in hand - a beautiful container is simply clutter if it doesn't have a dedicated purpose in your space!

Congratulations, your ideas are now all neat and orderly! Go get yourself a well-deserved foot massage and I'll see you back here when we tackle projects, incomplete pages and kits - I'll share another recent discovery of mine, I think you'll love it!



  1. Wow, Stacy, you are awesome! I thought I had a pretty organized way about my scrap area until I started following this challenge. Thank you for taking the time to explain everything to us! I look forward to the next subject! :)

  2. Wow Stacy - such awesome ideas in this post. I am SO copying your 4 x 6 idea file - it's just SUCH a cool idea!

  3. Thank you so much for all the information. I just came across your blog and you have inspired me to organize!

  4. Great ideas. I hadn't thought of having more than one "jot" book. Thanks for the tip. I will have to grab a few more to write down some quick ideas and journaling stuff. I don't have many sketches etc printed so I use an index card file. I like the CH Photo box. I will be getting one (maybe 2 after last week). I have a to-be printed folder for pictures so I will do one for scraplifted ideas too. Thanks again

    Thanks for the great advice each week.

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