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Review: Desk Maid Organizers by Totally-Tiffany

When it comes to organizing scrapbook supplies, I’m a minimalist. First, I focus on having a clear area to create, even if other zones are a mess. Then, I place the items I reach for often close at hand. The rest can require thumbing through as I select products for a page because I’d rather take the time to touch my supplies than attempt to remember where I put something.

And because I’m a minimalist, I usually try to put odds and ends to good use as storage. For example, that rectangular box your iPhone came in is a perfect drawer divider. However, there comes a time when you’d love to have solutions that are meant for your supplies. Totally-Tiffany gets that.

As creator of the ScrapRack system, this company understands scrapbookers and their unique storage needs. This week I reorganized my work table with pieces from the Totally-Tiffany Desk Maid line. These are solid wood pieces that will hold up to frequent use.

Review: Desk Maid Organizers by Totally Tiffany

The Tool Tower was perfect for my adhesive, stapler, pens, pencils, and scissors. And since I frequently misplace my scissors, I’m thrilled they finally have a real home. (Now if I could only find that smaller pair!) I can see this item being a workhorse and I might even grab another for my non-scrapbooking tools.

In the photo above, next to the Tool Tower, is the Stadium Arranger. From the very beginning I was eyeing this for my Ali Edwards kits. Since they are so timeless, these are some of my favorite supplies to pair with just about any page or project. The basket I was using had become a jumbled mess, but now I can thumb through my options with ease. I can also see it as the perfect Project Life card organizer.

 

Review: Desk Maid Organizers by Totally Tiffany

I’m also trying out the Pen & Ink Palace. I don’t have copic markers and none of my ink pads are labeled on the end, but I really like the idea of having easy-access stacked storage. Ink pad storage can be frustrating and messy, especially if they are stacked and the lids are not secure. I may just have to build out my stash.

I’d never used anything from Totally-Tiffany before, but you can call me impressed. The shipping was fast, the packaging protective (styrofoam in cardboard), and the products high quality. And most importantly, I’m excited to have a workspace that makes it even easier to scrapbook!

Disclosure: I was provided with the Desk Maid 4pc Set in exchange for my review. Opinions are my own.

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A Simple Spring Cleaning Checklist for Scrapbookers

Something about the warmer weather, the sunshine, and the blue skies instills an urge to better our surroundings. The transitional time has us digging out of winter’s tumbleweeds while also setting up new systems to make it through the spring and summer.

Fortunately, spring cleaning doesn’t have to be complicated or exhausting. Some targeted-but-holistic attention to your memory keeping projects and processes will set you up for less anxiety as we move into the warmer months.

A Simple Spring Cleaning Checklist for Scrapbookers

Here’s a checklist to make the process simple and easy:

Take a 10,000 foot view. Set a timer for 10 minutes and examine where you’re at in scrapbooking. Look at your body of work, projects that may be unfinished, and piles that need tending to. Escape from the tunnel vision of today and look broadly at your hobby. How’s it going for you? What is one small thing that needs to change?

Clear the slate. When you stay caught up with photo processing, you’ll feel more settled and in control overall. Clear the photos from your camera cards and devices so you can start fresh. Move them into your photo library, but don’t worry about doing more right now.

Create a memorabilia inbox. The ephemera of life is often what makes you feel the most “behind” in memory keeping, especially when you find it in small piles all over the house. Establish a centralized inbox for the stuff of life so you know where it goes.

Double-check your spending habits. Buying supplies at a rate that far outpaces your usage is one of the toughest challenges that scrapbookers face. Tally up your expenditures this year so far to see if you’re on track or out of control. Then, make adjustments accordingly.

Reset your workspace. Whether you create on the computer, in the corner of the dining room, or in a dedicated space, spend 30 minutes to do a swift, focused clean-up. Concentrate on putting things away and clearing space to work, not intensive projects that require lots of decision-making.

Consider where you need help. Everyone can benefit from improving their existing skills or learning new ones. Think about what’s easy for you and where you struggle, then keep an eye out for opportunities to grow in that area.

Create a 3-item list. Broad-based thinking sets the context, but moving forward requires taking it step by step. Complete your spring clean with a list of three specific tasks that you can complete within three weeks. Include the creative and administrative activities that feel the most rewarding right now.

Possible Pitfalls in Spring Cleaning

Your spring clean should feel like the uplift you so needed. So if the list above sounds like a fun challenge that you’re game to tackle, feel free to stop reading here. However, if it feels daunting I have some advice to relieve the perceived heaviness of these tasks.

If…the 10,000 foot view makes you sad. Turn that frown around honeybun. No matter how much is unfinished and undocumented, you have already captured more than 99% of the population. Be proud that you are a memory keeper.

If…you aren’t sure how to clear the slate. If moving photos around is intimidating, try watching video tutorials on YouTube until you get more comfortable. You can even ask a tech-savvy friend to help you out and write down a list of steps. You can do this.

If…there’s too much memorabilia for an inbox. Your inbox should be designed to store what comes into your home next. Make a fresh start. If you have ephemera in various places, centralize into a box or clear plastic tub until you are ready to sort through it. Make sure to add a label for the date range.

If…your spending habits are too scary to look at. This is a “rip the bandaid off” situation where the anticipation feels much worse than the reality. If you know you’re overspending, the numbers won’t be too much of a stock. But in order to make informed decisions, you need to start with the facts. It will be OK.

If…a workspace reset feels overwhelming. A reset isn’t necessarily a complete overhaul; it’s a fast clean-up so you feel better and can get back to creating. You have permission to ignore the clutter until you can set aside dedicated time to focus on it.

If…you aren’t sure where help is needed. It’s OK to be unclear or uncertain about what’s not quite working. The best place to start is by putting on your “observation glasses”. Simply staying aware of your behaviors and feelings related to scrapbooking will help you begin to identify where tools or support could improve your experience.

If…narrowing down your list to three is impossible. Excluding something from today’s list doesn’t mean you’ll never tackle it or it’s not important. Quite the contrary, in fact. Shorter, specific lists are less intimidating, helping you to make more progress and get to those next items sooner.

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Do You Worry Too Much About Being Organized?

I get it, I really do. You want to feel ready to scrapbook and that means having everything just so. The thing is, this desire can result in spending far more time organizing your scrapbook supplies than actually using them.

That’s just not sustainable and certainly not very fun. In fact, the more you focus on purely administrative tasks, the harder it is to get into the groove of making.

If you’ve let the anxiety of disorganization get in the way of creativity, this post is for you. I’m sharing specific strategies I’ve used to let go of perfectionism and make progress amidst any amount of chaos.

Do You Worry Too Much About Being Organized?

1. Clear a Path – Stacks, piles, and clutter can feel insurmountable, diminishing any spark of creativity you brought to the table. However, anyone can push it all aside to clear an 18″x18″ space to craft. Stop making excuses and start scrapbooking even if your space isn’t ready. Your memories don’t care about the mess.

2. Shop Your Stash – Easy access to every item is ideal, but often not realistic. Instead of constantly re-arranging your supplies, choose a different approach to product selection. Use a box, bin, or tray and “shop” your stash before you begin a new layout. Gather a little more than you need to have options without having to get up again.

3. Monitor Intake – If you’re constantly needing to put new purchases away, could you be shopping too much? I’m by no means anti-product, but balancing how much you’re bringing in with how much you’re actually using can provide some dramatic relief to your organizational anxiety.

4. Let Go – Sometimes your biggest barrier to feeling organized is an unwillingness to release what is not needed. Before you can ever organize items in a logical way, the clutter and excess must be cleared away. Embracing a mindset of simplicity and even minimalism can be a helpful first step towards freedom from your frustration.

5. Take Small Bites – Instead of focusing on “getting organized”, narrow the field of view to a zone or category of item. Focus on finding storage solutions that are tailored to a specific problem, rather than haphazardly purchasing containers. By breaking the process down into manageable chunks, you’ll be able to see progress and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

6. Start Doing Sprints – Organization doesn’t have to be an endless marathon. Set specific dates on your calendar to focus intensively on organization. Focus for that period and then let it go, knowing that dedicated time will come around again. Ideally plan a sprint once a quarter to reset your workspace for three months of creativity.

Organization should be your ally in memory keeping. If it’s the bane of your creative existence, however, try one or more of these options to stop the worry and start feeling purposefully productive.

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7 Simple Habits of Organized Scrapbookers

Why is it that some folks seem to have it all together? Their workspaces are inspiring and tidy, adorned with motivational art prints.

You might be surprised that the most organized scrapbookers aren’t all naturally gifted in this domain. Instead, many have cultivated simple habits to cope with the chaos of a creative life.

7-habits-scrapbook

1. Give every thing a home.

Every item you use for scrapbooking should have a designated storage location. It doesn’t have to be pretty or even logical, just one place where you know it goes. This will make the next habit even easier.

When choosing homes for items, I often consider proximity. (This works for digital too.) Make the items you use most often the easiest to access.

2. Pick up after each session.

I can create quite the mess from just one layout, but picking up each time ensures that the clutter never gets truly out of hand. Return each item to it’s home and start your next project with a clean slate.

To make the cleaning up process fast and fun, I’ll often try to beat the clock. I set a timer and see if I can tackle the piles in less than five or ten minutes. It always works!

3. Spend time on maintenance.

Every garden needs weeding. Organized scrapbookers not only pick up after every creative session, but devote time here and there to tending. When you’re already organized though, this doesn’t have to take hours.

Spending 15-20 minutes each week on tasks like putting away new purchases and added layouts to albums makes a huge difference on the accumulation of clutter.

4. Monitor stash growth.

Organized scrapbookers keep tabs on how much they are purchasing vs. how much they are using. Excessive growth of your stash makes is harder to stay organized and often means something is out of balance.

You don’t have to go on a spending freeze though. Simply being mindful of spending, including not making impulse purchases, will help you maintain just the right size of stash for you.

5. Know what you love most.

We all have those items that seemed like a good idea, but never make it to the page. By thinking about the items you use a lot – and the ones you commonly skip over – you can make smarter purchases going forward.

This leads to more efficient and happier scrapbooking overall, since your stash will be filled with items you use and truly love.

6. Choose to enjoy letting go.

Then, when you know which supplies work with your style and your scrapbooking process, minimizing clutter can feel easier. The most organized scrapbookers relish in sending items off to a new home.

Instead of feeling guilt or fear about letting go of supplies, you can be filled up with the joy of having more space and a refined, usable stash.

7. Reset at least once a year.

Even the most organized scrapbookers can’t escape all the chaos. Maybe it’s a junk drawer or a file system of patterned paper. Maybe it’s a downloads folder or a computer desktop. It’s there, for everyone.

All things in life tend towards disorder, so it’s important to do a deep clean at least once a year. It’s worth it to set other things aside and truly focus on caring for the supplies that make this hobby so fun.

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How to Organize K-12 School Memorabilia

A few days ago I wrote about how to be an organized scrapbooker. I shared a list of the concepts I consider foundational to getting organized and linked to our best posts on organization.

Our archive of blog posts on scrapbook organizing is even larger and includes additional pieces full of insight and inspiration. One of my favorites is a very thoughtful series written by Jean Manis.

Three-Part Series on Curating School Year Memories

In Preserving “K-12” School Work Memorabilia, Jean documents (in detail) the exact process she used to declutter, organize, and scrapbook her son’s school memories.

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