You don’t have to be involved in digital scrapbooking very long to recognize the massive quantities of freebies available for download. You’ve likely stumbled upon freebie blogs and directories as well as come upon many goodies at shop sites. Unfortunately, hard drive space is limited and you can only scrap so many layouts a day.

Over the years, I have begun to approach my scrapbooking as a sorta-minimalist. I crave order though my natural tendency, as with many creative people, is towards disorder. I love the things that mean something to me (and many do), but I become easily overwhelmed with clutter, especially scrapbook clutter.

Yet I’ve battled through these contradictions to find systems that work for me, including (what some might call) a drastic approach to scrapbook freebies – both traditional and digital.

A couple years ago I wrote somewhat of a manifesto on the madness of digital freebie hunting. I beckoned you to curtail your habitual stashing in favor of more moderate approaches. I feel even more strongly about this now – and it also applies to that great deal you scored on a giant stack of patterned paper five years ago. Scrapbookers today are so blessed with many choices and endless sources of inspiration, but we’re also drowning and thus, finding ourselves less able to document and create.

Learn new techniques for decluttering your digital freebies & scrapbook stash

Today I share some of my best techniques for managing your scrapbook clutter. It includes tips on how to pare down what you already have as well as a plan to maintain them. Use these suggestions to help you reduce the stash and begin making room from what matters most – documenting your memories.

My New Scrapbook Stash Guidelines

To escape this burden, I’ve found myself contented by self-imposed, fairly strict guidelines for managing my scrapbook stash:

  • I treat “free” and “on sale” the same as full-price.
  • I bring in only what I will love and use within the next 3 months.
  • Every 6 months, I let go of all that is unused and older than 1 year.

I came to this approach after spending hours upon hours organizing my digital scrapbook supplies, only to find that I had not (and would not) use a majority of what I had amassed. When I could have been making or capturing memories, I was effectively rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I was wasting my time. I decided enough was enough. No more scrapbook clutter!

What this means is that I don’t hunt for freebies at all and that if I find a free (or even on sale) item, I consider whether I’d be willing to pay full price for it. If the answer is no, then the question is off the table. A “no” answer means I don’t really love the item and I definitely don’t need it.

I use this mindset to acquire only products that fire up my creative juices and get me scrapping right away. Through regular (and ruthless) purges, I am no longer bogged down by guilt over my stash. In understanding what freebies were costing me, I discovered the true value in staying organized and clutter-free.

How to Declutter Your Scrapbook Stash

Are you finding yourself drowning in scrapbook freebies? If so, now is the time to stop the madness. Here are three practical and easy ways to begin paring down your collection so you can truly enjoy and use what you love most.

1. Be honest with yourself: This is by far the biggest hurdle in scrapbook clutter management, whether digital or in-real-life. Take a good hard look at what you have and truthfully answer,

  • “Will I ever use this?”
  • “Do I really need this?”
  • “Is this adding value to my life?”
  • “Do I already have an item that is very similar?”
  • “Is this item something I can see myself using again and again?”

2. Kick emotion to the curb: Just because you downloaded it, doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Don’t let guilt run your life – even if you’re wondering whether to delete a product you purchased with good, hard-earned money. Use the questions above to divorce good organization from worry and emotion.

3. Play favorites: Think of decluttering as a process of unveiling greatness, not of losing stuff. Ever gotten excited when all of your favorite new clothes are clean and waiting for you? Focus on what you gain by being able to scrap with your favorite products, without having to wade through all those supplies you ignore again and again.

A Scrapbook Organization Plan You Can Stick To

So many free digital scrapbooking goodies and so little time – it’s awfully easy to let your downloads folder become overrun with clutter, like unopened zip files and awkwardly labeled folders. Establish a basic organization system and use it always to control the download chaos.

To start, establish your downloads folder as your inbox. From your download inbox, every new supply should be moved into one of three folders: temp, freebie and purchased. (Creative Team members may wish to add a fourth category.) Like with an email inbox, your goal is always to reach zero. Empty.

Regardless of whether or not you use a folder system or leverage the power of software to organize your scrapbooking supplies, this kind of simple top-level category system is essential. Use the temp folder for 1 kit calls and challenge sketches. If you loved the item after scrapping with it, move it to your freebie folder. If you didn’t, feel free to trash it. It really is OK!

The freebie folder is where your new goodies will live, but don’t forget to tidy them up first. This folder should only contain files that meet the following criteria:

  • Are items that add personal value to your digi-stash
  • Are properly labeled with the designer and kit name
  • Are tagged to YOUR organization system, however detailed that might be

There is no one right way to organize, but even the most simple of systems can make finding that fun alpha or perfect paper all the easier.

Finally, surf through your digital freebie stash on a regular basis to purge items you no longer like. Consider it a must-do, like cleaning out your closet. You’ll find a sense of clarity and lightness that only decluttering can offer!

How to Maintain Your Digital Freebie Stash Going Forward

It’s easy to get sucked into the satisfaction of scoring a sweet deal, especially a free one. However, it is super-important to consider the intangible costs to your sanity. Set some limits for your freebie hunting. It might even be helpful to implement one or more of these rules to gain control:

  • Don’t hunt for freebies every day
  • Create a one-in/one-out rule
  • Require immediate tagging/organization

Remember getting control over scrapbook clutter takes time. Start by only choosing the best of the best when it comes to those freebies. Then begin taking a good hard look at what you already have. In time, you’ll find it easier and more enjoyable to record those memories using a more manageable scrapbook collection.