If I Could Start from Scratch

by | Productivity Advice | 26 comments

As all things tend to do, my scrapbooking trends towards disorder and lack of focus as time goes on. Thus I intentionally reign myself in every few months with a personal check-in.

During this time I’ll look at my planning workbook (included with our membership) and see how my progress measures up with my plans. I’ll evaluate, adjust, and move forward.

I love knowing where I’m at, but there’s an additional element of query I’ve been craving. Every so often I find myself whispering a very big question in my own ear:

What would you do if you could start from scratch?

To be honest, the answer to this question scares me a little. But I don’t let that stop me from listening to the answer. I lean in, feeling brave, as I discover what inner me has to say.

If You Could Start from Scratch - Simple Scrapper

I have found that my craving for less complication and more simplicity directs my response. I try to use this question to guide small shifts in my projects and overall direction.

What I Would Do Differently

For context, let me first state that I’m currently creating 3-5 layouts and a 3-4 pocket pages each month. I’m also working on my photo library and finishing older projects.

Every time I’ve asked myself this huge, loaded question there is one answer that always bubbles up: photo books. If I could start from scratch today, I would probably create multiple photo books each year, but not about the current year.

They would be curated explorations of time + context with just words and photos. Maybe I would include some digital stamps for embellishment, but I would probably not do any traditional scrapbooking.

For example, I would like to create a photo book for pre-baby life, 2007-2011. It would focus on what my life was like after meeting my husband but before I had Emily. Since I’m starting from scratch, I wouldn’t worry that I already have dozens of layouts on this topic.

Focusing on retrospective photo books and not right now memory keeping would create more space for routine photo library maintenance and sharing of those current images with family. I also wouldn’t have any concern about how much I’m shopping vs. how much I’m scrapping with those supplies.

The problem with this scenario is that I do really enjoy the process of creating with my hands. This is why I transitioned from digital to paper scrapbooking in 2011. I would miss it if I only created photo books.

What I Will Do Differently

The more I really think about this question, the more I realize the work I still need to do in simplifying my process. Given that I’m not a super-prolific scrapbooker, I don’t think my current project list needs to be changed too much.

What I need is to do is create more space for this work on photo books. Clearly they hold a significance in my conscience as an efficient, effective means to get stories documented in a beautiful way.

I’m not sure yet how this will play out, but I couldn’t wait to share this question with you. It is one simple sentence with a potentially profound impact on simplifying your scrapbooking.

So now it’s your turn… what would you do if you could start from scratch?

Did you find this post helpful?

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  1. Deanna Ridgway

    If I could start from scratch I would keep tools & supplies to just the basics, and not buy so much! I would use kits/coordinating products, and would do more digital scrapbooking. Hmmmm, I guess it’s never to late to start from scratch right? I could do a huge purge and start all over! Great question Jennifer, you have really got me thinking this morning! 🙂

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I agree it’s never too late to head in the direction of your desires! There are no rules.

  2. Gina

    Similar to Deanna, I would not buy so much. I’ve bought so much that I know I won’t use that I guess I should do a purge. (I do still like most of it though!) I’ve recently started to subscribe to a kit and find it so much easier to scrapbook with since it’s all picked out and I just get to play. I guess the picking out products that work together is my biggest challenge.

  3. Cheri Stine

    I wish I would have had a process in place to keep my photos organized. I have such a back log of photos in the old plastic albums and in random boxes. It becomes overwhelming to sort and organize these. I also wish I would not have been so ready to purchase tools and organizing systems without first thinking through what might work for me. I’m getting so much better at purging my stash of tools and supplies but if I could start fresh and know then what I know now, I would have saved a bundle of money!

  4. Sue

    Less purchases for sure. But if I could go back in time to start over, I would want to add more journaling to the pages. wish I would have asked and made notes of questions and answers from my deceased parents and deceased in-laws about their parents, grandparents, growing up and early married years etc.

  5. Lisa

    I agree with Sue, more journaling. I look back at some layouts and can’t remember as much as I would like. I didn’t even date many of my early pages!

  6. Cyndi Brideaux

    Photo storage! I did get them in chronological order but I wished I had put them in photo albums for easy access. And the past few years I haven’t been printing much. That bugs me. I need them printed. And I need to be able to flip through them easily to spark stories. I have four decades of photos. Not easy to see when they are in shoe boxes.

  7. Karen Walker

    My answer is quite different. I would start scrapbooking years before I discovered it (and photography). I missed recording so much of my kids’ lives since I discovered this hobby after they were grown. (I did a huge purge of my supplies in January, and must say I haven’t missed one thing yet.)

  8. Sharon

    If I could start from scratch, I would:
    1. Do only 8.5″ x 11″ pages only (less expensive and takes up much less room)
    2. Buy much less stuff…especially tools and die cutters
    3. Worry less about the look of the page (products) and simply get the photo and the story down. I’d have twice as many albums by now if I hadn’t worried so much about the “perfect” PP, title, photo arrangement etc.
    4. Taken a photography class
    5. Included myself in more pictures after the kids were born

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Great list Sharon! Which of these will you do next?

  9. Tiffany

    If I could start from scratch with my scrapbooks, I would have focused more on the story than making glorified photo albums. Most of my earlier pages don’t say a whole lot of anything. A lot of “we had a fun day” journaling. The pages that I look back on and love are the ones give insight.
    I also wouldn’t have bought so much and what I bought wouldn’t have been so theme driven.

  10. Scrappyjen

    Oh wow I have so many bits of advice I would give to myself if I could start over.
    1. Spend less time planning and get to the actual act of scrapping more.
    2. Stop pushing things around the page and just go with your gut – it will turn out beautiful.
    3. Watch less tellie and make more scrapbooks.
    4. Just because your not sure about scrapping certain parts of your life don’t let it stop you from scrapping others.
    5. Scrapbook your everyday details, you will want to know this stuff later
    6. Organize you photos chronologically – physical & digital – that’s just the way you think so don’t go against your natural tendencies you’ll only create work for yourself.
    7. Buy the best photo printer & digital camera you can afford as soon as you can and learn how to use photoshop, it will be the best investment in your scrapbooking ever because you can scrap on demand.
    8. and put the date on everything! – photos, layouts, journalling written on random bits of paper, you will not remember and no matter how hard you try, you will not get back to it all straight away, some of it will have to wait and that okay too.

  11. J.leija

    I wish I had bought as nice a camera as possible, as early as I could have. I wish I would have known to make sure the settings were at their highest quality (regardless of the space I was saving on my SD card)

    I wish I had invested in a photo management system years and years ago!

    I wish I had written more down. I wish I had kept some journals.

  12. Sky

    Interesting question…I am starting from scratch.
    In 2010, my house burned and I lost years of scrapbooks, photos, videos and supplies.
    My heart was broken for several years. Everything in the house was STUFF but those items were priceless.
    I found out about digital scrapbooking from Pinterest and it met my need for scrapbooking and the scrapbooked page could never be lost again.
    The one thing that I wish I had done was open all those scrapbooks (some were burned, some were wet and most were moldy) and taken pictures of what was left. I would have had a picture of a picture but if it was important to scrapbook then it had a memory.
    I tell my story to everyone I know who scraps – take a picture of the page. Somehow make a digital copy – you never know what will happen in your life. Never in a million years would I have thought my house would burn down and I was not prepared.
    I am really having fun doing my grandchildren’s scrapbooks digitally and will try to assemble books for my kids based on pictures I have gotten from friends and family from the years before the fire.
    My advice is to back it all up, scan it into a program, move your videos to a safer medium and take pictures of your kids treasured items. Learn from my loss.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Thank you so much for sharing your story Sky. I’m sorry for your loss and yes, I do hope others can learn from it.

  13. Gab

    Fantastic question.
    Definitely buy less.
    Not let my husband’s dislike of scrapbooking (probably because of the money I’ve spent on it!) stop me from scrapping as much as I want to.
    Not feel obliged to scrap every single event.
    Take Stacy Julian’s LOM class the first year it was offered

  14. Tara

    That is the best advice I have heard!! I am so sorry for your loss, Sky. 🙁

  15. Jodie Williams

    Stop wasting time and just do it. Have a place where things are easily accessible. Seek out other like minded folks for encouragement and inspiration! And be selective with ourchasing, buy less, use more of stash.

  16. Heather

    If I could start from scratch, I agree with everyone else– I would definitely buy less stickers, paper, embellishments, etc. I would have a lot more books completed if I don’t waste too much time trying to make the page perfect and to make sure I use that sparkly sticker. ! Lol….Also I would have started with the pocket pages sooner.. ( if I knew about it)…and mabye some digital scrapbooking. I would definitely take LESS pictures so I don’t feel obligated to scrap every single one..!

  17. Dani Alencar

    I would:

    1. open more space for scrapbooking in my life.
    2. do more pocket oriented pages because they’re easier and faster and yet fun to make.
    3. print all my layouts!!
    4. Start an AAM album where I’ll add all my layouts that work as a journal to me with my thoughts and feelings.
    5. Take notes of happenings I would like to scrap someday – as a journaling addicted, if I don’t take notes, I will forget details.
    6. The most important – accept my style and go with my gut, making it more pleasant and simple to me.

    What I’ve already started doing:
    1 – I’m accepting my style. I was a paper scrapper and migrated to digital scrapbooking back in 2006. I missed paper scrapping a lot, so I’ve been complicating my life a lot trying to be a hybrid/paper/digi scrapper for the las couple of years. However, living in Brazil and having a very tight schedule makes it difficult to do that, physical supplies are too expensive and I don’t have the same endless options as in digital. So, I accepted I’m a digital scrapper and that it makes me happy. I ordered my first 12×12 prints of my pages at Pernisckety and I love them!!
    2 – I’m scrapping a catch-up project life album for 2006. Trying to scrap my current life is too overwhelming for me. I’m enoying to remember my daughter’s baby moments.
    3 – I’m printing my layouts!! Yay!

    Next step is to start taking notes of happenings and stories I wanna tell, so they don’t get lost. I’ve been creating a monthly log in my personal blog as you do here and I love that because they’ll help me scrap 2015 in the future. But I feel like journaling details and feelings so I can include to specific pages later.

    Thanks for this post. I really liked to reflect and write even though I’m already doing most of the things I would do.

  18. Nancy Cole

    I don’t know if any of your members have this feeling about some of their scrapbooks but I have a different take about starting from scratch…..my very first album I made was for my parents 50th….I wish I could do it over. It’s not fully done and most of the pics are color copies not actual photos I wasn’t able to access the real photos. I did it at the last minute as a surprise. I wish I could do it over in the style I have now developed over these years. Many will probably say don’t touch it but it just shows how far you have come with your scrapping….plus it’s a special momento from that specific time. My parents are both deceased and I just would like to do it justice by making a cohesive album to be passed down.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I think that’s a totally fair desire Nancy. Often this train of thought will bubble up things we want to fix and if it’s important to you, then I say do it.

  19. Nicky hurt

    If I could start from scratch What i would do different is write more- like a journal. I would pay more attention to people, especially my grandparents who have all since passed away. I would have written their stories and interviewed them (preferably on video).

    As far as actually creating scrapbooks I would do nothing different. I would still have begun in about 2000 -and use horrible busy backgrounds and cut my photos into stars. I would go through names and dates phases and intense journaling phases. I would go through my artsy, paint and stamping and glitter phases and my clean one photo phases. I have enjoyed this hobby so much no matter which phase I am going through that i wouldn’t change a thing.

  20. Hazel Poole

    I would not become a scrapbooking consultant. I would buy less. I would dedicate more time to scrapbooking and try to Scrapbook away from home regularity. I love my traditional books and would not change that. Would not have bought Memory Manager or Storybook creator while I was a consultant. Not change to an iMac. While I love it, the iPhoto, photos programs like MM have been disasterous for me.

    Get beautiful wood book cases made to fit my Creative Memories Albums and to keep my supplies in.

    I would not have changed to using a “ScrapRack” as I Scrapbook away from home and it is just to big for most places I scrap. However many of their other products I love.

  21. Susan Serigny

    In a do-over, I would only make single page layouts. That would be so much easier to put in albums.

    • Teaching Assistant - Kim Edsen

      Susan, Interesting! I’ve never thought of it that way. Do you primarily make single page layouts now? Have you found that helpful for filling your albums? Definitely something to consider!



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