Do you have trouble getting (and staying) organized? While there are many possible reasons, you might just be doing it wrong!
A lot of the information available on organization is related to storage. You know the kind I’m talking about, beautifully tidy workspaces full of containers all in a row.
Storage is actually the very last step in organization. That means when you start with “oh, that looks pretty”, you might be organizing in a way that hinders rather than helps your process!
To develop a system that works for you, you must first understand exactly how YOU use the items you’re organizing. There are so many approaches that work, but matching an approach to how you work and where you work is key.
The right approach makes it easy to find what you need because it follows you brain’s preferred, natural pathway. That’s why someone else’s “amazing” solution might not work for you at all.
To help you begin, I’ve developed a flow chart that can help you tease apart many organization challenges. It only goes to the highest level, but should shed some light on making sure you’re doing only what is necessary. (You don’t want to over-organize either!)
Click image to enlarge.
To get the most out of the flow chart, here’s an exercise that will help you compare what you’re doing now with what makes the most sense for YOU. But remember, don’t get bogged down in exceptions, sometimes and maybes. This is just a place to understand yourself better and begin.
Set a timer for 2 minutes. Close your eyes and imagine the process of creating a layout. What do you do first? What do you reach for next? How do you make choices? Use the flowchart to then identify organizing approaches that best match your natural habits.
Below I’ve elaborated more on what those high-level solutions might look like for you. With a first layer in place, you can get into more details. For example, you may not need to tag digital supplies by color if you never search for items by color.
Options for Organizing Your Way
Use a date-based folder system – If you use a photo (or set of photos) as inspiration for a new page, you probably don’t need to over-complicate your system. Generally organizing by folder (especially in a visual program like Lightroom) will help you stay minimal and practical.
Use a tagging system – If you commonly look for photos of individuals or places across dates and events, you’ll probably want to add tagging on top of a basic chronological organization. If these types of cross-comparisons are not common for you, then you probably don’t need to tag photos.
Use a kit-based folder system – Many digital scrapbookers are tagging when they don’t need to be. By organizing by kit or product with well-labeled folders, you should have no trouble finding what you need. If you need to be able to browse the previews, tag ONLY those or copy previews only to a new folder for viewing by slideshow.
Use a tagging system – If you hunt for the perfect items for each layout, collecting along the way, then you should be devising a tagging system that fits how you hunt. Make sure to only tag to the level at which you actually search, not for maybes and might-be’s.
Organize by theme – If you frequently are crawling your stash for everything birthday (or sports or baby), then make your system work for you. Don’t fight your natural inclination.
Keep kits together – If someone else has pre-coordinated your supplies, the most practical thing to do is keep them together until the useful life has passed. Don’t make scrapbooking any harder than it needs to be. This can also work if you tend to get overwhelmed by too much choice and need to pre-coordinate your own working kits.
Organize by product types – If you don’t have any particular habits that necessitate and alternate approach, then organizing paper supplies by general types (paper, embellishments, tools, stamps etc.) will help you scrap faster and put away faster. If you have a small space (or no space), make sure you plan to pare down to what you really need and use often.
This big picture perspective on organization is the best way to get started. Knowing how you naturally work offers a clear lens with which you can evaluate the next great organizing solution.
Want help teasing this apart? Feel free to leave a comment on this post and I’ll be happy to offer my advice.
Are you ready to use up, declutter, and organize your supplies? Simple Scrapper’s “Stash Bash” organizing party returns September 17-21, 2014.