SYW223 – Organizing All My Layouts

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I’ve wanted to reorganize all of my scrapbook layouts since before the pandemic, but I was nervous about the investment of time and mental energy. It turns out all I needed was an experienced and eager friend. In this episode I’m chatting with Alissa Williams about this process, my immediate reactions, and the amount of time it really took to complete!

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[00:01:14] Jennifer Wilson: Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I’m your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking.

This is episode 223. In this episode Alissa Williams interviews me about switching to the Library of Memories system. She helped me reorganize all of my layouts from chronological to categorical albums in under three hours. This conversation was recorded immediately after.

[00:01:47] Jennifer Wilson: I am here with Alissa today to chat about my album reorganization process. We're kind of turning the tables here and she is going to interview me, ask me lots of questions. Um, we have just spent the past few hours with her, um, guiding me or say, bossing me around as I went through this process. So I'm excited to share my, my feedback, my thoughts, um, and where I need to go next. So, Alissa, what, what do you wanna ask me?

[00:02:20] Alissa Williams: Well, let's start with why did we do this project today? Like what made you think you needed to reorganize your layout organization?

[00:02:31] Jennifer Wilson: You know, I have long struggled with this division, this tension between chronological storage of my layouts and Library of Memories or categorical storage of my layouts. I have never scrapbooked really in order, but when Emily was younger, I just felt very connected to chronological because of just seeing her grow. But as she's gotten older, more of the stories that I'm telling are stories that span periods of time, that connect, recent past and present or connect very far past and present. And the chronological storage system just didn't quite feel right anymore. And so I had a bunch of layouts, about two years worth of layouts in piles, not in any album. And then I had about oh five years of 12 by 12, mostly 12 by 12 layouts in albums, roughly chronologically. And then the six by eights, those are from 2018 and 2019, and that's a whole kind of a whole separate part of the conversation. But I felt that it was ready to reorganize them into the Library of Memory system, and I kept procrastinating because it felt like a huge task.

[00:03:56] Alissa Williams: And was it a huge task? Did it take days, uh, months?

[00:04:01] Jennifer Wilson: I was actually really surprised that it only took a few hours to go through all of my layouts. Now, I would say that I am not the most prolific. But I think in the end I'm gonna have nine, ten albums maybe.

[00:04:18] Alissa Williams: Ten.

[00:04:19] Jennifer Wilson: Um, we need to kind of still go through and figure out how many more albums I need to buy, some more page protectors I need to buy. But, it's not a small amount in the end, but it was not, it wasn't hard. It, I think having someone like you who had been through the process and could give me advice on making these decisions, which are totally arbitrary, it's your gut feeling on which category goes in. Um, that made it so much easier.

[00:04:50] Alissa Williams: And as we went through the process, we moved some things around.

[00:04:55] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, for sure.

[00:04:57] Alissa Williams: So I think, you know, that shows why this system actually works so well is that it is, uh, it can evolve and it can change in the moment to accommodate everyone's needs.

[00:05:09] Jennifer Wilson: Well, and I think if I had sat down and tried to devise my categories in advance. At least my, like, my subcategories, it wouldn't, I wouldn't have known that there'd be a giant stack of food layouts and then an even larger stack of layouts about memory keeping, crafting, making in general, art. Um, it, it's like, it's like it's surprising and not surprising at the same time.

[00:05:37] Alissa Williams: Yeah. I think that's why we, we, did the way we did it, we should describe what we did. So we, you had done a pre-sort of the, the two, the album, the layouts that were not in albums, and you had, we did them in the four general categories. Of People We Love, Places We Go, Things We Do, and All About Us. And then when I got here, we took the rest of your layouts and I actually, for the most part, decided where they would go.

[00:06:04] Alissa Williams: And I'd be like, maybe this goes here. You'd be like, no, this actually goes here. And then after we did that, then we tackled each category. Uh, and made the sub, uh, divisions for, yeah, everything had subdivisions. So that was kind of our process and it, it took two and a half hours to do the 12 by 12s.

[00:06:27] Jennifer Wilson: It was much faster than I thought it would be. I thought just dividing it would take that long and then there'd be the whole process of page protector reorganization and putting things back in albums. But it was much, it was much faster.

[00:06:41] Alissa Williams: And I mean there were two of us, so you know, you would, you decided that you wanted things chronologically in a category, so you would kind of handle that. Because there are earlier layouts that you've made, you've gotten better, but some of your earlier layouts, Jennifer, they don't have dates on them.

[00:06:59] Jennifer Wilson: I know. I know. And yeah. I need to do a better job and I actually probably should go back and find those photos and pencil a date on the back. Because at some point I'll probably rearrange within a category and, um, they really need to, to do, have some sort of dating.

[00:07:19] Alissa Williams: So what do you think your biggest takeaway from our reorganizing session is?

[00:07:24] Jennifer Wilson: I love seeing these stories within the subcategories and the connections between them. It just makes it so, uh, fulfilling to, to flip through the album and to see growth, to see how things, some things don't change over time. To have layouts made, you know, almost 10 years apart, about a similar topic. Like there's a bath time layout that's like really when Emily was really young, and then one when she was much older. There's a bicycle one about Emily's first tricycle, and then there's me getting a bike last year. Like seeing those stories together, which they wouldn't be in, in a chronological album, just feels really good as a memory keeper.

[00:08:12] Alissa Williams: What, uh, gaps did you find? Or what, what does this make you wanna do next?

[00:08:19] Jennifer Wilson: Um, you know, I think as I've had interest over time in certain formats or styles of scrapbooking, I will kind of focus exclusively on that. Uh, and maybe not as much on, I don't know how to say it. I think there's just certain times where I'm just not focused on my photo library and using that to gather stories and capture the things that are important and that I want to make sure get told. Um, because I'm focused somewhere else within the hobby or maybe even focused outside of the hobby. And so I think there's just like certain gaps in time, which I know there are great stories and great photos that just are just sitting there waiting to be used.

[00:09:11] Alissa Williams: So how, how do you wanna move forward with this system? How, are you gonna put your layouts right away now as you finish them in the categories? Are you gonna do, um, where you keep your most recent layouts kind of in a Cropper Hopper container, and then put them away periodically? Like how are you gonna keep the system going?

[00:09:31] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, I haven't thought about that. Um, I do have like four shelves on my, in my bookcase that are like one for each category. And that has been, has worked pretty well for at least, um, having a temporary but presorted storage. But I think in general, my goal would be to go ahead and put them in the album, photograph them so I have, I can share them with others, but then put them away. I do, you know, you keep an album of your most recent layouts, right?

[00:10:03] Alissa Williams: I sure do. It's my favorite.

[00:10:05] Jennifer Wilson: And so that, I guess I kind of feel a little bit attachment to doing that or just putting them in a box so that I can share them with others, like if I go to a crop. So I guess I have mixed feelings, but independent of anyone else, my priority would be to make sure they just get put away.

[00:10:24] Alissa Williams: And now you know right where they go.

[00:10:27] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, that is very, very true. I, um, I guess transitioning to talking a little bit about the six by eight pages, I have two albums that are kind of Project Life six by eight for 2018 and 2019. And then just like a really small collection of additional six by eight pages. And I feel so good now that whatever decision I make about future layouts, that I have the categories, I have subcategories. I kind of know the subject matter that I scrapbook about, and to feel like those things have a home easily. That feels really good.

[00:11:08] Alissa Williams: Do you think this is gonna change the way you tell stories? Having your layouts arranged this way?

[00:11:15] Jennifer Wilson: I do. I, I am someone who kind of volleys between scrapbooking current photos that I love because I just, I'm so excited to just print that photo and use it. Um, but I also am excited to spend time looking for story gaps, but also even just looking for, look, there's two blank pages here, they're 12 by 12. Let's make a spread that would fit this category in this time period. So just kind of using that as creative constraint. Um, I think that would, would be definitely something that I don't do a lot of now that I can see myself doing.

[00:11:54] Alissa Williams: So what would you tell someone who's considering breaking up their chronological albums into Library of Memories?

[00:12:01] Jennifer Wilson: It's not as scary as it might seem, uh, and the end result is totally worth it. But at the same time, I totally get it. Particularly if you are someone who, maybe, maybe your mother or maybe you're an aunt or a grandma, you have a relationship with a child who is growing very fast. I can see that you ha feel this deep connection to chronological, but you can still store things chronologically within an album.

[00:12:32] Jennifer Wilson: Um, when we were talking about the Places album, you know, you mentioned how you really like, especially for travel, you like to see those in order. And so for the most part, we tried to organize things within the album. In which, the order in which the story took place. Um, if it's something from the present bringing into the past, it still goes in the present because that's from the perspective it was documented.

[00:12:56] Alissa Williams: Do you wanna talk about like, um, section or, or, um, dividers or anything at all?

[00:13:05] Jennifer Wilson: You know, I am not a hundred percent sure how I wanna do like section dividers within the albums yet. I have a bunch of the Project Life dividers. I don't know how many I have that are clear versus like random patterns. Cuz I know at some point they were clearance at at Meyer and I bought a bunch. And I've heard of other people who did the same. Um, but I know, um, one of our members, Melissa, I've seen her section, um, pages and she basically has like a full page, uh, title page and those are really cool. And so I've thought about doing something like that as well. So right now, I'm fine with just having our little note cards in there. We just tucked them in front of the first layout in the section. Um, but I'll definitely be thinking about kind of what creative direction I wanna take on that.

[00:13:56] Alissa Williams: Anything else you wanna share about the process or thoughts that you're having now that we've completed this massive project that you thought would take all day and we were done it half a day?

[00:14:07] Jennifer Wilson: I wanna thank you for kind of just saying, okay, I am coming over. This is what we're doing. We're gonna do it now. Um, because I could have stretched this into a multi-week thing if I tried to do it myself. And so having accountability, obviously you've been on the podcast before and we talk a lot about how we provide that for each other.

[00:14:28] Jennifer Wilson: And I think that this is just another great example of how important it is to have, um, someone encouraging you to stay focused, make quick decisions, and move forward so it doesn't turn into a multi-week project that takes up a lot of space.

[00:14:43] Alissa Williams: Or overthinking. I mean, I think it's easy to get bogged down. Um, in trying to make the perfect category for everything. And you know, Stacy herself, when she teaches the system, you know, you start real general and then you get specific. And we did not even in Things We Do, which is, can get overwhelming, um, we did not get super specific.

[00:15:06] Alissa Williams: You have four main categories, plus you have a separate album that is your, um, various, um, attempts at Project Life throughout the years. Which I think all go, like, they all go really nicely together. And even though you never finish the traditional Project Life, I think having those pieces, and like you said, January is usually when you do it and that's your birthday month. Having an album that's just January through the years, I think is really cool to look back on.

[00:15:36] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. So I've got some Week in the Life pages in there too. Like a couple, just like Day in the Life, you know, not multi pages, but maybe just a spread. Um, Having those snapshots of whatever duration I chose to do it, altogether, it's really illuminating. So I like having that.

[00:15:55] Alissa Williams: Yeah. And I think you see, you know how things change over times or how they stay the same when they're all kind of together like that. Um, so.

[00:16:02] Jennifer Wilson: Oh yes, a hundred percent. Versus having, you know, one of those in each album, which makes it feel more incomplete. If it's just like January in a 2013 album.

[00:16:14] Alissa Williams: Absolutely.

[00:16:15] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:16:17] Alissa Williams: Well, I thank you for trusting me and let me come over and being bossy about what we were gonna do. It was fun. I really enjoyed it.

[00:16:24] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, it was fun and I'm so, I'm so glad that kind of, we ripped the bandaid off. And I feel like I can move forward. I've had this as like a major project for so long and it turns out it wasn't as, it's major in impact, but it wasn't major in time.

[00:16:41] Alissa Williams: Yeah. And I think that's just a lesson that for scrapbooking in general, sometimes we, we dread or we think it's gonna be such a long time. And really, you know, if you just get started and get going, you can, you can go through things pretty quickly, and it doesn't quite take as long as you thought.

[00:16:59] Jennifer Wilson: Yep, a hundred percent. Well, thank you Alissa.

[00:17:03] Alissa Williams: Thank you, Jennifer.

[00:17:04] Jennifer Wilson: And to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to Scrapbook Your Way.

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  1. Laurie

    I would like more help on this topic. I didnt discover Stacy Julian and LOM till 2020 and have been trying to transition my scrapbooking from chrono to LOM. It’s a struggle.
    Have you reorganized all your old layouts? B/c I have always done CM and prior to their having pocket pages, i don’t know how to reorg back-to-back pages Without taking everything apart. I guess I could do a photo print if one side…? Very overwhelming.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I did reorganize all of my full-size layouts in that one day. Right now there are 8 albums that are all mostly full. I will need more albums to grow. I still have some work to do with my 6×8 pages.

      We made four piles, one for each major category. Then we took it one pile at a time, dividing into sub-categories that made sense for my life an what I scrapbook about. For example, I was surprised that I need a whole sub-category for food.

      I would let your old CM albums be what they are. Start this process with the individual layouts you’ve created to go in page protectors. Nobody has a perfectly-organized library. It reflects our seasons of living and scrapbooking.


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