For my readers who DO scrapbook, below is how I keep my projects organized and keeping this never-ending hobby from overwhelming me. I've been scrapbooking for over a decade and have wasted countless hours looking for pictures I knew I'd printed, paper I knew I'd purchased and embellishments I knew I wanted to use. But in the last few years, I've streamlined the process and feel like I finally have a handle on keeping myself organized.
- Start with a Notebook - I have a simple, spiral, lined notebook (just like when we were in school) where I keep notes and sketches that I want to use in my scrapbook pages. By keeping my ideas in one central place, I no longer search for scrap paper with scribbled notes - everything is in one place.
- Keep the Pictures Organized - Personally, I file my pictures on my computer in date order. My folders are titled (for example) "2009-05 (May)" - this keeps the files in chronological order when I open my picture folder and I can find what I'm looking for relatively quickly. Within each folder, if there was an event where I took several pictures, I'll create a subfolder of that event. Otherwise, pictures are labeled with the date first and a brief description of the picture second. For example: "05.10.09 - Mother's Day Brunch" - when you label more than one picture at once, the computer should automatically add "1, 2, 3..." at the end of the title.
- Decide What to Scrapbook - I don't document every little thing. As the kids have gotten older, I've started combining their cutest moments of the season into a 2-page layout for each child for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Since they do so much together, I also do a 2-page layout of both kids and what fun things they experienced during that season. I scrapbook major events (holidays, camping trips, first days of school) and pick a handful of other memories that deserve their own page (the kids' obsession with dress up, funny Ryanisms that I often take directly from my blog, things like that).
- Pick the Pictures - Like many of you, I don't print all of the photos I take. When deciding what to print, I jot down page ideas in my notebook (see #1) and go through my computer files to find common themes that I might want to scrapbook. I then write down the title of each picture that I want to print for a page layout on the page where I will keep ideas for that layout. To make it especially stupid-proof, I then write the total number of pictures I listed for that layout and circle it in the upper left corner of the page.
- Choose a Layout - Personally, I'm not very creative. However, I'm the master of seeing an idea and making it my own. This is where scrapbook idea books and scrapbooking magazines come in very handy. In addition to subscribing to Creating Keepsakes magazine, I also have three Sketches books by Becky Higgins. These are especially helpful because they are organized by # of pictures per layout. Since I often cram 5, 10, even 15 pictures onto a two-page spread, having these layout idea books saves me hours.
- Print the Pictures - Whether you print your pictures at home, at a photo center or from an online website, printing pictures costs money. So being efficient about which ones to print and which size to print them is important. Because I choose my layout first, I know if one or two of the pictures on my page needs to be larger than 4x6 or if there is room for a group of smaller, cropped pictures. Not only do I know which pictures to print, I know which sizes to print and whether I want special effects (black and white, etc) applied to them.
- Check Off What's Printed - Because I often take advantage of free-print deals that online photo sites offer, I don't always print all of my pictures at once. As I've ordered pictures to be printed (whether mail-order or in-store pickup), I put a check mark by them on the idea page. That way, if a couple days (or weeks...or months...) go by and I sit down to order more pictures, I know which ones are printed and I don't end up with dozens of duplicates.
- Choose Paper and Embellishments - There are a thousand different ways you could scrapbook the same birthday party memories. Don't get too hung up at this stage: pick your color scheme or some embellishments that you really want to use and just get started. Assuming your pictures are printed and that your layout is sketched out in your idea book, now is the time to roll up your sleeves and dive in.
- Paper - I have 12x12 paper trays that I ordered online years ago. These have been a great organizational tool! I sort my paper by color, theme and sometimes brand. The categories are: reds and pinks, blues and purples, browns/tans/oranges, yellows, black and white, Basic Grey paper, baby themed paper, Christmas and birthday themed paper, other holiday themed paper, and a few other categories that make sense to me. All solid and printed papers are mixed together as well as cardstock and paper-paper.
- Projects - On my desk are an additional four 12x12 trays that each have a purpose: the top one is for projects that are in process (waiting for another photo, journaling or a title to be printed), the next tray is for finished layouts that are ready to go into the scrapbook (I usually do this all at once every month or so), the next tray holds scrapbook refill pages that I keep a stock of and the bottom tray holds unused paper that needs to be "refiled" back into the main paper trays.
- Ribbon - I have three glass jars that hold my scraps of ribbon by color: the red family, the blue family and the yellow/brown family.
- I have a six-drawer rolling cart that houses many of my littler supplies. In those drawers I keep:
- Cutting tools - Scissors, punches and corner rounders are in the same area.
- Inks and chalks have their own drawer.
- Stamps have their own drawer.
- Letters and alphabet stickers have their own drawer.
- Embellishments - I have all brads and eyelets in a small box in this drawer, a box of flowers, a box of chipboard pieces and the rest of the small embellishments that don't have a category just float around in the drawer.
After I was done cropping and attaching the pictures to the paper, I kind of lost my inspiration to complete the title, journaling and embellishments, so I added a sticky note to the page telling me what I needed to finish and X'ed off the idea page in my notebook so I remembered that the page was waiting in my "in process" tray.
Here is the 2-page layout as it stands now (my computer is not allowing me to rotate the picture - sorry!!!) and it's currently in my "in process" tray waiting for me to come back to it later.
So did anyone follow my process? It makes sense to me and honestly doesn't seem as complicated as I've made it here. I go through phases of scrapbooking like crazy and being completely caught up, then will go through a down-time (as I did recently) when I don't know where I left off and need to jump-start myself back into the craft. I hope some of this was helpful - I sure wish someone had shared their organizational process with me years ago...it took lots of trial and error to come up with something that worked for me!