18 November 2007

Ultimate Organization for Scrapbooking

The best reason I know of for being organized is so we can find our toys. This is particularly true for creative people, be they writers, painters, photographers, bakers, or scrapbookers. In fact, it may be especially pertinent to scrapbookers, who tend to be deluged with scrapbook materials – so much so that they lose creative time looking for and gathering together their supplies. That is, assuming they remember they have the supplies to gather.

Typically, organizing tips suggest that scrapbookers store their supplies in containers and notebooks by type of item: stickers, stamps, die cuts, ribbons, buttons, page kits. In theory, this makes sense. It’s putting like with like, which any organizer will tell you is a basic organizing principle. However, it doesn’t work for scrapbooking. To begin with, the supplies are stored away, out of sight (and out of mind). Second, accessing supplies requires digging through numerous binders and containers to pull out some of this and some of that – all of which needs to be returned to the numerous containers and binders when you are done playing with it.

Instead of putting things together by what they are, try grouping them by how they’ll be used. I recommend using Tiffany Spaulding’s Four Section System. The four sections are:

Titles – This includes anything you’d use for titles, including alphabets, numbers, punctuation marks, computer fonts, stamps, die cuts, etc.

Personal Themes – Any themes specific to your life and interests, be it cooking, gardening, people, pets, sports, vacations or any other theme that catches your fancy. (Notice that I’ve put these in alphabetical order. You will order your themes alphabetically, too.)

Holidays and Seasons – Set this section up chronologically, beginning with Spring and accompanying holidays: Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Passover, etc. Summer might include Memorial Day, Fourth of July, picnics, and Labor Day. Fall encompasses Back to School, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Winter takes us into Solstice, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, and New Year’s Eve.

Color Wheel (or Rainbow) – All supplies that have no theme or season and can be used anywhere go here, organized by color.

The key to making the Four Section System work is having all materials visible and centrally located. The best tool for this – leaps and bounds beyond those binders and containers – is Tiffany Spaulding’s ScrapRack™. The ScrapRack™ has a base that sits like a book stand but can be taken down and laid flat for storage. Each base holds seven Spinders – Velcroed 3-ring binder-like inserts, each of which holds up to 20 to 30 clear pocket sheets of various size and storage capacity.

I like the ScrapRack™ for a number of reasons:

• All materials are visible, which means you can find any supply you own within 30 seconds. (Imagine spending time creating pages instead of hunting for your supplies!)

• The ScrapRack™ is portable. Because of the Velcro, you can easily remove (and put back) the Spinders and take them to a crop. (The kit comes with a travel pack, too.)

• The ScrapRack™ takes up very little room. The basic set-up fits on a TV tray.

• The ScrapRack™ is expandable. As your life changes and you develop new themes (or acquire new supplies), they system can expand to accommodate your needs.

• The ScrapRack™ is flexible. It can be used by teachers, geneologists, project managers, and people with ADD to organize their materials in a visible, portable fashion.

• The ScrapRack™ folds down and stacks for easy storage.

One scrapbooker commented that “You don’t have to have an organized bone in your body to use this system. Just follow the directions; it works!” A couple of principles help make the system work most efficiently, though.

1. Think of the ScrapRack™ as a work station, not a storage unit. Don’t try to stuff everything you own into the Spinder pages. If you have a large amount of something, put a sample of it into the appropriate section(s), and store the rest elsewhere. (This is akin to setting up a desk at an office. Keep what you use at your desk, and store the extra supplies in the office supply closet.)

2. Store your tools by number, not type. While acrylic stamps fit into the pocket pages, wooden and rubber stamps and most other tools won’t. The trick here is to put a sample of the stamp or tool into the appropriate section(s) and number the sample. Then store your tools in containers labeled with the corresponding number range, say 1 to 10, 11 to 20, and so on. Different kinds of tools can be in the same numbered box so that when you add a new tool you don’t have to re-arrange the existing boxes. Instead, make a sample of the new tool, assign it the next available number, and add it to the correct box.

By having materials organized, accessible, and visible, scrapbookers save money and increase productivity. You can see all of your choices quickly, and know what you have on hand. (No more buying of duplicates!) Scrapbooking becomes easier, faster, and more enjoyable. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

10 November 2007


And on the seventh day, God rested.

The seventh day. Shabbat. A day of rest.

In the seventh year, fields are left fallow.

And seven sevens? The 49th year? This is the year of Jubilee.

My psychic counselor said it would be my year of rest.


Here I am, just two months into being 49, and my life is one long ripple of activity and growth. In addition to my numerous writing projects, I’ve committed to two new, huge projects.

Project #1 – I’ve bit the bullet and signed on for NSGCD’s Level III certification program. NSGCD stands for the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization, and is the organization through which I’ve earned numerous certificates of study as well as my Specialist Certificates in Chronic Disorganization and in ADD. At the end of the Level III training, which takes about 18 months of studying and working with a coach, and culminates in a peer review, I will be a Certified Professional Organizer, or CPO® – CD. To the best of my knowledge, there are less than 50 CPO® – CDs in the world at this time.

Project #2 – I’ve joined the gym. More importantly, I’ve written the exercise classes and workout times into my calendar as actual appointments. Five mornings a week, Monday through Friday, I will be challenging my body, inviting it to remember the strength and flexibility of its youth. Aqua aerobics (which Anthony promises to take with me), Pilates, and machines will fill my mornings. God willing, I may actually get my body back.

Of course, devoting my mornings to my body means I need to restructure my consulting hours. I’ve decided to experiment with increasing my hourly minimum from two hours to three. Most organizers have a three-hour minimum, usually four hours (or more). We’ll see how I adjust to working longer sessions. The up side is that I will only work with one client a day (instead of two), which will keep me fresh for my clients.

And I’m still working away at my third book, what I call the Tzedakah book. It is requiring a great deal of research. Bit by bit, I continue to gather information and write pages.

And I am marketing Following Raven. And I’m writing two articles for organizing newsletters. And two lectures. And three press releases for Get Organized month. (The local professional organizers have formed an informal NAPO group that we are calling H.O.P.E. – Humboldt Organizing Professionals Exchange. We are doing two projects for Get Organized month [January]. One is a radio contest; the other is a lecture series at the public library. I’m in charge of writing press releases for both activities as well as a general one on H.O.P.E.)

Did someone say something about rest?