Get your Scrapbooking Tools Organized

Do you have trouble finding the tool you need when you need it? Do you struggle with decisions about what to take with you when you go to a crop or class?
If you've been reading my past entries you already know I'm a huge believer in the whole "less is more" theory. How does that apply to your tools? Tools can become just as overwhelming as all the other parts of this hobby. One way to control this and to keep things organized is to evaluate the tools you have and sort them into 3 categories:
  1. What I use everytime I scrap
  2. What I use half the time
  3. What I thought was a good idea when I bought it, but I barely use it now
You'll probably find that the things that you use everytime you scrap are not as numerous as you might have thought. These items need to be stored in a highly visible, easy to access space. My favorite tool storage container for the desktop is what I call the Tool Tower. This handy sorting tray has graduated or "stair-stepped" divided sections. These "stairs" push the tools in the back of the Tool Tower up above the tools in the front. Here's a picture.

Filled Tool Tower

Empty Tool Tower

In the empty picture you can see the different levels in each section of this container. It is truly ideal for storing your tools. Okay, so that takes care of the basic things, the things you use everytime you scrap. What do you do with all of those things you only use occasionally. This depends primarily on what types of tools you have. I would assume that the majority of other tools you have are cutting systems. This could mean anything from a Cricut to a Spellbinder system. More important than where you have these actual tools stored is where you might have the dies, templates, etc cataloged. Creating a catalog for these items and then keeping that catalog with your everyday tools will really maximize your tool use. I'll talk more about cataloging in my next entry. If you can store these cutters on an easy to access shelf where they will be easy to actually pull out and use, you'll get far more use out of them. Remember if you can keep you tools (all of your supplies for that matter) easily accessible and easily storable, not only will you be more likely to use them, you'll also be more likely to put them back properly when you're done using them.

What about taking tools to a crop? I'll say it again, "Less is More". When you go to a crop you want to take the things that you consider to be the very BASIC tools. Most crops offer a wide variety of cutting systems with a huge assortment of dies and templates. Don't get consumed by taking everything you've got. Instead, go with the basics - Pens, Personal Paper cutter, Adhesives, Ruler(s), Eyelet setter and scissors. If you love to use stamps and punches and/or you have lots of them, create a catalog to carry with you rather than actually taking all of those things everytime you go somewhere.

The ScrapRack TravelPack Plus offers an easy way to keep your tools under control when you head out for a crop or class. The interior pockets will accommodate everything that's a "must have."


Camping Organization - Simple Shower Kits

One of the biggest challenges when you're camping is getting everybody off to the shower with everything they need and having them return with it.

Putting together a basic shower kit is easy. Start with a Silverware Tote/caddy or other waterproof type carrier. The plastic baskets that are sold for carrying around cleaning products work well if you can find a small one. It's best if it has a handle on it. Look for one that has holes already in the bottom of it and some type of feet. If you can't find one with holes in it, get some handy person in your life to drill some small holes through the bottom of each section of the carrier.

Fill each compartment with the things you need in the shower/bathroom. Be sure all of the items you've chosen are waterproof.

Liquid Shower Gel
Toothpaste / Toothbrush
Shaving Cream

Add a couple of Jumbo sized binder clips so you can easily clip a scrubby(ies) to the tote.

If you find a tote that's large enough you can even carry a pair of cheap shower shoes for each member of your family right in the tote. They can wear their regular shoes to the shower, but use the shower shoes while they are actually in the shower. This will help to protect against foot fungus in a shared shower.

One other thing that is great to have are a couple of small "over the door" hooks. These will allow you to put them over the stall door so you can easily hang clean clothes, towels, etc. in the stall with you. Some facilities already have hooks in the stalls and some don't (or they don't have enough.)

Once your tote is stocked with all the things you need, you can take the tote right into the shower with you. Be sure everything in the tote is waterproof.

When you return back to your campsite, put the tote on an uneven surface so any water that was trapped in the tote can easily drain out through the holes in the bottom.

This whole system works best if you always keep it loaded and packed with your camping supplies. When you get home from a camping trip, check the contents and reload or refill whatever you are low on. Then pack the tote with the rest of your gear. It will be one thing you won't have to worry about next time you pack up.


Organizing your Scrapbooking Layout Ideas

Scrapbooking Magazines, Papercrafting Magazines, Emails, Websites
These are all filled with wonderful layout ideas for not only scrapbooking, but cardmaking, gifts, home decor projects and more. There's nothing more frustrating than knowing you have the perfect idea stashed away in a magazine but then not being able to find it. Idea organization can be very simple if you just provide yourself with a good system.
Let's talk about Magazine Ideas first.
Scrapbooking magazines are expensive. For some of us the idea of tearing up something we've just paid $6-$8 for is a little more than we can stomach. However, that's exactly what I'm going to tell you to do. No matter how organized you believe you are with your 25 sticky notes sticking out the side of your magazines, you just can't simplify your system with out removing the pages/ideas from your publications and reorganizing them into a better system.
One of the things that works absolutely the best with magazine layout ideas is filing them right in with the scrapbooking materials they will be used with. For those of you lucky enough to be using a ScrapRack, this process is really simple. Just remove the idea from the magazine, flip to the correct section of your ScrapRack and file the idea with your scrapbook products. I've included an example below. You can see in the lower right hand corner of this ScrapRack storage page, there's a folded layout for a Baseball themed page.

Now, when I go to work on a Baseball page, I'll see the layout idea, and I'll also see the products I have available to complete the page. The other nice thing about filing your ideas right with your products, is that when you go to the Scrapbook store to buy additional products, you can just take the Baseball Section off your ScrapRack, Velcro it into your TravelPack and when you get to the store you'll have all of your products and your design idea so you'll be able to buy the things you need without having to guess what you have at home.
Another easy way to manage your magazine layout ideas is to start a notebook, much like the notebook you may have in your kitchen for recipes and other household information. Fill the notebook with dividers and 8.5 x 11 page protectors. Label the dividers to correspond with the categories in your 4 Section System of Supply organization. Now, as you pull ideas out of your magazines, you can slip them right into page protectors in your notebook. You can take the notebook with you to crops or just keep it at home for easy reference.

What about ideas you see on the internet?
This is what "Scrap-Lifting" is all about. Start a file on your computer for ideas. Inside that file, put other files labeled for each of the categories in your 4 Section Organization System (read about the 4 Section System - click here, Watch a brief video about it - click here)
When you come across a design idea on the internet, click to enlarge the image if possible, then copy and paste it into the appropriate folder in your computer. when you need ideas for that particular theme, you can open the file folder and browse by design subject. When you find the one you want to use, you either keep it open on your computer (if you're working at home) or you can print it out and take it with you to the crop.
What if you know exactly which pictures you want to use with that particular
layout idea?

If the idea is in a magazine you can always just pull it out and put it with the pictures. If the image is online, and you're not ready to print the pictures yet, just copy and paste the image of the layout idea right into the file folder where you have your pictures stored. If you want to be able to get back to that image on it's original website, you can either Hyperlink it to the picture, or just copy and paste the URL into the "tag" box on the picture. (If you have questions about either of these procedures email me or comment on this blog and I'll get back to you with details and "how-to"s.) In either case, you'll have the layout idea right with the pictures, exactly where you need it.


Drowning in Paper - Mail, Recipes, Coupons, Etc?

One of the biggest challenges with organization is discipline. Why is that? Discipline usually means work, and work takes time, and time is something most of us don't have. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Once you take the time to establish a system for getting your papers organized you'll save tons of time and feel better about the clutter that has surrounded your life.
Here are a few tips for taking control of the paper that flows through your door.

Mail - this is the biggie.
Don't take the mail out of your mailbox until you have 5 minutes to open, sort, and store it appropriately.

Have a designated space for the types of things that come in through the mail. You can use a "bill" sorter - one of those compartmentalized sorters that has a slot for everyday of the month, a simple note book, or just a set of file folders. Whatever you are using, be sure it is set up in an easy to access place. If you can get to your "storage" system easily, you are more likely to actually stick with your system.

Sort, Store, and Toss in one sitting. As with all things organization, handling it as few times as possible is key to success. When you're ready to sort your mail, do it near a garbage can. I get most of my mail at a PO Box. I've found it really helpful to take advantage of the locked recycle containers and sorting tables that are available there. Everything comes out of envelopes, promotional mailings go into that recycle container along with envelopes, junk mail etc. Those items never make it to my desk. It keeps things very simple. Because I spend so much time on the road, I keep all of my mail in an easy to transport notebook. I've included an image here. It's easy to slip things into each divided section. At the beginning and ending of each day I flip through the notebook to see what needs to be taken care of that day or the next day. When I do my flip through I am also able to remove things that have been taken care of. This is a great method if you need your mail/bills/calendar to be mobile.

Calendar Information
Use one section of your sorting system for your calendar and any flyers, clippings, etc. that you might need for reference later. Make a note on the appropriate date that you have a flyer or the other information filed. This is where I keep a printed copy of the school calendar for my kids.

Notes to Self
If you are regularly jotting things down on scraps of paper, this notebook system works great. Just simply add the note to the correct section of your notebook so it will pop up each day when you do your "flip-through" review. As thngs on the notes get accomplished, you can simply throw them away.

Lastly - Eliminate as much of it as you can. Ask to be removed from mailing lists for catalogs, brochures and other types of promotional materials. If you want to stay aware of what these companies are offering, create a second email account for sales/promotional email subscriptions. That way when you want to see what's available, you can go to that email account and get caught up on all the latest and greatest from your favorite companies. You can even get the coupon mailers from companies like Target, Walmart and Office Depot right online. You may even find that you save some money by switching over, because you won't be as tempted to puchase items you really don't need, just because they're "On-Sale." If this makes you nervous try to think - next week there will be other wonderful items "On-Sale" and I'll have another opportunity to buy something else. :-)

Recipes and other important tidbits of household information.
Okay, I have to go back to my "Less is More" philosophy. The more you have to look at the less likely it will be to get used. The less you have to look at or through the more likely it will be to get used. If you love to try to recipes, but find yourself covered in them, there are really two options. Limit yourself to the recipes you are going to use immediately. If you clip a recipe choose the day that you will be preparing that meal, clip the recipe to your shopping list and use it right away.
If you're a recipe collector
Get yourself a 3 ring notebook, a couple of sets of tabbed dividers, some standard 3 hole punched notebook paper, and a roll of scotch tape or some other type of easy to use adhesive. Label each of the Dividers by recipe type, Appetizers, Cakes, Dinners, Breakfast, etc. Now when you clip a recipe, you can simply tape it to a sheet of notebook paper in the appropriate place in your notebook. The lined paper allows you to make notes about the recipe after you've prepared it. If the recipe wasn't good, take it out of the notebook and through it into your recycle bin - remember less is more, if it's something you won't use again because it just wasn't good, there's no reason to keep it.
Household tips
Tips for cleaning and other tidbits of household information can find a fast easy home in your recipe notebook. Just create a tab for each of those items as well. Some of the tabs might be:
Cleaning, Party Ideas, Decorating ideas, Gardening, etc. Whatever your interests are you'll find that you make better use of these ideas when you remove them from newspapers, magazines or your computer and put them into an easy to access notebook.
One last tip - if you need to put little "booklet" type things into your notebooks (recipe booklets, etc.) this can be done easily with a "Hold-It" adhesive spine. These little clear plastic strips are half adhesive and half 3 hole punched. Click here to learn more about them. They also work great if you're creating a notebook for Owners Manuals, Warranty Information, etc. This is a good piece of information to pass on to your hubby. He can add one of these strips to all of the owners manuals for his power tools, TVs, household appliance, etc. and put them all into one notebook quickly and easily. It's helpful to keep a package of them in a pocket inside your notebook. Click Here for a link to the Hold-it Spines if you need them for your notebooks.