Get Organized: 31 Tips to Try NOW!

Can’t you smell it in the air? Spring is on its way, and it’s time to sweep out the stale clutter and bring some fresh order to your life. That’s why CK is bringing you 31 pointers—a tip a day for the month of March—to inspire you to get it done!

1. Start somewhere. Getting organized can seem like a daunting prospect, so don’t feel compelled to do it all at once. Pick one type of product or one drawer and just get started one little step at a time.

2. Determine your organizing personality. Do you need to be able to see what you have? Consider an open system, where supplies are in clear containers. Prefer to have everything out of sight? Consider a closet shelving solution with lots of baskets and bins.

3. Invest time now to save time and stress later. People often tell me I have too much time on my hands when they see my orderly scrap room. Sure, it took a while to get it figured out, but the payoff is worth it every single day! I know where things go, and my life feels much more creative now that I’ve corralled the chaos.

4. Purge regularly. Going through your stash helps you to remember what you have. Discard it if you’re over it.

5. Share the love. If you’re not going to use a product, someone else will! Donate your extra products to a new scrapbooker, a church group, a school art department or your kids. They’ll be thrilled!

6. Put most-used items in closest reach. Make a list of the ten things you use most regularly. Stow each item at a height and in a spot where it will be easy to grab.

7. Label everything. If you have determined a home for all your items and have everything clearly identified with labels, then it’s so much easier to put things away when you purchase them or after you finish a project.

8. Don’t forget the albums. I used to scrap chronologically, but now I’ve got a thematic album system. Both kinds of albums have headings on the spines that indicate either the dates or the topics of the contents. Whether I want to locate a vintage photo or more recent layout, I know right where to look.

9. Be picky. I’m a firm believer in getting rid of snapshots that I don’t love. Since I’ve gone digital, I take many more pictures, but I don’t feel compelled to scrap or even keep them all. I pick out the best and delete the rest. I have never regretted it later. It’s liberating to sit down to create and have great photos to work with.

10. Put things where they go. You’ve seen it happen before: leave something out, and a stack begins. Before long, the stack is a mountain! Don’t let clutter take hold, and you’ll save yourself lots of headaches in the long run.

11. Rethink your organization every six months. New products will come along that don’t fit your categories, and unless you reconsider, you’ll have a mess on your hands in no time. I had a small drawer for alphabets a few years ago, but now I have a container for each color! Chipboard and other dimensional products take up more room, so I had to reorganize. Likewise, products go out of vogue, and odds are you won’t need to devote as much space to them down the road. Be flexible and adjust your system as needed twice a year.

12. Mix form with function. Though your organizational system needs to be practical, don’t forget to inject some personal style into your storage. If metallic orange speaks to you, go for it!

13. Don’t duplicate. Unless you know you are going to use an item for a specific project, don’t buy more than one of anything.

14. Go vertical with your paper. My life has never been the same since I did. I can flip through and easily see the color of cardstock I’m looking for or the funky patterned paper I have in mind now that it’s upright.

15. Grab a bowl. It’s amazing how handy it is to have a little bowl on your work table. Pour brads into it to find the color you need, contain your paper piercer, adhesive, pen and scissors for quick retrieval, scoop scraps into it when it’s time to clear your area—it’s a beautiful thing!

16. Deck the walls. Is your space limited? Go floor to ceiling with shelving. Just make sure to only put rarely used items at the top!

17. Consolidate. Do you have separate spots for your wrapping paper, sewing goods, art equipment and scrapbooking supplies? Consider storing them together, if space allows. If you need to replace a button, look for it in your button canister. Wrapping a gift? Letter stickers look great on presents. Save yourself time running to a second storage area for multifunctional tools and other paraphernalia.

18. Make every moment count. Maybe you’ve got to pick up the kids in 10 minutes or you’re waiting for the dryer to buzz. In today’s busy world, you may not be able to carve out an entire afternoon to work on your albums. So when you have a few minutes, capitalize on the opportunity! Perhaps you can upload some photos, clean a couple items in a drawer or put away that luscious new paper. It all adds up!

19. Close the door. Sometimes you’re in the midst of something and you can’t take it to the finish line at that moment. It’s okay to let your project stay out for a while as long as you have a way to make it livable for you and your family. Just don’t abandon it for too long!

20. Collect inspiration. You’ve got many methods to choose from. Keep an online folder for pretty things or ideas you come across. Collect clippings in an inspiration book or file. Or post images on a bulletin board to feed your creative muse.

21. Enlist help. We’ve all got those friends who were born with the organizing gene. If they’re like me, they actually enjoy rescuing others from disarray. An alternative? Make organization a game and get your kids involved. They can sort eyelets just as easily as you can!

22. Contain yourself.  Boxes, bins, totes and tins—these are a few of my favorite things! IKEA, The Container Store and Target all carry a wide variety of storage solutions. Also, don’t be afraid to appropriate items intended for other uses. Many of my tools are housed in a hanging shoe rack.

23. Clean up between projects. Despite my penchant for order, I am the world’s messiest scrapbooker. When I’m “in the zone,” I have to follow where my imagination leads. But as soon as I finish a layout, I take time to tidy my space. A clean slate is a good place to begin something new.

24. Make a date with your magazines and idea books. If you’re like me, you love looking at pages by and learning from others. As styles and products change, I revisit the publications now and then to weed out those that no longer feel relevant. I do tear out timeless ideas to keep in my inspiration file before I give the publications away.

25. Take advantage of travel time. Whether you journey by car, train or air, you’ll have downtime. The next time you’re stuck in an airport or staring at the passing countryside (provided you’re not in the driver’s seat!), write down some journaling. Maybe you’ll note how excited your kids are to get to Disneyland, or perhaps on your return trip you’ll record the highlights of your vacation. Organizing your thoughts is part of organizing your scrapbooking, too.

26. Go for a spin. Invest in a storage carousel or a lazy Susan. It’s a lovely invention that allows you to have your basics near without marring the look of your area.

27. Discover a pegboard. Any home-improvement store carries pegboards, and the store will usually cut them exactly to your specifications. Add to that the variety of hangers and holders available, and you’ve got the perfect wall system. I have a piece on the side of my vertical storage tower with hooks for all my fun epoxy embellishments.

28. Become crop-savvy. Before you head to a scrapbooking event, compile files for the layouts you intend to work on. Enclose photos, papers and embellishments that coordinate. When it’s time to pack up and go, just grab the files and your basic tools and adhesives, and you’re set for a night of creating (and socializing, too)!

29. Show off your favorites. Whether you want to show off your favorite products (a stamp collection or a row of colorful paints) or layouts that hold special meaning, be sure to display them in your creation station. These pieces will serve as wonderful creative inspiration.

30. Lose the packaging. If you’re cramped for space, consider taking your goodies out of their packages. You can reclaim a lot of real estate by eliminating all the plastic and cardboard.

31. Be a copycat. You’re already on the right track—you’re reading this article! Ask others for their best advice or examine scrap rooms in the monthly “Creative Spaces” column in Creating Keepsakes magazine. Put others’ ideas to work for you!

Appeared in:

March 2009

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