In my last post I wrote about some of the things I’d do if I could start over with my scrapbooking, inspired by this post by Jennifer Wilson of Simple Scrapper. While the specifics were mine the overall message could be applied to all manner of challenges we face in scrapping and in general. Today I’m sharing some of the great advice that is oft-repeated among scrappers who’ve also been doing this for a long time.
If I could tell you one thing it would be scrap the everyday stuff, because soon you realize that is the stuff that you want to remember, everything changes and it seems so slow when you’re in it but gone-so-quick when you’re out the other side. What sort of details do you think you won’t remember a year from now, five years, 10 years? What do you wish you knew about your grandparents day-to-day? Those are the sort of things you should be documenting now.
If you’re in high school or uni and enjoying the single life this stuff is gold when you’re an ‘old married’ and have small kids – yes you were fun once. If your newly married and relishing in that amazing “I can’t believe he picked me” phase this is the stuff you want to remember when you’ve been married a while and need a reminder of why you fell in love in the first place (side benefit: it’ll make you fall in love all over again). Or perhaps your deep in the throes of sleepless nights and baby smells (the good and the bad ones) this is the stuff you’ll love to look back on when the nest is emptying and you want to hold on just a little longer to that tiny person they once were. Everyday life documentation is so, so precious.
I think it’s also why Project Life done week-by-week is so popular these days. While it’s certainly not the only way to do it I would say it is probably the most popular. It incorporates a system that takes those everyday bits and pieces and gives them a home, and it also removes a lot of the stumbling blocks revolving around design and decoration which can distract you from just getting the story down. And on that note…
Write in a journal, get it down on the back of an envelope, that slip of paper in the bottom of your handbag, or your kid’s sports announcement that’s been lying on the kitchen floor for the past week and then put it all together. Chuck it in a pretty box or a folder or a drawer. If you’re digi save things to a folder on your computer or use an app like Evernote, Oh Life, Day One, Momento or some other kind of software but whatever you do get it down and get it all together in the same place. Whatever you write on and where ever you store them doesn’t matter as much as you getting them down. There is always time for editing and refining later if you get the gist of what you want to say out. Keeping them together in the same place means you’re using less brain power to find your stories once you do have them down.
A lot of scrappers find that journaling is the hardest part of completing a layout, if you’ve already got something written down it makes things that much easier to bring it all together. Even if that something is only in dot-point form or disjointed a little when inspiration strikes and you want to put that story in your albums you’ve at least got a starting point. When you’ve refined it to your satisfaction the rest of the page elements can fit around what it is you want to say. No worrying about leaving enough room for your journaling, no stressing over not knowing what to say because you’ve already got it there and you can work out where it needs to fit from the get go.
Since photos are such a huge part of what we do as scrapbookers having a specific way of structuring your photo management is a really helpful tool in the scrappers arsenal. I am a chronologically gal as far as arranging layouts in albums so chronological photo management absolutely makes sense to me, I always go looking for photos by date “Now I know we did X in March last year” so if I want to find those photos I go looking in my 2013_03_Mar folder. If you’re a Library of Memories kind of scrapper then it would make more sense to store your photos divided into the four LOM categories and sub-categorize from there. For quick access fewer folders/categories is a good idea, things can always be further refined and become more specific by things like tagging, captions and the like.If there’s one thing I’ve learned about organization in general it’s to organize the way you think, there’s no point organizing your photos chronologically if you predominantly go looking for them by theme or event. Don’t fight against your natural tendencies but make them work for you and help you to be more productive. This all applies to both physical & digital photo organization and just as gathering your stories in one location makes things easier to find so too does gathering your photos together.
Photo Organization is definitely one of those cases where prevention is better than cure. Consistency is key and it saves you a world of pain out the other side. Making time for incremental organization is waaaay easier than trying to do it after the fact when you’ve accumulated so many photos your eyes pop out of your head whenever you open your photo library. Get into a routine of uploading, deleting, structuring, deleting, tagging, deleting, and reviewing your photos. If you didn’t catch that – deleting is especially important when managing your photos. Fewer photos means fewer photos to manage. In this day and age of digital photography we capture more than we’ll ever need or have time to do anything with. So rule of thumb – if it doesn’t mean anything to you, get rid of the obviously blurry, the random and the multiples and do a quick scan at every step of the way to see if there’s anything you can remove from your photo library to make life easier on yourself.
All of the above Layouts, Journaling and Photos can only benefit from including the date. Obviously photo management software makes it so simple for us to have dates on our photos now, no matter what device is our predominate tool. As long as we’ve set up date and time properly on them in the first place its a set and forget kind of thing. The only times I’ve been caught out on this one is when my old camera had a bit of a knock or when borrowing other people cameras.
It’s good practice to date your stories/Journaling whether written on random bits of paper, in a notebook or on an electronic device because you will not remember those specifics later for every story. No matter how hard you try, or how good your intention you will not get back to all those stories straight away, some of it will have to wait. Electronic documentation can be helped along by looking for ‘date created’ or ‘date updated’ details in the file data if your going back to date things but unfortunately there’s no way of helping you if you don’t get it down the first time if you’re a paper and pen kind of girl like me. Often times a little percolating on a story can improve it.
For Layouts I tend to go with two different ways of dating my stories. The first is to date the page with the date of the photo if that is the relevant focus of the layout – event based, everyday documentation, or personality trait type pages where a time frame helps add context. The other is to date the page with the date of the journaling if the story is the thing that I want to draw attention to. For these I may go photo-less or use a photo as a supporting element rather than the main event.
While it’s easy with time and perspective to look back and give these answers now, when you’re just starting out in something you really don’t know what you don’t know. The best part is that they are not just applicable when you first begin. In all these things it is absolutely possible to just begin instituting helpful practices right now. If you get to the previous stuff that’s great but beginning now can only serve to help you in the future.