So one of the keys I found to creating space and evaluating what I have when I participated in Organizing Fundamentals at Big Picture Classes, with the awesome Wendy Smedley and Aly Dosdall, was the ‘Dump and Purge’ method of going through your supplies. This is not a method for the faint of heart as you quite literally go through everything you own. But it is by far the best and most rewarding method I have found to really make strides in getting rid of stuff in your scrap space that doesn’t serve you. I’m not just talking product here either, but storage options, reference materials, entire pieces of furniture… whatever you need to get gone, goes. In essence you question everything you own and ask is this something I still love, need or realistically think I will ever use?As you may have guessed this is quite a systematic approach to going through your space and Dumping the contents of a draw, basket, paper rack etc to sort through and Purging those things which you no longer want. It requires that you see every item in your stash and make a decision about whether it needs to stay or move on somewhere else. I love, love, love this approach and can testify that the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. It helps to begin in an area that you use regularly and start small, going through only as much as you think you could sort through & return in, say, an hours time. Having an easy win in the beginning helps build motivation and momentum to keep going with the purging process. Having a specific deadline helps you to maintain focus and keep things manageable so that the overwhelm in dealing with all the clutter doesn’t unduly inhibit the decluttering process. At the start here, what you want is encouragement that you can do this and that you can actually make progress. With this in mind my first point of call was my drawer of what I loosely term paper embellishments. I dip into this draw pretty much every time I scrap, so I’m fairly aware of the contents and what gets used on a regular basis.The boxes and trays in this draw contain a random assortment of one-off, or limited supply items that I use in my scrapping – printables, larger ephemera pieces, postcards, cut outs, frames, random drawings or images from various places, an Elsiecake Peter Pan kit (that I love too much to use) and a few booklets I made previously, fill one of the trays. The second holds my collection of rub-ons, while the cut down – cereal boxes contain chipboard pieces; photo corners and overlays, small paper/card phrase embellishments; and tags respectively. So mostly they’re stuff made of paper but perhaps a more accurate description would be flat embellishments. The difference really being the number and size of the items in question. Die-cuts also lived in here for a time (they also got the Question Everything treatment in this round too) but I found that given their smaller size compared to a lot of this stuff, and their frequency of use on my layouts, a basket on my desk was a much better home for them and I could also add in smaller cut-outs from 12×12 papers or 6×6 paper pads and have them all live together. Similar revelations may come to you in the process of decluttering and these also help to give you the next step or piece that you want to tackle. In a minute I’ll get to another discovery I made while sorting through the draw this time. Dumping the contents is the fun part.
As suspected however there was not a real lot in here that I wanted to part with, this particular stash of items really just needed a bit of a tidy up and moving around of a few items. What I did find however was that I had a folder of A4 sized paper items I’d titled Elements for Embellishing which I almost never looked at but that I knew worked along the same lines as some of the things in here. I decided to combine the two in the hopes that I would use those items more. I managed to purge about half of my Elements for Embellishing and since they were mostly paper just sent them straight to the recycling. They were sorted by theme and I decided to keep what was left in their plastic pockets in the tray. So along with getting rid of a few items from the drawer itself I managed to clear out a binder and quite a few plastic pockets that would serve me better elsewhere. In fact while I haven’t discarded too many storage options this time round I have re-purposed quite a few and I’ll share those with you in my next Decluttering 101 post.When assessing your items for purging I think people tend to be one of two extremes, a bit wishy-washy or rather ruthless. You either love everything and want to keep it or can’t see a single reason to hold onto something that has been sitting unused in your stash for one/two/five… ten years. People often talk of having a time limit on how long they will hold onto items but I think for me it really depends on my mood. To help me be consistent I break it down into asking the previously stated questions. Do I love this item? If it’s an immediate yes it goes straight back to the stash regardless of how long I’ve owned it or intended purpose. If it’s more of a ‘like’ verses ‘love’ attitude I like to take it a step further and question whether I have a highly specific use for that item. If I can’t come up with one it’s probably going to be purged, if I can I like to write on the back of the item the layout idea or project idea I came up with. Items that suit current projects will generally go with other supplies I’ve pulled together for them or if it’s just a single layout idea they get returned to the stash and the idea noted in my Start Fresh Binder for later use. This way when I’m just not feeling the mojo or want to get playing but don’t have a layout in mind I can go to something I’ve already come up with to get me in the crafty groove and with the benefit of using up some stash and not just letting it waste away.The question of whether I need an item is probably one I apply to tools & media (paints, inks etc) or multi-use items more than anything else and its a pretty easy yes or no for me to determine whether it gets used or not enough to warrant the real estate it takes up in my space. But it can apply to things like hinge rings or cardboard or cardstock or anything else that are perhaps ‘staple’ or generic items. In these cases it’s more about asking whether the frequency of use of such items justifies how much physical space, mental energy and effort it requires to keep them. In their own right such items might not have a shelf life, like tools, so they’ll never really be unusable per se but maybe the style is outdated or not something you don’t use regularly anymore but may have at one time. In the case of media, maybe the contents of a jar has dried up or you have an excess of something or another item that serves a similar purpose. Like a die and a punch that do the same job or embossing folders with a similar pattern. The judgement call is really up to your own discretion about how well the item serves you.The thing about purging is we all have a different set of criteria that we’re working with. Some of us have larger spaces, some of us have smaller. Some of us like to create around others in open space, some of us need to withdraw into a space where we can shut the door and escape. Some of us need more breathing room and visual space to think before the creative muse strikes. While others thrive in creative clutter and draw inspiration from the random mix of items that happen to land themselves together as we go about out creative work. Evaluating your own personal threshold of how much is too much takes time and tweaking, and can even change depending on other things happening in your life over time. For me with small children the less chaos in my world the better, so right now I’m really craving simplicity, order, ease of access and probably tending to a less is more approach than when I was a single gal with a whole house to herself and oodles of time on her hands. I want to be able to have less stuff, make fewer choices and have a lot more visual space, light and room to breath so that my scrap space is a calm place to retreat as opposed to a creative disaster area and the dumping ground that it seems to have become.In my next post along with sharing some of my re-purposed solutions that I’ve tweaked along the process of decluttering this time round I’ll also show you some of my favourite storage options that have served me well for years.