This is an article I wrote for Craft Critique. It appeared on that blog last week, but I wanted to share it with you here. Especially since organization is one of my number one favorite things! Here you go...
Proper organization can change the way you work. In my case, it has meant that I use my supplies! I am truly making a dent in my stash and using my things rather than simply collecting them. Here are my secrets:
1. Organize the way your brain works.
What does this mean? When you’re scrapping, do you say, “I need something red,” or do you say, “I need something birthday,” or do you say, “I need some of that Basic Grey paper.”
I am a color person. I say, “I need something red.” Therefore, I have organized virtually everything by color.
• Cardstock by color.
• Patterned Paper by color.
• Small Embellishments by color.
• Large Embellishments by color.
• Ribbon by color.
• Fabric by color.
• Scraps by color.
• Alphabets by color….
Well, you get the picture. If you’re a theme person (“birthday”) then you probably want to organize your supplies that way. And, if you’re a brand person (“Basic Grey”) then you probably want to organize your supplies by manufacturer.
Note: The one exception (for me) to the color rule is that embellishments with words on them or that are quotes, sayings, titles, etc. are filed in one of four categories:
2. Create a situation where you can see what you have.
Many of us have small spaces. I certainly do. And the impulse is often to keep things neat and tucked away. For me, I don’t use what I can’t see. So, I try my best to keep things visible. My favorite tricks for keeping things visible:
• Clear storage. There are so many lovely boxes, bins, bags, jars, drawers, etc. that are clear and let you see just what you’ve got.
• Out in the open. Where I can, I like to hang, stand, file, etc. my supplies out on top of surfaces (rather than hidden away). This is why I love shallow shelves! You can see everything.
• Labels. I have been accused of over doing it with the labeling (I label my kitchen cabinets). However, labels are your best friend when it comes to organizing. Labels allow you to think once and then never again. Once you organize your stuff (even into clear containers), stick a label on there: “flowers” or “blue” or whatever it is. Then you never have to think again. Just look for the label and you’ll know where it is or where it should go.
If you really need things to look tidy or can’t deal with open shelving, I would suggest two possibilities:
• Make or buy curtains to go across your shelving. Keep them open when you’re working and closed when you need to visually clean up.
• Spend the money to buy attractive containers that you’re okay with being on display (glass jars, brightly colored aluminum buckets, etc.) rather than the ugly stuff (plastic milk crates, sterilite drawers, etc.)
You know the old saying, “use it or lose it?” Having everything out in the open allows me to use it. I know what I have and I use it all!
3. Make it easy to put away.
In my opinion, this is the number one reason that most organizational systems fail. It’s easy enough to get up the energy to organize your stuff. I mean, most of us want to be organized. But, it’s the “clean up” that kills many systems. If it’s hard or annoying to put stuff away, you’ll never do it. It’s like joining a gym that’s a sixty-minute drive. You’ll never go, best intentions aside. You have to make it easy to put things away. For me, this means several things:
• Everything has a place. And, a place for everything.
• Every storage container or space is clearly labeled.
• I group like items into general bins or file folders (ex. a drawer of blue stuff).
• I have no “fussy” storage (i.e. storage where things have to be put “just so” in order to fit.)
• All my most used stuff is close at hand. I don’t have to get up to get it out or put it away.
• I reserve the high shelves (i.e. the ones I need a ladder or a husband to reach) for stuff I don’t use very often.
• I keep my most used supplies in a drawer at my desk separate from other like items. Example: I keep a favorite black ink pad, small acrylic block, and tiny alpha stamps in this drawer. My other ink pads, acrylic blocks, and stamps are kept elsewhere in the room. But since I use the black ink pad, small acrylic block, and tiny alpha stamps on a ton of stuff, it makes sense to keep them close at hand. And since I don’t have room right next to my desk for the rest of the ink pads, acrylic blocks, and stamps, it makes sense to separate them out.
I cannot emphasize enough that everyone’s organizational needs and habits are different. But, these are three general rules that I believe will help anyone organize their stash, use their stash, and keep their stash organized.