Sunday, May 25, 2014

Project Boxes

Several times now, I have mentioned my “projects in progress”, or “projects in a box” as I sometimes refer to them.  I wanted to use today’s post to explain what they are and how they can help you be a more organized and productive scrapper.

I have always been a little bit obsessive when it comes to organization.  I think it stems from my ADHD; I am such a scatterbrain sometimes that I absolutely must keep my possessions organized or I just can’t function.  I have been known to search for hours for a single, all-important embellishment when the clutter has gotten the best of me, and I just can’t tolerate the frustration of all that wasted time.

Last February, I began what I hope will be my final attempt at organizing my craft room.  I’ve used a lot of different organization systems over the years, but none of them ever seemed to stick because they didn’t encompass everything in my vast collection of crafting supplies.  But in February, I think I finally found the answer, and I began a complete reorganization project of my craft room.  You may have seen the photos I posted here on March 10. 

This is what my whole room looked like
before the transformation.
I got most of the work done on the room in February when I completely emptied the room and installed a set of cabinets that I purchased at Ikea.  Putting everything back was equally time consuming, but mostly because this spring has been incredibly busy for me and I almost never had a day when I could just sit and sort things out for an hour or two.  I did finally get most of it sorted out, though, and all I really have left is this one corner that is stacked to high heavens with an assortment of supplies, completed projects, and projects I’ve started but haven’t finished (there’s an alarming number of those, yikes!).  Luckily, I have a solution to all that mess, and little by little I am whittling it down to something much more manageable.  Now that school is out and life is settling down for the summer, I plan to spend the next week really digging into that mess, and I’m hoping to have that table completely cleaned off by the end of next week.  I can’t wait!

So that brings me around to the project boxes.  As I mentioned, when I sorted through all my product, supplies, and projects, I discovered that I had an alarming number of projects that I had either started or had gathered up supplies to start but had not finished.  I have a really bad habit of starting projects or planning projects, and then running out of time to complete them.  They wind up stacked in a box somewhere, sometimes never to be seen again.  What makes it worse is that even when I do want to work on one of those projects, I sometimes can’t find everything I need to do it! 

Case in point…in the fall of 2011, I purchased an iron-on decal of rhinestones in the shape of the Texas A&M logo.  I didn’t know what I wanted to use it for, but I knew that I could use it for something and I might not get the opportunity to buy it in the future, so I bought it and put it somewhere safe.  Now we all know how safe works, right?  That means that you stumble across it all the time for months on end, and you think to yourself, I need to do something with that, but not right now.  Then, when you finally decide to do something with your whatever-it-is-that-you-put-somewhere-safe, you can’t find it.  You spend hours, weeks, months, maybe even years looking for it.  And in the mean time, the other supplies you bought for your I’m-going-to-do-this-someday project are lying around, and now you find those supplies all the time and tell yourself “One day I will find that whatever-it-is and I will finish this.”  Sound familiar?  That’s what happened to me with the decal.  I saved it, not knowing what to do with it, and for two years, I would stumble across it from time to time, not knowing what to do with it.  Then last fall, while I was out shopping, I found this adorably cute maroon canvas purse, and I thought, “I know exactly what to do with that decal!”  But guess what, the decal was nowhere to be found.

I had similar problems with other projects, but I found that one simple solution was to begin using the 4-Section storage method taught by Tiffany Spaulding of The Scrap Rack.  The beauty of this method is that you don’t have to use her storage products (or any other specific storage products for that matter); it will work with just about anything.  I won’t go into the whole process because you can find out all about it on her website, but the key principals are:

  • Sort your supplies: alphanumeric; colors; seasons; themes
  • Keep it organized:  put things away when you use them and put new purchases away into their place IMMEDIATELY

These are a few of my project boxes.
It really is that simple.  I am sorting most of my stash into my ScrapRack (I bought it at a garage sale a few years ago for $50!), but some of my themes are bulkier than others.  For instance, I could probably fill a whole ScrapRack with Boy Scout supplies and memorabilia, so I put everything Boy Scout into one 12x12 Iris Box.  I did the same with my Think Pink/Breast Cancer/3-Day for the Cure, Cruising, and Texas A&M supplies.  Now, whenever I want to work on pictures from one of my Breast Cancer fundraisers, I can go straight to that box and everything is right there…paper, embellishments, memorabilia, even the photos.  No more gathering supplies or trying to remember where I put stuff.  If I buy a new cruise ship embellishment, it goes right in that box the minute I get home from the store.  I do the same with my other subjects – the ones that don't take up a whole box.  Everything is sorted by themes into sections of my ScrapRack for easy access right at the tip of my fingers whenever I need it.  You can do the same with file folders, project envelopes, notebooks…anything, really, because it’s not about the storage containers, it’s about the system.

I put labels on the outside of each box
to remind myself which specific colors
of ink or cardstock go with that project.
My next project will be to label each of the boxes with the theme.  Since I can see through them, it's pretty easy to tell what's in them, but I think it will just help make it that much more organized.  Already, I can tell that having all my projects sorted into themes has been a true blessing during LOAD.  Whenever I see Lain’s prompt for the day, I know exactly where to go to find that special embellishment or the paper I’ve been saving for just that occasion.  It makes it quick and easy to take along with me on crops, too, because other than my tools, all the supplies I could possibly need are stored right there in that box.  I know I can just grab a box, grab my bag of tools, and have a full day of cropping fun.  What could be better than that?

Do you have an organization tip?  Share it with us as a comment, and you could win a prize!  I have some fun little organization helpers to give away to the reader who posts the best tip.  Enter as often as you like, one tip per comment, no later than May 30.  Winner will be announced June 1st.  

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