Monday, March 05, 2012

Digital supply organization - Go green, go digital!

Do you find yourself not being able to find your supplies?  Do you forget what you own and then buy it a second time?  Don't worry - you're not alone, as I'm guilty of saying "yes" to both of those questions!

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to share some ideas I have for digital organization of your crafting supplies.  This could apply to nearly any craft, and can work whether you own a Mac, PC, or iPad - I'll give you tips for each platform, as I work on all three.

Before we get starting on going digital, I thought I would share what I'm doing now, and why I'm making the switch to digital organization.

Current stamp organization

My stamps are organized in binders, with an index sheet on the front, and a laminated index sheet behind it.  I scan, stamp, or download an image of the stamps to create the index sheets using photo editing software as needed.  Several images sheets can generally fit on one page, making stamp storage take up a little less space.
Binder with stamps (8.5 x 11); stamps can be pulled out of the page protector for easy use.
Each index sheet is then printed as a half-sheet of letter paper, and put into a three ring binder.
Smaller binder with index sheets for all of my stamps (5.5 x 8.5)

I started this organization process after I had been stamping a while, and I generated a list of some categories that work for my crafting. The binders are separated by these categories, either as a whole binder (for the stamps) or an index divider (for the index sheets)
  • All Occasion (doesn't fit into a category - graphic images, sentiments)
  • Borders & Backgrounds
  • Card Verses (ex: mostly text, or for a specific event like graduation or Father's Day)
  • Christmas & Winter
  • Great Outdoors (ex: trees, scenic stamps, skiing, sports)
  • Hobbies (ex: theater, crafting)
  • Nature (ex: flowers, birds, butterflies)
  • Nostalgic (ex: steam punk, vintage sewing)
To find a stamp, I flip through my index sheet binder (it's smaller and lighter than the stamp binders!), select a stamp, and then grab it from the binder.  I still have plenty of woodmounted stamps, too, so those are also in the index binder.  They are cross-referenced to their location so I can find those, too.

Why go digital?

Here are some compelling reasons I'm going digital:
  • The binder is getting big - and full.  I'd like to be able to "store" my images in a smaller footprint, and not use up more space to store sample images.
  • I can't find what I own.  My husband might tell me to sell some supplies, but we all know how realistic that is!  If I go digital, I can plan on searching with a digital database.
  • Club Scrap has gone digital.  Each month, I get a new Club Scrap kit. Each kit comes with great ideas for layouts, stamps, and more. They used to send out paper versions of all of these items (that fit in cute little binders), but are now sending me PDFs. I don't want to print out PDFs if I can avoid it, so this is a good time to switch.
  • Only my stamps are organized. How many times have you gone to a Stampin' Up! party or scrapbook store to wonder if you owned something that you were considering purchasing?  With a digital system, I could organize more than just stamps more easily.
  • It's greener. This isn't the most important reason for me, but it is another factor. Of course, as an engineer, I then start to wonder how much electricity I'm using with my digital system....

What's next?

So, in the next few weeks, I'll share with you:
  • How to get digital images of paper supplies (it's easier than you think!)
  • How to decide on a categorizing system
  • How to use digital tools (most of which are free!) to store and access your materials
Is there anything you'd like to see or have me add to the series?  Let me know!  I'm still writing, so there is plenty of time to shape the discussion and have your questions answered.

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