Papercrafting Organization: The Great Sort & Purge!
Are YOU ready to get down to business?
Ready to sort through your papercrafting treasures and let go of the things that are dragging you down, stealing your space, causing you to waste money and robbing you of your creative mojo?
I sure hope so ’cause the Great Sort & Purge begins now!
Last night I continued to review all the comments on all of the posts, as well as all the emails I received, and I will continue to do so until I have responded to them all, and gathered all your challenges in one place.
In this process, I have learned more about what you’re struggling with, how you process information, what areas you want to focus on first, and most importantly, what your overall goals are.
As with most everything, the key is to start with clear goals!
Some of you have already begun the organization sort and purge process and I am so proud of you for not wasting a single moment of motivation!
You are on your way!
For those of you who are just joining in, or who have followed along since the beginning, but waited until today’s post to dig in, thank you for joining in and trusting me to guide you through the process.
Jump in NOW!
To all of you, I promise you two things:
- Sorting and purging will require focused effort on your part (and some aspects of it may even be hard for you)
- It WILL be worth it!
Now, before we get started, three things…
1. Make sure you have your papercrafting organization sort & purge process supplies ready – these include:
- Boxes, Bins or Bags (at least five)
- Sharpie Markers or Broad Tip Pens
- Plain Labels or Masking Tape
- Notepad or Scratch Paper
- And, Energy!
2. Write down your goals and place them front and center! They will help guide you to faster and better decision-making.
3. Don’t forget that YOU could WIN!
Go-Organize.com is going to hand three lucky papercrafters
a $100 shopping credit to spend at Go-Organize.com.
Participate in all of our Get Organized series’ posts
and LIKE the Go-Organize.com Facebook page
and YOU could be one of the lucky papercrafters!
(more details at the end of this post)
The Great Sort & Purge – Step One: Clear the Decks!
For our purposes, those words, clear the decks, have two meanings:
1. Clear your calendar
2. Start with a clean slate (if possible)
Clearing your calendar
There’s nothing more demotivating than starting on a project and finding you don’t actually have time to complete it, or being interrupted mid-way through it, right?
And, we are often guilty of doing this to ourselves. Come on, you can admit it.
It’s crucial that you establish a time slot(s) for this sorting and purging process before you start, and that you protect it like a mama bear!
Even if you have to complete the process in stages (which is less ideal than setting aside one block of time, but still doable), schedule the time and be vigilant about protecting that time from human “time stealers” (kids, spouses, roommates, neighbors, family members, etc.), entertainment time vacuums (TV, internet forums, phone calls, Pinterest, etc.) and creative distractions (“Ooh, look! That’s the ink I needed to make that art journal page. Maybe I’ll just work on that for a bit.”).
The only human interference allowed is assistance with the process – desirable human assistance!
Starting with a clean slate
The ideal way to sort and purge a space, whether it be a closet or a desk or a whole room, is to start with a clean slate – empty the entire space so you have a clean slate to start with.
Now, this can be done in two ways:
1. Sort as you empty
2. Dump, then sort after you empty, on the way “back in”
Which method you choose is entirely up to you, but I’ll advise that the “best” method is usually dictated by the volume of what’s being removed from the space, your available space for storing it throughout the sorting and purging process, and whether or not you have a fairly unlimited block of time available.
It’s important to be realistic here, and it’s o.k. to change your mind once you start, as long as you do so quickly and the change in your plan doesn’t have a negative effect on your progress.
Let me share an example…
I recently helped some friends clean out their garage. We set aside a day to do this fairly big project and we got started fairly early.
The process involved taking everything out of a rather full two-car garage (note: it was more packed than I expected!) and placing it on the driveway and lawn, sorted by category of item.
We set up areas for that which would be donated, that which would be sold in a garage sale and that which needed to go into the house. That which needed to be tossed went immediately into the large garbage cans set up just outside the garage door.
We made great progress for the first few hours, but then progress slowed.
Interruptions from outsiders, “reminiscing” over long-lost treasures, fatigue, and a bit of overwhelm at the site of the very full street-side display, crept in.
I worked at interrupting these time-stealers, but it was tough.
As the day wore on, I could see lots of progress and I was proud of how hard these two were working at letting go of their treasures: the donate pile was getting rather large, the garage sale pile even larger, and the first trash can was full and we had to bring in another, which was already half filled.
The only area that raised a bit of concern was the “into-the-house” pile, which had grown a bit larger than perhaps it should have (based on the available storage available IN the house).
The sort & purge project was coming along nicely.
Well, that is, until I found out that that the friends I was helping had plans that night…in a couple hours!
Now, I knew that there was no way we could sort through everything now laid out across every inch of concrete and grass on their property in a couple of hours – it was going to take at least four more, and that was only if we picked up the pace!
But, there wasn’t much choice about it. We had to get the project done, and before they had to stop.
There were two choices: 1. Be ruthless about guiding them through what they could and couldn’t put back into the garage (which could not hold everything we were staring at if they hoped to have a functioning garage at the end of the day rather than a reorganized storage unit), or 2. Focus on one or two areas (categories of items) and do our best to just reorganize the rest of it, making better use of the space available in the garage.
In the end, we opted to be ruthless about some categories and gave in to just reorganizing the others (more efficiently using the internal garage storage items in a manner that enabled easier access).
Their goal was to clear out the garage, making it much more useful and easier to store and find things, and we were well on our way to achieving that when we started, but now we would fall a bit short of the complete goal due to a lack of dedicated time.
Be honest with yourself about how much time you have available and how hard it will be for you to go through this process.
Know that it’s likely for the process to take longer than you expect it to take.
Think about how long you’ll be able to leave your “mess” strewn about before there will be consequences, or you will be forced to stop the sort and purge process and just put the stuff back where it came from.
If you live with others, and your temporary mess will be invading their space, or common space, be sure to set expectations before you start so you don’t end up with relationship issues as a result.
Now, while you may not know how hard it will be or how much time it will take until you actually start (this was likely true in the example above), you likely know if you are the type who gets easily bored, distracted, tired, frustrated, overwhelmed or sentimental.
All of these feelings and behaviors have the potential to derail you in this process, and they could mean the process will take longer or not deliver the results you’re hoping to achieve.
Allow time for them or make a promise to yourself that you won’t let them creep in!
Or, enlist help from someone who can be objective and who won’t interfere with the process, or sidetrack you, but who will really help you and keep you on task. (Spouses and kids may or may not be the best choices – hint, hint!)
Remember when I shared above that you need to know what your parameters are (volume of stuff, and available space and time) so you can decide on which method of sorting and purging to use (sort and purge as you empty or sort and purge on the way back in)?
The example above is a great case study for this!
Secrets to Success
Secret #1: Sort as you empty your space.
This is my preference, always.
It does not mean go through everything in detail, this simply means put like with like (i.e., tools with tools) in your “staging” area.
It also means that as you come across items you know you’re willing to get rid of, immediately place them in the To Donate box(es)/bag(s)/bin(s) or the To Sell box(es)/bag(s)/bin(s) or into the trash rather than putting all of these items in the staging area with their comrades only to handle them a second time.
Secret #2: Avoid handling items any more than is necessary!
First, because it’s a waste of time and energy.
More importantly, because for most people it creates an emotional attachment to the item(s) and they will have a harder time letting the item(s) go, even if they don’t use it, want it or need it.
Strange, I know.
Why do you think retailers display merchandise, like clothing, where you can touch it?
Why do you think car salespeople are so quick to invite you to have a seat in any car you show interest in?
To get you attached, emotionally!
Why do you think organizers hold up clothing that’s being sorted and purged rather than hand it to the closet organizing client?
Because we are trying to avoid the emotional attachment issue!
Secret #3: Stay hydrated and take short breaks before you feel tired.
During your breaks, focus on what you HAVE accomplished rather than what’s still left to be done.
It’s much easier to stay motivated by celebrating how much stuff has ended up in the To Sell box, the To Donate box or the trash than by looking at the huge pile of things you still need to sort through.
Papercrafting Organization Purging – Take One
As you look at each item, or category of items, ask yourself these simple questions:
Q1. When was the last time I used this/these?
Q2. Do I really need this/these?
Q3. Can I get this/these again if I really need this/these?
Q4. Am I willing to commit to using this/these in the next 90 days?
Q5. If I keep this/these, where will I store this/these?
A1. If your answer is anything beyond the last 90 days, be honest about whether or not this item/these items really deserve precious space in your craft room.
A2. If you can’t say yes, without hesitation, let the item go. There are plenty of NEEDS still waiting for time, space and attention, right?
A3. Do you have access to this item/these items through a friend, your local retailer, etc.? If so, do you really need to own this/these?
A4. Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to use this thing/these things in the next 90 days? How many other things will you have to make this same commitment about, and is it possible to use them all in the next 90 days?
A5. This is perhaps THE most important question. You must commit to a space that makes sense – a space that enables easy access and committed usage – and a space you are willing to give up to this item/these items. Remember, space is precious.
Secret #4: Have a plan for the To Donate & To Sell items before you start the sort & purge process!
If you plan to sell the To Sell items on eBay or Craigslist, think about what that process involves: taking and uploading photos, creating the listing, answering phone calls and emails, meeting the potential buyers either at your home or elsewhere, etc.
If you plan to hold a yard/garage sale to sell the To Sell items, think about what that process involves: creating a listing and placing it on various online (local) sites (including Craigslist), creating and placing signage, getting money/change, setting up, dealing with people coming to your home, tearing down, etc.
If you plan to donate the To Donate items to a local cause or thrift store, consider what’s involved with making it happen.
For all of the above, have time scheduled for these tasks before you start the sort & purge process so you don’t end up with these To Sell and/or To Donate items sitting in your precious space for weeks, or months, after you’ve successfully completed this part of your organization project.
It’s way to easy for them to find their way back into your space, or to “disappear” into the background, when this happens.
Most importantly, know what your time is worth before you commit the time to make sure it’s worth the money you can potentially make.
It may make more sense to donate craft supplies to a local Children’s Hospital (taking a tax write-off and enhancing the lives of the kids there) than to spend the time to run a garage sale if you only stand to make $50.
Now, let’s move on to sorting…
The Ins & Outs of Papercrafting Organization Sorting
As you sort through categories of items – and you have asked yourself the above questions and these items have made the cut – think about where and how you use them and where you’d look for them – “capture” the first thoughts that pop into your head rather than over-thinking it.
Let me give you an example…
We have stacked all of your patterned paper in piles outside your craft space.
The stacks include:
- 12×12 loose papers (collections), single sheets, specialty papers and paper pads
- 8 1/2 x 11 single sheet specialty papers and single sheets of regular patterned papers;
- 6×6 and 8×8 paper pads and loose sheets from those pads you’ve already used for projects.
If I asked you where/how you use these different papers, and then how you would reorganize them after purging the papers you don’t need, what’s your first response?
That gut response should lead you to the way you should sort and store your papers.
If you told me that you only use the 12×12 pages for scrapbooking, and you only use the 8 1/2×11 papers for your mixed media projects and the small paper pads for making cards, would those all be stored together, as paper?
Or, would they be stored with the other supplies for that type of project (scrapbooking, mixed media projects, cardmaking)?
Or, would they be sorted by color, by type, by size, by theme or by manufacturer, or a combination of some or all of the aforementioned?
Where would you go to look for any of these, not based on how they have been stored, but in terms of what makes sense for you, now?
This decision is up to you and, again, there is NO right or wrong way to do this – there is only the way that will work for you, right now.
I have stored my papers the same way since I started collecting them back in 2002.
But, many of my other supplies are on their second, third or fourth “system” since then.
My needs changed:
- my need for stationary vs. portable storage came into play
- my new craft spaces (as we moved) were of different sizes and configurations
- my style of crafting and what I create has changed
- my collections grew! (shocking, right? 😉)
Secret #5: NO organizing solution is ever perfect…forever.
There are two parts to that statement:
- NO organizing solution is perfect, and
- No organizing solution is perfect forever.
Now, I have solutions – like for my paper – that work really well for me. But, they’re not perfect…and that’s o.k.
And, as my creating has evolved, my tastes and locations and portability needs have changed, and my collections have grown, my solutions had to change.
Some changed rapidly, some more slowly, over time.
It’s normal for your organizing systems and processes to change over time.
Don’t get hung up on what you choose now being perfect…or forever.
Why do you think I love systems like those that Go-Organize.com offers?
They can be added to and reconfigured as your needs change – brilliant!
Next, I’ll be sharing ideas for storing specific items – starting with paper, embellishments and stamps, the three categories that got the most votes for “challenging” from all of you.
Now, because I know some of you prefer to just be told how to sort and store things rather than having to make those decisions yourself, I will also share my own storage solutions for each category of items in these next posts, starting this Sunday.
Tonight’s Papercrafting Organization Homework
What’s your homework tonight?
- Find one thing to let go of right now – yes, just one thing – and toss it, donate, sell it or give it away NOW!
- Create a list of the product categories you’ll be using in your sorting process – keep this on-hand as a guide
- Create a list of the types of crafts you like to create – we’ll be referring to this list as we start organizing specific supplies and tools
- Create a list of the types of crafts you would create if you had more time and space
- Purge & Sort!
The only things I need to see in the comments for today’s post are questions you might have and a smiley face that lets me know you’re on-board and enjoying this series.
If you’re not enjoying this series, let me know that too (and be sure to tell me what would make it more enjoyable and valuable for you).
I look forward to hearing how you all do with the sorting and purging.
Know that I am happy to help you along if you need assistance.
Just post your struggles in the comments section and I’ll respond back there.
If I find that a particular struggle is common among many of you, I may provide additional guidance in the next blog post.
Please remember these two things:
1. It always looks worse before it looks better (or great!)
2. It’s important to have fun!
You can do this!
YOU Could WIN!
We are so very lucky to have a wonderful sponsor
for our papercrafting organization series –
a series all about getting our
craft rooms, creative spaces, craft business offices,
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and more time and mojo for creating (and fun!).
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Can you believe it?
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So, how do YOU WIN Go-Organize.com‘s products?
Go-Organize.com is giving
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I bet I have your attention now, right?!
You will have to actively participate in this
papercrafting organization series,
sharing your organizing challenges,
providing feedback on ideas and tips we share,
and showing Go-Organize some love (well, LIKEs).
No, it’s not hard!
Best of all? YOU benefit!
since you MUST participate on all six (6) Get Organized posts,
by leaving comments and/or answering the questions we ask,
in order to be eligible to win one of the THREE $100 shopping credits,
be sure to check out the last five organizing posts we published
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Worried you’ll forget to check for your assignments
and miss out on your chance to WIN?
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you’ll be reminded each time an organizing series post goes live
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