Monday, July 18, 2011

Making It! - My White Notebooks

As you may have gathered, I spend a great deal of time online. While here, I gather things: mostly ideas. But also recipes, crochet patterns, craft instructions, etc. Because I split my time between my home computer and my work computer, I print a lot of stuff, too.

Of course, I hate to waste paper, so when I lose these things (I have probably printed my recipe for taco seasoning about 40 times) I get pretty upset. Rather than just allowing these pile up (which I did for years and years) losing most of them and never being able to find anything, I have created some notebooks.

I know this isn't rocket science, but honestly, it took me a long time to get it together and if I can spare anyone else my pain, I would love to share.

So, with no further ado:

Organizing Your Papers in Five Easy Steps

1. Figure out what you need and gather materials - I have a church notebook (as I am the secretary), a Montessori notebook (for my Board materials), a speech pathology notebook (for Brynna's speech evaluations, etc.), a crochet notebook and a recipe notebook. Today, I am adding a craft notebook. Previously, I've just stuck my craft ideas in the back of my crochet book, but that back pocket is getting bulgy. Plan what notebooks you need and then decide how fat they need to be. Then begin gathering materials. Each notebook will need: 1 notebook (duh), a handful of plastic page protectors and tab dividers. I use pre-printed 1-25 dividers. More on this later.

2. Label your notebooks - My notebooks all live together in a bookkeeper's basket on a bookshelf. Because all you can see is the spine, it's super-important that the spine is labeled. I also like to add a cover, but this is non-essential. There are a lot of ways to label your notebooks. Because mine are grouped together in one spot, I want my spines to look uniform. I print a spine and insert it into a clear overlay style binder. If you were feeling fancier than I, you could use scrapbooking letters or make little hanging labels. I considered the latter, because I think it would look cute, but I haul my binders to board meetings, evaluations, business meetings and just around in my crochet bag, so practical is at a premium for me. I have a little more fun with the covers, because you don't see them as much, I can make them look any way I want. Again, I just design something in Word and print it out for the cover area. You'd be amazed what cool images you can find in clipart.

3. Assemble - The insertion of the cover pieces is fairly obvious. I usually place my page protectors in the very back, because I don't use them much. For the most part, I hole punch everything, but occasionally, I'll have something printed too close to the edge, or on a partial sheet that could use the help. I like to have pages handy for this.

4. Build an Organizational Structure - Keep in mind that above all else, the notebook needs to work. It needs to organize your stray papers into a system that makes sense to you and make it so you can find things. This means that you have to think about how you work. For instance, with crochet patterns (or any kind of pattern), do you typically decide on a project based on who it's for? If so, then your sections should be something like: Baby Girls, Baby Boys, Girls, Boys, Women, and Men. or Do you choose a project based on what it is? If so, then your sections should be Hats, Scarves, Sweaters, Afghans, Dishcloths and Doilies. Honestly, the best advice I can give you about organization is this: forget about what other people do or what would be easiest for someone else. If your organization doesn't make sense to anyone else, but you can find what you need, then it works. As I mentioned before, I use pre-printed tab dividers (1-25). Then I make a Table of Contents with blanks for each section. This way, it's easy to add or change sections. This might not work for you. Whatever's clever.

5. Fill 'er Up - Start adding projects as you print them. One thing that I do is gather all my projects together in one document all week. Then, on Friday, I print out everything, hole punch it and add them to the appropriate notebooks. Then, when I'm working on a project in one of my books, I move a page protector there and I can add a scrap of the yarn, the wrapper with dye lot and the hook I'm using to the page protector. This keeps everything close. I make notes as I'm going along on the hole punched pages.

I know that this isn't the most exciting Making It! project, but good project organization is a pretty important piece of the crafting puzzle. It took me way too long to find this method of organization that truly works for me. I hope that it - or something similar works for you too.

How do you keep your projects organized? Notebooks, project bags or boxes? What else?


Suze said...

I have several binders full of knitting patterns. It's all fairly organized, but I really like your numbered tab system. I might have to try that. I have so many patterns it's still hard to keep track of everything.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you found something that works for you!! I remember you talking about looking for a good system a while back, so this is great. I use one notebook for recipes. That's all I have going on right now. :-)


Jessi said...

Suze - I started the numbered tab system just because I had some lying around, but I love how flexible it is!

Ann - It was a relief to start gathering this stuff up and make some sense of it. It's so much easier to find stuff now.