Finding Time to Scrapbook

Please Log In or Sign Up to add to your favorite resources.

Saving Time
By Leslie Woolf

Long ago, I remember my mother reading a book called Sewing With Nancy . It was a book about organizing your life in a way that would allow you to collect precious moments of time that other people wasted. One of Nancy?s main points was to leave your sewing machine out and accessible all the time--allowing you to use the little bits of time that you do have. She also suggested that you should not be discouraged by unfinished projects because creative people always have them.


As scrapbookers, we can adapt Nancy's ideas to help us keep current on our albums, even with children around as "helpers." Here's how:

  1. Establish scrapbooking as a priority.

  2. Find or create convenient places to store your supplies and work on your scrapbooks.

  3. Use time-management skills.

I?m not suggesting that you have to give up reading to your children, build on a room for your ultimate scrapsite or become Steven Covey himself, but focusing on those three elements works wonders.

Establish scrapbooking as a priority.

Do you scrapbook just to document your life and to save your photos from the destructive effects of heat and acid, or do you create layouts as a type of therapy or hobby? If you?re into this as a serious hobby (or profession), then it's important to prioritize, organize and use time wisely.

Think of your time spent scrapbooking as an investment in not only the past, but the future as well. Additionally, recognize that the creativity you express in your layouts helps you to grow as a person and enables you to learn more about yourself as you go. As these realizations sink in, you will be able to devote time to scrapbooking without feeling guilty about neglecting other things. And as Nancy suggests, a few simple concepts can make a big difference in how effectively we fill all of the other important roles in our lives.

Find or create convenient places to store your supplies and work on your scrapbooks .

It is very important to have an accessible space in your home -- however small -- for storing your scrapbook supplies. You should also create a space to work when you?re ready.

When I began scrapbooking, all my supplies fit in a portable file box. As my collection and interest in the hobby grew, so did the number of storage products. I moved up to a Cropper Hopper LX and some plastic lidded tubs. Next was an Iris cart, and I eventually graduated to a fully outfitted scrapbooking armoire. Even that became too small, and now I claim a desk and several shelves in a wide closet in our office. It?s not pretty, or expensive, but it is functional.

If your supplies are stuffed in one little box or spread out in various closets, even the thought of sitting down to scrap may be overwhelming. If, however, they?re all together, and each supply has it?s own space, you can immediately settle into creating layouts.

TIP: Make sure you have enough surface area to spread your papers and tools when you work. It's frustrating if you can't see how all your design elements tie together. I like to have enough space for about three pages to lie flat on my work surface.

A friend of mine likes to scrap on one of her kitchen counters. She makes sure the surface is kept clean and keeps spillables away from that area, then scraps while she cooks. Best of all, her small children can?t reach the counter, and she is still close to where they play in the family room.

Another friend scrapbooks in her den, but puts layouts-in-progress in a page protector on the refrigerator door so she can see them during the day. She thinks about creative ways to do the layout while working around the house, so when she has a moment her time is spent producing.

Some people accomplish more by scrapping where the family congregates. For example, claiming a corner of the family room with an Iris cart and a card table allows you to scrap while your children or husband work on a project or watch a video. Using the dining table works well for some. (Using the dining table didn't, however, work well for me. I found myself resenting mealtime since I had to clean up my project!)

I tend to accomplish more in the office. It is centrally located in our home, and my children are welcome to join me there. But I?m able to leave my project spread out, if I need to stop quickly, and lock the door so it won't be disturbed.

Another friend set up a space in the basement family room. She uses a baby monitor to connect with her napping children two floors above.

The goal is to claim a space of your own where you can quickly and easily access your things and start working.

Use time-management skills.

First let?s consider some not-so-obvious times to scrapbook:

    • You can browse an idea book in the five minutes you wait to pick up the children from school.


    • While in line at the grocery store, notice the layouts of ads in magazines and how you might incorporate the basic design concepts into your layouts.


  • As you help children with homework, practice your lettering on scrap paper.

  • Take your scrapbook magazines and some Post-it Notes with you on long road trips. When it?s your turn in the passenger seat, browse through the magazines and flag pages with ideas you?d like to use or articles you want to reference.

  • Keep an ear out for interesting phrases for titles or poems or sayings to include as embellishments on your pages.

Scrapbooking can easily be integrated into nearly every facet of your life.

Now for the nitty gritty -- how to scrapbook at home, especially with little children around. One indispensable tool is a craft box just for the children. I use plastic pencil boxes and an Iris cart for my children?s craft supplies. They?re stocked with lots of construction paper, plain white copy paper, washable Crayola markers, crayons, kid-size scissors, some of my less-used decorative edgers and several glue sticks.

When I am scrapping a project and they want to be actively involved, I help them get supplies and have them sit beside me. When their fingers stray to my supplies, I remind them that those are for Mom and direct them to their own supplies and tools. When they were smaller, I kept a kid-sized Little Tykes table and chairs next to my scraping area. Now that they?re a little older, they usually don?t mind working at the kitchen table while I?m in the other room at my desk. As my style changes and I find that I have some leftover materials ? like stickers or die cuts ? which I probably won?t use, I pass those along to my kids?they consider them real treasures!

If you look, you can often find 10-, 20-, and 30-minute segments throughout the day to scrapbook. As the little ones get interested in a show on PBS, run to your scrapping area and match your Patterned Paper to your photos. Or turn on your computer and come to to see inspiring pages, check the bulletin boards or order some supplies from the Neighborhood store.

Later, while dinner is defrosting in the microwave, use those five minutes to mount your photos and trim your mats. If you have 20 minutes when all your children are gone or asleep at the same time, do your lettering for a title or print out a poem from the computer to use on your page.

When you anticipate you'll have 30 minutes to work, get out the idea books and magazines you have marked with Post-Its and find a great layout to "scraplift" for your current project, or come to and browse the Page-of-the-Day Gallery by category, technique or style to supercharge your inspiration.

Just remember than even 5-10 minutes is long enough to make some progress on your albums. By using small time segments instead of waiting for a block of an hour or two, you will make progress, avoid frustration and keep the creative juices flowing.

If you do have large blocks of time during the week when your little helpers are otherwise occupied, you can do things that take more time and concentration, like sorting photos or organizing paper and cardstock.

Time and priorities are difficult challenges for all of us. But by using our creativity to organize ourselves, we have the opportunity to do what we love and take care of our duties. But like most things in life, preparation and organization make the experience more rewarding, productive and enjoyable. And remember, unfinished projects are a sign, according to Nancy, that you are in category with a lot of great people.

Leslie Woolf is one of the Featured Artists here at, and because she is so well-organized, she even finds time to serve as ConstableOne on the Bulletin Boards. Ed.

You may also find interesting Jill Davis's article, "The Ultimate Secret Weapon in the Fight for Scrapbooking Time," here in the Tips and Articles section of the Neighborhood.

Don't forget how convenient it is to order supplies on line in the Neighborhood Store and have them delivered to your doorstep.

Shop the Superstore


Please log in to view and submit comments.