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February 09, 2010

The Parallels between Why People Don’t Scrapbook & Why People Don’t Get Organized

Last week I discovered Paperclipping Roundtable, a weekly podcast that offers a fun, light-hearted group discussion about scrapbooking. Each week’s show features a different discussion topic and different panelists. The theme of last week’s roundtable was Why People Don't Scrapbook and the panelists were Noell Hyman, Nancy Nally, Lain Ehmann and Izzy Hyman.

If you’re a scrapbooker or a used-to-be-scrapbooker (who isn’t doing it much any more) or someone who is stuck when it comes to getting started getting organized, I encourage you to have a listen. It is a very interesting discussion, not only because it involves scrapbooking, but also because there are so many parallels between why people don’t scrapbook and why people don’t get started getting organized.

Parallel #1:  People don’t scrapbook because they are overwhelmed. This is what I hear most when people call me inquiring about my organizing services. People have a difficult time getting started with getting organized because they are completely overwhelmed by their clutter and they simply don’t know where or how to begin.

In the case of scrapbooking, the scrapbooker becomes overwhelmed by all the choices she (or he) faces when it comes time to scrapbook. Which products should I use, which photos should I use, and then how do I put all these elements together into a layout? Since I started scrapbooking, one thing is for sure—the options have absolutely multiplied! There are more products on the market than before, and for all the problems digital photography solves it has created a new one:  more photos and consequently more choices about which photos to use!

Parallel #2:  Perfectionism prevents people from scrapbooking just as it keeps people from starting and finishing organizing projects. Oh my goodness, how did we all become such perfectionists? I know that I was raised by a very well-intentioned perfectionist and this has definitely had its consequences in my life—some good and some not too good. But I find it so ironic that our desire to do something perfectly often prevents us from doing it at all.

Parallel #3: Time constraints get in the way of scrapbooking and getting organized.

It’s interesting how these three reasons for not scrapbooking (or for not getting organized) work together to work against you! If you’re a perfectionist, for example, it’s even harder to make choices, making you even more overwhelmed. Then, since you’re worried about making the perfect choice, you second guess your decisions, which means decision-making takes even more time (something you’re already short on.) When you’re overwhelmed, it feels like getting organized or scrapbooking will take forever…and if you’re striving for perfection, chances are you’re right! See how these obstacles create a snowball effect?

Last week’s Paperclipping Roundtable offers terrific ideas to help scrapbookers get past these obstacles. Below are some quick ideas for getting past these obstacles when it comes to getting organized.

Overwhelm: The best remedy I know to organizing-overwhelm is to simply get started taking action. It really doesn’t matter which room you begin in; what does matter is that you simply get started clearing out some clutter, creating space, and creating momentum. When you’re taking action and moving forward, you won’t feel overwhelmed any more—you’ll feel energized and empowered. So pick a room, set your timer for fifteen minutes, remove some clutter, and see for yourself. (By the way, Help—I Don’t Know Where to Begin covers this process in detail. Plus, you get started getting organized with the support of a friendly and encouraging online community—which also really helps in the motivation department.)  

Perfectionism: When it comes to getting organized, focus on progress instead of perfection! There really isn’t a perfect, one-size-fits-all organizing solution. So you can stop your search for the perfect solution right now. (How freeing is that?) Instead of trying to find the perfect organizing solution, look for a solution that is better than what you’re doing now. Focus on incremental improvements—gradually making things better and more organized, instead of going for the perfect organizing solution all at once. This approach is easier and takes away a whole lot of pressure. Additionally, when you’re making progress—even if you haven’t found the perfect solution—things are getting better. You’ll find yourself living with less clutter and living with more order and peace.

Time constraints: To combat this obstacle, enact a policy of use what you have organizing. If you have five spare minutes a day, use those five minutes to clear out some clutter! Or set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier, and start your day with a quick and speedy dose of decluttering. How about spending the first fifteen minutes after you get home from work decluttering, instead of catching the news or having a quick snack? Look for the little, available pockets of time, and focus on using them to make progress. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish with just fifteen minutes of decluttering!

So what do you think? Do these obstacles apply to you either in scrapbooking or organizing—or both? What strategies have you developed to overcome these obstacles? I look forward to hearing from you!


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I think the parallel is perfect....all of the above have plaqued me at some time or another. I'm not currently having any issues, except that the rest of life has worn me out! I've been sorting pics on my external though, while working on the computer! Forward motion is a wonderful thing!


This is totally me. What a great example!!! I love scrapbooking, but it takes me forever so I don't do it because of being a perfectionist. The same with having everything perfect. I can live in a perfect environment or an awful cluttered environment, but not in between. Great post!

Loretta Artful Yogi

Great article. i love to scrapbook. Am amazed at how many people find this abiltiy as incredible as being organized. Read a good book about the corelation between being organized and eating well. The book was written by a TV home organizer--such as Clean Sweep. I don't recall his name.

Jan C.

I think you may be onto something here. As you know, I just recently completed your paper clutter class, and the reason I took it (after an entire life of being organized), was that I was becoming overwhelmed by quantity and choices, and was feeling like I couldn't make the "right" choices about filing and organizing.

I am the same way with my scrapbooking. I hardly do it anymore. Why? I have thousands of paper supplies and digi kits, so the choices are almost too daunting. Plus, I have almost 25 years worth of photos of my 5 kids to organize and scrap. Again, there are so many choices of what to scrap and how to organize the layouts, whether to make duplicates for different kids' albums, etc. Overwhelming doesn't even hit the tip of the iceberg in describing how I feel about the whole project. At the same time, there is always a ton of guilt to go along with the idea that you want to scrap or get organized, and if you aren't doing it, you are letting someone down.

If there were a "Clean House" for scrappers, I'd be a candidate for the show!


Great post Aby. This is me. I feel so OVERWHELMED when I think of my scrap projects as well as my home & work projects.
I have so many choices (products) for layouts, tons & tons of ideas and templetes and then I take a few hours just to decide paper and find/choose my examples. Usually for me a 2 page could take up to 25 hours to complete, now thats a perfectionist. I have taken somewhat to digital layouts which I can do really fast, however I don't really like the flat feel.
I am going to convince my brain that the layout does not have to be PERFECT. I am going to set my TIMER and try to complete a preset goal for the short session. Thanks for the suggestions.


These are the things that hold us back in any endeavor, not just scrapbooking or organizing. They're things that hold me back in journaling, in sewing, gardening, home decorating, cooking, anything!

The fear thing: "I don't know how to do this" is part of perfectionism, and part of overwhelm.

The 15 min. approach works for me, or to at least move a project forward. I'd been putting off the phone call to start working with a lawyer on a will/trust. I usually thought about it late in the evening, after the office was closed. Just putting the phone number and my calendar open on the kitchen counter made it easier to make the phone call early the next day.


Good post Aby! I personally don't scrapbook and it is probably due to some of these very reasons. I'm also organizationlly challenged and overwhelmed would probably be the category I fit in best. But, the good news is, I'm a work in progress and the progress is forward moving even if it is at a slow pace.
I believe the book Loretta referenced is by Peter Walsh, "Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?"


I have our daughter's graduation party coming up in May. Have I scrap booked anything? Barely. I have started so many times before, so I need to finish not get started. Everything is sorted and in page protectors, no layouts titles or glue. I suffer from overwhelm, and perfectionism. I fear how I put it together there will be a better look for the book as a whole some day. I am trapped in that mind set.
This afternoon I will begin the task of picking a page gluing it down and moving on!
Wish me luck!


Wow, I think you hit a note...and so right!! I do scrapbook and love it but do find myself hesitant to get to things if other things are cluttered or it's not going to be just perfect...good things to think about.


Time constraints... yes. I'm a full-time student. But I AM organized; when it comes to scrapbooking, I don't get to it hardly because through organization, I also prioritize. Great article though!!! SO TRUE!

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