This is an updated version of my organization article originally posted on May 8, 2008. I still use the exact same system, just thought I would update the post with some better screen shots and a few more details to show you how I've refined my digi organization. I've been a digital scrapbooker since 2005 and I've tried several systems of organization until I settled on this one. It really works for me!
The question I get asked the very most is how do I organize my digital scrapbooking supplies and photos? I am somewhat of an organizing freak in real life (I love clean closets!) but there are times when I let things get sloppy in real life. What I love about digital scrapbooking is that I'm always organized! Even if you aren't into clean closets you will want to have a system to keep track of your photos and digi supplies.
Katie the Scrapbook Lady's Guide to Computer Organization:
What does it mean to be organized on your computer? It means that you need to know where to find things. Just like socks should go in a sock drawer, you should have files for photos and digital designs. Some people buy programs for this but I just prefer to use the basic folder system on my computer. All you need to know is how to create a new folder (just use the right click button on your mouse and choose “new folder”) and how to change the view in the folder (go to “view” at the top of the screen in the folder and pick either “thumbnails” or “filmstrip”) so you can easily view what is in your folder.
I created a folder just for my digiscrap supplies. I now keep this folder on my external hard drive because it is pretty big - I am a Scrapbook Lady you know! This is what it looks like inside my digi scrap folder:
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The Number System:
Here's a list of all the sub-folders - the numbers in front of them are to keep them in a certain order since windows likes to organize the folders in numerical and alphabetical order automatically. I wanted the first folders to be related to the months of the year (holidays) so I numbered them that way. I decided to put Birthdays at the beginning of the year.
2 Valentines and Hearts
3 St. Pats
4 Easter (even though sometimes Easter is in the 3rd month)
6 Summer and Beach (June is the first month of summer)
6 Travel and Camping (This just seemed to fit next to the summer and beach file)
7 Independence Day
8 School/Art/Music (August is back to school month around here)
Does that make sense so far? It's pretty straightforward - these are the folders for holiday or theme specific stuff. If I have a full kit that is a Back to School kit, it goes in the file marked "8 School". If I have a cute little heart doodle it goes in file "2 Valentines and Hearts". I like to select "Large Icon" view in my window so I can see the folders. I also select an image to represent the folder by going to the folder properties and changing the image if needed.
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Next I have files of individual elements. I put a 13 in front of all of these so they stay in alphabetical order based on subject; alphas, buttons, frames, etc. So continuing on with my list of files:
13 buttons and brads
13 misc. elements (the ones that just don't fit anywhere else)
13 overlays and masks
13 ribbons/trims and bows
13 shapes and borders
13 staples and fasteners
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Next up are papers and kits. Let me emphasize here that I always keep a kit together. I know some people like to separate out elements to use, but I just think it's more work than it's worth. If I find a staple in a kit that I REALLY love, then I might copy it and put it into my staples file. Most of the time I just leave things as they are. Having been a designer myself, I know how hard digital designers work to put together a kit. For me, that is the way I like to store them. Plus, if I separated everything out, I would have an ENORMOUS file of buttons to go through, every time I wanted to use one. Most of the time I just use what comes with the kit. Why reinvent the wheel if you don't have to?
I file the kit in the appropriate folder. If it's a Halloween kit, it goes in folder 10 Halloween. If the kit is more general in theme, it is filed in 14 Misc. Kits. Yes, that file is really big! But because I have "thumbnail view" selected for every folder in it, I can browse through my kits in a flash. I do keep sub-folders within that file that I will show you in a minute.
My paper and kit files all have a 14 in front of them to keep them nicely in place behind the element files.
14 misc. kits - (for all the kits that didn't fit into other categories and yes, it's a big file, but that's ok!)
14 paper prints and packs
14 paper solids
and here's a peek into my rather large misc. kits file:
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There are several ways you could organize this folder. I have folders sorted by designer. Each designer gets a folder if I have more than one of their kits, otherwise the single kit will go into the misc. sub-folder. I was surprised that some of my favorite designers didn't show up here, then I realized that I only bought embellishment packs or theme kits from them. This is an easy way to evaluate what kind of purchases you make.
I do have an Asian sub-folder because I'm collecting Asian style kits to use on pages for my husband's Japan layouts. Perhaps you might want to set up some folders for boy kits and/or girl kits? It can be difficult to categorize some kits. Most of the kits I buy have flowers in them - does that mean they should all be filed under flowers? You can definitely overthink this step. I suggest just finding a method that makes sense to you and won't take you to long to browse through. I used to keep this file full of individual kit folders and I did like that approach as it was easy to browse through them. It just got too unwieldy though so I needed to create a sub-folder system.
I strongly suggest that you keep kits together though. I read an article by a very popular digi scrapper who said she breaks up all her kits and puts the flowers in the flower file, the ribbons in the ribbon file, etc. I tried this and not only did it take me an eternity to do, but then it was nearly impossible to scrap. It took me months to undo this mistake!
The next category for me is templates. This is probably the area that took me the longest to organize but it is the one that has had the biggest payoff for me! If you read my Power Scrapping Secrets article at The Daily Digi you will see how having templates sorted by number of pictures they hold can save you oodles of time. I will give you a peek into my template folder so you can see what I'm talking about.
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I have filed all of my templates by the amount of photos they are designed for. I realize that some templates might fit in more than one file depending on how you use them but I just tried to stay basic with my filing system. I can't tell you how useful this system has been. Even if you think the rest of my digi organization is bunk, I bet you will find this part useful.
These folders are not pretty when organized this way, but they are very functional! When I go to create a page that needs to have 3 photos on it, I just open up that folder and start browsing. Even if I don't use a template, it at least gets my creativity working.
I don't use subfolders here and all I keep is the preview of the template and the actual template file right next to. Sometimes I have to rename them to get them to stay next to each other in the file. Every once in a while I have to make a jpeg image so I have a preview of the template so if you are a template designer - PLEASE include a preview of each template! My very favorite templates are in TIFF format because you only need that one file to serve as a preview and the actual template. This really isn't as complicated as it sounds - basically, I just like to see what each template looks like at one glance through the folder it relates to.
Now we are getting into sort of the misc. area of my organization.
16 albums, calendars, and quick pages
17 actions (even after you load them, it's helpful to have a place for the instructions)
18 CU (commercial use stuff from my designing days)
19 TDD - The Daily Digi (I keep all the past Digi Files in here rather than separate them out. This could also be filed under 14 Misc. Kits, but I like quick access to TDD stuff since I'm part f the team there.
I have a separate place on my External Hard Drive where I keep my photos, and another one for layouts (will show more on that in a future post)
Organization will pay off in many ways. If anything, it helps you avoid duplicate purchases. The best part for me is that it makes me a more efficient scrapbooker which means I get more done in the time I have and I enjoy it more! The only downside is that it is truly a boring task. I mean all you are doing is moving files around - so my solution is to take my laptop out to the couch for this one and watch tv with my family while I'm digi organizing. It's nice to have something else to think about while you are staring at the screen. And you don't have to feel guilty about watching tv because you are cleaning while you are doing it!
...this post was updated on 02/25/2010. I also wrote an article on digital scrapbook organization 3 ways for The Daily Digi where I compared my system with 2 other systems (Steph of the Daily Digi and Ali Edwards). Be sure to check it out!