I've updated this post with better screen shots and more information. Be sure to read the new entry that I blogged on August 20, 2009 titled "Organizing Digital Scrapbook Supplies".
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 system on my computer for this. 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.
On my desktop I created a folder called "digi scrap". I like it right on my desktop so I can get to it easily. This is what it looks like inside my digi scrap folder:
you can click on the image to make it bigger. Here's a list of all the subfolders - 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. Birthday didn't fit in so I put a 0 in front of that.
2 Valentines and Hearts
3 St. Pats
4 Easter (even though sometimes Easter is in the 3rd month)
7 Independence Day (I didn't really have anything for holidays in month 5 or 6)
8 Back to School
Does that make sense so far? It's pretty straightforward - this is the holiday 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".
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 clusters and beauty marks
13 misc. elements (the ones that just don't fit anywhere else)
13 numbers and dates
13 overlays and masks
13 ribbons trims and bows
13 shapes and borders
13 staples and fasteners
13 tags and journaling tools
13 word art and quotes
Next up are papers and kits. Let me emphasize here that I always keep a kit together when I first buy it and file it under "full kits". Kits are designed to have the pieces go together. If I can file a kit under a holiday I will (see above) but if it doesn't go anywhere else I put it in my full kits file. 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 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 full kits
14 paper misc. (for papers that don't fit anywhere else)
14 paper prints and packs
14 paper solids
14 paper tears and folds
The next category for me is templates, quick pages and pre-made album pages. Also greeting card templates. These are "projects" in my mind. I put a 15 in front of all of them.
15 albums and quick pages
15 greeting cards
Now we are getting into sort of the misc. area of my organization. I have a 16 in front of the next few folders which are for downloadable magazines and tutorials
16 magazines and tutorials (digi scrap related)
16 photography tutorials
The next folders contain items that I want to scrap. Not my photos though, I have those in a different place for a reason I will explain in a minute. I have clip art and graphics in a file (see Captain Jack in there?) I also have a ton of Disney related memorabilia that I have scanned (fine for personal use). There is also a file of journaling I want to do. These are blog entries that have been typed up, letters to family, and other documents that I have saved that I know I want to include on a page someday. My journaling greatly improved once I started filing these with all the other scrapbooking supplies.
17 Disney memorabilia
17 graphics to scrap
17 journaling files
File 18 is for my designing and the AMM file is for my Amazing Month of Memories Files so I always have plenty of ideas to inspire me.
I've spent a couple of years refining and redoing this filing system and I'm convinced that this is the most practical and easy to maintain system for me. When I unzip a new purchase I put it away in it's proper file. I don't break up kits until I have used them and I'm sure I want to separate the pieces. I tried it a different way for awhile and I really regretted it. If I buy something a la carte like a file of buttons, well than that goes in the button file.
Here's what my folder looks like for buttons and brads
The subfolders are all organized by designer because I like to keep that straight for my layout credits. I have thumbnail view selected in all my folders so I can see what is inside them. Notice I have a few extra buttons not in a folder? I like to do this because then they show up on my main folder view.
It was also very important to me to keep the number of files as limited as possible in this main folder of digi scrap. I wanted to be able to see everything I had without scrolling. If you have too many files you have to scroll down to see them. I do have to do this in my full kits folder but that is ok, it is still pretty quick to browse through them all.
Because I can see a few elements, papers or previews from each folder without opening them up, I can quickly determine which kit I want to use when I have a particular photo in mind. I almost always pick the photos first, the kit after. My Mom always asks me "how can you pick a kit when there are so many?" I just go with my first instinct and then if I don't like it there is always the undo button.
This system also helps me remember what I already have in my stash. When I first started creating folders I was surprised to find that I hardly had any Christmas kits. I used that as an excuse to do lots of downloading last December. LOL! I also realized that I have more frames than any human scrapper could ever use so I've been a little more choosy in that area. When sorting through my paper packs I found that I have a lot of the blue color family, but I use a lot of blue paper so that is ok. My organization helped me realize that I love blue backgrounds for a lot of different types of pages.
As far as photo organization goes, I put all my pictures into the general "My Pictures" folder on my hard drive. I try and keep current ones on my hard drive for scrapbooking purposes. Anything older than this calendar year is backed up on at least one DVD and also in my flickr account. At least the photos I have organized so far. I still have decades of photos that are either in print format only or have not been sorted and backed up. One of my biggest goals for this year is to organize and back up as many of my past photos as possible. I only have really good complete backups of 2005-current time.
I do have more to say about photo organization, but it will have to be in another post as this one is already getting unwieldy!
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!
So get your hard drive in order - it's way more fun than doing dishes!