Organization, Tips and Tricks

A Big Goal Achieved!

Recently I achieved a goal I’ve had for a very long time, almost as long as I’ve been crafting: I used EVERY SINGLE stamp, die, embossing folder, and stencil in my craft room! No unopened packages or unused items in sight!

Fellow crafters can probably relate: sometimes you buy something with plans to make a specific project, and then you don’t have time to make it or you lose interest, or a different project comes up that you want to make first. Maybe you get a group of things when a new release comes out, and before you can use them all another new release comes out that you get inspired by. And then over time you end up with a pile of things that you’ve never used, even though you wanted to, and it becomes hard to keep track of what you have, and you feel guilty for buying anything new when you still haven’t used the older items.

This is where I was in the summer of 2021. I had been trying to use old items but was also still buying new items, so it was like shoveling snow while it was still snowing. I finally made a plan that helped me get organized and use all my craft supplies, and these were the steps I followed:

STEP ONE: Create an organized database of all items

This was something I already had in place. In my early crafting days I tried Evernote, then at one point I tried Air Table, but the system that has worked the best for me over time has been good old Google Sheets. I already had a spreadsheet that listed every stamp, die, embossing folder, and stencil with a corresponding category, but in the fall of 2021 I added a new column called “Used Since Sept 2021.” I marked every single item in that column as “No” to begin with and highlighted that column yellow so that it would stand out.

STEP TWO: Track item usage

For about a year I continued to craft as normal, and every time I created something I would mark off which supplies I used on my spreadsheet. I would delete the yellow “No” from my newly added column and leave it blank (and white). That way, over time, I could just glance down that column and easily see all the things I still hadn’t used.

STEP THREE: Separate unused items from regular items

After about a year, when I had gone through all the holidays and birthdays at least once and had used all of my favorite and regularly-used items, I took all of the still-unused items and put them into their own box in my craft room. Any new items I purchased would also go straight into this box. I stood everything up vertically in the box and put them in alphabetical order so that I could easily find things I was looking for. I’m a very neat and organized person, so having a box just sitting around my craft room helped to motivate me to want to get rid of it quickly. (I might be in the minority here but my craft room is always very tidy and I love it that way!)

I also created a list on my phone of just the unused items in the box. I counted them up and put that number at the top of the list. This kept the unused items at the front of my mind. I could look at it and brainstorm ways to use the items, or search online for inspiration. And seeing the specific number of items was very motivating because it gave me something concrete to work at.

STEP FOUR: Use the unused items whenever possible

Whenever I went to make a card, I would look through my box of unused items first and try to use those supplies if possible. Every time I used something I was able to mark it off my spreadsheet, remove it from the box and place it with the rest of my supplies, and change the number on my phone list to be lower. It was very satisfying to finally use these supplies and know they weren’t just gathering dust, and to watch the number on my list go down.

STEP FIVE: Sell any still-unused items

After about six months of working at using everything in the box, I went through all of my still-unused craft supplies. I made some honest assessments and pulled out the things that I didn’t think I would ever actually use. In some ways it was easy to choose which things to pull out because by this point I knew which items I never seemed to feel motivated to use. I took these, along with some items from my regular stash, and sold them.

This can be a hard step! It stinks to think that you bought something and were wrong about how much you would use it or like it, especially if you never used it at all. But getting rid of it feels SO good! It was much better to accept the fact that I wouldn’t use it and to let it go, than to have it clutter up my space and keep me feeling bad about not reaching my goal.

STEP SIX: Success!

I kept working at the last few things that were left until finally, about a year and a half after I started the project, I had used every single supply in my craft room!

Here are a few of the pros and cons I found when completing this project this way:

  • CON: Having a box of unused supplies sitting in my craft room for so long. I didn’t like it, but as I said above, this actually motivated me to work faster so that I could get rid of the box sooner.
  • CON: Making bad cards. Sometimes I tried too hard to make myself use products from the unused box, and it resulted in cards that I didn’t actually like. It helped when I started pulling things out to sell if I wasn’t feeling inspired by them, instead of forcing myself to use them. Sometimes after I made these bad cards I would realize that I did want to sell a particular item, because I wasn’t feeling inspired by it even after using it.
  • PRO: More careful purchasing! I think part of this just comes with time and getting to know your own crafty style and learning what you like using. But working to get my list down to zero definitely made me pause before buying anything new, because I didn’t want to see the number of items jump back up. When a new release came out, I was very thoughtful about what I actually wanted and would use right away, and I would order only that small number of items.
  • PRO: More creativity! Creativity works well with constraints, so having too many items meant having too many options. I now have a smaller stash but it’s all items that I use and love. I know every craft item I have and I can use them each in different creative ways, rather than feeling guilty for having a bunch of things I never use.

I am so glad I was able to achieve this goal! It feels great to know that I’ll never again have a big pile of unused items because I’m now in the habit of carefully considering things, ordering sparingly, and selling when need be. My craft room is happy and organized, and so am I!

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