The Family Archivist

I feel like I’ve spent so much of my life trying to either organize or catalog things. Really, I don’t think it became a real obsession for me until high school. I worked in the school’s library for two semesters. I filed cards into their proper place in the card catalog. I filed away magazines into the archives. I shelved books. During school breaks, I catalogued my parents’ movie collection, filling in gaps in the Rolodex where Mom kept an alphabetized record of the movies. I added the movie’s location in the collection and a description roughly cut out of the newspaper. I even went  so far as to keep detailed, organized notes on all of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. It was fun for me.

At least, I assume it was fun for me, as I constantly reorganized my tiny movies and music collections throughout both my undergraduate work and my graduate work (which was ironically done in a museum, where I did classwork on developing databases and managing collections) for no reason other than I didn’t like the current organization scheme.

Over the weekend, I wrapped up several small projects that I’ve been working on for several months now. I finally finished adding all of the metadata and tags to my goodreads collection. I finished tagging my personal journal. I finished tagging my bookmarks, removing just over a third of them in the process. I finished tagging my Flickr account. Most inportantly, I actually tagged my Springpad account.

Can you tell I, the woman who’s grown up organizing and cataloging, got tired of not being able to find what I needed when I needed? It’s all in much better shape now, and I think I’m now ready to move on to projects that will rely on these newly-organized tools. Or maybe I just suffer from a pretty severe case of OC.

Except I don’t. Sort of. Today at work, I was asked if I thought the boxes we store archived files in needed to be alphabetized to make life easier. These are tiny boxes. We rarely need to fish out files from these boxes. If the folders were staggered to begin with, then it’s incredibly quick and easy to find the file we need. (I know. I’ve been through some of those boxes more times than I can count.) I told her it would just create busy work that none of us has time for.

Yes, I encouraged a lack of complete organization. Maybe there’s hope for me yet!

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Organizing by Evernote

I have been a huge fan of EverNote. I have no memory of how I learned of this delightful product, but it is my favorite organizing tool. I love the way you can store all manner of information in there, rearrange and group it to your heart’s content, and retrieve information you may have accidentally removed from a note!

It’s perfect for me!

Admittedly, a couple of months ago, I went insane. I had the opportunity to explore Writer’s Cafe, so I turned away from the writing section of my EverNote. Writer’s Cafe is interesting once you figure out what you can and can’t do with it, but everything I do with it can be done better and more easily with EverNote and a blog or online journal.

For me, I like to keep all of my notes on a writing project in one place where I can easily flip through them. Writer’s Cafe never quite met that promise for me. EverNote, on the other hand, has always been invaluable that way (plus that whole archiving of old note versions is great for retrieving information you initially discarded, but now need).

I’m going to keep exploring Writer’s Cafe to see if I can actually get it to work in the fashion my brain does, but I’m making notes at EverNote, too, just so I can organize my projects!

Portable Crafts

Over the weekend, I read something about knitting being the ideal craft because it’s so portable. You just throw it in your bag and go! It really made it sound like all of the other crafts out there tie you down. Yes, there are some who would probably love knitting, both for the portablility and the craft itself. However, portability should not be the sole reason for picking up knitting.

I found, as I thought about that little bit of reading, that the vast majority of my crafts are portable. In middle school, I carried around a bright yellow, zippered pouch that held all of my friendship pin materials. It was even decorated for friendship pins and had this great reference card on color symbolism so you wouldn’t accidentally give your best friend the dreaded orange bead that marked your enemies. In middle school, this same bag became the carry-all for my friendship bracelet supplies. Oddly enough, many of the color sybolisms for friendship pins carried through to friendship bracelets, which made life very interesting when people asked for a bracelet in our school colors, which included that evil orange.

When I took up plastic canvas and needlepoint in high school, I inherited a craft bag from my mother to carry everything around in. It wasn’t cumbersome, just tacky. I replaced this bag in college with this wonderful zippered notebook with handles that was designed with crafters in mind. Both went easily into backpacks and suitcases.

When I started beading in graduate school, I had an old caboodle from middle school that I threw everything into. In time, I also put supplies for other crafts in there. The caboodle was great because I could just throw it in my backpack and not worry about anything in it getting hurt. I have outgrown that caboodle just in time to inherit one the size of a tackle box from a cousin. I carry supplies for no fewer than six crafts in it, and I love it.

When I decided to teach myself how to make chains and other jewelry, I started with an old plastic box I had once used to sort my floss for friendship bracelets. Again, it had that great benefit of being able to be thrown in a backpack or a suitcase without a second thought. In time, I moved to a cosmetic bag that was large enough to hold my pliers and small bags of jump rings or beads. Right now, the bulk of my jewelry-making supplies live in the bottom of the new caboodle, while the components I’m currently working with or thinking about working with are in a very nice little purple bag that was designed for artists. It has a number of small tackle boxes that stack and keeps everything organized and easily accessible. There’s even room at the top of the bag for me to store my wig jig!

Most craft stores either have a specific area devoted to portable storage solutions for crafters, or have craft-specific solutions in the same area as the craft. This is a nod to the fact that many crafts are easily portable, and many crafters are on-the-go people. Storage solutions have become so universal that a pouch designed with one craft in mind can easily be adapted to another craft’s needs.

Now, if only I could design the perfect portable pad to go in my little purple bag.