“Organize Wednesday” – Paper Storage Part 1 (12×12 Paper Pads)

In this “Organize Wednesday” series, I will be sharing the products and ways that I’ve found to organize my crafting supplies.  The focus of this blog series will be on the storage solutions and organization products that I’ve found work for me.  Everyone has different ways of working, so probably not everything that works for me will work for you, but I do hope that this information will help you to find what organization methods and products help you to organize your crafting supplies.

In this second blog post in the series, I wanted to talk about 12×12 Paper Storage and Organization but quickly found that there was just too much for one blog post. So, let’s just start by talking about 12×12 Paper Pads. I’ve never been happy with how difficult it is to find paper in my craft room. Paper can be very heavy and whether you store it horizontally or vertically, it can be challenging to try to sift through your paper to find for what you need for a project.

I have a serious addiction to paper and I’ve been collecting it for over 20 years. So organizing my paper sometimes seems like an impossible task. I love watching YouTube videos to see how other people store and organize their crafty stuff. And, when I’m having problems with something in my craft room, that’s the first place I go for help.

I’ve been watching Janet’s YouTube videos at RTS Scrapbooking since she started her channel last year. Janet created an awesome organization series last summer called “Summer Space Shape Up”. And, she has some really amazing organization videos. One of her videos was dedicated to how she organized her 12×12 Paper Pads. Here’s a link if you want to watch Janet’s video (Paper Pad Party // Organizing 12×12 Pads).

I also love watching Totally Tiffany’s YouTube video and I own a the Totally Tiffany Scrap Rack (which I love). I’ve learned so much from watching both RTS Scrapbooking and Totally Tiffany and if you don’t already watch their videos and you are interested in organization that you check them out on YouTube.

After watching Janet’s 12×12 Paper Pad Party Organization video (several times!!!), I realized that my storage ideas and organization weren’t bad but I was missing one very key thing that would really make finding things in my craft room so much easier. That key thing was using a Visual Reference System. I had actually heard the concept first when I watched a Totally Tiffany Embellishment Organization video (Embellishment Organization Challenge with Totally-Tiffany) but didn’t realize at the time that this was the one thing that I was missing from my organization that would take my craft room to the next level until I heard it again from Janet.

Now keep in mind that the Visual Reference System that works for Janet or the one that works for me, may not work for you. I think it’s important to take this idea of a Visual Reference System and find what works for you. I will try to break this into 3 steps to hopefully make it easier to try to explain.

I know this blog post is getting long, but just bear with me … (or, if you don’t like to read or I’m not making sense, I would highly encourage you to watch the two videos (linked above) that were my inspiration).

Step 1 – Create a Visual Reference and a Reference Guide

The first step in creating a Visual Reference System for your 12×12 Paper Pads is to create a visual representation of each paper pad and include it in a Reference Guide (or Inventory Catalog). Janet printed a picture of her paper pads on 4×6 photo paper (2 per photo) and then put them on binder rings. I thought that was an awesome idea but I thought it would be a little small for me, and I wanted to make mine larger. Here’s a picture of one of the pages in my Reference Guide.

I decided to use a 5″x5″ picture of each of my paper pads. Well, it’s actually 4 7/8″ x 4 7/8″, but let’s just call it 5″x5″. You can make your pictures any size that works for you. I thought this size would be large enough to easily see what’s on the paper pad and two fit on 8.5×11″ paper. Most of my pictures were not 5″x5″, so I just resized each picture in Microsoft Word before I printed them out.

You can snap a picture of each of your paper pads, but I found it easier to download pictures from manufacturer’s websites, shopping websites or google image searches. For the few that I couldn’t find an available image, I took pictures with my phone.

Once you have printed all your pictures, you will need something to bind your Reference Guide together. Janet used two binder rings. Instead of using binder rings, I decided to use some discs from an old happy planner just because I had them available and I thought it would make it easier to flip through.

Step 2 – Physical Storage

The second step to creating a Visual Reference System is to decide how you are going to physically store your paper pads. Janet stores her paper pads by category. So think about how you will store your papper pads.

My current storage consists of a group of Recollection cubes in my craft room. I also have some Christmas Paper Pads stored in my craft closet. I decided I only wanted two storage categories … Christmas and general storage. This way, if I get a new paper pad (which is almost definitely going to happen), I will not have to move a bunch of paper pads around to make room in a specific category to store the new one.

Deciding how you will physically store your paper pads is very important because it will determine how you create an identifier for each paper pad. For example, I will give each paper pad a number starting with 1. Then, my paper pads will be ordered by this number in my Recollection cubes. For my Christmas paper pads, I will number them with “C” for Christmas and a number starting with 1 (for example, C1, C2, C3, etc.).

Keep in mind that your physical storage is not your organization. It’s just the storage. Your organization is the Reference Guide and you will be able to organize it to your hearts content without having to move any of your paper pads. How cool is that!!! Here are the sections that I have in my Reference Guide.

Color (Brights, Pastels, Darks, Neutrals)
Theme (Celebrations, Retro, Travel, Vintage)
Season (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter)

You can even put a paper pad in more than one section in your Reference Guide. For example, you might have a paper pad that has bright colors and it also has Valentine’s themed paper. Print it twice and add one reference card to Brights and one reference card to Spring.

Or, include a blank page at the beginning of each section for notes and then write down paper pads with the section it’s filed under so that you can easily find it. For example, file a paper pad under Brights and in the Spring section add a note for that paper pad that it’s stored under Brights.

You will also want to add some dividers to your Reference Guide to make it easier to go to each section (category).

Step 3 – Connect your Reference Guide to your Physical Storage

The last step in this process is to write the identifier on both your reference card and your paper pad. I wrote the number on the back of each of the pictures (reference cards) in the Reference Guide. And, I added the number to the back of the reference page for each paper pad.

I also plan to use the back of each reference to make notes. For example, adding a note if I have the 6×6 or 8×8 paper pad also.

I have to confess that I haven’t quite got my Visual Reference System completed but I have a lot of paper pads. I started in June and I’e worked on this off and on over the past 6 weeks. I’m really close to being finished. I just have to finish Step 3 and then I think I’m going to be using my paper pads way more often once I am able to easily find what I’m looking for.

Whether you have just a few paper pads or a few hundred, I encourage you to give this organization system a try. For those with just a few paper pads, if you start now, the process will be so easy and you will never be overwhelmed with having to take 20, or 50, or 100 paper pads and try to organize them all at once.

Once your Visual Reference System is complete, you will be able to quickly find the paper I need. And, when you clean my craft room, you’ll know exactly where each paper pad needs to be put away. When you buy a new paper pad, you can easily give it the next number, add it to your storage, print out your picture (reference card), write the number on the back of the card, decide what section it should be organized in and add it to your Reference Guide.

I wish I could go back 25 years when I first started crafting, because I would love to have known that I would need something like this in my future. I’m almost finished tackling my paper pads, but I’ve got a heck of lot of things in my craft room that need some organization help. Hope this helps you to get your paper pads organized and come back next Wednesday for the next post in the series.

If you have questions or just want to share ideas on paper pad storage and organization on any of the information provided, please head over to the “Craft Room Organization with Yes Please Paper Crafts” Facebook Group . If you haven’t joined the group yet, please request to join.