Hi everyone, Michele here today. Continuing with our studio organization series, Pat is sharing some of her tips for dealing with books, magazines and patterns while I’ll be sharing some digital storage options that I use every single day to help keep me organized. I have give-aways too, to help you get started organizing your digital quilting stuff.
Reminder: We want to see your stash! Link up your blog post containing a couple photos of your gorgeous stash on this week’s earlier post: Fabric Storage Tips and Share your stash to Win!. We’re giving away two sets of “Mini Bolts” from Polar Notions.
Books, Magazines and Patterns
From Pat Sloan…
Another area many of us deal with is books, magazines, and single patterns. We have them, we love them, but they take up space! Here are my top tips:
- Magazines – These are the easiest for me. I tear out what I want to keep and put them in folders or binders. That is the only way I can handle it as I get so many magazines!
- Patterns – Here is another area to review (as we’ve said so often!). Keep what you love, move the rest out so you have space for new! Review often… or if you are really loaded down… bring one in… take one out.
- Books – This is the million dollar question. I can’t bring myself to rip pages out of books to save, but truth be told I’ve done it a time or two (shhhh.. our secret). Mostly I keep my favorites and move out others. As hard as that is, I have a small home and just can’t keep everything. Guilds, new quilters, selling them.. all are great options!
Digital Storage Ideas
Simply put, Evernote allows me to keep track of everything and anything in one safe place. One of the main principles of productivity guru David Allen’s Getting Things Done, is that our minds are so full of all the things we need to remember, there’s little room for anything else. This stifles our creativity and makes us far less productive. We need a safe, reliable, easy-to-use system to record information, get it out of our heads, and retrieve it quickly when needed. Evernote is that place for me.
Evernote allows you to capture and save anything from anywhere. This could be personal notes you type, or web pages that you’ve copied and clipped, photos that you’ve taken or emails that you’ve sent to Evernote. It’s really very simple. You can access the information in your Evernote account using your desktop computer, your smart phone or from the Evernote web site. There’s a library of useful videos, tips and ideas on using Evernote.
So, how do I use it? Well, it’s a huge part of what helps me keep the Quilting Gallery running smoothly. I have folders for guest bloggers, weekly features, reminders for advertisers, requests for information, contract information, and the never-ending list of updates and tasks to be completed. I also use it for more personal stuff like my fabric dyeing experiments, saving quilt-along blog posts, research for a book I want to write and quilts I want to make. I even have a folders for inspiration that I look through when I need a motivational boost.
You know all those fabulously free tutorials and patterns that can be found in the quilting blogosphere, I save the ones that interest me to Evernote. I’ll never lose them and I can search for them quickly. Here’s a screen shot of what’s in my Appliqué folder:
One of the most powerful aspects of Evernote is its fantastic search capabilities. It’ll even search PDF documents and images. I use it all the time, but I still like to add my own organizational twist. Here are my various notebooks to give you an idea:
I tried other systems, and even developed a database of my own, but for some reason, nothing else ever worked for me as well as Evernote has. It’s such an important part of my workflow that I even wrote an article about it in 2010 for The Quilt Life magazine. You can read it here: No more sticky notes: How Evernote organized my quilting life [PDF file].
My best tip: It can be overwhelming to start using Evernote, at least it was for me. My suggestion, start small, use it to organize something in your life that you need help with (patterns, recipes, etc.). Once you become familiar with the program, keep using it. It took me a good six weeks before I found my own system for using it and now it’s just second nature. See a pattern or tutorial I like.. clip it to Evernote. Receive an email that I need to keep track of… send it to Evernote. Have a great idea in the shower, write it in Evernote so I can action it when I have time.
Evernote is free and they also have a premium version with more space and functionality. I have coupon codes for upgrading to the premium version to give away, see below for how to enter.
Not a week goes by, when I don’t hear at least one of my quilting friends complaining that their hard drive failed, or some other calamity, and they’ve lost all their photos, patterns, designs, etc. Literally, years worth of their quilting life, family photos, etc. gone. It doesn’t have to be this way. Seriously! There are inexpensive solutions available to protect you from losing all your valuable stuff.
My solution is Dropbox. Copied from their web site:
Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. This means that any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, phones and even the Dropbox web site. Dropbox also makes it super easy to share with others, whether you’re a student or professional, parent or grandparent. Even if you accidentally spill a latte on your laptop, have no fear! You can relax knowing that Dropbox always has you covered, and none of your stuff will ever be lost.
In simple terms, you install the free Dropbox software on your computer. It creates a new folder on your machine (within My Documents on Windows) and then everything you put into the Dropbox folder is backed up and available on any other device you install Dropbox onto (such as your laptop or work computer), your smart phone and the Dropbox web site. It’s that easy!
You can also use it to share folders with other friends, family and colleagues, or even share files in the public folder.
For me, not only do I have the peace of mind that my files are safe should something catastrophic happen, the same files I have on my main computer are automatically updated on my laptop and the Dropbox web site. I can be anywhere with Internet access and get at any file I need simply by logging into the Dropbox web site.
Additionally, Dropbox keeps track of previous versions of my files. The other night, I lost two weeks of work due to accidentally overwriting a critical file on the web server. I panicked, until I went to Dropbox and retrieved a previous version of the file from 3 months ago. Whew!
Dropbox is free for a basic account which includes 2 gigs of space or you can purchase additional space at a reasonable cost. I also have coupon codes to give away for adding 10 gigs to your account.
We live in the digital age and there are solutions that can help you stay organized and protect your files too. I hope you’ll give the above two products a chance. This isn’t a sales pitch, I really do use these programs every day. Both companies have sent me coupon codes to give-away to my readers. I have four Evernote premium coupons and six 10-gig upgrade codes for Dropbox.
To enter the give-away, leave a comment below sharing how you currently organize your quilting magazines, books and patterns. Are you a magazine hoarder and have issues dating back to the 1990s? If you had to guess, how many single paper patterns do you own? Do you think you’ll ever make them all? Fess up, let’s hear what’s in your sewing room and how you organize it.
Winners will be randomly selected March 1st. If you have a preference for either Evernote or Dropbox, please include in the comments too.
Next Week: Share your Studio Organization Progress Photos
Next Tuesday is our last Studio Organization post and we’d love to see your progress! So get those photos snapped and onto your blog for the Tuesday “After” or “In progress” Link party! We have lots of great prizes to give away too. I shared a few photos of my cleaned up space here.
March: Quilt Basics
Next month in the Learning Center is devoted to Quilt Basics! We’ll be discussing quilt terminology & anatomy, fabric types & styles, quilting history and quilting for charity, just to name a few of the topics.