Too much to do and not enough time leads to overwhelm. We’ve all felt it at one time or another. It leaves us in a state paralyzed by not knowing what to do next and so we do nothing. But is conquering overwhelm as simple as knocking a few things off of our to do list? In my experience, you need to dig a little deeper to get to the root of the overwhelm. Typically, overwhelm is caused by a series of small problems that accumulate. A lot of times, they center around organization or lack of it. Let’s tackle the small problems before they become big issues. 

Here is a list of the top 10 problems my customers have asked me about and some solutions for solving them and conquering the scrapbook overwhelm. 

Note – most of these tips work as long as you are using 3-ring binder or post-bound albums in which it is easy to move pages around in the album and add more. However, if you are using a Creative Memories style album in which you are scrapping directly on the pages, then you have to be more careful to put the layouts in the right order. Also, I strongly advise NOT putting photos back to back on the same sheet of paper. It may save paper, but it eliminates your ability to add or rearrange pages.

#1 – Where do I start? I haven’t scrapbooked in a long time? Look back at your photos and calendar over the past month or two and pick the photos or event that bring a smile to your face. I think it’s always best to start with something current because the event is fresh in you your mind, you’ve now scrapped it and have have a renewed sense of energy about scrapping. 

However, as a second step, you’ll want to make a list of the events you still want to scrap. To help, download the Crafting Calendar printable (Pattern 1E under E – Printables) from the Resource Library at MollyQcreates.com. This has a page for each month (2 for February – one with 28 days and one with 29). Then scroll through your photos and fill in the events you want to scrap. There’s a checkbox that you can check once the layout is complete. Note – the Resource Library is free to use and download, but is password protected. The password is at the bottom of each email. To sign up for the email list, scroll to the bottom of this post and sign up.

#2 – I’ve never scrapbooked before or haven’t scrapbooked for years, where do I start? In this case, a theme album would be a good place to start. A theme album could be centered around school, sports or dance, birthdays, professional photos, Christmas, vacations, etc. The idea of having one topic to scrapbook is less overwhelming than, for instance, if you have a 16-year-old, an album covering the past 16 years. Let’s say you have a daughter in dance, you now only have to gather dance photos and purchase dance-themed papers and cardstock to match the photos. Much less overwhelming than thinking about layouts for baby, birthdays, first days of school, dance, basketball, driving, friends, vacations, etc. You get the point.

You can start by streamlining it even more by saying only the professional photos. Once you feel accomplished with that, you could expand to include recitals, programs, dance teachers, dance friends and anything else dance-related.

To help you get started on your theme album, I created An Outline for Your Theme Album printable (Pattern 2E under E – Printables) from the Resource Library at MollyQCreates.com. It is free to download for your personal use.

#3 – I have too many photos for a  layout, what do I do? Crop and edit. If possible, crop the photos to remove any background excess. The smaller the photos, the more you can add to your layout. But do that sparingly. Too many photos distracts from the focus of the layout.

Next, select your favorite photos. If you still have too many, remove the ones that are the most similar – same pose, different angle, or one that is zoomed in closer than the other. 

If this still isn’t working, for instance, a family photo shoot, you can consider creating multiple layouts or using PhotoPlay’s waterfalls or Simple Storie’s Photo Flips for extra room for photos.

#4 – I struggle with matching patterned papers to photos. This is a common struggle. Switch to coordinated collection kits. These come in a variety of themes and all of the papers within the kits coordinate with each other. Most even come with a sticker sheet and some have matching solids. Simple Stories has the Color Vibes line or cardstock which coordinates with their collections to make it even easier to match. However, don’t get hung up on matching both the theme AND the colors in the photos to your patterned papers. Pick one or the other and make it easy on yourself by using coordinated collection kits.

#5 – I don’t have my own scrap space. So it’s a hassle to pull everything out and then put it back when I’m done. Therefore, I only scrap when I have large chunks of time. This is a challenge a lot of people face. To tackle it, create your own page packs and a basic supplies kit (scissors, trimmer, adhesives). Match your photos to papers and embellishments and store everything together in paper folders until you have time to scrap. When you have time, even a little time, you can grab the page pack you want to work on and your basic supplies kit and you’re set. Clean up is also easy.

Two products to use for this include Storage Studios Paper Files and Totally Tiffany’s 12×12 Fab Files.

#6 – I can’t come up with layout ideas or, my layouts all look the same. Start with sketches. Sketches provide the outline for the layout, but you can always modify the sketch to fit your photos.

However, you can also look at completed layouts and use that as the starting point for your layouts. Once you start looking, there is inspiration everywhere. One of my favorite places to look – Pinterest! But Facebook and Instagram are also good sources of inspiration.

#7 – I have too many pages and projects in progress to even know where to start. Yep, this is me! I would gain so much space in my scraproom if I could finish what I start. But that’s another story. We’re talking overwhelm and it’s overwhelming to look at a pile of projects in progress. But the true problem is that I don’t know why I stopped the project, what I still need to finish it, or what I was trying to do with it. Sound familiar?

Download this Layout Notes cards printable (Pattern 3E under E – Printables), found in the Resource Library at MollyQCreates.com. The printable is free to download, but the Resource Library is password protected. Print them off and keep them handy with your scrapbook supplies. Go through each of your in-progress layouts and make notes of what it should look like and what you need to finish it. That way, when you get a pocket of time, you can grab a project and finish it, or, at least get it closer to the finish line.

#8 – There are always too many distractions at home such as cleaning, laundry and kids. True. You cannot ignore your family to scrap, although it is tempting! But you also need time for yourself.  Set a goal of 3 things that need to be dealt with (a load of laundry, dishes and feeding the kids, for example) and then reward yourself with some scrap time. Or, find a time when there is little going on, such as Saturday mornings, or Tuesday nights, and make that your crafting time. 

Also, when you start implementing some of the other solutions discussed, you’ll realize that you don’t need hours of time to scrap. When you have some page packs created, you can grab one when you find a pocket of time, like once you get the kiddos to bed. When you’re scrolling online, follow a couple of your favorite scrapbook companies and creators and you’ll get ideas for your next layouts. Make sure to save them or create your own sketches for them. 

#9 – My scrap space is too much of a disaster to scrapbook in. This is not an easy one to solve because if this is the source of your overwhelm, I’m also guessing that once you take the time to clean it, it returns to the disaster zone fairly quickly. I hate to admit it, but yes, I’m in this boat! To get past this, focus on organizing, not just cleaning and think in terms of a funnel. What?

When you pour water in a funnel, it starts by making a large circle and each circle gets smaller and smaller until it falls out of the funnel. Basically, cleaning is not a once and done thing. But with each round of cleaning, you’re getting more focused and organized until you reach a point where you are maintaining it (the water falls out of the funnel). While this may seem depressing, it’s actually refreshing. This takes the pressure off of being perfect, finding the perfect organization system and finding the perfect home for all of your supplies. Since you know there is another round of cleaning, better than before is good enough! 

To get started, set a timer for 15 minutes and start with the easy clean – pick up scraps and trash and put items that have a home back in their home. After 15 minutes, it’s probably not going to be clean, but it should be better than when you started and that’s motivating to either start creating or do more cleaning. Either is a win! Keep repeating, 15 minutes a night. Once you move past the easy stuff, you can start asking what is the biggest problem areas? What areas can’t I keep organized? What areas do I have the hardest time putting stuff back?

If you don’t have 15 minutes, set the timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Just keep going, each night, get a little more done. As you are doing that, you are making the cleaning up a habit. 

#10 – I want to scrap, but I don’t feel motivated, just overwhelmed. To conquer this, you need a quick win. Start with something small. Grab a layout in progress and finish it. Match photos to papers. Go through your calendar and make a list of the dates and events you want to scrap. It could even be cleaning your scrap space or organizing your stamps and dies by category. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and see what you get done. You probably won’t finish a layout or project in that time, but at least you made progress. By setting a timer or working on something small, you still get the victory of moving forward. Little steps forward lead to bigger steps and completed layouts which leads to completed albums. 

Overwhelm easily sneaks in and can be tough to conquer. The next time you feel overwhelmed, think of these 10 tricks for conquering it and start creating. Here’s one more bonus tip – give up on the idea of perfection and focus on progress. It doesn’t need to be perfect to be complete and if you took the time to make it, that’s pretty awesome!

Happy crafting! 

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