Despite the belief these days that everything is online, I still find myself looking at a fair amount of print material. As much as I love Pinterest, I'm an old fashioned girl that loves paper, and I'm not about to start scanning things to put them online. I still subscribe to magazines, and I can't seem to stop a handful of catalogs from arriving in my mailbox every month. Some issues are easy enough to throw in the recycling bin after leafing through them, but the ones I like I tend to hoard. When those combine with the postcards, programs, greeting cards, and other random bits of paper I save, the situation can get dangerous.
We've been doing some spring (or I guess now its summer) cleaning lately, and my husband suggested that maybe I should do something about the towering stack of magazines next to my bedside table that had been threatening to bury me alive. Of course, I tried to explain to him that I needed to keep all of them, but he just gave me a look that said "I'm going to turn you in to Hoarders".
Luckily, I had also just found my old image file from my fashion school days. One of my teachers had suggested we use an accordion file to create a filing system for all the magazine tear sheets we were collecting. When filed by category, the magazine tears are more accessible and therefore more useful as inspiration. Instead of trying to remember which issue had that beautiful floral arrangement, I can just look under my "florals" tab and find a whole stack of flower photos I liked.
The accordian file I had was already pretty full, so I started a new one with categories that are more relevant to my interests now. Coming up with the categories is probably the most fun part of this project. The categories only need to make sense to you, so you can make them as random as you want. Like squirrels? Make a "Woodland Creatures" tab. Love the color blue? Start saving snippets under a "Blue" tab and you will always have a swatch to explain exactly the shade you are looking for. Its great to make files for things like planning a wedding, or aspirational photos for your dream home. Then when the time comes to actually pick out invitations, or paint your kitchen, you're not starting from square one.
The sorting process took some time (because of course I had to go back and reread the interesting articles and lustfully gaze at the Anthropologie catalogs again), but it was fun to do in an OCD kinda way. And now that my system is in place, it will be much easier to keep the magazine stack in check. Whenever I finish with a magazine or catalog, I cut out the articles/photos I like and file them under the appropriate category. Then the rest of the issue can take a trip to the recycling bin. Its amazing how much less space this takes up. Even with all the random paper I've saved over the years, I still only have two accordion files in the corner of my bookshelf.
Now if I can only figure out what to do with all those half-read issues of the New Yorker that I haven't been able to part with...