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Journaling – By Alison K. MacDonald

Tips and Tricks: Gathering and Safeguarding your Journaling ideas

I’m a Mom to 4 kiddos, sometimes guilty of the “That’s so cute, I’ll NEVER forget what he said about such and such” train of thought… only to forget it a few hours later when I go to tell my husband! When I go to scrapbook that fun kiddo page, the story remains… LOST. Does this scenario sound familiar?

Never get caught this way again.

Here’s the easy strategy I use to maintain a “Journaling Box” chock full of tidbits and snippets of our life as a family of six.

First, I bought a small plastic recipe box that included a set of alphabetized cardboard dividers. The box is made to hold 3×5″ index cards. These can be found at office supply stores, but are far less costly at dept. stores. Mine is super-basic and came from the Dollar Store. It has a flip-up lid that snaps shut. And-you guessed it, I also picked up a couple of packages of the lined 3×5″ cards.

* Once home, I printed and added a label to the front of my box. It said “Journaling.” (Seems simple, but that little label made it official!)

* I then used a white adhesive label snipped in half to cover each divider tab’s ABC lettering.

*Next, I thought about the people and things I scrapped about and jotted a list.

*Using my list, I wrote one category on the new label of each divider.

*I left 3 of my labeled dividers blank for later category additions.

A few notes about my system:

*Keeping my categories broad made filing the ideas and retrieving them easier for me. Here’s an example: Rather that filing a pet story under a dog’s name, I simply filed it under the “Pet” category. (With 4 pets, this makes sense.)

Here are the actual categories I have listed on the dividers in my Journaling Box:

Reflections (ie: ‘Welcome to Holland’ essay re: parenting a child who has special needs)
Major Holidays
Everyday moments
Places Visited
Title ideas
Flowers and Garden
Kids’ jokes
Songs (titles/lyrics)
Graphics (ie: clipart, small sketched ideas)
Dairy Queen Cakes (Because the process each kid goes thru to choose their b’day cake design is a sign of their age & current trends)
3 spare/blank dividers

How to use your Journaling Box:

As funny things happen or you have a thought or tidbit to save for later use, jot it down quickly on an index card.

Use abbreviations you’re used to: this makes it faster. I’m a nurse so I use tons of abbreviations that make sense to me!

Also note any ideas for certain photos you think would be appropriate to accompany this journaling.

ALWAYS add a DATE to what you have written.

Then, file the card under the most representative category.

If it definitely does NOT fit into any existing category, you can make a new one using the 3 blank dividers you have at the ready.

If I am in a real hurry, I sometimes slip the new journaling idea card into the FRONT of my recipe box and file it later. (I try not to make a habit of this.)

Do what makes sense to YOU. Your categories and the way you file things will be TOTALLY different from mine. That’s OK. Be sure your Journaling Box categories fit YOUR life and the people/things YOU scrap about.

Once I use an idea from my journaling cards on a layout, I place a red checkmark next to the idea and slip the card into the “Done!” category found at the back of my recipe box. This step is necessary for me because it provides a satisfying visual recognition of the ideas I have journaled.

If your recipe box becomes very full, you may want to start a new one. I have done this by dividing the topics and placing half in one box and half in another. It’s much easier to leaf through the journaling idea cards this way!

I keep a few lined index cards in my purse and on my desk in the kitchen, & a small stack of them right next to my journaling box in my office/scrap room. I have also been known to use bits of scrap paper, the backs of envelopes and yes, those old faithful sticky notes to write my little journaling tidbits on. I file them that way, too, because there’s no time for recopying. Not everything is on an index card, by any means: it doesn’t have to be beautiful to be filed!

The main goal is to safeguard the moments that mean something to you or to those you care about. If you find a funny tidbit written on a gum wrapper in your Journaling Box, and it contributes to a page that sparks memories for those you love, then the system worked. Bravo!!

Keep it up!

~ Alison K. MacDonald
(May 27, 2008)


Comments on: "Technique Tidbit Thursday – Journaling" (14)

  1. OMG! i totally love this idea. thank you so much. i have little pieces of paper and stories/funnies all over my scrap area. as i was reading your post i was totally excited! why didn’t i think of this? i am new to your blog and have to tell you i totally love it! thanks, erin

  2. I love this idea!

  3. Nicole Drewniak said:

    This is brilliant, Ali! Easy system that wll WORK!! 2 Big thumbs up!

  4. What a glorious idea! I love this. As one who really struggles with journaling, I think this would be a great way to start!!! Thanks so much Ali!

  5. Heather R said:

    omgosh! what a great idea. simple, yet so effective! why do i think every problem has to have a difficult solution??

  6. I love this idea. My method is to write in my journal or in my daughters journal things that have happened and then when I scrap that page then I have the journal entry all ready. I think that this idea is great because it is fast and easy. I just have to remember to do it.

  7. Great idea, Ali! How I would love to spend the day at your house and so you can teach me all of your neat tips, tricks, and time savers! You rock!

  8. Thank you…an awesome tutorial on “jounaling” something we all fall short on..I have a book I write in..but this is sounds a lot more organized.
    Nice to meet you on Canadian Bloggers
    Connie Paxman (Sask)

  9. This sounds like a wonderful idea, except I would forget to use the cards. I forget EVERYTHING.

  10. Great post, it was very informative. I think its a must read.

  11. Great post, it was very informative. I think its a must read.

  12. Great post, it was very informative. I think its a must read.

  13. Love this idea! I too, have notes all around about things my son has said. I will definately be using this idea! I even have an index box already. 🙂 Huge thumbs up for this great idea!

  14. Your blog encourages me to make my own

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