How to Narrow It Down With Thin Slicing


In Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book Blink he explains the idea of “thin slicing” which basically means going with your first instinct and not over-thinking every decision. The quote from the author states “thin-slicing is our ability to gauge what is really important from a very narrow period of experience. In other words, this is an idea that spontaneous decisions are often as good as—or even better than—carefully planned and considered ones.”

I (Katie) quickly realized how useful this learning could be in relation to scrapbooking With the incredible growth the digital scrapbooking community has experienced over the last few years, there is an abundance of supplies available. This is a good thing for all of us, but it can also be somewhat paralyzing. How many times have you sat down to create a page, only to be completely overwhelmed with where to start? Not only do we have an incredible amount of supplies to choose from, but our own collections of photographs and stories to tell can be daunting as well.


  • Take a quick mental picture of what you want to accomplish. Why are you creating the page? Do you have a photo (or multiple photos) in mind that you want to use? Is there a new kit you just bought on sale that you are itching to use? Are you working on a special gift for someone? Do you just feel like being creative? Being able to answer this question (quickly) will help give you a starting point.
  • Do a quick “blink” test – what is your first reaction? Think about a few choices or ideas and then pick one. Don’t linger over this decision or second guess yourself, just proceed to the next step.
  • Take action. You’ve made the decision, now carry it out!


  • My starting point is going to be using a photo I took of my sewing machine. I’ve become interested again in sewing lately after taking a break from it for about 10 years. I have been organizing my small fabric stash and dreaming up projects so I thought it would be fun to take some photos of my sewing machine. I’ve also had a lot of fun beta testing Lightroom 3 and playing around with my photos. I love the antique look of this photo of my sewing machine.

web sew

  • My first reaction is that I would love to do something with the sewing theme. I have a lot of kits and papers that would be pretty with this photograph and any one of them would make a great page. This time I really want to include some sort of sewing embellishments to enhance the theme of the page. I took a quick glance through my sewing related kits (remember the post on digital organization?) and I remembered a fun new kit I bought a few weeks ago. Perfect! I love scrapping with full kits because I don’t have to search through my stash to find coordinating embellishments and/or papers.

Sewing with love full kit

  • The next decision is the design of the page. I find that using templates is a great way to get going, so I took a look through my single photo templates (again, see the post on organization) but I didn’t see anything that really caught my eye for this photo. Then I decided to take a look at Wendyzine’s actions. I’m quite enamored of her actions because they are almost “magic” in how they work. It’s like having the computer make the layout for you – so cool! I had never used an action until I tried the ones included in this month’s digi files and now I’m hooked! For more tips on actions be sure to check out Wendy’s great article here. After looking through Wendy’s store I found this action that was just right for a single photo layout with plenty of space for journaling and some fun embellishments.

ACTION: Scrap It {2}

  • All of those decisions took only about 10 minutes of time. Really! I’m not going to second guess my choices. Having these limits will help me get to the important part of creating the page and documenting the details.

web sewing

This layout came together very quickly because I didn’t spend valuable time searching through everything in my stash looking for just the right thing to add. I chose some great supplies to work with and narrowed down my choice of photo and story. I journaled about how I learned to sew and my new task of teaching my daughter to sew. I ended up with a lot of extra journaling space that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with so I turned to another one of my favorite journaling tricks (see yesterday’s post for more) and used an entry from Wikipedia. On a page about sewing, it is fun to have some basic information about the history and application of sewing.

Thin slicing can really speed things up when it comes to scrapbooking, and it will relieve a lot of the pressure we tend to put on ourselves to find just the “right” photo or kit. Trust your instincts and get to the important stuff!


P.S. Don’t forget that today is the last day to submit your link for the “From the Files” Challenge. Be sure to leave your link in the comment field of this post. It has been so much fun to see all the great pages our readers have created with this challenge!