Scrapbooking Streamlined with Anna Aspnes

We are thrilled to have Anna Aspnes here with a guest post for us today! If you’ve listened to Anna on the Digi Show podcast, you will know how inspiring she is! Here’s a little about Anna:


6a00d834528c3669e2013484e049ee970c-150wi “I am as passionate about art and design, as I am my family, and digital scrapbooking allows me to celebrate both in the same breath.  It is art with purpose, that has become more that just a hobby, but a way of life, that I choose to share with and inspire others.”

Anna is an independent digital designer at, creates digital albums and slideshows for, teaches at, and is a member of both Shutterfly’s Scrapbooking Advisory Team and Wacom’s Penscrappers Panel.   Stay in touch with Anna on her blog at and twitter:



Life is full. I think that is the reality for most of us.

Time, or lack of, appears to be a hot topic of conversation. The general consensus is that, if we had more hours in a day, then we’d be able to get more done. I’m not convinced. I think I’d probably spend longer on the tasks that I’m already performing. Regardless, there have always been 24 hours in a day, and always will be. The amount of time we have at our disposal will never change, but the way in which we choose to use it and manage it, will.

How we choose to spend our time is a matter of personal priorities. Scrapbooking is a priority for me. Documenting my life and the lives of those close to me, are as integral to my daily routine as brushing my teeth or working out at the gym. I make time for these tasks because they are important to me. Ideally, like most other scrapbookers, I’d like to spend more time but the busier I get, the less time I seem to be able to devote to my passion. In recent years I have had to get really creative in devising some strategies that streamline my process and allow me to get my scrapbooking done in the time I have available.

Schedule it

Make a date with yourself and write it down on a planner, schedule it on your iphone or whatever system you use for organizing your life. I have found that if I schedule a time to do something, even my scrapbooking, it’s more likely to get done than if I just wing it. In fact, it’s the only time I any scrapbooking done.

Get organized

Organization is integral to being efficient in any facet of life and scrapbooking is no exception. You have to find a system that works for you. You can have the best organizational software in the world, but if you spend all your time organizing and not scrapbooking, then it’s useless. I have found a folder tree Windows to be the most efficient way for me to store my supplies and photos. I save my photos chronologically and my supplies by store and designer. I also use ACDSee, in a limited capacity, in which tag my supplies mostly by color and shape. I also like to go through all of my supplies 2-4 times per year to take inventory and remain current with my stash. Knowing what I have on hand helps me know where to find it.


Having choice can be a luxury but having too much choice can be crippling to any scrapbooker. I have come to appreciate that less is often more. I aim to keep about 1/3 of the photos that I take, deleting any that are duplicate shots or do not tell or support a story. I’m also very comfortable deleting digital supplies that I have never or over-used. Even with these measures in place, I can still get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of digital scrapbooking content. One of my strategies for combating this is to move copies of photos or supplies into temporary folders for any given project. It’s so much easier to look at a smaller group of photos or digital supplies than it is to be faced with a much larger collection. These temporary folders create visual separation and are deleted when they have served their purpose.

Batching and Repetition

Using the same template/design, elements, techniques or papers can really speed up the scrapbooking process. Why re-invent the wheel if you don’t have to? I have been known on more than one occasion to use the same solid paper in the background of all pages in a photo book or to repeat techniques from page to page. I will also batch techniques and tasks which involves working on multiple layouts at a time and completing the same task on each page before moving to the next. For example, I’ll systematically go from one layout to the next laying out my photos. If I want to edit these photos, I’ll merge all the images into one layer and then adjust the curves on that one layer so that it applies to all the photos at once. Note that it’s a good idea to duplicate your photo layers and switch off the visibility of the originals before you merge copies of the duplicates.

Be Realistic

Not every layout has to be a work of art. If you look at your layouts collectively then you will notice a variety of pages, complex and simple, are far more interesting than a continuous sequence of involved pages. After a while you begin to notice their beauty less and less. I am totally comfortable with very plain pages that include nothing but photos on a white background and some supporting words. So much time can be wasted looking for the perfect font or element to adorn a page. When inter-dispersed with my artsy pages, the simple pages provide a much bigger picture of my life.


Streamlining your scrapbooking process takes time, practice and patience, so take your time and don’t rush it. It will come to you over time. A big part of becoming more efficient in the art is discovering your personal preferences, knowing what you like and what you don’t, as well as letting go of the desire that everything needs to be perfect at all time. I have really fallen in love the notion of being imperfectly perfect and see my scrapbooking as a reflection of that self. The approach is definitely more real, and I find myself getting a whole lot more done.