Operation Clean Slate: Week 4 – Batch Processing

About now, if you are anything like me, you’re seeing December looming on the calendar…and along with it your self-imposed deadline for your Operation Clean Slate project at the end of the year. And December in most homes is full of extra responsibilities and calendar commitments for holiday celebrations.

I feel the need…the need…for speed (scrapping)! There’s no way that I will get my project done without it!

But if I was a speed scrapper, I wouldn’t be in this situation, right? I wouldn’t be behind on a project and need to devote special effort to getting it caught up if I was fast at creating. So how do I bring some fast into my scrapping? I have to step outside my normal process!

We’ve already talked in some of the previous articles in this series about some methods that will speed up the creative process. Starting out by assembling all your supplies will speed up your process. And simplifying the content and design of your project will also speed up your process.

But there is something else that can be done to speed up the creative process of a large project. It’s actually a technique that I use in many areas of my life. It’s a workflow organizational technique known as “batch processing”.

Batch processing means, in essence, to do like tasks all at the same time. For instance, when I’m cleaning my house, it means it is more efficient to get out the vacuum and do the whole house at once, rather than clean one room at a time and have to get out the vacuum multiple times. It saves time and effort to do the whole task at once. The same time management technique can be applied to scrapbooking.

What scrapbooking tasks can be batch processed? The most obvious task to “batch” and complete all at once for a project is photo editing and printing. For my Project Life album, this means that I am going through and selecting and printing the photos for each page first, not worrying about any other elements on the page (other than checking that I am leaving room for any memorabilia that I have). For a wedding or vacation album, it would mean selecting all the photos that you want to use at once and trying to print them to their intended size of use all at once.

Other tasks can be batched as well. After completing all my photo printing, my next step will be to go back and add in the other elements of my Project Life such as decorative blocks, and journaling, also in batches. Doing those things in batches helps get a creative “flow” going on them, and also saves on time repeatedly getting out and putting away the supplies that are needed to do each specific task – embellishments, journaling supplies, etc.

Often times a large project such as a theme album or mini book will have design elements that tend to repeat over and over. These elements can be great candidates for batch processing of tasks. Cutting a whole bunch of squares? Die cutting a dozen paper flowers? Instead of hauling the equipment out for each page, do them all at once!

We’re “trained” as scrapbookers to want to do a single entire layout at once, to tell that one specific story and then move on. But sometimes, in the interest of speed to complete a project, it’s helpful to look at the entire project as the story we are telling and complete the whole project at once in production steps, instead of one layout at a time. Maybe this system doesn’t sound too “artistic” but it can have some advantages. It can help make a project look more cohesive because creating it all as one piece will give it one more continuous style.

Maybe this system sounds more production oriented than “fun”, but to me I take great joy in just playing with my scrapbook tools and supplies no matter what I am doing with them or how I am creating with them. While I wouldn’t want to be batch processing every project, using that method to get a specific project done doesn’t take the fun out of it for me. I also take great satisfaction in completing a project, so the fun of completing something is a great bonus.

Take a hard look at your Operation Clean Slate project and see what steps you are taking repeatedly that can be grouped together to streamline your project. You may be surprised how much it will speed your project towards completion!

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9 Responses to Operation Clean Slate: Week 4 – Batch Processing

  1. Judy Webb November 29, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    YES, YES to clean slate and batch processing. Must attack PSE organizer!! Thanks for the incentive.

  2. kae November 29, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Nancy, you have a knack for breaking tasks down into manageable pieces – thanks so much for sharing your plan, process and tips with us.

  3. JillT November 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Great ideas. I did this a while back with an album for a daughter–wasn’t my trip I was scrapping so lots of creativity limitations–all I had was one comment per each picture she gave me. I decided it would be all kraft paper and did a lot of repetitive type layouts. I wanted to get it done and with my decision making process (SLOW) I knew that just the kraft decision would save me hours of time.

  4. Vicki J November 29, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Its all in the planning isn’t it? Thanks for more great ideas!

  5. Katrina Guy November 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Hey, I do this! I combine pictures into one folder and print from that folder. I also “embellish” several pages at once. Now, if I were only caught up!

  6. Marcia Deignan November 30, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    Thank you for verbalizing some of the organization principles that I need to adopt in order to finish scrapping two big vacations this year. I am planning to adopt the “Project Life” approach to my trips. I first saw this idea in Melissa’s blog. I have my photos and page protectors. Now I need to follow your advice and make up journaling blocks so that I can proceed with my scrapbooks. Instead of feeling overwhelmed I feel excited! Thank you!

  7. Jennifer December 1, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    I do this batch processing sometimes too! I made 30 Christmas cards (stamped everything!) in 2.5 hours while visiting my aunt. Since her back was hurting her, I made most of her cards too. I felt like Ford and his invention of the assembly line, but it felt sooo good just to craft something!!! For hours, with no interruptions from the phone, computer, the children, the husband.

  8. Gab December 1, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    I love this idea … thanks Nancy

  9. Tricia Carney December 3, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    Great idea. I am always open to a fresh approach.

Let us know your thoughts!