Scrapbooking – a waste of time?

I laughed out loud when I read this blog entry from John Trosko of OrganizingLA The original article comes from Get Organized Now and is called “my son doesn’t want my scrapbooks!” A woman writes to Marcia:

Now my 12-year-old son, my only child, says he really doesn’t want to haul scrapbooks around after I’m gone and ‘couldn’t you just put all the photos on a thumb drive and hand it to me, Mom?’ Well, needless to say, that sort of took the wind out of my scrapbooking sails!

I think it’s cute, hilarious and ironic all at once.  For me, it raises two points. Firstly, scrappers primarily scrap for their own pleasure.  Scrapping is a lot of work…. probably the equivalent of running a marathon, or building a house I reckon.  There’s a lot of love in your albums (I know this because I scrap).  So what if no-one else actually wants your albums?  They probably don’t want your other stuff either.  At least when you’re dead, photo are respected, in order and there will be some clarity to your history (rather than dog-eared, dusty and damaged pics in a shoe box up the top of the wardrobe).

Secondly, I think decluttering and organising is about editing what you have… and that’s an ongoing process.  I talk about this on page 45 of my book, SORTED! the ultimate guide to organising your life – once and for all (extract below)


Editing is a big part of organising. It’s about selecting the best and letting the not-so-good go. Professional photographers are skilled editors. They take a large volume of work and whittle it down to a few good shots. Let’s say they shoot 30 images: they might end up with only two or three stunning shots out of that much work.

Film editors edit raw footage to make a stronger film. They snip 30 seconds here and 30 seconds there to create a better and tighter film. Less information (less stuff) means more clarity and a better end product.Life is like this. There’s lots of stuff that doesn’t matter: things you’re ‘going to do’; outdated, broken or not-so-good stuff. If you constantly edit the stuff in your life, you’ll stay organised. Give some thought to what’s truly special. Be an editor everyday. Constantly reassess and you’ll find that the things that don’t matter easily slip away.

So, to me, the mum scraps the photos by editing out the ones she feels has less value, and her son can continue on by chosing the specific images (scrap pages) that are meaningful *to him.*  He’s not going to value every page!  And yes, why not digitise some of the pages? She’s not wasting her time, but she might do well to consider scrapping as a team project 🙂


6 responses to “Scrapbooking – a waste of time?

  1. Depending on how we look at it, isn’t all craft, all art, all pleasure, anything that is more than basic survival, simply a way to use our time…. and only a “waste of time”, when find no pleasure from it. I had this moment of epiphany when friends asked me what my latest craft project was, and I replied that I didn’t have on. They were horrified, and said, but you used to love doing craft. Yes, I agreed, but …..and then it hit me! I don’t have to do it at all if I don’t want to. Perhaps I will later on, but only if it brings me pleasure, or someone else pleasure, which is the same thing isn’t it? So, now I enjoy what I do, when I do it, IF I do it, and there is no guilt anymore. A lot of us are learning about our clutter, that it’s “only stuff” after all. Now I’m learning that most of the things we do, as in craft, gardening, sports, and yes, scrapbooking! is only “filling in time” after all. If I want to read a book, is that any more of a “waste” of time than scrapbooking? Once I’d have thought so, because I was brought up that “busy hands” were a virtue. Now I’m beginning to realise that there is no obligation to “do stuff”, just as there isn’t any obligation to “keep stuff” in my life. Oh, I still love my cross stitch and my scrap booking too, but what a pleasure it is now that I’ve removed all the guilt and the virtuous busy-ness from it. Having said all that, I might just go and play the piano for a while … why, because I have 10 minutes of free time, and that’s what I feel like doing.

  2. Hi Lissanne,

    Thank you for your post! Wow– that was surprising. I have a of friends (and organizing clients) who are so guilty that their photos are sitting in boxes and envelopes all lonely and stuff. They (the clients, not the photos) keep hitting themselves over the head they they are missing out on one of life’s pleasures (necessities????) when they don’t scrapbook. Oh well.

    In regards to Lily’s comment… I once had very little money so I had to refinish a desk myself. I bought a used small thing (perfect for my small home at the time) and spent weeks (and I mean weeks) refinishing that desk. It ended up looking quite beautiful. It occupied my time and was something I boasted about for years. But when time came to sell the piece, I think I got $50 bucks for it. It seems my treasure wasn’t someone elses. But it was a fun activity for me– I guess much like scrabooking. Now I understand that.

    – John

  3. Plus, has anyone noticed he’s a 12-year-old BOY? Hello? When he’s 50, with growing kids of his own, he will have something wonderful for them. But he won’t be aware of this for another 38 years!

  4. Hi gain! I’ve moved and have one room(The Study) full of boxes of books from floor to ceiling that I am not even going to attempt to move. One of my friends has offered to build me shelves in that room, but has been very busy. My bedroom is basically set up, and the kitchen is almost done. I have lost 40 pounds, and am giving away all of my big clothes. I have kept the clothes that flatter my new figure. It has been easier to do this as I unpack my clothes from the move. I return to work on Tuesday. Any ideas on making unpacking easier will be appreciated. Thank you for your support and sunny smiles from Guam! Neeti Prakash

  5. Neeti, your strategy is spot on – the kitchen is one of the first rooms you should unpack… for two reasons:
    1. It’s a fundamental, practical space that will help you avoid hunger!
    2. It’s often where most of our breakables are stored, hence there’s lots of unwrapping and fiddly bits.

    BIG (or should i say ‘smaller’?) congratulations on your weight loss: decluttering your home seems to have also decluttered your body!

    All the best


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