The ball-room at IKEA was for amateurs. Or at least, that’s what my sister and I always used to think. The real thrill of accompanying our parents to the flat-packed, furniture store lay in exploring the faux living spaces that were set up throughout the store. Playing in all of those little apartments and lofts fostered a love of home decor in us at an early age. The smaller and more efficient the space was, the more interesting it became. For me, these spaces represented freedom and independence and I longed to have one of my own. (My parents sometimes joke about how I was ready to leave the nest even before I had reached high school.)
Fast forward years and years later, through dorm rooms and crumbling student housing shared with too many roommates, to a few years ago when I was ready to take the plunge and get my own big-girl apartment. (Which was like, the only thing I had been waiting for my whole life.) Being the organized person I am, however, I needed a place to keep track of all of my projects so I created my very own inspiration binder for the project.
If you’ve never made an inspiration binder, I suggest you take a look at your calendar, make yourself a date, grab yourself a binder, and start planning. It’s never too early to start. I created one of my dream apartment, but you can make one for your dream cottage, your dream vacation, your dream wardrobe- your dream whatever. My personal organizing system relies on a series of binders, but you can use whatever works best for you- whether it be a notebook, a scrapbook, a folder or a duo-tang. Anything goes as long as it can hold all of the information that you need.
However, if you decide to follow my lead and use a binder, I highly recommend making the best of the format and getting creative- use dividers, sticky tabs and folders to organize to track information and keep it separate; and use sticky notes, highlighters and colored pens to highlight important information. I use page protectors to house important documents and flimsy materials like paint chips and magazine tears. Depending on the size of your binder and how organized you are, you may want to invest in binder supplies such as three-hole punches, pencil cases with grommets, and specialized sleeves to house additional material you may to keep close by.
Once the binder itself is assembled, gather all of the necessary materials you might need to include to work on your project. (Click here for more info on how I organize projects.) This list may include things like magazine tears, paint chips, sketches, budgets, spreadsheets, checklists, mind maps, correspondence or legal documents. Similar to the command central binder, your inspiration binder should be a one-stop shop for all of the required resources to make your dream project a reality.
I found assembling an inspiration binder for my dream apartment an incredibly valuable process in organizing the massive project that was moving into my own place, but your inspiration binder definitely doesn’t have to be as technical as mine. In fact, it doesn’t have to be technical at all. Over the years, I’ve had inspiration binders devoted to recipes I wanted to try, gardens I admired, and organized spaces I wanted to emulate. Yes, their practical uses were limited but the enjoyment they provided me was endless and still remains to this day one of my favorite ways that I’ve organized my clippings and tear sheets. It was literally like having my own magazine.
Needless to say, my parents weren’t too surprised when I showed them my inspiration binder, nor were they shocked when I borrowed and subsequently returned their respective copies of the IKEA catalogue with pages missing. I think they knew exactly where those clippings had ended up.
What have you been dreaming lately? Comment below or let’s keep it between us when you write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you liked this article and want to learn more about organizing projects and binders, I highly recommend taking a look at how to assemble your own Command Central binder here, and the best way to define your projects here. For more ideas on getting organized and keeping busy, click here.