what i’m working on: ephemera packs

Personal

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Over the weekend I put together a few ephemera packs to list in my shop! I really enjoy putting these together. I love searching through my stash of papers, stickers, and images. All of the items I put into these packs are stuff that I would use in my own collages. And, if you’re my pen pal, you’ve probably received some of these items in my letters!

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In addition to putting together these packs, I am also (slowly but surely) going through my hoard of books. I have A LOT of books just hanging out for possible use. I’m going through each one and tearing out the images that I would use. I hope to become a bit more organized with my collage images because, right now, I’m just not. I saw Esther’s collage binders and thought that was amazing. I hope to pick up some binders soon to stick my images in. For now, I’m just going to keep them in my filed away by image type. I’m thinking categories like people, floral, objects, anatomy, animals, landscapes, backgrounds, and “I don’t even”. How do you store your paper bits?

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You can check out the ephemera packs in my shop! Just click on over to Dactyl Life. ❤

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Snail Mail Tips: Logging Mail

Advice, Snail Mail Tips

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For an active snail mailer, one of the most important things to keep track of is all incoming and outgoing mail. Keeping track of your mail is the easiest way to make sure you’re replying to letters promptly and not forgetting to do so! If you love making lists, you should definitely be logging your mail. It just takes a few minutes to do!

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to keeping track of their mail. I know a lot of people keep paper logs or journals. I used to do that but I found that I didn’t have a very uniform system and I was often forgetting some information for every entry I made. I quickly switched to logging everything in a spreadsheet. I could have a header of all the information I was looking to log and I wouldn’t be able to forget that information.

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I created four spreadsheets; two for incoming and two for outgoing. Each set, incoming and outgoing, is separated into domestic and international mail. As I don’t receive a lot of international mail, I add countries to the spreadsheet as I receive them. No way am I going to look up every country in the world and add them to my spreadsheet! Although I don’t receive mail from every state in the US, I do list every state in my domestic spreadsheets.

For my logs, I like to track what was sent or received in a letter. This is helpful so I don’t end up sending the same stuff to the same people. I also write a brief description of a postcard’s image. I also love noting how I “met” the snail mailer. It’s nothing crucial but it’s fun to track!

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One thing I recently started doing is keeping a space where I can put incoming mail during the different stages of receiving it. I have a “To Reply” spot for all letters that I have received and logged but still need to reply to (obviously). Once a letter has been replied to, I place it in the “To Photograph” spot. In addition to logging mail on my spreadsheets, I also photograph all incoming and outgoing mail. It’s a bit excessive but I like doing it! After everything is said and done, the piece of mail goes to the “To File” spot. Right now, filing my mail means putting it in a reusable shopping bag. One day I will have a more official mail storing system!

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Here are a few tips to get you started logging your mail!

Figure out what you want to log

If you’re looking for something super simple, I suggest logging a name, date, and what was sent. If you’re looking for something a bit more, log a name, date, what was sent, postmark (incoming), when it was sent (outgoing), when you wrote it (outgoing), when you received it (incoming), when it was written (incoming), and how you know the person.

Use a system that works for you

If you know you love writing things down and keeping journals, opt for a paper log. If you’re looking for convenience and something that is easily searchable, create your log on the computer.

Log ’em as you get ’em

I should probably take this advice! If you don’t log your mail as soon as you send it, or receive it, it’s likely you’ll forget to do so. Plus, if you log the date of when you send or receive something, you’ll end up forgetting those dates if you don’t log it right away!

Organizing

Personal

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One of my unofficial (or, didn’t realize it until I started doing it) goals for the year is organizing all of my mail. I’m pretty organized already as I keep a spreadsheet of all incoming and outgoing mail but, with all of the moves I’ve made in the last 3 years, I figured I might have lost a letter or two. If you didn’t know, I keep every piece of personal mail that I receive, and I have been doing that since I started sending mail in 2000.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been poking through all my letters and postcards and making sure I’ve logged them on the spreadsheet. So far, so good! I’m almost finished going through all of my mail. I will be happy once this project is over!

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The next step is finding a different way to store everything. I currently use those accordion file folders which worked out well when I didn’t have a lot of mail. Now that my collection is growing, I can’t shut any of the 4 folders that I have and I have a whole Trader Joe’s bag full of mail to put away! I’m dreaming of the day I will have the space and money to have one of these bad boys. If I ever got something like that, I would have a drawer designated for each of my pen pals, and drawers for the different websites I send mail through (like Postcrossing or Swap-bot). It will be the best.

How do you organize your mail? Do you keep all of the letters or postcards you receive?