Making Pinterest Work for You (and not the other way around)

I love Pinterest.  I think it can be a really great resource and an awesome tool to help make life a little easier.  What I don’t love about it is the image hoarding that comes with it.  Those people with 50,000+ pins:  how in the world do you remember what you have?  And just like I don’t think people should keep a hundred different magazines with post-it flags sticking out of them, I don’t think you should keep a bazillion images.  Just don’t do it.

Lately, though, I’ve been realizing that I’m pretty good at making Pinterest work for me.  I don’t often get sucked into the pinning vortex that others complain about.  Instead, I use it when I need it and it gives me the information that I need.

So, Here’s how to make Pinterest work for you.

pinterest

1.  Use it as a search engine.  I love doing this with food.  When I’ve got some things going bad, I just type them into the search bar and see what pins come up.  One day I typed “blueberry cream cheese” and found this awesome pin for cookies.  I also did this recently when I threw a baby shower.  In looking for some quick decorations, I typed “flag banner” or “fabric decorations” and I found a ton of pins that showed me what to do.  You can also do this with clothes:  You don’t know what goes with your olive green cargo pants?  Type in “olive green cargo pants” in the search engine and see what pics come up.  Then try to see what you’ve got in your closet to mimic the pictures and there you have it, an instant outfit.

Spoiler alert:  You don’t have to pin every pin you see.  I loved making those blueberry cream cheese cookies, but both blueberries and cream cheese are not items I regularly buy.  So why would I pin them?  In fact, as good as those cookies were, I haven’t craved them in the year and a half since I’ve made them.  And if I want to make them again, I’ll just search for them.

great way to keep your mail off the counter while you wait to sort it.

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2.  Use it as a guide.  I know when we first moved into our new house, knowing that we wouldn’t be moving for a few years, I got a little anxiety about thinking that everything would need a place.  When you move so many times, you get to the point where you don’t care about tiny piles because they’ll all be swept up into a box soon anyway.  But now I needed to understand how to make everything fit and be useful.  So I started looking at house organization pins.

But here’s the thing:  what works in this house most likely won’t work in the next house.  And if it will, chances are you’ll remember how to do it for the next house anyway.  For example, I totally made this scarf/hat storage out of my living room closet.  It’s cold 9 months of the year and I needed these things to be accessible.  So I pinned this pin long enough to remember what to do.  I copied it, then deleted the pin.  Why?  Because it’s totally working!  And since I’ll be using it for at least the next year and a half, I don’t think I’ll forget to bring this one to the next place if I need to do it again.

You can also do the same with simple DIYs, fashion, food, or other projects.

DIY Faux Polaroid Coasters from Darkroom and Dearly

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3. Let it be your memory.  There are some things–recipes, projects, quotes, TED talks, etc.–that I want to remember.  I have way too many things cluttering up my mind to remember ingredient measurements or how to make my own quilt binding, so it’s those useful tips that I pin.  Useful meaning that I use them over and over and over again.  We love those crispy black bean tacos, but I can never remember what to put in them, so it’s a pin I reference a lot.  I like to show TED talks about education and other pop-culture matters to my students, so I pin my favorites so I can easily find them at school.

But you won’t be able to do this if you keep clogging up your boards by pinning all the things.  Pin it.  Do it.  And then delete or keep it.

picnic.

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4. Let it inspire you.  I love a good photo.  Probably because I can’t take them myself and I have this deep appreciation for how people can capture a feeling.  While we wait for our family to grow, I’ve pinned some images of family moments that I want my life to mimic–not in the pretty, posed sort of way, but in the feeling I get from looking at them.  We’re also working hard to raise a community over here, so I have a board of photos just for that:  pictures of what community can feel like, so I know what I want from our own group.  

You can also set up specific inspiration boards.  I have one for 2014 that revolves around my goals and word for the year.  Whenever I feel a bit down or like I’ll never see the light at the end of the tunnel, I look through the images I pin.  They make me wistful and are full of promises and help me to get out of a funk and start doing things that I know I need to do in order to reach my goals.  You could do this with any life moment or goal you have in mind.

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