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Why I like Pinterest better than any other method of inspiration organization, and how I make it work for me

Pinterest: organize your inspiration

Written by editor Nicole Bennett of Gidget Goes Home.

Some pinners, it seems, have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.

By love/hate, I mean that they love all the good ideas, but they hate the pressure to DO ALL THE THINGS that they find on Pinterest, and they then find themselves pinning lots of ideas, but actually doing next to none.

I saw this phenomenon early on, and created From Pinterest to Real Life to combat this tendency, and to encourage us to not only pin, but to also create.

I’ve struggled a lot with discontent in my time, but the truth is, I don’t really experience the hate part of the relationship with Pinterest myself. My bloggy friend Anne, at Modern Mrs. Darcy, wrote about this awhile back, explaining that some of us are just more likely to experience social comparison than others. I find that I can get Pinterest to serve me quite well, rather than me bowing down to it as an alter of discontent.

Here’s why I love Pinterest, and how it’s helped me organize my creative endeavors more than ever before.

how I make Pinterest work for me

While I would love to sit and scroll through my feed of my fellow pinners’ inspiring finds, it’s just not how I normally spend my free time. Usually, I’m in the kitchen these days, or maybe doing some writing or blog reading, or occasionally with my nose in a book or working my way through my ridiculous stack of unread magazines quietly calling my name.

So while I do occasionally repin something that catches my eye, here’s how I don’t generally use Pinterest: to surf through endless ideas for hours on end. (I would like to do this, but alas, I have to make dinner.)

For years, I saved magazines by the stack, pages dog-eared to rip out later, waiting to be filed in my overstuffed and underused binder of crafty inspiration. A simple white three-ring binder full of divided sections and clear plastic pockets where I could insert my magazine clippings.

Tutorials, quick tips, inspiring styles, color palettes, you name it. Sound familiar? Yep, it was the analog precursor to Pinterest, or what I now think of as my digital inspiration binder. The amazing thing about this digital inspiration binder? It goes wherever I go (or wherever your computer is if you don’t use Pinterest’s mobile apps), unlike that binder that’s still collecting dust in a closet somewhere.

making Pinterest work for you

Three ways I make Pinterest work for me

1. I primarily use Pinterest to archive ideas I’ve found elsewhere, whether that’s via a blog in my reader, a link a friend posts, or as I’ve mentioned before, from a magazine (I now read magazines with my Pinterest app open for easy searching/pinning/archiving).

2. One way to avoid letting Pinterest overwhelm you, is to take a break from the social aspect of it, and just make it work for you. Find ideas that inspire you elsewhere, and then catalog them on your boards. Find things you actually want/need to make/do/create rather than just grabbing other people’s finds for a time to get a renewed sense of your own creative focus.

3. Pins aren’t static; tell them where to go. One of the things I love about Pinterest is that I can move pins around. So after I make or do something, I move it to my made and did board. Once I’ve made a dinner recipe a few times and deemed it worthy of becoming a regular, I move it to my favorites board for easy locating. I also comment on my own pins with recipe notes if I make an adjustment when I’m cooking. Just like Dave Ramsey suggests I tell my money where to go, I tell my pins where to go, so I can find and use them easier.

Do you feel overwhelmed by Pinterest? How do you make it work for you?

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    Oh my goodness, I used to have a big fat inspiration binder, too! I still have one filled with (paper) favorites but I use Pinterest for the rest now. I love the term “digital inspiration binder”–thanks for the great addition to my vocabulary! That’s exactly what Pinterest is for me.

    • Nicole

      I’ve been thinking about scanning what I have left in my binder to go completely digital, but never quite seem to get to it!

  2. Annaleah

    This is exactly how I use Pinterest! I never look at the feeds, so I just think of it as my new version of “bookmarks”. Except that it is so much cooler, because instead of just seeing some random blog address or title and having no idea what it is, I see pictures that continue to inspire me and remind me of something I wanted to try!

    • Nicole

      Yes, that’s another great way to phrase it. I use to bookmark things like crazy but they were so unorganized and like you said not visual. Now I rarely bookmark something because pinning is so much more convenient!

  3. Tiffany

    Yes and yes! I LOVE Pinterest for two reasons: organization of all my inspiration (I, too, have tons of binders and pinboards at home filled with inspiration photos) and to gather great ideas from others that I might someday use.

    • Nicole

      I still like to see pretty things on a real-life corkboard, but I’m thinking it’s time to ditch the old binder. πŸ˜‰

  4. Stacy @ A Delightful Home

    Great post Nicole! I love Pinterest, too. And head there to find inspiration often. It’s so nice to know my “hope-to-make” ideas are all in one place and I don’t have to worry about losing them.

    • Nicole

      Yes! I lost all my bookmarks once and was devastated. Let’s just hope Pinterest doesn’t get bought by FB or google now, who knows what would happen then… πŸ˜‰

  5. Shauna

    Yes! I feel exactly the same and have a similar blog post in the works. I’ve used Pinterest for a few years now, and absolutely love it. I see lots of comments from people who get overwhelmed by it, or complain about how they see others using it. They forget that it is a tool that has multiple uses. Yes, it can be very social, but the premise is the visual bookmarks.
    I get frustrated when people complain that I can’t possibly make 3 delicious desserts in one day, and also care about something fitness related that I’ve pinned. Just because I’ve pinned (bookmarked!) something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but I think others sometimes miss that when they’re overwhelmed by a never ending stream of perfection.

    • Nicole

      Isn’t that funny how people “judge” other people’s pins? Social media is so interesting. πŸ™‚

  6. Kylie C

    This is how I use Pinterest too and have never felt the discouragement that some people talk about. I know that my crafts probably won’t turn out as pretty as what I’m pinning but that’s okay and I always get excited when a project does come out just perfect.

  7. Kristin

    I feel the same way. It doesn’t overwhelm me at all. If anything, I feel less overwhelmed, because when I want to find that cool idea for Christmas or that fun summer activity, I know exactly where to look.

  8. mom, aka yaya

    Loved this post! I just copied your “made and did” board!!

    • Nicole

      Now we just need to get more stuff over to that board, huh?!

  9. Yvonne

    I just love Pinterest! It has helped me ‘pin’ stuff from magazines and be able to hand the magazines off to my friends, without pages being torn out! I no longer have a favorites folder, because all those items are now on Pinterest. Love the visual aspect!

    • Nicole

      Yes! I also love being able to pass on complete magazines now. πŸ™‚

  10. Tosha

    Yes!! This is exactly how I use Pinterest and I love it!! Another strategy I employ is that I just don’t follow most of my friends on Pinterest. I only follow really beautiful and practical boards that I love, and I keep boards for recipes/projects that I’ve tried and loved. If I tried something and didn’t love it – I delete the pin. Done. Another strategy I use is to give myself a littke break from pinning NEW things, and spend my time on Pinterest sorting through, deleting, organizing, and planning to execute the pins I ALREADY HAVE. That way, Pintetest is just another tool for living intentionally.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Nicole

      Great ideas, Tosha!

  11. Breanne

    Brilliant post, Nicole. I’ve shifted in my use of Pinterest a lot since I first started using it (and getting totally overwhelmed by all the visual), now I use it as a digital inspiration board for decorating my house. I keep pinning ideas for various rooms and then browse through them to see what colours and styles stand out to me. I have a board for my girls and I browse it about once a month to introduce new activities.
    I will on occasion allow myself to get lost in the pretties…for a brief time and not very often. =)
    It’s definitely helped me to realize that my home is beautiful, I am a good mom and our dinners are delicious. Even if they’re not pinned or look ‘perfect’.
    Thanks for this.

    • Nicole

      I’m so glad you can relate! It’s still fun to “get lost in the pretties” occasionally, but yes, it’s so much more useful when that’s not our main focus. I agree that it’s a GREAT way to organize home dec stuff!

  12. Krissa

    I also rarely browse pins and use Pinterest more as a place to pin ideas, but I need to get in on your idea of moving pins to other boards after trying them!

    • Nicole

      move those suckers around! πŸ™‚

  13. Katie

    I don’t feel at all overwhelmed… But those are some great tips – thanks!

  14. Liz

    I love this, Nicole. I don’t use Pinterest much because I’m lead to dicouragement. I have to remind myself that sometimes beauty is just for beauty’s sake and it can’t be possessed, only admired and respected. We are intensely drawn to beauty since we are from God and his nature is beauty. We will never have the capacity to own all the beauty we want, and as dumb humans we tend to dominate it and end up corrupting the thing we find beautiful. Maybe the reason Pinterest is overwhelming is our hearts naturally yearn for REAL beauty so we embark on the impossible quest of owning all of the best-and-most-real-seeming (and boy is there a lot of it on Pinterest) beauty we can find on earth. Maybe the real beauty in the whole Pinterest universe isn’t made up of all the glowing and severely photoshopped THINGS, or even in the THINGS that are actually made, but in the process of MAKING of these things since it requires using the gifts we have been given. Your tips on how to use the site seem like they would make it easy to give glory through creating and save users from despairing. Great stuff. Now, if only it wasn’t another thing on a SCREEN!

    • Nicole

      “Maybe the reason Pinterest is overwhelming is our hearts naturally yearn for REAL beauty so we embark on the impossible quest of owning all of the best-and-most-real-seeming (and boy is there a lot of it on Pinterest) beauty we can find on earth. Maybe the real beauty in the whole Pinterest universe isn’t made up of all the glowing and severely photoshopped THINGS, or even in the THINGS that are actually made, but in the process of MAKING of these things since it requires using the gifts we have been given. ” <--- ah, such truth here, friend!! Thanks for your thoughts!

  15. Andrea Merrigan

    Love your ideas, thanks for sharing! I have been wanting to start a new pin board for recipes I have made and want to keep, so loved reading that you do this!!!

  16. Mallory

    Making a “Favorite Recipes” Board is SO SMART.

  17. Mike Huiwitz

    Sadly, I still haven’t figured out Pinterest. Maybe I’ll finally learn how to properly utilize it in the next few days.

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