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Finding Inspiration on Pinterest: Have You Been Doing It Wrong?

Here's how to actually use and experience everything you've been pinning.

Finding Inspiration on Pinterest: Have You Been Doing It Wrong?

Oh Pinterest, you beautiful beast you. The majority of us can tip our hats in salute to it and all the hours of productivity it stole from us. Sure you could get your life in order this afternoon, or you could pin yet another no-bake cheesecake recipe you’re never going to try. This is right after you save a DIY that requires all the skills you literally don’t have. Wait, did you just pin how to build your own fridge? But how—actually, can you send me that?

Pinterest could be addicting with its tumble of beautiful pictures and its never-ending feed of what your ideal life could look like. It seems like every pin you save could bring you closer to it. You could remodel your (rented) kitchen, finally figure out what exactly is your style, fly to Ireland for the afternoon, and be home in time to try making those Korean barbecue tacos for dinner.

In an ideal world, right?

Well, wrong. Not in an ideal one, but in the one you already have.

Straight out of the mouth of the creator Ben Silbermann, the CEO of Pinterest describes the intention of the site as a “catalog of ideas" that should inspire users to "go out and do that thing.” These pins aren’t meant to be collected and stored away; they’re meant to create a spark and have you itching — or at the very least, curious— to go out and do it. It's supposed to be a running to-do list! But now the question is, how do you start?

Easy, you restructure the way you see your Pinterest. Below are tips on how to look at your boards and what to look for in pins to help facilitate that kind of motivation to go out and experience everything you've been saving. It's high time, you know you want to!

1. Overhaul Your Fashion Board

This one is probably a doozy, isn’t it? You’re about 800 pins deep with no real game plan. You’ve got Armani ball gowns next to cuddly infinity scarves next to mood boards with thick reading glasses, cups of coffee, and, weirdly, terrariums. It’s madness in there.

How can you change it? Instead of just having it as a catalog of pretty looks, try turning it into an “Outfit Idea” board. There will always be a beautiful gown from a Vogue photo shoot that will sneak itself in there from time to time, but try to be choosey with your inspiration. Pin things that you would like to replicate or play with in your own closet. And more importantly, pin outfits that style things you already (if not similarly) already own.

This is a big one. You won’t be able to expand your style if it revolves around a closet you don’t have. And you don’t have to pin just full outfits, either. You can focus on certain details in a picture. Maybe you like the way a scarf was styled, or a dress layered. Maybe you like the way the model is wearing juxtaposing styles, or how she cleverly layered a crop top or mixed patterns you own. Even though you don’t have every single item in the picture, you do have a scarf or boots, gingham tops, or striped dresses. Pin it, and then copy it in your own closet.


2. Create A Cook Book

You know those 3,000 recipes you have saved? Turn them into a cook book! First, delete those five-star recipes not even a Le Cordon Bleu chef could tackle and instead focus on what you’d like to make yourself for dinner or lunch this week. Giving yourself an immediate deadline like “this week” will make you save sensibly, because you know you won’t be wanting to make beef bourguignon after coming home from a nine-hour shift at seven in the evening. You can scroll through your options come grocery day and have a fun list of new foods to make when takeout doesn't win the good fight. 


3. Don’t Jillian Michaels-Out Your Board

Finding Inspiration on Pinterest: Have You Been Doing It Wrong?

Not really one to go do jumping jacks first thing in the morning? More of a “sloth around the couch” type of gal? Then it’s probably not a good idea to have intense, possible-hernia-inducing sets in your workout board. If you could barely convince yourself to walk up and down the stairs to your bedroom, you’re probably not going to be doing four sets of 100 squats. Save the type of workouts you can see yourself doing routinely, and only save enough for a doable set. Don’t intimidate yourself with 40 options! If you get bored of the ones you’ve been trying, you can always go back and find some more.


4. You Don’t Have Power Tools. You’ll Never Make That Table.

The DIY board is where I lose all semblance of control. I pin how to sew my own throw pillows, how to add tassels to carpets, how to remodel my kitchen cabinets, and how to create a hanging garden for a balcony I don’t even own. Every time I open that board I feel like Alice tumbling down the tunnel into Wonderland. On top of that, I can barely thread a needle, let alone paint curtains to look like something out of West Elm. Don’t be me. Only pin the things you actually have the tools and skills to do. That way you have actually have a chance doing them one bored Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the firefighters are showing up to my apartment because I nearly killed myself just gathering the materials for my DIY table. Again, don't be me.


5. Try Taking Those Photos Yourself

Finding Inspiration on Pinterest: Have You Been Doing It Wrong?

Many of us have a little folder of beautiful photos we’ve collected between Marine-style workouts and Home Decor living room spreads. They’re of clever angles and candid moments, sweet smiles and small memories caught beautifully. Every single one of us would love to capture our life in such a dreamy way, so why don't we?

Put your board to work by studying what you love of each picture, and go out and try to capture it yourself. Obviously you’ll never get to recreate the same exact thing, but maybe you liked how the subject was in half shadows, half light. Maybe you liked how a moment with a couple was caught from outside the window, or the angle in which a girl in a forest was caught in? Keep these ideas in your back pocket and try to create your own beautiful memories.


6. Go On These Dream Trips- I Dare Ya!

I bet you 10 dollars you have three huge trips already planned to a T inside your travel board. You have cheap hotels to stay at, off-the-beaten-path sites to see, must-try restaurants to eat dinner at and sip coffee in, tricks on how to book cheap tickets, and photo ideas on how to capture those scenes in interesting ways. So now the question is: Will you stop spending money on whatever your weakness is (shoes, furniture, cupcakes?) and save it instead to go on this trip? The only thing stopping you is yourself. After all, as Pinterest wisely tells us, "We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us." If that's not Pinspiring, then I don't know what is.