Simply Organized

We all try to make things much more complicated than they need to be.

I know I do. My goal with this blog is to help you (and me) create a life that is simply organized. A life that makes sense. In the past, I have focused on organizing your family photos. A task I still believe in with all my soul. Now though my interests are taking me in bigger and broader directions. I want to help you eliminate the stress that is burdening you and give you the peace that comes from organized living.

In upcoming posts; I will talk about letting go of who you think you should be and embracing who you are, getting rid of things that don’t reflect the life you want to live, shopping your own home/closet, creating meaningful gifts with family photos, the key steps to organizing your finances, and so much more.

I’ve always thought that the simplest answer is always the best. So, here’s to new beginnings, new friends, and new opportunities.

Photo Organizing for Special Events

As we all know we are entering the time of year when our calendars are filled with special events.

 

The next few months will be chock-full of special moments. There are the expected holidays, there will be parties, engagements, vacations, graduations, sporting events, and pregnancy announcements (this happened twice in my family…at Thanksgiving…it was awesome).

What I’m hinting at is that there are a lot of opportunities to not only make amazing memories but to take amazing photographs. These kind of photos are the kind that pays dividends for generations. special event photographs can serve as signposts in our lives. Here is what our family looked like in 1975! Here we are in 1996!

This week I want to encourage you to take few minutes to take a few minutes to prepare for taking lots of photos of all your special events.

 

  1. Take a look at your camera before the event. Is it charged? Are there photos still on it from your last event? Upload any old photos and make a promise to improve your photo habits.
  2. How well do you know your camera? Do you use your phone or a digital camera? Hop on the internet and look up “Tips for taking better photos with ____________.” There are SO many great tips on taking better photos from lighting to framing. A five-minute search will make your photos amazing. Well worth the investment.
  3. Create a “shoot list.” That’s a list of photos you want to take. That’s especially important if you want group shots. I would suggest sending everyone an email. That way your friends and family can be camera ready. It also helps you focus on getting your shots before the moment passes.
  4. Be a photojournalist. Don’t be afraid to play around with perspective; move around, change levels, get in close. All these techniques make for more interesting photos than everyone standing in a line, fake smiling.
  5. Think about photo gifts. A thoughtful, unexpected photo makes a wonderful gift. Think about how you can not only capture the personality of your friends and family but how you can flatter them. How you can show your love. The idea is not to gift a 11×13 photo to your uncle of him chowing on turkey. A better moment is your father teaching your daughter how to carve the turkey. That’s a special event.

 

 

 

 

Best Books On Organizing

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. Read more about this in our Disclosure Statement.

I love books.

 

I always have. I am a constant reader. I love nothing better than to curl up with a good book and my dog. I’m a simple woman.

I thought now would be a good time to share a small list of the organizing books that I turn to again and again. A few might be surprising…a personal finance book? Take a look at my list and brainstorm how one of these might help you get a little more organized. I’d love to get the titles of organizing books that you find helpful…or not helpful.

It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff
By Peter Walsh
Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul
By Ruth Soukup
The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life
By Francine Jay
The Automatic Millionaire, Expanded and Updated: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich
By David Bach
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
By Marie Kondo
AmazonAmazonAmazonAmazonAmazon
Why Read This Book? Why Read This Book? Why Read This Book? Why Read This Book? Why Read This Book?
Peter Walsh is brilliant at exposing the link between your stuff and your emotions.
This is especially important when organizing photos.
While not specifically a photo organizing book, the concepts he discusses are crucial to achieving peaceful organization.
What I love about this book is the discussion about living your life as your real self vs our idealized self. In photo organizing it is so easy to chuck any photo you don't like of yourself...but sometimes that's your best self.This book is one of my foundational books. For me minimalism is not about throwing everything away. Minimalism is about letting go of what does not matter to make space for what does.You might be surprised to find a personal finance book on my list of my favorite organizing books...but follow the money. If your finances are disorganized so is everything else. If you only read one book on this list...make it this one.What I love about this book is the idea that the objects in your house effect you emotionally. I was shocked when I did the exercise touching objects how clear my yes/no response was. To this day, I do not miss one thing I said "no" to.
I do the same with my photos...keep/toss. My heart knows the answer

Why Preserving Your Family History Matters

I have the best job ever. I spend my day talking to people about their family history. I learn about people, places, events that inspire me every day. I feel so fortunate to be allowed into people’s lives. The stories are amazing.

 

Occasionally, I will meet with someone who is undecided about organizing their photos. They don’t feel like anyone else wants to hear their story. That after they’re gone no one will care about these slips of paper.

I can only say, that’s just not true. You have no idea who your story will touch. Who your story will encourage. Who your story will inspire.

She may not even have been born yet.

 

I was lucky enough to be chosen to write a blog post for the Association of Professional Photo Organizers (APPO) on the topic of “Why Preserving Your Family History Matters” (I’ve included the link below). To sum it up: YOU MATTER. THAT YOU LIVED MATTERS.

I hope that you find a kernel of inspiration in my post that inspires you to organize and preserve your family history. It is a task well worth the effort.

Why Preserving Your Family History Matters

 

Five Tips For Year-End Photo Clean Up

I don’t know about you, but I cannot believe we are chugging toward the end of the year. Before things get really crazy with the holidays, family visits, and all that goes on at the tail-end of the year. I wanted to take a minute to offer some quick tips on your year-end photo clean up.

I’m hoping you took lots of photos this year. I’m hoping you took my advice and tagged every photo. I hoping your photo library is organized and backed-up.

I’m hoping you did it because I sure as heck didn’t.

 

That’s the thing about being an organized person vs. a non-organized person.

It’s not that O.p. are always on it. God forbid. It’s that we do it. Sometimes at the last-minute. But by gosh we get it done.

 

For those of us who were busy, swamped, lazy, forgot, meant to do it, sounded like a good idea, thought about it, wanted to do it….yadda yadda yadda. Here is your five-step year-end list for cleaning up your photos and getting ready for a fresh start in the New Year:

  1. Set-up a folder on your computer with just the year. I want to believe you did this in January…but again I just did it a month ago…so no judgment if this is just getting done now.
  2. Get all your photos off your phones/SD cards/cameras. That’s right round-up those photos. Get your kid’s photo. Your spouse’s. All the family photos that were taken during the year. Download your family photos to the file you set up in step one.
  3. Delete/Edit. Go through your pictures and delete any of the not great ones. Fuzzy? Dark? Who is this? Why’d I take that photo? All reasons to delete. Also, take a minute to rotate, crop, edit. Last in this step. Rename your photos. Make sure that you have date/location/event in the title.
  4. Organize your photos by date. Your digital device should have embedded date/time/location information into the meta-data of the photo. If you have photos that are missing that information, now is the time to add it. This is also a great time to add those tags.
  5. Back it up. Now that your pictures are beautiful and organized let’s back up those beauties. If you don’t have a preferred method, read my post from last week for some ideas. But please do something.

That’s it. Your photos are organized.

 

I’m hoping that you take lots of holiday photos to add to your year-end library. It’s nice to know that you can move into the holidays with at least one less task swimming in the back of your brain. In the next few weeks, we’ll talk about how to use this newly organized photo file to make great gifts, holiday cards, and year-end photo books.

Protecting Your Photos From Natural Disasters

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. Read more about this in our Disclosure Statement.

 

In the last few months, so many of our friends and family have been displaced by natural disasters. It’s heartbreaking on every level to see families forced to leave their homes, sometimes at a moments notice. Like many of you, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and wondering how I can help during this difficult time. It’s not much but my contribution is to begin a discussion about your family photos.

How are you protecting your family photos?

 

When I think about all the photos that the last few weather events have destroyed, I could just cry. Those are items that no insurance policy can replace. Once they are subjected to water or smoke they are seriously damaged.

The number one action you can take to protect your family photos is to get them digitized. A quick web search in your area “digitize photos” will give you lots of local options. If you are comfortable with technology, have a photo scanner, and want to do it yourself, that is a great option. If you want the advice of a professional organizer APPO and NAPO  have amazing professionals who live for helping. Lastly, you can use on online service. I’m leery of most of those but I have used Fotobridge in the past and they were wonderful.

Bottom line: To protect your irreplaceable family photos–get them digitized.

 

After your photos are digitized there are a number of ways you can protect them: cloud service, thumb drives, CDs, external hard-drives. It depends on how much you want to spend and how comfortable you are with technology. I’ve put together a list below of products that can help keep your photos safe.

Please take this time to get your photos digitized and preserved. It is well worth the investment to know that your family history is safe.

 

Photo ScannerPicture KeeperFire-Proof SafeExternal Hard-DriveFire-Resistant Bags
$59.90$57.35$198.69$69.99$36.95
Pro: Easy to use, compatible with PCs and Macs, front Screen lets you see imagePro: Easy to use, prevents duplicate images being saved, portable, easily placed in safe for even more protectionPro: Fire & water resistant, large size can fit multiple sizes of photos, AFTER FIRE REPLACEMENT GUARANTEE:
*In the event of a fire SentrySafe will replace your fire-resistant product to help get you back on your feet
Pro: Easy to use, portable, easily placed in safe for even more protectionPro: Easy to use, fire/smoke/water resistant, portable, easy to place in safe for even more protection
Con: Only one photo at a time. Only scans print photos not other media types (slides, negatives)Con: Easy to lose, can be damaged by heat or waterCon: not portable, more expensive than other options listedCon: can be damaged by heat or water, easy to misplaceCon: only one size

Purchase

Purchase

Purchase

Purchase

Purchase

Photo Organizing for Teenage Girls

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. Read more about this in our disclosure policy.

If you are lucky enough to have a teenage girl in your life…you know she has a LOT of photos.

 

Today I want to talk about photo organizing for teens. As many of you know, young people today take more photos in an hour than past generations took in a lifetime. This is due to easy access to digital cameras and the huge role social media takes in our world.

While many of the concepts in organizing for teens are the same as organizing adult digital photos, there are a few unique quirks. Teenagers are much more technologically savvy than most of us, they take WAY more photos, they have a robust social media presence, and they are more vulnerable to digital exploitation and bullying.

I recently heard a mother lamenting that her daughter’s computer had crashed because of the HUGE amount of digital photos saved to the hard-drive. I’m guessing many of you can relate. The mother believed the daughter had over 20,000 pictures saved. That’s a lot. Digital photo files are HUGE. They eat up your space.

 

One solution is to make sure that you have a regular, scheduled digital copies deletion. What many of us forget, not just teens is that unless you are diligent every time you throw a filter on a photo or do a little editing the computer saves multiple copies of that image. When you consider how many photos the average teenage girl takes and then add all the edited photos on top…it can add up fast.

After making sure that all the duplicates are deleted, the next step is to get your photos off your teen’s hard-drive. That can be either through a family cloud sharing service or an external hard-drive. I use both. I use Forever for my cloud service. I’ve never found a better cloud service. Forever is top of the line in data protection, ease of use, and affordability. That being said, I also use an external hard-drive.    I back up my entire computer on a bi-monthly basis and keep my hard-drive in my fireproof safe. Both are great. What’s important is that you have an easy to use system…that your teen will use.

 

While your teenage girl is undoubtedly more tech-savvy than any adult you know, she may need some guidance on what types of photos she saves and publishes. A lot of teen photo organizing is acting as an advisor about what photos to save.

The world we live in is consumed with social media and branding. If it’s not on Facebook it didn’t happen. If you don’t have 1,000 followers on Instagram you’re doing something wrong. This emphasis on having a “hot brand” adds a lot of pressure to young people, especially young women to depict themselves on social media as more mature than they are. It also makes them vulnerable to people who would exploit their naiveté.

One of the hardest, most frustrating conversations you will ever have in your life is trying to convince a teenage girl that she’s not as socially savvy as she thinks she is.

 

I’d rather poke myself with a sharp stick but sometimes it needs to be done. My advice is to stick with the concept of branding.

If you focus on asking her if her photo library, especially the photos she posts, are the best reflection of her brand you will get much further than asking if she wants to send her father to an early grave….and never get into college…and end up flipping burgers…and…and…and….

Your daughter understands branding, she has a brand….you may have never thought of it but you have a brand. We all do. Mine is photo organizer, wife, beagle lover, family adorer and that brand is reflected on my Instagram account (@thehodgepodgegirl). You won’t see a lot of off-brand photos of me….no bikini pictures.

When you discuss with your teenager what she wants her brand to be, emphasize that this isn’t about being a phony or having a false image. It’s not about trying to be what you think will be popular. It’s about showcasing your true self. You want people to come away from looking at your photo library feeling like they know you a little better.

I’ve put together a Photo Organizing for Teens bundle that will help you to guide your teenage girl through organizing her own photo library.

[purchase_link id=”2121″ style=”button” color=”gray” text=”Add To Cart”]

 

As you work with her…think about your digital photos and social media presence…Are you on brand?

Review of Three Common Duplicate Photo File Finders

Today I’m going to give a quick review of three common duplicate photo file finders.

 

When I meet with clients who are interested in organizing their digital files I have three initial questions:

  1. What do you want to use these photos for?
  2. How many digital photos do you have?
  3. What software or app do you use to delete duplicates?

The first question is: Why are you working with your digital photo now?

Is it because you have an event coming up? Or is it because you’ve finally reached the breaking point of not being able to find your photos?

The second question is the heart of digital photo organizing.

How many? You would be amazed. I am all the time.

I am amazed at the number of my own photo collection. I routinely get an answer in the 10s of thousands. To hear someone say 20,000 is not unusual. Can you imagine 20,000 photographs?! It’s mind-boggling. It’s no wonder people feel overwhelmed.

My third question is often met with a blank look…what duplicate removal software do you use?

Few people scan their photos for duplicates. The person who has 20,000 images…I would bet at least 7,000 are duplicates. Perhaps not exact duplicates but the same image with a different filter or a different cropping. Close enough that if you removed the “Meh” photos you would be left with a lot more space on your hard-drive and a much better photo library.

Here is a quick review of three of the most common duplicate photo file finders:

photo file finder|digital photos|organizing tips

5 Steps To Organize Your Family Photos For Cloud Storage

 

Are your family photos stored in the cloud?

How much space do you have left in the cloud?

Tell me about your backup strategy…do you use an external hard-drive, an online service, a zip file on a thumb drive, or are you strictly cloud-based?

 

These are standard questions that photo organizers like me ask every day and they are overwhelming. It can be SO confusing and disheartening when all you want to do is make sense of your family photos and suddenly you feel like an A-class technical dummy.

We’ve all been there…I’m there whenever anyone asks me about the storage capabilities of my phone…I don’t know…and I don’t care. There I’ve said it.

What the well-meaning person above is asking you is what method do you use to store your photos. It’s the same as asking do you prefer print photos, or digital, or slides. The technology has just developed new words and you should not be intimidated if you haven’t learned them yet. You will. I can help.

Today I want to talk about photo cloud storage. If you’re confused about what that means right now you are not alone.

 

Technically: it’s a way of storing your photos digitally on a server.

Practically: think of it as a giant file cabinet in someone else’s office.

The bottom-line goal of storing your photos in the cloud is that they won’t take up space in your space, photos are space HOGS, and if something happens to your computer, natural or technological disaster, your photos are still safe.

It’s the safest, easiest, most effective way to preserve your family photos. I strongly recommend it to all my clients. However, saving your photos to the cloud also happens to be the method you have the least control over and that can be tough when it comes to something as precious as your family photo history.

I’m going to give you 5 tips for organizing your family photos for digital cloud storage.

 

  1. Sort through your photos and place the photos you want to store in their own folder. 

You don’t have to save every photo onto the cloud. Cloud space is generally limited and there is no reason to have all of your Instagram or Facebook pictures saved. Those platforms are already saving those shots for you.

 

  1. Edit your photos before you upload/send them to the cloud.

While some cloud services let you edit photos after they are uploaded most do not. And even those who do, the editing functions are not great. So, take a moment to make sure all your photos are turned the right way. The lighting is right. The cropping is perfect. The filter is awesome. Bottom line: only send finished pieces to the cloud, not projects.

 

  1. Check your meta-data.

Did I just scare you with another word you have NO idea what it means? Breathe deep…you got this. It’s another term people will throw around to sound techy and is actually just another word for information. So, take a minute and check that the date is right. If there’s location info or facial recognition that it’s right…turns out the Mona Lisa is NOT my friend…whatever.

 

  1. Rename your pictures.

When you take a digital photo it gets a name like this: IMG_2433.jpg

Not a lot of help there. In the future when you visit your pictures in the cloud this is going to mean next to nothing to you.

What you want your photo’s name to look like is this: 2003-09-Honeymoon-Boston-Newport-Nantucket.jpg

I know without even seeing the image that this is a photo from my September 2003 honeymoon trip to Boston, Newport, and Nantucket…very helpful.

 

  1. Tag.

If you read my blog… or talk to me for five minutes you’ve heard about tagging. Those are the little words/phrases that get attached to each photo so that you can do quick searches. I recommend that you tag the heck out of your photos as a HUGE favor to your future self.

 

Let’s say time has gone by…you’ve just returned from a fantastic ski vacation with your friends and want to send a cute photo book as a thank you. An easy way to take a cute gift and make it an amazing gift is to add older photos. Now, if you tagged those old photos all you have to do is go to your cloud service type in “ski trip” and Bam!! all your old photos of ski trips pop up…how easy is that?! You can make an awesome gift with little work. If you haven’t…ugh…settle in for a long search…

 

I hope this post has not only given you some insight into preparing your family photos for cloud storage but has reduced some of the anxiety I know many have about cloud storage. It’s not anything to be intimidated by. It’s just a different way to store your photos.

 

What are some of the questions or concerns you have about cloud storage?

The Right Way To Organize Photos

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What is the right way to organize photos?

 

I know many people who move through life with ease get stuck on what to do with their family photos. It’s like there is a well-believed myth that there is a “right” way to organize photos and if you didn’t learn it, or instinctively know it, you’re somehow a lesser human.

Your mom, sister, best friend, mother-in-law tried to teach you, tell you, show you the right way to do it but you could just never get it right.

You hired someone to organize your photos and she told you how you “should” do it but alas you could never keep up with the system.

It all feels like a huge mess that you’ll just never get the gist of.

 

For the record: I’m a life-long organizer, a Certified Photo Organizer, and Queen of the bossy pants. Let me set you straight…ahem….THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY!!!

And anyone who tells you how you “should” do it is full of malarkey and you have my permission to say so.

Here’s the truth. There are many, many ways you could organize your photos. Some of the ways are easier, some more complicated but none of them is the way you SHOULD do it. If it doesn’t work with your photos, your life, your circumstance, the way you think, or the way you live it will NEVER work for you. It just won’t. Accept that and move on to what does work for you.

When I tell you how to organize your photos what I’m giving you is a framework, based on what we know now, about the best way to sort and protect your photos. These are industry norms. They work for most people and their photo organizing needs. A consistent system, a central location, and a reliable/flexible platform are really the basis of all photo organizing.

Does that mean it will work for you? No. I’d say it’s a good place to start.

 

All that being said, don’t be afraid to listen to advice. My goal main goal is to protect your photos for generations. I will always tell my clients to digitize their photos and store them in a cloud service. There are a lot of people who do not want to do that. They want to touch their photos, hold their photo albums, and think the cloud is a data mining conspiracy theory. Who is right?

All good organization starts with your organizing needs and incorporates your individual circumstances. Never be afraid to say what won’t work for you. There is no right way but there are better/easier ways. In the end, the right organizing system is the one you feel most comfortable with and only you can know that.