Lynda Wylie of Tidy Rooms has been decluttering and organising her digital documents. In this post she explains how she did it, and how she keeps her digital world organised.
The Big Sort Out!
I recently sorted and organised every single digital document I own. I expected it to take me days of staring at my screen in mild agitation as I wrestled with thousands of little yellow folders. Surprisingly, it only took me about half a day to complete, and by the end of it I’d renamed, removed and reassigned almost all of the documents stored in my cloud. I now know exactly what documents I own, which folders to find them in and where to allocate new files. It was a hugely satisfying achievement that still feels absolutely wonderful!
The process was worthy of a name so I called it, The Big Sort Out!
The Big Sort Out was prompted by a renewal request from my existing file management provider. I knew there were free alternatives available but I just hadn’t got around to addressing the task until I was faced with a renewal bill.
Deadlines (especially ones involving payments) can be great motivators! I see this a lot when tackling physical clutter with my clients. The deadline of an impending house guest can be a fantastic motivator to clear out your spare room; a tea date with your children’s friends can be a catalyst to organise your toy cupboard; the builder starting your loft conversion may well get you sorting through dusty old boxes.
It’s the same with getting started on your digital clutter. Your motivator might be to stop paying for cloud storage, to eliminate the daily frustration of searching for missing files, or simply to reduce the volume of documents in storage.
If you’re ready to embrace your own Big Sort Out, here are three tips to help you get underway:
- Keep all your documents in one place. This will help you see what you’ve got and make it easier to spot what you no longer need. Gather together any floating documents from other devices and drives. You might simply create a folder on your desktop called Documents. Group similar topics together dividing them into sub folders. Keep your system simple, being consistent and specific with your document names so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for.
- Consider what you need to keep. Regularly delete any out-of-date, unused, or redundant documents and folders. It’s much easier to organise less so before filing every document you come across, consider whether you really need to keep it. Look at your directories and think about where you would look for it if you needed it.
- Make a plan to maintain your documents. When you go into a folder, develop a habit of getting rid of anything you spot that you no longer need. Whenever you create or receive a new document, make sure you file it quickly to prevent building up floating documents in random places. Think about choosing a regular interval, such as the end of the month or half yearly, to carry out a mini review. This will help ensure your system remains simple, ordered and clear, helping you avoid another Big Sort Out in the future.
If Lynda’s experience has encouraged you to get your digital world more organised, you can find APDO professional organisers who specialise in digital organising and photo management on our Find An Organiser database.
Do you have drawers, boxes or even an attic full of printed photos? Can you imagine having them organised and digitised, ready to share with family and friends via the internet or on memory sticks which you can hand down to future generations? Jo Jacob of Benella Home Organisation takes us through her 9 easy steps for organising printed photographs.
Organising your printed photographs
It is often said that in the event of a fire most people would save their pets and their photographs because both are irreplaceable, regardless of how much insurance they have. Our lives are operating at a slower pace post lockdown, so this is a great time to tackle the job of sorting out your printed photographs and putting them in a shareable format.
Here are some simple steps to help you get the job done:
- Clear a dining table or large flat surface ready for sorting.
- Gather all your photographs together, including those in albums and envelopes. Be careful when taking photographs out of albums, especially if they are stuck down. You can use dental floss to slide gently between the back of the photograph and the surface of the album or you can use a hairdryer to soften the glue.
- When you’ve collected everything together, you are ready for the first stage of sorting. You will need to have a binbag or shredder to hand for the photographs you are getting rid of and then take a deep breath, you can do this! Go through the photographs and dispose of any which are:
- Have a finger across the lens
- Showing people you can’t identify
- Multiples of the same scene
- Featuring a location you don’t recognise
- You are now ready for the second stage of sorting, and can follow this basic system:
- “A” Photos: Create a pile of photographs you love and want to display or put in albums
- “B” Photos: Make a second pile of photographs that you don’t necessarily want to put into albums or out on display but which you feel you should back-up
- Now go back through your A and B piles. Working at a table, and using Post-its to jot down your notes, start to put the photographs into date or story order. Ascertaining the date of an image can sometimes be difficult, so take note of the size and age of the people in the photograph and look for clues as to when it might have been taken. I often play detective and use a magnifying glass to count candles on a birthday cake or the printing on celebratory balloons.
- Once you have your photographs sorted and thinned out you need to scan them. You can do this yourself using a scanner or an iPhone or, if you have a lot of photographs, you can use a scanning company or an individual who offers this service. This is quite cost effective as scans work out at about 10p per photo.
- Now it’s time to back up all your scans. You can use iCloud, Dropbox, other sharing websites or memory sticks to store and share these precious memories.
- It is important to label the photographs on your computer so people will know what they are. This is called adding metadata.
- Themes such as school trips, birthdays, holidays, family celebrations work well if you are making a photobook as a gift or for your own collection because they tell a story.
I hope you find these tips useful and that you are able to get going with sorting out your collection of physical photographs.
If this post has got you thinking about organising your precious photo collection or memorabilia, you can find an APDO-registered photo organiser here.
You may have noticed when you head to our website to find an organiser that you can now search by specialism. One of these specialisms is ‘Photo Organising’ – but what is it all about and how can it help you? Ian Killick from Photorganised explains all.
Why has photo organising become a profession and a hobby?
People have been taking digital photographs for more than 20 years and are starting to realise not just how many they have taken, but that maybe they don’t have time to sort through them and view them properly. Add to that all the print or slide photos people have in cupboards and boxes which they now wish they had in a digital format to integrate with their born-digital photos, and you can see why people are looking for some help. This is where a photo organiser comes in: to save people time or provide the skills needed to kick-start a photo sorting project or take the job through to completion.
Why are photo organisers linked to APDO?
Photos are one of the most important categories which people need decluttering and organising, because they can hold very important, happy memories for people, or they can hold memories which people do not want a physical reminder of. People may wish simply to get their photos sorted and may ask a photo organiser for help with this. APDO members are professional declutterers and organisers who, whilst sorting a home or office, might come across photos which need organising. Some APDO members are trained in this specialist area and so will be able to help with the photos, or they can introduce their client to a specialist photo organiser. Some photo organisers are also members of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) and have passed their Certification Programme. We all work together to achieve the best solution for clients.
What kind of projects can photo organisers assist with?
Photo organisers can help with:
- Scanning slides, negatives and prints
- Photo editing
- Identifying and removing duplicate photos
- Photo storage and backups / archiving
- Creating albums, photobooks and wall art
- Integrating disparate photo sets together
- Setting up digital cataloguing / display software such as Apple Photos or Lightroom.
What triggers people’s photo organising projects?
From experience, the following are common trigger points:
- Upcoming milestones or events: Where photos are needed to create a personalised present. Examples are family yearbooks to surprise a spouse on their birthday or wedding photobooks to surprise the parents/in-laws at Christmas.
- Relationship break-up: When couples split, they sometimes want to refresh their family photo wall art around their house and ask for help to organise / filter their photos first.
- Businesses: Needing to find photos for an upcoming website refresh or publication, but their photos need organising first.
- Death of a relative: Families may like short-term help sorting through photos for the funeral order of service and display board at the wake. Or they may like long-term help sifting through the inherited photo collection and deciding which photos to keep and how to display and store them.
- Computer / phone failure: When someone’s electronic device crashes and they lose photos on them, it makes them think about how they could do things differently i.e. keep their photos backed up so if their device crashes again they won’t lose any precious memories.
- Frustration: Sometimes there is no set trigger. People get so fed up with not being able to find or view their photos that they just have to do something about it. Finding a photo organiser to help can relieve the stress for them.
Is there a particular photo organising setup you would suggest?
I have learnt over years of photo organising that there are many computer programs / apps, many platforms like Apple, Windows, Android and iOS, plus numerous combinations of these within each home and office. Many people like to stick with what they know and just make sure that everything is organised and backed up within their existing setup. Others are forced to change when software such as Picasa is not supported anymore and they have to migrate their photo collection to another program such as Lightroom. Photo organisers do not force a particular system on to their clients but make suggestions and help them with any changes.
How about some top tips?
- Try to set aside a regular time to work on your photos: e.g. Transferring them from camera to computer, deleting duplicates or adding filenames/tags, etc. It certainly helps gain momentum with your project if you are tackling it yourself or doing prep work before handing over to a Photo Organiser.
- Even if all your digital photos are not named and organised, make sure you have another copy of them, especially in another location (e.g. family member’s house or on the Cloud so if anything happens to one set, you still have your other set and have not lost any precious memories.
- Aim to make your photos more tangible and viewed more often: Even children who have grown up in the digital era and have never taken their camera film to be developed into prints, still love to view photos away from the screen and in a printed format like photobooks. They are great fun to make, help ensure memories are not forgotten and make great gifts!
Photos are so precious to most of us, they tell stories and help us remember important life events. Let’s help protect them so we do not experience a lost generation of photo memories and also make sure we are enjoying seeing all of our photos to the max! Thanks for reading this post!
If you have questions which haven’t been answered here, you can find your nearest photo organiser here.
Keep an eye out on the APDO blog in the future for more posts on photo organising.