Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Picture is Worth a 1000 Boxes to Organize

I got a comment from a blog reader about organizing photos (thanks, Nancy!). This is a popular issue, and it seems that despite the age of digital photos, we have even more choices for our pictures and how to organize them. This topic can be huge, but I wanted to concentrate on managing hard copies of prints.

Photo boxes are an easy storage option but it is more difficult to show off your pictures. Photos can easily fall out of order (if you choose to have them in a certain order) or destroyed from excessive handling. Photo albums make the presentation of photos fairly effortless. There are fewer chances of getting fingerprints on them and pictures can be arranged (along with mementos such as invitations, ticket stubs, etc.). The downside of putting together an album is the fact that it can be a time-consuming task if you don't keep up with it. Another popular version of an album is to do a scrapbook, where you can choose an overall theme.

You can organize your choice of storage by event, (all weddings in one album, all family vacations in one separate box) by year, ("1978-1980") or by family member (i.e. by child). Label the inside or the outside of the album/box for speedy photo retrieval.

To get started? Take the box or pile of photos, and remove all outside envelopes, paperwork, negatives (yes, you can toss the negatives -- you don't need them in this day and age) so you only have the prints. Be sure that you check that there is a date on the print, or write the date on the back based on your knowledge or info from the photo developing envelope. Down to the prints? Okay, now use the 2-choice approach to sort the pile.

Whenever you have a task to do, especially an overwhelming one, create 2 (and only 2) categories. Limiting the categories or piles to 2 makes it is easier for your brain to choose, and thus you work faster. Often people get bogged down by too many sorting piles or categories, or places things need to go. It slows them down and doesn’t let them see progress. If at any time you’re interrupted or have to stop, you won’t have a problem putting just 2 piles to the side. After you do the initial sort, take 1 of the 2 piles, and think of another 2 categories that further sort/sub-divide the pile. For example, you could have “keep” and “toss”, or “save” and “giveaway”. Then take the “keep” pile and sort it into “put in album” or “scrapbook”. But only do that one pass of 2 choices at a time. Continue branching out by 2’s until your categories are as narrow as necessary.

Don't worry about the storage option (box, album) until you have your pile(s) that you've sorted through and are ready to be stored. Good luck!