Where Do I Begin (the eternal organizing dilemma)?

A new twitter follower said, “I really would like to do ‘something’ with my photos, but I don’t know where to start!”

She is overwhelmed and I know she is not alone. Once I get overwhelmed, I go into avoidance behavior. (if I pretend it’s not there, maybe it will go away…)

Of course, I know that the avoidance weighs on me, and whatever I was trying to avoid becomes bigger and more powerful.

I say, take back the Power!

Most of the time, once I tackle the project I’ve been avoiding (the task I’m usually avoiding is cleaning my desk), I realize that I made the project bigger and more insurmountable than it really is.

Your photos are no different.

So, here are a few small suggestions for getting started doing SOMETHING with your printed photos. (we’ll cover digital photos in another post)

Although Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind”, I’m going to suggest that to keep from being overwhelmed, you do step one and two without worrying about the end result. And as you do the first two steps, you may find some inspiration sneaking into place…

One, gather your printed photos in the same temperature-controlled place (see my last article about getting Hurricane Ready… you could insert all other types of disasters here, natural and otherwise.)

Two, buy some type of photo safe container and put the photos in it. They don’t have to be organized, just safe. In my previous post, I recommended a product that I like and sell, however, whatever you choose to purchase, look for these two qualities:

  1. the container should block light (light damages photos so, no clear plastic containers)
  2. made from a material that is non-reactive to photos. (If you want some nerdy details, here is a great link to the National Archives Website)

Once you’ve completed Step 1 & 2, you can begin to think about this question, “What is it that I want to do with my photos?”

If the answer is I’d like them organized in the boxes in some fashion, then that is your next step. Although arranging your photos in chronological order is very tempting, it is the most time-consuming and perhaps the least useful.  Consider arranging by family member, holidays and events, or use Stacy Julian’s Library of Memories approach, it’s up to you! Make it easy, make it fast and don’t sweat over each photo.

If the answer is I’d like to create photo albums, then, ask yourself this question, “Which of these photos means the most to me right now?” If you hear yourself saying “I should”, unless the should is intimately connected to the photos that mean the most, don’t go there! The photos which are most important, that provoke an emotional response are a sure bet for a great album that you can finish. If you have even just one album (scrapbook or slip-in style) of photos you really love, you’ve accomplished something genuinely worthwhile.

If you still feel overwhelmed, get help. Leave me a comment and I’ll see if I can help!

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3 Responses to “Where Do I Begin (the eternal organizing dilemma)?”

  1. This was a really great post, but I am still in the overwhelmed state. I have gathered every photo I have ever taken and have them all in one spot. I now need to move on to the organzation piece. I think I am going to go through them and get rid of duplicates (either offer them up to other family members or just trash them) – maybe that will take me down from 14 containers to 10 – LOL! I will keep you posted on how I am progressing.

    Mimi 🙂

    • Mimi, getting rid of duplicates/blurries/generally bad photos is a great next step! Join us on Saturday if you want company while you whittle it down (I promise I’ve got some big trash bags!).

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