Do you have boxes of photos, videos, and other media sitting around your home, vulnerable to the elements? You’re not alone - it’s quite common for people to inherit photo and media collections from loved ones, often thrown in a box without proper storage considerations to preserve those precious family memories. Maybe you’re considering getting those photos organized and cataloged for the family, but the task seems overwhelming and daunting. If this sounds like your situation, it might be reassuring to know that your collection can get organized and become accessible for you, your family, and future generations. Knowing where to begin is often the largest obstacle - here are some tips for getting started:
Imagine your ideal situation
Before getting started with a large project, it’s helpful to take a look at the big picture and imagine what your ideal situation looks like when you’re done. This acts as a compass to lead you through. Think of your own life as well as your family history as a series of stories, and how you’d like to tell them. How do you picture yourself and your family accessing your photos, videos, and other memorabilia? The options are seemingly endless, but what matters most is that you choose options that work best for you and your family. Some ways people like to honor their memories are:
Hunt and Gather
Many people have inherited photos, slides, film reels, and family documents from loved ones who have passed, and as a result, these are squirreled away in little pockets throughout the house. Before starting, I believe it’s best to gather everything you’d like to organize into one central location, and this includes digital media. For digital media, do your best to get everything onto one computer, with at least one backup. If that’s not possible, do your best to list and locate the devices that are holding media. You may need to have conversations with family members - for example, if your sibling has all the slides from a family trip long ago, let them know of your plans. Who knows, you might even get help with your project!
Sort by Media Type
Group by type - all photos together, slides, film reels, VHS, correspondences, family history documents, and digital formats. This crucial step will be your way of taking inventory of each category - your big picture view. Getting a good look at everything helps you decide how you want to break this large project down into smaller, more manageable projects. Choosing the format you’re most eager to work with could be a good jumping off point - we have to start somewhere!
Have you gotten your family photos and memorabilia in order, or is this a project for your to-do list? What does your ideal situation look like? I’d love to hear from you!
Can you believe January has come and gone so quickly? If you’ve recently begun your decluttering journey, I hope you’re feeling like you’re seeing some progress toward those goals! For those of us who have been working on new habits, February can be a make-or-break type of time. If you live up north, the days are still short and often dreary. The urge to snuggle up on the couch with your favorite TV shows or books is strong, believe me - I fight it, too.
When working on a long-term project with someone, a common perception shared with me is “when we’re done, then I can enjoy XYZ.” Waiting for a day that may be a year or more away to enjoy your home can feel overwhelming, and like that day may never come. Instead, I like to suggest focusing on one area or part of the routine at a time that has changed for the better, and continue appreciating the positive changes. While it’s helpful to be clear on what you’d like to work on and diligently check items off that to-do list, it’s also important to take a look at what you have accomplished and enjoy those small victories along the way.
Here are some suggestions for starting to love the space you’re in, and making the best of your situation right now, no matter where you might be on your decluttering and organizing journey!
At the very beginning, it’s helpful for some to shift their mindset a bit. When people reach out for organizing assistance, they’re overwhelmed, don’t know where to begin, and are unsure about how everything is going to pan out. This is a good time to take a minute to appreciate what’s going well: having a home to live in, the courage to call for help, and assembling the support needed to improve your situation.
Just deciding where to begin can feel like a monumental task! I always suggest starting small - a small project or habit change at a time add up to make a big difference. Designating a place for keys and sticking to that new habit takes some stress out of leaving the house. Paring down excess toiletries from the bathroom eliminates extra choices and streamlines wake up and bed time routines. Noticing how these changes are affecting us in a positive way affirms our hard work and provides some momentum to continue making small adjustments.
Carve Out a Space to Relax
In my November 2019 blog, I talked about the concept of hygge (hoo-ga) and carving out a “hyggekrog,” or cozy corner. What’s your go-to relaxation activity? Is it stretching, knitting, snuggling with a book, taking a bath, your favorite TV show, or some other hobby? Designate a space in your home where this activity will occur, and commit to enjoying it 2-3 times a week, or whatever frequency feels most sustainable for you. This reinforces a new perspective, "my home is inviting and enjoyable."
Edit High Traffic Areas
There are places in our homes that we visit each day, such as the bathroom, kitchen, and entryway. You might want to start with editing your closet in order to reduce the stress around getting dressed in the morning. Carving out zones in your entryway that support your lifestyle helps take some of the mental load off arriving/departing your home. Knowing that your keys, shoes, jackets, shopping bags, and mail, etc. have homes provides clarity and streamlines these routines. Think about your situation and adjustments you can make to simplify your day to day life.
Reflect and Celebrate Your Accomplishments
If you’ve been going through the process for any length of time, you might hit a point where it feels like “gosh, there’s still so much left to do!” Think about where you were in the beginning of your journey, and how much easier your day to day life is to manage. Less time looking for things, arriving on time for work and appointments, and refreshed spaces to enjoy.
Have you been working on adjusting spaces in your home or routines in your life? What do you love about your home? I’d love to hear from you, let’s get the conversation going! Leave a comment down below.
Happy New Year! Not only are we starting a new year, we’re at the beginning of a new decade, which feels big and significant. This is a time of reflection and resolutions, and there are as many different resolutions as there are people making them. The most common ones I hear about are home and health related. Being a part of the organizing industry, you can bet I’ve heard from a number of people who are inspired to reduce the clutter in their lives this year! Every January, NAPO (the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) hosts GO (Get Organized) month. GO month is about promoting the benefits of working with an organizing professional, as well as highlighting the educational opportunities for NAPO members.
If you’re feeling like your home and routine could use some decluttering, you aren’t alone. Research shows that people living in cluttered spaces tend to feel more stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed, which lead to poor eating and sleep habits. A cluttered space may not be the first thing we think of as a stressor, but it’s true that the clutter affects our feelings of ease at home - I've certainly felt it and seen it in action. It’s important to note that each person has a different threshold for clutter in their home. Some people enjoy more open space while others feel more comfortable surrounded by a larger volume of items.
Maybe you’ve been living in a home that you feel is cluttered and would like to change your situation. It’s possible that you’ve made the attempt to fix it on your own and just can’t seem to “get it right.” Not to worry, everyone needs a little help sometimes! It’s a great first step to acknowledge the desire for change, and even more brave to try and fix it. Someone looking to get healthier might start working with a personal trainer or nutritionist in order to get expert advice and coaching. We hire accountants, lawyers, plumbers, and other experts to help us in different areas of our lives. Along those same lines, someone looking to declutter and organize their home and/or routine might look to an organizing professional for guidance with their organizational goals.
If you’d like some outside help, be assured there are likely a few professionals in the area to reach out to! I would recommend seeking out a member of NAPO. NAPO members are bound by a code of ethics, participate in ongoing education, network with their colleagues to find the best fit for you, and are tapped into a bounty of resources. It’s important to consider their experience with your particular problem, areas of specialty, and how comfortable you feel when talking to them on the phone.
A professional organizer takes the time to get to know you, understand your needs, and has the skills to work with you to achieve your goals. They’ll have a good idea on where to begin with helping you problem solve and provide encouraging support along the way. And with someone by your side, you’ll be likely to meet your goal much faster than if working alone.
If you’re ready to reach out to an organizing professional near you, feel free to contact me or visit the NAPO Find a Pro Directory.
Would you like to read more about preparing for change? Check out my blog post: Developing a Healthy Mindset and Preparing for Change
Feel like giving it a go on your own? Check out 3 Simple Organizing Projects to Jumpstart Your Spring Cleaning and 7 Tips for Paring Down Your Wardrobe
Psychology Today, "5 Reasons to Clear the Clutter Out of Your Life," https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201705/5-reasons-clear-the-clutter-out-your-life
NAPO GO Month: https://www.napo.net/page/GOMonth2020