It’s a new year and an excellent time to resolve to unclutter your life, home, or workplace. One place to start is your print photo collection, so you can finally get rid of all the boxes and display and share as many of your memories as possible. We help guide you through assessing and organizing your photo collection!
But photos aren’t the only thing cluttering up your environment. We share ways to clean out closets and maximize storage at home and in business, from important documents to clothing and kids’ toys.
Assessing Your Clutter
First, let’s talk about goals for your photo collection. Sorting through photos is similar to sorting other things in your household or office space. Choose a specific room or set of storage boxes and categorize your items according to their level of importance.
When it comes to photos, you might want to ensure they are preserved and accessible for future generations. Would you like to create albums, collages, or a tribute to specific family members? Who do you want to share them with, and what is the easiest way to do it?
- Keeping your current favorites handy in digital files on your computer or USB
- Archiving older photos and backing them up in an external drive
- Using cloud storage applications for backup and sharing with family and friends online
To find your best images when you need them, you need to purge the collection of duplicates, poor quality photos, and those that are out of focus or unflattering. What should you do with them?
- Save duplicates for other family members who want them
- Donate them to historical societies or museums that might be able to use them
- Shred and dispose of them
Newer photos are okay to shred and recycle, but older photographs have a cocktail of chemicals that aren’t eco-friendly. If you tear them in half and they come apart in layers, they will be considered hazardous waste. They should go into the regular trash or be sent to a company that can properly dispose of photo paper, plastic film reels, and negatives.
Organizing Your Mess at Home or Work
One of the greatest benefits of organizing your photos is gaining more space. Boxes of old print photos are scanned or photographed to create high-quality digital copies, consolidating original prints to one storage container or eliminating them entirely. But you can do this with more than photos.
Organizing at home
Become a paperless household by scanning documents like:
- Tax documents
- Legal documents
- Insurance policies
- School report cards, test papers, projects
Save these digital copies using a labeling system that’s logical and searchable. Name your files using descriptive terms for what they are and add a date for when you received or preserved them.
Clean out your kitchen cabinets, bedroom closets, and bathroom drawers by tossing some of these old, broken, or outdated items taking up valuable space:
- Holiday decorations
- Home decor
- Linens and towels
- Kids toys
- Memorabilia and mementos
- Sports equipment
The items you use the most should be in a handy place, while less important things (maybe seasonal or once a year) can be put in a durable container on an accessible shelf or space in the garage, basement, or attic.
Organizing at Work
In today’s world, we rarely save paper in the business environment. File cabinets full of records can be scanned, and the originals shredded or stored offsite. Search for local shredding services, like Xpress Shred, as well as storage facilities. Not only does this open up your workplace, but you now have easier access to files from any location. Some easy to use applications that Picture This Organized uses to save and share files include:
- Google Workspace to increase productivity and efficiency in team settings
- Dropbox, Google Suite, OneDrive for creating documents, storage, and sharing
It’s important to organize equipment and supplies by their function. That means separating client supplies from employee office supplies. We store each client’s photo and memorabilia collections in a locked cabinet labeled with their name, the service we are providing, and project status. We also keep any personal items separate from business.
At work, your calendar gets cluttered too. Organizing your schedule separates personal activities from business obligations by color coding, time blocking, or choosing specific days to keep like things together, such as:
- Personal days for medical appointments, yoga class, family time, or other self-care
- Client sessions or meetings with staff members
- Adding time to your schedule between calls, meetings, and other activities so you have time to prepare and don’t get overwhelmed.
Securing Everything You Want to Keep
You want to be sure you can grab or locate your most important things should a disaster strike. To do that, you need a plan. Create a list of items to preserve and protect and make sure they are always kept in a safe place. Have more than one copy of all your essential images, documents, and records in two areas:
- Local copies are created with daily backups to a local computer hard drive, then backed up to external drives, clearly labeled with the date and time. At home, they may be kept in a fireproof safe. At work, they should be kept in locked metal cabinets, along with client materials, to find them in a hurry and avoid potential business interruption.
- Online copies involve backing up computer files daily to the cloud in a password-protected account. Pictures of valuable or sentimental personal belongings, employee files, and client accounts can be accessed remotely using applications like Dropbox and Google Drive, even if your computers are damaged or stolen.
Sharing Important Images and Information
Sometimes we have a designated person or family member who knows where important items are should something happen to us. Or you might want several people to have access to very meaningful photos and memorabilia. Share the following things securely to ensure they are accessible only to those we know and trust:
- Important legal and financial documents
- Photos, videos, and audio files
- Medical records
As email attachments are not considered secure, there are two ways to protect items when sharing:
- Give up the original copy and deliver it by mail or in-person
- Set up an online account with password information shared separately with family so everyone can access or enjoy it.
You can unclutter your life, home, and workplace by taking it one step at a time and prioritizing the list of spaces you want to clean out. If you’re not up to doing it yourself, delegate the reorganization to an expert! We recommend local services for your home and office, such as:
- Leigh Dyer of In Dire Need
- Sarah Gabriele of A Place for Everything
- Judith Houlding of Space Editing
- Bev Moranetz of Streamline Organizing
Picture This Organized would love to help assess, organize, and secure your photo collections so you can preserve your family history and share it with friends and family. Contact us to unclutter your life and commit to your New Year’s resolution!