2020 is over now and you have settled into the new year. Many might say "good riddance to 2020" and others may have fond memories, but regardless of what the year held for you, It was worth taking note of.
There are many ways to hold onto this information for ourselves and the future generations. A photo / memory book of your year may be the perfect momento with pictures and stories to explain the changes that occured, how the family members felt and what it has been like for them.
Maybe a slideshow saved on a USB stored with your vital documents is the right choice for you. Its super inexpensive and available to anyone using microsoft powerpoint on their computer. It is an easy option for the less techy individual.
Or even a video compilation of the families journey through the year. Quick, little videos taken on your phone video camera of loved ones talking about their year and what impacted them the most. If you are an iphone user, you can use the movie app on your phone to quickly throw together the compilation for viewing.
You need to find a way that is natural and easy for you to collect these memories or it will fall to the bottom of the to do list. Set an appoint ment with yourself to tackle this project, as you will one day be thankful that you did.
You could share your year in review with others or maybe just keep it as a video diary for yourself but even if it is just a story for your children similar to the "I had to walk uphill both ways in 10 foot deep snow everyday just to get to school" stories that we heard as kids, it is worth remembering and trying to find something in it to be grateful for now or if not now, then in the future.
Here's hoping for a great 2021!
The holidays seem to sneak up so fast these days. Before you know it, its the week before and you are rushing around like a mad woman. This year let's try something a little different. Lets make a plan.
1. Grab a piece of scrap paper and a pen and start brainstorming. Write down the 12 billion things floating around in your head that you know need to be done to prepare for the holidays (in no particular order yet).
Determine how many events you will be either hosting or attending and the requirements for each.
2. Now you can start grouping the duties in a way that works for you. Some will organize by event, others by categories (cleaning, cooking,etc.) and some by errand locations. It doesn't matter how you group these, just that you do.
3. Next its time to bring the family into it. Delegate some of the errands to other family members. You don't have to do everything on your own. It might even help them to feel more invested if they are involved in the preparation. I suggest keeping all of this information in a centralized location so all family members can see what needs to be done and by whom.
4. Time to whip out your calendar! Start adding the errands into your calendar. You are much more likely to complete the task if you set yourself an appointed date and time to do it. If you have delegated some tasks, you will have to let go of them. You may have to remind them to complete it, but you should let them do it their own way. Micro managing will make them miserable and they will no longer want to be involved.
5. Now its time to execute the plan and enjoy yourself. You should be able to relax a little more knowing that you have a plan and its in motion.
Will the holidays be perfect now? Maybe not, but that's OK too. Some of the best family stories come from plans falling off the rails. Just keep in mind that they won't remember if the holiday vase made it to the table, but they will remember how relaxed and happy you were spending time with them.
Five Simple Steps to Get Rid of Clutter and Organize Your Home and you'll be on your way to reducing stress from your life at home.
A pact, according to Dictionary.com is "a formal agreement...such as one between nations."
Well, I want you to have A-Pact with your clutter. Although this turns into more of a battle (that you win)...it's a great way to remember the steps to organization.
Here's what it means and how it works …
A-->ASK: Ask yourself what you want out of the room or area you're going to organize. What are the goals of the room? What are you shooting for by getting organized? And the thing is, you want to dig a little deep into how you want to benefit. This will help you get motivated and work towards the final goal.
For instance, if you're going to start the process of organizing paperwork in your home office, the question is "why do I want to organize this space?" The answer could be "I don't ever want to have a late bill again" or "I want to find any document in less than two minutes."
Once you've answered the question, then move onto step 2…
P--->PILE: What you do in this step is pile "like" items together. In your closet, you make a pile of all your shirts. Another pile of all your pants...
Or let's say we're in your home office (or wherever you do keep paperwork.)
Start with your file drawer, or grab a pile if that's what you've got for a "filing system." Put each piece of paper in "like" files. For example, all the insurance paperwork will go together. All of your 401K paperwork goes in another. All medical expenses from the present year in another.
A--->ANALYZE: Next you go through the piles and break them down even more, this time into two piles of "treasure" or "trash." I like to assign each category with treasure or trash so there's no in between. No room for "I'm going to decide on this later." No, decide right there and then if it's either staying or going.
No in between. Now the thing is, the trash doesn't necessarily mean it's going to the garbage. That step comes next... and remember the saying, one man's trash (or junk) is another man's treasure.
C--->CASH-IN: This is where you go through the "trash" and break it down once more, deciding what can be donated, what can be sold, and what's going to the dumpster.
Next step is where you get organized...
This is where, once you've gotten all the "trash" out of the area, you organize the items you've decided to keep. Tidy up, put it back in an ordered, organized fashion.
When you're organizing, always keep like items together whether on a shelf, in drawers or in any other type of storage you're using. Have items you use more frequently be more accessible and within reach, too.
So there you go...
Have A-PACT with your clutter today, okay?
For more help with this process, contact a professional organizer in your area to work with you on the process.
I was looking at my school day treasures book the other day and I was so thankful that my mother kept it for me until I was able to take it over. Its a little on the damaged side but it has become so valuable to me to look back and be reminded of the simpler times and how I have changed over the years. My next photo project is to scan all of the pages and mementos and turn it into a photo book so it can last me for several more years and my kid can get a kick out of laughing at pictures of my younger self and read about what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Its so important to collect, secure and organize kids memories for them to enjoy upon adulthood. Its such a thoughtful gift to give them one day to reminisce over. You'll want to get started at the beginning of a school year because its the easiest time to set it up while you are prepping for back to school.
It doesn't matter if they're a little older now as most people still have those lifetouch photo bags with left over school pictures from when they started school, so you can at least fill out most of the pertinent information and post a photo from previous years.
You can certainly purchase pre-made books like this for memory collecting at dozens of retailers, but they are often too small to keep much in the pockets and can get expensive. if you want to keep costs down, you can build your own for much less. All you need is a presentation binder of sheet protector pockets and some printables. I have provided links to access both below.
As far as what to keep in the pockets, report cards, class pictures without the cardboard frame, awards, samples of their work and photos of their art projects are the most popular but keep anything small that will make them go "awwwwe". Have fun creating your school treasures book!
Sorting your family photos can seem like a really daunting task, especially when confronted with boxes upon boxes of photos. I mean, where do you start, right?
Before I start a big project like this I make sure I have all the tools I'm going to need. If you have to continuously stop, go find something and then restart the sorting session, you're less likely to get much of anything done. So what exactly are you going to need?
My sorting toolkit consists of the following:
1. garbage bags
2. rubbermaid totes / bankers boxes
4. photo safe pen
5. sticky notes
6. sorting criteria
7. clipboard, pen
8. ziploc bags
No one has time to complete a large project like this in one sitting, so I have broken it down into more manageable pieces. I would usually set myself a timer for this first sort to ensure that I don't go down the rabbit hole of reminiscing over each photo and get lost in time. For this first sort all you will need from the kit is the garbage bag, and tote. You will only be sorting the photos into keep and toss based on the criteria you have prepared. Your criteria may look something like this, but make yours to fit your needs.
Toss the following photos:
1. Blurry: Unless it has supreme sentimental value, there is no need to keep these
2. Doubles / triplicates
3. Poor quality with a finger in the photo or something similar
4. Landscapes: unless they evoke a specific and sentimental memory you're not likely to look at the photos ever again from the trip you took back in 1982. Images of people will likely have much more meaning to you.
5. If you don't have a clue who the people in the picture are nor does anyone else in the family.
Now get comfortable and complete the keep and toss sort. Don't get stuck in the notion that getting rid of a photo of someone is akin to getting rid of the person. The first time I sorted my own photo collection, I had difficulty tossing the hundreds of extra school pictures I had of my daughter. It seemed wrong to throw away anything related to her, like it was bad karma or something. I finally went and asked for her opinion on the matter. She laughed at me. That's just stupid mom was the answer I received. I realized it was a non rational fear and threw them all out except for one copy of each. Now, I take no issue with tossing images of any type.
The second sort is more involved and will take more time, with a greater risk of getting drawn into the memories. Try to keep on task as much as possible. Once your project is completed you will have more time to appreciate your photos and their memories.
This time you will be sorting your remaining photos into broad categories. You will want to decide before you start this sort, what types of categories you will use. People, years, events, some other theme.
You'll need to get your containers ready (or just make piles). You will use the sticky notes to write down the categories as you come across them. If you come across photos that you need to write something on the back of them, use the photo safe pen. Other pens and some pencils will push through to the other side of the photo causing damage.
As you work through this sort, you may come across categories that have dozens of photos of the same event. Challenge yourself with those large categories and save only the best 5 of each event. Your photos should hold meaning and 25 pictures from your friend's cousin's wedding probably isn't necessary for the memories.
If your time runs out before this sort is complete, use the ziplocs to keep the photos sorted until your next session.
Choosing storage and backups for your precious photos is incredibly overwhelming and there are so many things to consider. I will speak to this more in upcoming posts and want to only discuss one of the many options available that I am familiar with and when you should consider using it. That is Backblaze.
Backblaze is an automated backup service. For a truly minimal fee, Backblaze, once installed, automatically backs up your entire computer and your external hard drive and is incredibly easy to recover.
The backup is stored off site in the cloud, meaning that unlike syncing services similar to DropBox, it will not slow down your computer and use up space on your hard drive. It works in the background to update new materials regularly.
This would be one part of the 3 part 3-2-1 backup suggested for all photos. 3 backups, 2 different formats, at least 1 off-site, in the cloud. Backblaze is a great option for the cloud storage part of your 3 part photo backup solutions with the added bonus of protecting everything else on your computer as well. I suggest using the free trial below first to see if its the right solution for you before purchasing.
I use SmugMug religiously in my photo organizing business. I use it as one of my main photo storage areas for both clients and my own personal photos. I love the flexibility of the settings of each folder and gallery so that people can only see, and download based on my permissions. I also love how easy it is to upload to galleries by simply sending people a customized link. I think it is one of the best options for families to all share access to their family photos. If after you watch the video, you want to try if for free, click on the affiliate link below.
Aside from a car or a whack of cash, a great memory is the best graduation gift I can think of. I don't know about you but that car and cash thing just aren't happening, so the video slideshow might be right up your alley.
Although it may seem like a quick and easy thing to do, and it can be if you aren't putting in any actual effort to make it personal, a thoughtful, memorable video slideshow can take a lot of time to prepare for and create. If you are going this route, I suggest giving yourself at least two months, depending on how much time you have to commit to it.
The first three weeks can be dedicated to locating and gathering the perfect pictures and deciding the theme for the project. Will it only include school photos or their life up to this point? Will you use just photos or will their be memorabilia and videos as well? Flipping through albums, boxes and our often disorganized digital image collections can take time. Especially if you get misty eyed reliving events as you go. Have a criteria for the types of pictures you are looking for to keep you on task. You may want to contact your graduate's friends for additional social media images to add in.
The next three weeks will likely involve digitizing the prints and memorabilia, editing any videos into usable clips setting up a storyboard with the order of the images as you want them to appear. To make it thoughtful and memorable, you want to tell their story not just a bunch of random images. Think about how you want to separate the parts of the story into chapters and add any captions you think may enhance the story. Don't go overboard with the captions, people don't want to have to read every slide.
The last couple of weeks will be uploading into your chosen software, editing the appropriate slide lengths and transitions and choosing and adding the music, fades and timing. Remember that you will need to check into copyrights for images and music if you intend to show it outside of your event or home. You don't want to violate copyright if its going on-line. I use Proshow Pro software but there are many excellent options available out there.
If you find this overwhelming, simply collect your images and videos and find someone local to do the work for you. Just be sure to give them the necessary time to do a great job on it as well. Your slideshow will likely be something they will remember and watch over and over again over the years, so all the work will be worth it.