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Organizing Memories 101: Lessons in Photo Organization

This post is part of our ongoing Year of GO (Get Organized) series, written by professional organizing experts who show you how to tackle clutter in one room or area of your home.

By Jody Al-Saigh, Picture Perfect Organizing

You don’t need an advanced degree in photography or design to keep your photos organized and displayed beautifully. Organizing photos is similar to many other types of organizing you would do around your home. Here are some quick lessons in organizing your memories.

Why do you want to organize your photos?

Think about all the reasons you want to organize your photos. This will help you set your goals for the task at hand.

Some reasons that people might have for organizing photos:

  • To preserve precious memories. If photos or slides are stored incorrectly they can be damaged. Photos should never be stored in a basement or attic due to moisture and temperature fluctuation.
  • To share the photos with others. What is the point of taking all the photos of your kids, or your vacation, if they stay in a stack on a shelf or never even leave the memory card from your digital camera?
  • Free up the space where the photos are currently being stored. If you do print your photos, they can pile up fast unless you deal with them regularly. Just like any clutter in your home such as paper, mail, clothing, or toys – photos can take up valuable space.

How to get started?

Gather and sort. You won’t know what you have if your photos are scattered all over your home. Collect photos from every place they are stored and get them into one spot. A good area to work should have a large flat surface such as a dining room table or a bed in a guest room.

Sorting can be done in different ways:

  • Chronological: Sort by year or month. Start with the most recent photos and work backward.
  • Theme: Group like items together and toss the duplicates. People tend to have multiple copies and then never use them.  Sort into categories such as vacations, weddings and other life cycle events, or by a family member.

Did you find some old photos in your collection? Are there prints that are damaged?

You’ll need some restoration. Services like Photo Rescuer can help. These services can scan in your photos and fix tears, perform color correction, even remove items or change a backdrop.

Do you have old slides or a large collection of photos that are going bad?

You might be better served to scan them all. Then you can enjoy them digitally. Send them to a service like Scan My Photos. If you are nervous about boxing up your heirloom photos, check for local vendors that perform photo and video services.

Is everything in your collection digital?

Digital photography is here to stay. But if all of your photos live on your camera memory card, they are not serving you well.  Take the time to set up file folders on the computer and be sure to have a double back-up system in place for your treasured family memories.

If you have digital photos, but still want prints or albums, there are many online photo sites that are easy to use. You can upload your pictures with a few clicks and even make beautiful printed books or other gifts like mugs and tote bags. Two popular sites are Kodak Gallery and Shutterfly.

Got stuff?

Sometimes the collection of memories includes more than just photos. Perhaps you have a program book or ticket stub from an event. Maybe some children’s artwork. Or a prized sports medal. These items also need to be displayed or stored. Sometimes these items can be displayed easily alongside a photo in a book or shadow box display. But if the item is large, 3-dimensional, or bulky, consider taking a photo of the item and discarding the actual piece.

Time to display

Scrapbooking is a hot trend, but it is not for everyone. And, if you do a lot of scrapbooking, you will also have to organize all of the stickers, papers, and tools as well.

If you do choose albums, always be sure to choose products that are archival and acid-free. Websites or catalogs such as Exposures and Light Impressions are two great sources for acid free and archival albums, photo-safe marking pens, tapes, glues and more. Craft stores like Michael’s and even Target have also started to carry scrapbooking products to keep up with the trend.

If you choose to store your photos in boxes, those same vendors also have plenty of decorative or functional boxes for photos. The Container Store is one choice for photo boxes in acid-free plastic or archival shoeboxes in decorative colors. Another great box for organizing and sorting is the Creative Memories Power Sort Box. Look for a box that has dividers to help you sort your photos and label them into whatever categories you choose.

Keep it up

Just like other organizing, keeping up with your photos is an ongoing task. Try to go through photos on a monthly basis. This includes downloading whatever is on your camera or sorting through prints when you get them developed. Labeling as you go will keep you from a lot of guesswork down the road. Have empty boxes or albums on-hand to continuously work on maintaining your precious memories.

Class dismissed!

Jody Al-Saigh received her B.S. in photojournalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and spent 10 years working in print production and graphic design. In 2008, Al-Saigh became a professional organizer and started her own company, Picture Perfect Organizing. Along with her expertise in all areas of residential organizing, she specializes in helping clients organize their photos and often speaks to groups about photo organizing. Jody Al-Saigh is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO). She is a Certified Personal Photo Organizer.

Follow Jody on all your favorite social media sites for free, weekly organizing tips:

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Organize the Way Your Brain Works

This post is part of our ongoing Year of GO (Get Organized) series, written by professional organizing experts who show you how to tackle clutter in one room or area of your home.

By Theresa Finnigin

How long have you lived in the home you live in now? Whether it’s been one month or 40 years you know that having something in a certain place just feels natural. If you moved your t-shirts in your dresser from the top drawer to the bottom drawer it would throw you off, right? When you move into a new house, the same can be true!  It took a couple weeks for things to start to feel natural when we moved into our current home last year.  The first room I unpacked was the kitchen.

As a professional organizer, I followed all of my “organizing rules”! Specifically I put everyday dishes and silverware in the cabinets closest to the dishwasher so unloading would be quick and easy. I put the silverware in the drawer across from the dishwasher. But every time for the past month I’ve needed a knife, fork or spoon I reach for a different drawer.

There’s something natural about reaching for this specific drawer rather than the one where I put the utensils. I was consistently opening the wrong drawer. So, I broke my rule of storing dishes close to the dishwasher. Sometimes it’s more efficient to organize a space to what’s natural for the user.

I often tell clients “we’re going to organize this space the way your brain works.” So I had to take my own advice. After a few weeks of opening the wrong drawer every morning to get my spoon for my cereal, I caved. I reorganized the kitchen drawers to fit the way my brain works. So now I can easily and naturally find the spoons. I can’t say the same for my husband…it took him a few days to find the spoons!

Is there a space in your house that you always look for something but you store it elsewhere? If this is a consistent habit…change it. Organize your home (your bedroom, your office, your closet, or your kitchen) the way your brain works… even if your brain doesn’t always make the most sense.

Theresa Finnigin is a professional organizer, speaker, writer and owner of Ready Aim Organize. Theresa is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). The mission of Ready Aim Organize is to rid homes and offices of clutter and chaos to ensure time is not wasted and each day is more productive and peaceful than the one before! Although currently based out of Northern San Diego County, Ready Aim Organize serves clients all over the country through virtual organizing.  Get great organizing tips from Ready Aim Organize on Facebook.

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Get Organized for Healthier Eating

This post is part of our ongoing Year of GO (Get Organized) series, written by professional organizing experts who show you how to tackle clutter in one room or area of your home.

By Standolyn Robertson

You’ve made a commitment to more organized, healthier eating.

So how do you set yourself up for success?

  • Cluttered counters make meal preparation unappetizing. Kitchen counters are not for storage, other than a few basic, everyday items that need to be close at hand. Keep your counters clear and you may find yourself inspired to flex your culinary skills and try out new, healthy recipes.
  • A grocery list that is planned and organized makes for a quick and easy shopping trip. Make your grocery list and stick to it. Build your list by selecting your meals for the week from your Master Cookbook–see Kitchen Duty Just Got a Lot Easier for steps to build your own cookbook.
  • An empty stomach leads to an overstuffed shopping cart and a lengthy grocery receipt! We all know what happens when we pop into the grocery store when we’re hungry! If you intend to get your groceries on the way home from work, be sure to plan for a healthy snack before arriving at the store.
  • A little time spent planning your lunch can go a long way toward staying on track with your goals. Pack a lunch the night before so you can just grab it and go on those busy weekday mornings. Your organization will reduce stress and the temptation to indulge in an unhealthy, expensive lunch!
  • Protein in the morning helps you to stay more alert throughout the day. Think about what you eat! Grabbing a muffin at the start of the day may seem like an easy fix, but you’re not doing yourself any favors–the fat and calories will catch up to you in the afternoon.
  • Hydration is crucial for digestion and overall health. Don’t forget to hydrate! Invest in a refillable water bottle so you have a healthy option at your side. A reusable bottle also cuts down on waste and brings you one step closer to greener living.

With focus and a determination to organize your goals, you will have the potential to make a positive impact on your health and sense of well being. The benefits of keeping things in place are priceless.

Standolyn Robertson, professional organizing expertStandolyn Robertson, a professional organizing expert, founded Things In Place Organizing Services in 2000. Since then, she has connected with hundreds of individuals and organizations through her coaching, consulting, and speaking. She is regularly featured on A&E’s “Hoarders” as she helps chronically disorganized people get their homes in order.

A Certified Professional Organizer (CPO), Standolyn has a Level II Specialist Certificate in Chronic Disorganization from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD), formerly NSGCD, and is a Certified Relocation and Transition Specialist (CRTS). She has served her profession as president of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), and Programming Director of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD).

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January Is GO Month

It’s a new year. So……Get ready…..Get set……GO.

Get Organized, that is. January has been declared Get Organized Month by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). We think starting out the year with a plan to organize is a great idea. Notice, we didn’t say you need to organize your life; let’s work on organizing your home first–choosing something big sounds good, but in reality, you could be setting yourself up for failure.

Don’t get us wrong on this. Set your goals; own your goals; heck conquer your goals. We just want you to succeed.

How do you do it? How do you make 2012 the year to get out of the “if I had time column” and into the fist pumping jumping up and down “I DID IT” column?

You know the answer to this.

  • Write down what you want to organize in 2012.
  • Ask your self questions: Do you really need to keep something? Why? Where can you store it? Asking questions like this can help you from becoming overwhelmed.
  • Establish a timeline and break the goal into sections (and make them attainable). You’ve heard this before, but, how do you eat an elephant? One tiny bite at a time.

We’re going to help you with this. We’re searching the web for tips and ideas–trying them out, tossing what doesn’t work and keeping what does. This will be a project where you can share your goals, your successes and setbacks with others. Check in and let us know how you’re doing.

Each month in 2012, we’re going to have a guest post from some of our favorite professional organizers. We’re super excited about the potential we’re about to unlock for all of us this year. We can’t wait! Can you?

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Are Loyalty Cards Dragging You Down?

How much does your purse weigh? Most of you are probably shrugging your shoulders, but thinking “Too much!” On average, most purses weigh 7 to 10 pounds. What’s the one item in your purse that weighs the most? If you answered wallet, then you’re right!

Anything you can do to lighten the load is a bonus, which is why we found and fell in love with a great smart phone app called Key Ring. Using this app will take some weight out of your purse and off your shoulders, both figuratively and literally.

Pick a card, any card

Remember back a few years ago. You were out shopping and when you checked out, you were asked if you wanted a loyalty card–to earn points, cash back, special offers–and all lured you in. Before you knew it, you had a bulging stack of cards in your wallet.  It wouldn’t close anymore (think George on Seinfeld) so you had to get a second wallet just to store the blasted loyalty cards. The big question with these cards is, can you find the right one when you need it? Even if you keep them in a special compartment in your purse organizer, you still have to drag them out and spread them out on the counter like you’re getting ready to perform a magic trick, hoping the right one jumps into your open hand.

Let Key Ring do the heavy lifting

Well, no more. You can still get the savings, but without carrying around extra cards. We researched various ones and found a nifty app, Key Ring, that does the heavy lifting for you. It stores your loyalty cards right on your smart phone, freeing up precious space in your purse and giving you optimized savings at the touch of your finger. We chose this app based on positive customer reviews and because it works on iPhones, Androids, Windows Phone 7, and Blackberry devices.

Once you download the app, you simply open the app, select “Add Card” and then you can scan your loyalty card. Our test phone was an Android, and unfortunately we couldn’t get any of our loyalty cards to scan, so we had to input them manually.  At a minute per card, this was easy to do and wouldn’t stop us from using this app going forward.  If the merchant is signed up with Key Ring (and hundreds are), the card will be stored with a logo image of the store.

Every card at your fingertips

How does this work from there?  Whenever you’re ready to check out, instead of pulling out the actual store loyalty card, you pull out your phone, open up Key Ring, select the right card and have the cashier scan your phone. We found that sometimes it scanned and sometimes it didn’t. Regardless, the cashiers were able to manually input the loyalty card number and we were still walking around with a much lighter purse.

This app doesn’t just lighten the physical load in our purse. Our favorite part of the app is the ease in finding a “card” on our phone. Cards are stored alphabetically making it quick and easy to select the correct one every time. (Have you ever had the nightmare of a store scanning the wrong loyalty card and having it work?) Sorting out those messes is time-consuming and easily avoided when using something as easy as Key Ring.

An additional bonus is special offers and coupons offered directly through the Key Ring app.

We’re all about organizing and streamlining here at Purse Perfector, and we think this is a great little tool to help you along the way. Why make it harder than it has to be?

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Making a List and Checking It Twice

This time of year, when you’re trying to juggle 20 balls while walking on a tight rope, it’s easy to forget something. We thought we’d provide a helping hand by putting together some holiday checklists of things you might want to do. Hopefully our lists will help you have a less stressful holiday season without so much of a chance of realizing at the last minute you’ve missed an important detail or tradition.

Around your home

  • Decorations put up inside (includes switching out guest hand towels in bathrooms, special soaps, and candles)
  • Decorations put up outside (be sure to check your supply of salt or deicing products)
  • Map out menus and grocery shopping lists completed for any special meals and/or parties you will be hosting.
  • Schedule extra house cleaning sessions with a cleaning service early in the month (you’re not the only one who’s getting ready for holiday entertaining)
  • Find a holiday music playlist you like on Pandora. Listen all day or just be ready for when you have guests over–crank up those computer speakers or stream Pandora to your TV using devices such as Roku. (If you don’t use Pandora already, it’s free to create an account and you will fall in love with the flexibility of creating and listening to your own music.)
General tasks
  • Gift list made and complete (yes, this does mean all of the gifts have been bought).
  • Hostess gifts purchased (and you might want to have one or two extra gifts on hand in case someone stops by and brings you a gift and you have nothing to give in return).
  • Gifts wrapped, labeled, and sorted (gifts for under your tree, gifts to take to friends, gifts for other family members, etc.–sort them all out now and put the gifts that won’t be under your tree into tote bags so you can grab them on your way out the door).
  • Gifts which need to be mailed are “in the post” and on their way. (Holiday USPS mailing schedule here)
  • Invitations mailed to any parties you plan on hosting.
  • RSVP to any party you’ve been invited to attend.
  • Holiday cards:
    • purchased
    • signed
    • labeled
    • mailed
  • Tickets purchased and calendar scheduled for any special holiday concerts, plays, or events you want to attend.
  • Decide now who you’re going to tip this holiday season–write out the thank you cards, insert the tip, and tuck them in your purse. When you need them, they’ll be right at hand.
  • Set aside some time to do the things you love–maybe it’s baking cookies, making candy, or sitting by the fire. Just make sure you have time for whatever brings you joy.
Are YOU ready?
  • Have you made appointments to get your nails done before special days?
  • Have you made appointment to get your hair done before special days?
  • Schedule a massage (or TWO) during your busiest week this month. You’ll thank yourself later for the treat.
  • Do you have outfits picked out for parties and/or events? There’s nothing worse than remembering the day of that your favorite dress needs to be dry cleaned or has a big spot and needs to be replaced.
If you have kids
  • Schedule your photos with Santa–cut out the middle man, the mall madness and the lines. Look online to find where you can get your kids treasured photo with Santa and then swoop in and get it done! It’s all about planning and timing.
  • Before they can get that photo taken, though, they’ve got to be looking their best. Are holiday outfits purchased? Try them on and make sure they fit.
  • Take care of hair appointments now before the month gets busier.
  • Book camps and sitters for the upcoming Winter Break. Bored kids equal frazzled Mom–a little pre-planning here goes a long way.
  • Schedule sitters early in the month for important dates.
Holiday travel
  • If traveling by car, be sure to pack some extra blankets in your trunk, plus enough food and water to tide you over for any possible road or weather problems.
  • Remember to take care of your pets while your gone by scheduling a pet sitter or arrange for boarding at a kennel.
  • If you hate flying with luggage, send it separate by using a luggage shipping service such as Luggage Free.

See something critical left off of these lists? Share with us, please.

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Our Top Picks for Fun, Unique Wallets

We all need something to put our money, change, and credit cards in, but your wallet doesn’t have to be boring. We wanted to share some different kinds of fun, functional, and unique wallets we found.

If you’re a couponing type of gal, then this wallet might be just up you aisle. Savvycents ($28) markets to the fashionably frugal. This is a very nicely styled and good looking patent leather wallet. Savvycents was created by a woman who wanted her wallet to do things she couldn’t find in other wallets, so she made her own. (Hmmm….this sounds familiar!)

The wallet has an accordion-style file system with five sections inside that can be used to separate money, coupons, receipts, or anything else you’d like to carry but want organized. You even get file cards to label the different sections. The wallet also has a coin pocket on the back, a place for credit cards, your license, and your checkbook. This wallet does it all — a place for everything and everything in its place.

Unique or vegan might be more your style. But you don’t want to sacrifice quality or beauty in the process. Well,  you’re in luck. We found this little gem of a shop on Etsy. Cotton Purr makes some wonderful looking wallets which are also perfectly functional. The compartments and sections you’d expect in a wallet can all be found here.

All of the wallets are made from cotton and are made to order. In fact, you can build your own wallet by choosing which fabrics you’d like to have used. JoJo, who owns Cotton Purr, has received excellent feedback from her customers who rave about their new wallets. Price varies depending on what you choose – the style shown here is $48.

If you gravitate toward true works of art and want a leather wallet, look no further than Anuschka. This family-run business takes unemployed and economically challenged young adults and teaches them to paint the works of art found on Anuschka items.

This clutch wallet has four full-length slit pockets, two full-length zip pockets, 12 card slots, an ID window, a gusset compartment, and a zippered and slit outer pocket combo.

This wallet will surely last you for many years to come and complimented with every use. The one shown here retails for $114.

Our final two selections are a bit more on the fun side……

Milkmuny makes not only a fun and unique wallet, but boy-oh-boy is it creative. Milkmuny takes used milk and juice cartons and repurposes them into these clever little wallets.

The wallets are 3″ x 4″, have four card-sized accordion pockets; have a tough Velcro closure; are made in the USA; have a 45-day warranty; and are nearly waterproof. You get to have something fun and assuredly something unique for just $10. (Think ahead to the holiday season and buy in bulk — what a cute stocking stuffer.)

 

If you’re a crafty person and like to throw a fun party for your girlfriends, then do we have an idea for you. Chill a few bottles of wine, stop by your local craft store, and stock up on Duck Tape®. Yes, that’s right, Duck Tape; and get ready to have some fun! Don’t let this image we used sway you against this, you can make cheetah print, tie dye, checkered, and on and on — the possibilities are just about endless.

Duck Tape wallets are an absolute blast to make, and so simple, too! Watch this video to learn how. Maybe you wouldn’t want to use this for yourself, but you probably know of a child or even a teenager who would be thrilled and delighted with this super cool and definitely unique wallet.

You pull your wallet out of your handbag at least once a day and sometimes ten times in a day. Knowing you have to look at it, why not make it fun and get the job done at the same time? We hope you’ve enjoyed our choices of wallets.  If you have the perfect wallet, be sure to share with us in the comments section.

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To Do or Not to Do: 3 Online Task-Managers to Try

To-do lists: They help us stay organized and remember important things in our own life and in the lives of friends and family.

Creating paper lists can be helpful, but then what happens when you lose that crucial piece of paper? This has happened to us so frequently we’ve decided there must be a better solution out there. We did some digging around and decided to share what we found.

We’re going to look at online to-do lists that also have companion mobile apps. Being constantly on the move means the one thing we’ll hopefully not forget when leaving home is our phone. (Don’t you feel so out of sorts when you do forget it?)

Ta-da Lists is perhaps the simplest program available. It’s a program that can create to do lists and nothing more. It has little check boxes that you check off when a task is completed (such a satisfying thing!). You can create multiple lists and you can share them with friends. We thought this would be a good thing for planning a party or event with a friend – this way you won’t end up with lots of plates and napkins but no cake on the big day.  Ta-da Lists is free and has a mobile app for the iPhone.

Remember the Milk has lots of features and because you can access this from any smart phone, it’s probably more universal. One feature we really liked is adding to your task list directly from your phone or any computer. All you need to do is send yourself an email and it will automatically be added to your list.

You can also organize your tasks by location. Quickly map out the most efficient way to get all of your errands done and get on to more fun things! If you like to include notes with your to do items, this application allows you to do that as well.  Finally, if you have things you want to have on your to do list every week or every month, you can set any task up to repeat as often as you’d like.

 What we liked about Toodledo is the ability to prioritize tasks and include goals. How you create your lists and how they look is determined by you – it’s very flexible and customizable. Like Ta-da,  you can share your list with others for things you’re working on together with  your friends or family members. You can access your lists on your iPhone, Android, or Blackberry cell phone. Using Toodledo is free.

There are many many more choices available. We’ve tried to limit the list to ones with a proven track record and ease of use.

How do you organize your tasks? Do you use a program we haven’t listed above? Please share your thoughts and comments with us.