JERI DANSKY professionalorganizer

July / August 2010 Newsletter

Tip of the Month: Photo Organizing


Photos are an organizing bugaboo for lots of folks. We tend to have way more photos than will ever be meaningful to us - and for something so precious, they are often poorly stored. But like any other kind of organizing, photo organizing comes down to a few basic steps:


1. Sort like with like and decide which photos to keep.


A well-curated collection of photos will be meaningful to you and your family - and you might even find that friends are happy to look through your photos if they don't include every single one you took on that two-week trip. You don't need the blurry ones, or 15 photos of the same thing, with infinitesimal differences. You don't need photos of people who aren't significant to you. And be kind to others; get rid of those photos where you caught them, unintentionally, in an unflattering pose.


While most of us will want to take (and keep) some photos of places we visited, remember that the photos that are most meaningful to later generations are those of people, not places; we can find perfectly fine photos of the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon on the internet.


With digital photographs, especially, it's easy and inexpensive to take a lot of photos. It's OK to then delete almost all of them, saving just the best. I certainly don't recommend going the route of Lindsay Nie, who after having her baby, "snapped more than 6,500 photos in nine months" - and didn't delete any. (For another reaction to that story, read Australian organizer Lissanne Oliver.)



2. Make sure the keepers are in good condition.


For digital photos, that might mean cropping them, or correcting for red eye - or going all-out in Photoshop for those special photos. For paper photos, it may mean hiring someone who does photo restoration work, if particularly important photos have been damaged over the years.



3. Label the keepers.


Both digital photos and paper photos need some sort of labeling. As The Practical Archivest points out in her e-mail course on organizing photos, you might be fine with labeling a group rather than each individual photo. But don't create a situation where your children or others look at a neat photo and wonder "Who's that?"


The labeling might be as simple as "who" and "when" - but you might also want to record the story behind the photos - or at least some of them.



4. Decide how to store them.


If you have printed photos or slides, you may want to also scan them (or pay a service to scan them for you) so you have digital copies. Then decide how you want to save any printed photos: scrapbooks, photo albums and photo boxes (such as the boxes from Gaylord) are the most common alternatives.


If the photos are truly important to you, invest in storage materials that will preserve them through the years. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works has good advice on caring for photos, as does the previously-mentioned Practical Archivist. If you're dealing with slides, you might want to read the advice on


If you have digital copies, you may want to print some into a book, using services such as Shutterfly. And please make sure you have good backups of your digital photos.



5. Give yourself permission to do the work imperfectly.


For inspiration, read how Gretchen Rubin "decided to put together a photo album that wasn't as good as it could have been."



Donation/Recycling Idea of the Month


Hospice organizations do so much good, and they are often looking for donations of stuff (as well as money).


Those items might be for their own use, such as with:


Or it might be for the organization's resale shop, such as with:


Or it might be for special fundraising events, such as auctions or raffles, as with:



Organizing Product of the Month



The Cutter stool and box are not inexpensive - but they sure could work nicely in an entranceway. (They could also work nicely outdoors; they were originally intended to be used in the garden.) There's a bench available, too

to do list on green paper; includes call cat psychic

- and the products come in teak, oak, and black. In Toronto, go to Mjölk to find these products. You can also find them at Skagerak Denmark and Fjorn Scandinavian. [via swissmiss]



Highlights From My Blog in June and July


There were 16 entries in my organizing and de-cluttering blog in June, and 20 in July. Some of the most popular entries were:


You can sign up for free e-mail updates from my blog; each time I make an update, you'll get a message. Look in the upper right-hand corner of the blog for subscription information.



My Little Twitter Tidbits


I'm using Twitter mostly for those tidbits of organizing-related stuff I find - little things that will never make their way into a newsletter or a blog post. I also use Twitter to announce new blog posts. Follow me, @JeriDansky, if you'd like.


For those who don't use Twitter, here are some of the things I've written lately, slightly edited for a non-Twitter environment:

  • Ever wonder what you’d do with your empty filing cabinets if you went paperless? Here are 10 ideas:
  • "Our entryway set-up is great! Now I never forget my hat, burlap satchel, or life preserver."
  • Reading: How to keep the towels off the bathroom floor.
  • "Lord, you'd be surprised how much crap I can Tetris into a tiny cupboard." Crazy Aunt Purl declutters.
  • "The world is not a race to a McMansion, the world is a contest for who can be the most kind hearted and tolerant."


Newsletter Subscriptions


If you would like to get this newsletter e-mailed to you each month and have not yet subscribed, you can do so here.