Saving Your Memories

Memories come in all shapes and sizes. I see them in every room of the houses I organize. But the main thing to remember is that memories are in your head, not in your stuff. No one can take those memories away from you. But I realize that sometimes saving a few things will help jog those memories and make you smile for a loved one lost or a time gone by.

At this time of year as school careers end, reunions are planned and many people are anticipating making wonderful family memories in the summer, let me offer some advice when it comes to saving your memories.

  1. Your old Photos – If you have loads of old photos, go through them. Get rid of the duplicates, the blurry shots, the pictures of people or places you don’t recognize. Keep the best, toss the rest. Put them in some semblance of order: by year or at least by decade if you can. Use whatever categories make sense to you. Then digitize them. There are many options nowadays for scanning and saving photos. There are even ways to repair and enhance special photos.

 

  1. Digital Photos – If you have tons of digital photos you’re a step ahead! Now you may just need to organize them and protect them. Create standard files in your “Photos” or “Pictures” folder on your computer. It’s best to then make folders with the year and subfolders for each month or with names of special events. That way you can locate all your digital photos from one year pretty easily. I recommend Forever software for storing and organizing. Click here to check it out:

 

  1. Home Movies – This is another category that many people have & cherish. It’s one of those things that many say they would want to save in a fire. So get them transferred to DVD. Many photo service stores offer this transfer so investigate those near year based on quality and cost. You may want to try one transfer to see how you like it, then continue with the rest of your collection. Your local CVS, BJ’s or Costco may have this service.

 

  1. Everyday collectibles – For all those things our kids bring home from school: art projects, awards, trophies, ribbons I love a nice trunk. You can get a utilitarian one like a Rubbermaid container or a decorative one from Home Goods or Pier One. Bed Bath & Beyond will usually have steamer trunks in July/August with all their “back to school” gear.

 

  1. Clothing, t-shirts, sweatshirts – Are you a t-shirt collector? Or do you have clothing left from a loved one who has passed? There are many services which do “memory quilts” now. And some will make things other than quilts. For instance, Once Upon A Time Creations in the Philadelphia suburbs actually makes stuffed animals from clothing, Christening dresses, pillows and purses made from wedding gowns. You can even make a pillow cover from grandpa’s old sweater! Check out some of their ideas and you will give these old clothes a new life.

What memories do you have trouble organizing? Leave a comment or question.

Out With the Old – In with the new!

messy office

 

 

This is the week for New Year’s Resolutions. And I know many of you will be planning to get more organized this year! And even if that’s not your goal for the year, many of you organized people will be cleaning out files, bins and desktops this week. So here are some quick tips to help you with that process. I’ve got a list of “no-brainers” that you can toss in order to make room for all the new stuff that will come in the new year.

1. Reading materials – Any magazine or periodical with the year 2014 or earlier can be tossed. If there is something in there worth saving (like a great article or a recipe) tear it out, file it or scan it. Then have a nice basket or bin cleared out for your 2015 reading.

2. Banking receipts – all those ATM receipts that are filling up your purse, a drawer in your desk or a bin can be shredded IF YOU HAVE BALANCED YOUR BANK ACCOUNT THIS MONTH. Once the deposit or withdrawal has shown up on your statement, the little piece of paper is redundant. So keep your statements (most of which are on line now).

3. Food – If it’s been a week or longer for those leftovers – use ’em or lose ’em. Expired jars and cans can also be tossed.

4. Calendars – toss last year’s and buy a nice pretty one to keep with your or hang in a central location in your home.

5. Holiday decorations that you didn’t use – donate to a senior center, school or theater.

6. Wrapping paper, cards, boxes and bows – when you put your gifts away, keep the best, toss the rest and fold the paper and boxes down for easy storage.

7. All those holiday photo cards. – Keep the photos that are important to you and cut them to fit in an album. Toss the rest, know one will know!

8. Invitations to events that already happened. – You wouldn’t believe how long I’ve seen these things hanging around on bulletin boards, calendars and in planners.

9. Post its and scraps of papers of things you “meant to do.” Take a clean sheet of loose leaf or a page in your new daily planner and make a master TO DO list. Only include those things that are still a priority. Then assign each task or project to a month of the year and write it on that month’s page. I wouldn’t plan out any further than 6 months.

10. Envelopes that you’re saving because of the return address – Take the information, write it in your address book or make an excel spreadsheet and toss the envelopes.

Good luck with your post holiday, pre-new year clean out!

What other areas do you like to tackle before the year’s end?

Absolute #8 – Finish One Thing Before You Start Another

secretaryLong before any one heard of ADD, mothers across the globe were telling their rambunctious children to “finish one thing before you start another!” In our world full of distractions today, we adults would do well to heed this mantra.

As a professional organizer, much of what I do entails keeping my clients on task. Just by standing next to them, I encourage them to finish the pile in question, sort it, make quick decisions and then move on. Some don’t like this, they would rather cherry pick – do the task that looks interesting or fun. “We’ll get to that,” I tell them, all in good time. So I always have a plan when organizing with clients and that includes following my own absolute of finishing one thing before we start another. If we are focused on a room, items that belong elsewhere go in a pile or bin right by the door. We don’t leave the room until we are finished. They we move things around. If we are focused on a certain category, like photographs, we don’t worry about the bookshelves in that room. We just do photos until they are under control.

Take a look around your house. Just for fun, try to find all the projects you’ve started and not finished because you got distracted. If you can, put them in a bag or box and mark it. Then prioritize the projects. Next, get out your planner and make an action plan to get them done. If they are a bunch of little things, try to finish all of them in one Saturday. With larger projects try one per week or month. With these projects complete, you’ll have less clutter and more room for fun stuff!

But finishing one thing before you start another also applies to consumable products. Do you have 5 half squeezed toothpaste tubes in your bathroom? Six different shampoos or lotions open? How many ketchups do you have in your fridge? Just sayin…I once cleaned out a fridge that had 10 half gallons of ice cream in it. Some were freezer burnt so the homeowner would never feed those to guests. I suggested that if it’s not good enough for guests, it shouldn’t be there! When you do a kitchen or bathroom clean out, remember to keep the best, toss the rest and don’t buy anymore of that item until you really need to. If something is getting low, put it on your grocery list.

By following this rule, you can stay focused on tasks, feel a lot more productive on a daily basis and waste fewer products around your home.

What is it YOU need to finish before you start the next project?

FORGET THE CROWDS ON BLACK FRIDAY!

Maybe I’m getting old, but I have no desire to face the chaos of Black Friday. There is nothing I or my family wants that badly. So I shop for most of my Christmas gifts from the comfort of my own home, right here on my computer. Shopping on-line is more efficient – you can do it anytime you want. And it saves you time and stress. I’m all for that! So the way I organize my Christmas shopping is to browse catalogs, circle what I want and then log on to the computer and start. Before I check out, I always check retailmenot.com for coupons or free shipping codes. Sometimes they are posted right on the hard copy of the catalog.

I thought I would share with you my “favorite things” which include organizing products and unique gifts that you can give this year or just buy for yourself. These are all from a amazingly priced catalog called Lakeside Collection.  It has served my family well for the last several Christmases.

 

Over the door jewelry valet – for your daughter or decorative friend      $14.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revolving Jewelry Stand – another option for jewelry, smaller but nicer display $8.95

 

 

 

 

 

Heirloom Recipe Binder – for the saver of recipes on your list     $7.95

 

 

 

 

 

21 Photo Collage Frame – for the saver of pictures who has no frames   $16.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three pairs of touch screen gloves – know any texters?:)                          $6.95

 

 

 

 


 

 

Easy Change Artwork Frames – fill with art from your kids for a great grandparents gift   $8.95

 

 

 

 

 

Color coded Dry Erase Calendar Set – This one’s for you to start the New Year off right! $8.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set of 4 magnetic bins for your kitchen, bathroom or file cabinet   $6.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decorative Bench & Mirror for your entryway – A simple way to decorate and organize $12.95-$39.95

 

 

 

 

 

Toy storage net – get those stuffed animals off the bed an up in a hammock       $6.95

 

 

 

 

These are my favorites, check out the site and find yours!  www.lakeside.com

 

If a picture paints a thousand words…

What are your family pictures saying? If they are buried in boxes or floating in cyberspace, I’m guessing not much!  If you want to enjoy your photographs you have to do something with them! Leaving them in their original envelope or on your phone or computer is not an great option. I recommend putting those pictures in a place where you and your family will enjoy them.

Like all organizing it starts with a decision. In this case, decide how you want to keep your photos or how you like to look at them. Here are some options:

  •  Slip-In Photo Albums – These seem to be the easiest to maintain and therefore a good starting point for people who have their photos currently in big boxes or in the original drug store bag they came home in.
  • Corkboard wall – This is a great place at Holiday time when many people send out family pictures and you just don’t know where to put them all. If you fill this area up quickly, you’ll have to remember to update it seasonally.
  • Collages – If you find a lot of your pictures are not centered or close enough to the subject, you can cut out only the important people and important sites from a certain occasion and put them in a collage.
  • Photo boxes – Many stores carry decorative storage boxes now. If you choose to use these, decide how you want to keep them: all family pictures chronologically, or separated by each child. Make sure you label each box accordingly.
  • Scrapbooks – Scrapbooking has become a favorite pastime of many mothers. The end result is beautiful and meaningful, especially when you “journal” or write little stories about what was happening during a particular event. The challenge with scrapbooks is that they take a lot of time and creativity to put together, and it is a project — not an everyday process.
  • On your computer – If you have a digital camera, I assume you know how to set up files of pictures on your computer. Here are 5 steps for organizing and using your digital photos:
  1. Name your files simply. If you upload pictures from your camera once a month, name the file with the month and year (ex. MAY07), if you upload less frequently, name the files by season and year (ex. WINTER07). Or name them more specifically by event (Disney07)
  2. Create digital photo albums on Web sites that you use for developing like Ofoto.com® or Shutterfly.com®. With this option, your photos are stored remotely and are protected against a hard drive crash on your computer. The albums also store the photos in a chronological order.
  3. Save your photos on a CDR disk, which protects them from anything that might happen to your computer. CDR’s take up a lot less physical space than photo albums but the photos are not as accessible to look at.
  4. Email copies of your pictures to family and friends rather than mailing them.
  5. Create a unique screen saver on your computer with your personal pictures, and update it frequently or load your latest pictures to a digital photo frame.

 

Start Your System Today

Once you have decided how you want to store or display your photos, gather the items you need to carry out your plan and start with current photos. Purchase your storage boxes or photo album or corkboard now, and then you’ll have a process for storing all the pictures you develop from now on.

Gather Your Backlog of Photos

If you have an area where you can spread them out or at least store a box of photos until your project is done, then move them into that room.

Categorize and Purge

Group them by child, or time of year, or era. As you sort through, purge any pictures that are ruined or dark or blurry. In other words, only keep the good ones!

Arrange or Re-Arrange your photos

Now for the fun part – it’s time to get your photographs where you want them. If you created a pile of photos for framing, start framing! If you decided you want them in an album, take a stack and start putting them in albums. This is something the kids or your husband can help you with when you’re all watching TV. If you want to make it really fun, give each child a stack of photos and a page or an album and see who can get their pictures in first.

Do you have any unique ways you display photos in your home?