I have tried many different systems over the years--the predominant system being 'stuff them all in boxes and hope that the house doesn't catch on fire'. Then one day I looked up and realized that the only action I had taken towards recording my kids' lives and our family's memories in the past few years was to buy more boxes to shove the stuff in. Kind of pointless, right?
[disclaimer: I am now going to talk about scrapbooking. I realize this is a subject that bores some people to tears, and I will not be offended if you stop reading right now. It's cool. I have a few guys that read this blog...dudes, this is the time to go to ESPN.com]
Several months ago I saw this book by Stacy Julian called Photo Freedom. I've always enjoyed Stacy's approach to scrapbooking, as she is less linear in her thinking, like me. Scrapbooking in chronological order is a natural for linear thinkers...but it just really gives me a headache. Feeling I have to scrap 'in order' forces me to avoid scrapbooking all together, because I feel the price for scrapping what I really WANT to scrap is that I have to wade through all the stuff I DON'T want to scrap first. There are certain things that scream out to be scrapbooked in order--school things, for instance--but 75% of the photographs I have are not tied to any event or date. I am a more everyday photographer than an event photographer. I only take pictures of birthdays and school events because my children don't need one more reason to seek out therapy.
Anyway. The book gave me a way to organize our photographs that makes sense to me. Not only does it makes sense, it gives me super fast recall on where the pictures I want to use are. In my previously mentioned box stuffing system, I knew that taking on any scrapbook would entail my sifting through photos for hours until finally stumbling upon what I was looking for...or more frequently just giving up and heading to Sonic for happy hour.
Now, things are right where I need them to be. I can think about a photograph I have, and within about 10 seconds have it in my hands. Guess how much more I want to scrapbook now?
So, I want to share the most helpful idea that I learned from the book.
Nothing overwhelmed me more than all my kids' school stuff. There are pictures, report cards, essays, art, science projects, field trips, and choir concerts. Times all that by 7 and you can see why the thought of making any books for my kids about their academic years made me cry just a little bit. But, with this simple plan from Stacy, I am on top of it and even a little excited to get moving.
I made hanging file folders for every child, from pre-school to senior year. Every child, including my 3 year old who hasn't even started pre-school yet. (with the exception of our oldest, her school book is already done) Now, when anything comes home from school, I can just quickly file it under the correct child and grade. Then when I go to work on a child's book, I know exactly where everything for each grade is. What a life saver!
I hope that talking about this has gotten you to think about how to store things in a way that makes sense to you. It doesn't even have to be pictures, just think about whether the things you like and want to use are organized in a way that saves you time and energy for what you really want to spend your time and energy on.
And, if you have any super cool organizing ideas (for photos or anything else), please share with me.