How to Declutter and Let Go of Photos!

So, you’ve decided to declutter your printed and digital photos but struggle to let go because photos are so precious and sentimental? Let me share a few things I’ve learned since I’ve started to specialise in photo organising.

 

How to Declutter and let go Photos - Personal Photo Organiser Melbourne

 

I think we all agree that photos belong to the sentimental things we own … the category,  which is the hardest of all to deal with. There are a few strategies one can apply when dealing with sentimental clutter (watch this video to learn more about it). One of the common tips is to take a photo of the item you want to let go. Obviously, this doesn’t work with photos …

What can help us to declutter our photos then? I suggest the following approach:

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Create a Vision

Think about what you are going to do with the photos you will keep. Maybe albums? Frame some? Create gifts? Leave a nice photo legacy to your loved ones? There are many options and it helps to be very clear about the purpose of a photo or of the whole collection … apart from of course bringing back memories and documenting events.

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Gather all your photos

Yes, this seems like a big task and it usually is. Hence, when working with printed photos, make sure you put the piles in a place where you can let them sit for a few days if not longer. Doing it all in one go will make it easier to make decisions. You will look at many photos and you will remember whether you’ve looked at similar ones an hour or a day before. If you wait too long, you’ll have forgotten about it again.

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Sort like with like

Make piles by year when you work with your printed photos (or any other category you like, e.g. by event). This has the advantage that you can immediately see how many photos you have.

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Declutter you photos!

There is a great way to sort your photos, developed by Cathi Nelson, the funder of APPO (Association of Personal Photo Organisers). It’s called the ABCS of photo organizing.

A = Album. These photos belong into an album. They are the most precious and treasured ones. Your absolute favourites. Prints in this group should be digitised as a backup.

B = Box. B-photos are also kept but not necessarily in an album. You can keep them in an archival box and it is recommend backing them up by digitising them.

C = Can. These pictures can go – that’s what it’s all about today. How do we decide whether a picture falls into the C-category?

Here are some further criteria and questions you can ask yourself when you struggle to let go of a photo:

  • Is it a good shot in terms of the quality or is it blurry? Over or under exposed? 
  • Is the photo too damaged?
  • Do you know who is in the photo?
  • Do you want to be reminded of the person/s in the photo?
  • Is it a duplicate?
  • Are there similar photos? Keep the best only!
  • Does the photo tell an important story? If yes, it belongs to the S-photos.
  • Do you like this photo? Does it make you smile?
  • Would you use this photo in one way or other in the future?
  • Think of future generations … would they want and keep this photo?

S = Story. Photos that tell a story are not necessarily great photos but they always tell an important story which means we keep them. They can be put with the A-photos.

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How to let go of your unwanted photos

Unlike other items, photos are not really the type of possessions to donate to a charity or to sell. The easiest way is to simply throw them in the rubbish bin. Unfortunately, they cannot be recycled. If you are concerned about identity theft you can shred them before they go in the bin.

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Backup your photos

Now that you have decided which photos you want to keep it goes without saying that you should back them up (if you haven’t done so yet). Digitise prints and backup your digital photos.

Once you have decluttered and saved your photos you can do many things with them (remember your vision?). Frame your favourites and display them, create photo albums or books, make photo gifts, collages, slideshows, look at them via Apple TV or the like. There are endless options to finally look at your photos and enjoy them.

One more tip which should help you to maintain your photo collection more easily and to prevent you from future overwhelm: Let go of the inclination to constantly take photos in the first place! Once you’ve been through the process of going through your whole photo collection I am sure this will be much easier than it might sound right now.

If you would like help getting your photos organised, find your personal photo organiser at www.appo.org.

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How to Digitise and Store Children’s Artwork

Most children produce a lot of artwork over the years. We can’t put it all on the walls or fill entire shelves with these masterpieces (read in the first part of the series how you can display children’s artwork). So, what can we do to save space and also keep at least the most precious pieces safe? Read in this post how to digitise and store the children’s artwork. The last post of the series finally talks about what things you can make from children’s artwork.

Click here to get to the tips about how to digitise and store the children’s artwork.

How to Display Children’s Artwork

Are you drowning in your children’s artwork? Read in this guest blog series I was invited to write about how you can get more joy out of these masterpieces before we then move on to talking about how to digitise and store the children’s artwork and finally sharing ideas about what things you can make from children’s artwork.

Here is the first post about how to display children’s artwork.

 

A holistic approach to getting organised

Since I’ve become a professional organiser, it has become clearer to me that a holistic approach is necessary to create order and, more importantly, to keep it that way.

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Oftentimes you hear people talking about decluttering, but what comes afterwards? Or you buy some fancy organising and storage products and are disappointed because the mess is not going away. That’s because one doesn’t work without the other, or at least only for a very short time.

The third issue is maintenance, which is often overlooked completely. You can declutter as long as you want. If you don’t build new routines and/or habits, the mess is going to be back pretty soon. Same with storage: The best organising products don’t make you tidier or more organised as long as you don’t declutter beforehand and change your habits at the same time.

In my view, we need to fuse all three factors in order to be successful. Let me explain each of the three circles and my holistic approach in more detail:

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Declutter

What is decluttering anyway? If you Google a definition, sentences along these lines will come up: ‘Remove unnecessary items from (an untidy or overcrowded place)’ or ‘To simplify or get rid of mess, disorder, complications, etc.’

Mess, dresser with scattered clothes, shoes and other things

I think we can all agree that it’s about letting go. Usually, the first things that come to mind are, of course, physical possessions. However, I think it is much more than this. How often do I hear (after a decluttering session): ‘Wow, now I can think a lot clearer!’? Some people even lose weight after decluttering their physical spaces!

Digital clutter is becoming a serious issue in this day and age as well. So are constant interruptions and impressions that we need to deal with. Our brains are overloaded (or at least feel like they are), and we struggle, too, with the FOMO (fear of missing out) syndrome.

I see decluttering as a shift in one’s attitude towards things, thoughts, and even people. Knowing where you want to go in life, knowing your purpose and priorities, is important when decluttering. It makes it a lot easier to make decisions. Does this item enhance my vision or not? Maybe it’s even a hindrance! So, focussing on the positive side and on the outcome, letting go becomes easier.

Also see my post about ‘To Purge or not to Purge …’ that gives you guidance if you struggle to decide what to let go or don’t know how to do so.

 

Organise

In this context, organising means arranging things systematically, putting them in order, arranging them in an orderly way.

So, let’s analyse this a bit closer. It’s about systems and order. For me, it answers the question about where and how things are stored. Again, this is not only for physical things but also for digital ones. We need to create a storage system that suits us. And because we are all different, there is, of course, no one-fits-all solution.

In short, it’s nothing other than about, everything needs a home! If things don’t have a storage place, they will be put in random places. An example that is quite common: People don’t have a place to put their keys (or don’t use it) and constantly waste time looking for them.

As mentioned above, a system can’t stand alone; it always includes habits and routines. Let me give you an example: I really like my SpaceCube. Let’s say you use it as a command centre. If you don’t change your habit to drop your paper mail on the kitchen bench top instead of using the SpaceCube as an inbox, it won’t help you at all. The letters will still pile up on the bench top.

That brings us to the third circle: Maintenance.

 

Maintain

Maintenance means preserving a condition or situation. So, after we have decluttered and found a home for everything, we want it to stay like that. This is only possible if we invest some time and energy into maintaining the current state.

Motivation is What Gets You Started Habit Is What Keeps You Going written on chalkboard

I like to compare it with dieting. After shedding 10 kilos, we can’t just go back to the old eating habits. If we do, we’ll carry the lost 10 kilos plus possibly more around again a few months later. We need to change habits to sustain our new self.

Of course, changing habits is often difficult. It takes discipline and some time until a new routine becomes a habit. However, we may not have to change everything at the same time. Pick one new habit and only work on the next one when you actually get used to the first.

 

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As the three circles imply, I think the three topics are interlocked. They are not necessarily in sequence though. For example, before I start working with a client, I often ask them to start working on one new habit. It’s a myth that you can only start a new system or habit once you’ve decluttered and reorganised everything.

If, for example, paperwork is an issue for you, nothing stops you from creating an inbox and throwing all your mail in there instead of piling it up on the kitchen bench. This is a habit you can easily get into before you start decluttering the piles and piles of old paperwork.

As you can see in that example, organising and maintenance go hand in hand. Having a physical inbox and putting the mail in there is organising. It’s a system. However, the actual action of putting the mail into that box is going to become your habit, hence maintenance.

The Heart

By the way, if you are wondering about the heart in the centre of it all … decisions are usually not made based on logical and rational reasoning. I encourage clients to listen to their heart (or guts), especially when they are decluttering. There is no right or wrong, it has to feel good for you.

 

 

This hopefully gives you a better idea of my holistic approach to organising. If you’d like to learn more about how I’m working with clients and what packages I offer, don’t hesitate to call me on 0413 216 589 or email to Chantal@simplyinorder.com.au.

21 Habits of Organised People

21 Habits of Organised People

We can declutter and organise as much as we want. However, without routines that eventually become good habits, we will be back to Square One after a while and be frustrated because the decluttering and clever storage solutions don’t work – or so it seems.

Not everyone is a fan of routines because they feel it’s boring and too hard. Personally, I think routines and habits are one of the keys to both a more orderly home and a simpler life.
Some of the tips below are actually more about cleaning and tidiness than about organising. Even if an organised home is not the same as a tidy home, I feel these habits help create a calmer, healthier and more functional environment, which helps us thrive.

Just pick one or a few of these suggestions to try out, and I’m sure you will see an immediate positive impact!

Quote: You'll never change

 

21 Habits of Organised People

  1. Never walk empty-handed – if you leave a room and see something lying around that doesn’t belong, take it with you and put it away.
  2. Always do the dishes while you’re cooking – start washing up, loading the dishwasher and keeping the bench top clear instead of watching the pasta water heat That way, you can sit down for a more relaxed meal, knowing that you only need to put the used crockery, cutlery and pans in the dishwasher.
  3. Tidy up and clean your kitchen every night – before you sit down or go to bed, make sure the dishwasher is loaded (and turned on if full), and that the surfaces and the sink are clear and clean.
  4. Empty the dishwasher in the morning and leave the house with a clean kitchen – nobody wants to come home to a kitchen with dishes piled up in the sink or dirty bench tops. Allow enough time in the morning to clean after
  5. Make your bed – it takes less than a minute to make a bed, but it makes a huge difference coming back in the room later. It automatically looks so much tidier.
  6. Put things away immediately – have a home for everything and put it back after every use. Throwing the dirty clothes into the laundry basket doesn’t take any longer than dropping them on the floor! (Read more about putting things back here.)
  7. One in – one out – when you bring something new into your home, let go of another one to avoid clutter build-up.
  8. Have a laundry routine – whether it’s a load a day or per week, it doesn’t matter. Find a routine that works for you, stick to it and you will always have clean clothes in your wardrobe.
  9. Tidy up every day – take 10 minutes every night to quickly tidy and straighten things up.
  10. Deal with your mail daily – whether it’s paper mail or e-mail, go through it daily, immediately recycle envelopes and junk mail (having a sticker on your letterbox so you don’t get it anymore would even be better). Action things immediately or throw it in an inbox to deal with it later.
  11. Unsubscribe from unread newsletters – when you receive newsletters and updates you were once interested in but realise that you haven’t read the last few ones, immediately unsubscribe.
  12. Take the rubbish from your car with you – whenever you come home and have rubbish or other stuff in your car that doesn’t belong, remove it immediately.
  13. Meal plan – you can save so much time and money when you plan your meals and don’t have to run to the shops every night. (Read blog here – link).
  14. Cook more than necessary – and freeze the leftovers for the days you can’t cook, or for lunch the next day.
  15. Allow buffer time when going somewhere – if you have an appointment, always consider travel time and add some buffer time. If you’re early, you can always read a book, catch up on emails or just relax for a bit.
  16. Have a donation box – place a box or a bag near your garage. Whenever you no longer want something, throw it in there. Go and donate it when the box is full.
  17. Plan, plan, plan – take a few minutes on Sunday to plan your week ahead and don’t forget the buffer time! Also do a quick calendar check every night to plan the next day.
  18. Prepare the night before – if mornings are stressful for you, prepare everything you need the next day the night before: put out your clothes, pack your briefcase, and maybe even prepare your lunch as far in advance as possible.
  19. Think twice before buying something – do you really need another pair of shoes? More toys? That fancy kitchen appliance? If yes, what can you let go to make space?
  20. Have one – and only one – place to write down your to-do list – have a master list with all of your to-dos and ideas. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a physical notebook or a digital solution as long as it’s all in one place.
  21. Have a filing system – having a home for everything includes paper or digital files. Create and use a system that works for you and always file documents as soon as possible (if you actually need to keep them).

 

Have you got any habits or routines that help you to be organised? I’d love to hear about it. Just leave your comment below.

 

Best wishes,

Wardrobe Detox Challenge – Day 6

Wardrobe Detox - Day 6

You did it – congratulations! I’d love to see some before and after photos, please share them in the comment section of this post on Facebook or email them to me so I can celebrate with you!

Image of a happy dance

Before we celebrate though, I’ve got two more tasks for you:

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Take one or several after photos.

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Make sure that everything you want to donate leaves the house today! If you decided to sell a few things, diarise it right now so it doesn’t block the entryway for the next 6 months ;-). The same goes for things you want to pass on. Grab the phone and find a date in the near future to meet with the person who will receive the treasures you no longer want.

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  1. Think about how you will maintain the order in your wardrobe as of today. Think routines and habits. For a starter, I suggest to strictly stick to the rule one in – one out!. Another important maintenance routine is to put everything back to where it belongs. Forget that floordrobe once and for all!

Now we’re ready to celebrate your achievement! A toast to you and your hard work – I hope you enjoy your ‘new’ wardrobe. 

Signature Chantal

Wardrobe Detox Challenge – Day 5

Wardrobe Detox - Day 5

Today it should be easier than the two past sessions, since you’ve honed your decluttering skills and volume-wise, it’s also probably less … except if you ‘collect’ shoes 😉 ..

These are the last sub-categories to go through:

  • Hats / caps / beanies
  • Belts
  • Bags
  • Accessories (e.g. scarfs)
  • Shoes

Again, same process as before:

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Take everything out.

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Give the closet / shelves / containers a quick clean.

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Declutter by asking the question: ‘Does it spark joy?’ and make piles according to your decision (keep, donate, sell, hand down, put in rubbish bin).

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Re-think the zones and storage solutions, but don’t buy new storage solutions yet.

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Keep like with like (as always) and put everything where it belongs.

By the way: hooks are great and don’t forget the back of a door as storage place.

If you find that you really do need new containers, dividers or other storage solutions you can go shopping :-). A word of caution though: always measure your space in which the storage product should fit!

Best wishes and see you tomorrow for the last little challenge,

Signature Chantal
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Sorting Printed Photos

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