Very shortly after doing that Facebook Live session talking about the 3-2-1 backup method I accidentally dropped my external hard drive on which I store my photo collection or hub as we call it. I kid you not, I’m not making this up!
Imagine my shock, when I realised that the drive doesn’t show up at all when I plug it into my computer. Plus it makes that clicking noise, never a good sign.
At this point, I was grateful for two things:
It was my own drive and not one of my client’s
I knew the drive is 100 % backed up with Backblaze
So, no need to stress out and panic (I don’t even want to start imagining how it would have felt if I hadn’t had a backup …). Thanks to using the 3-2-1-backup-method, all I had to do is to go to my Backblaze account and restore the drive with a few clicks. Because it’s so much data, I am not downloading the restored files from the cloud but Backblaze does that and sends me a new external drive with all my photos. I haven’t made this up, it really happened and you can imagine how grateful I am to using this cloud backup service. It’s really affordable and soooo worth it.
Using the 3-2-1 backup method I of course have another backup on another external hard drive. However, I don’t backup daily to that drive. I could have restored everything from there but would have lost a few hours worth of work that I had invested to work on our photo collection over the past weekend. Hence, I decided to get the 100 % restore drive back from Backblaze.
Here is the link if you would like to try it out for free (2 weeks). And yes, it is an affiliate link but I’m not sharing this to make money but because I care about your photos and I don’t want you to experience the same without having a backup of your most precious memories.
Are you worried you might lose your precious digital photos and videos?
In our photo organising industry the saying goes that it is not a question of if it ever happens but when. In this day and age we have to expect that we will lose digital data sooner or later. And that of course includes photos and videos, that are so close to our hearts and very precious. So why is it, that we are not always making sure that they memories are safe at all times?
Yes, we are all time-poor and lead very busy lives. Today, I’d like to share the industry standard for backing up your photos: the 3-2-1 backup method! It is nothing difficult, it doesn’t require a lot of time or any fancy setups. Yes, it will cost some money but hey, restoring a computer, a phone or an external hard drive is muuuuch more expensive! And we’re talking about precious photos, so let’s keep them save.
Watch this recorded Facebook Live video and learn how easy the 3-2-1 backup method really is.
If you are interested in trying out Backblaze, you can sign up here for a free account and a 2-week trial (affiliate link): Backblaze
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a professional organiser, I have of course read quite a few books by leading declutter professionals, my favourites being Julie Morgenstern and Peter Walsh. However, there is a relatively new book by Marie Kondo, the very successful author of ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. Here is how I recently started my personal KonMari journey.
Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and purchase that product or service, I will be paid a small commission, however your cost will be the same. I only recommend products or services I know and trust.
When I went back to visit family in Switzerland in December 2013, my mum gave me this book (in German it’s called ‘Magic Cleaning – Wie richtiges Aufräumen Ihr Leben verändert’). Apparently, it was already quite popular in Europe, but I hadn’t heard of it yet in Australia. I read it during my stay there and found it OK, but not extremely revolutionary.
However, during the last year, my thinking has changed a bit, and all of a sudden, I have to say that her approach does hit a nerve. So, here I am as a professional organiser, reading her book again and most importantly, going through the process myself. Yes, in our own home! It’s not very cluttered, but read on to find out what happened.
KonMari – as she calls herself – doesn’t declutter in the way that most others do. One main difference regarding her method is that she concentrates on items that are staying in the home, which are only things that spark joy. All the other items and possessions are being thanked for having served, and then they are released and discarded by donating, selling or tossing them.
She very clearly recommends decluttering your home in a certain sequence, and most importantly, by categories and not by rooms. After creating a vision for the home, she starts with the clothes and ends with sentimental items. This makes sense to me because clothes usually have less sentimental value to us, and it gives us a chance to hone our skills before we come to the really difficult decisions.
I will write in another post about what you need to know before you start with the KonMari method (sign up at the end of this post so you don’t miss it).
Let me tell you about my first experience going through all my clothes (please note that you should only make decisions about your own stuff and leave the items that belongs to other family members alone).
This was my wardrobe before:
1. Take it all out
“O.M.G.” was all I could say. Have a look at that (and I consider myself as a woman who has not so many clothes …).
Even for me as an organiser who has seen worse, it felt a bit overwhelming. The thing is, you not only empty your wardrobe, but gather all your clothes from wherever they are stored in your house.
So, I listened to my own advice – just start! – and followed the sequence that Marie Kondo suggests in her book. First up were tops, and then bottom parts, etc.
2. Let the sparkling of joy begin!
Again, as suggested by KonMari, I picked up every single piece and asked myself whether or not it sparks joy. If yes, it stays. If not, you thank the garment for having served its purpose and discard it. Sounds crazy? Exactly my thoughts when I read the book first. However, I’ve tried it and also did some more reading about gratitude, and for me, it does work. If you don’t want to say it out loud, just do so silently in your head.
3. Find a home for your clothes
One can hang or fold their clothes. KonMari highly recommends folding most garments (see here how she folds a t-shirt). We renovated our walk-in-robe a couple of years ago and put in some drawers and shelves, which is great. (If you only have hanging rods, there are other solutions, such as hanging organisers with drawers.) I have folded everything stored in my drawers, and I will need to buy a couple of containers for my tops that are still folded and piled in the ‘pancake’ way. Just want to give it a try.
This is an example with scarfs. I always used a special hanger but that never really worked for me. I love how I can now see at a glance what scarfs I have (after purging 50 %!).
Finally, this is how my wardrobe looks now:
It might not look much different than the previous photo, but believe me – it actually does spark joy when I look at it! I have 5 full bags for charity and one bag of rubbish because the garments were stained or torn (if you wouldn’t wear it anymore, why would anybody else? Don’t donate those things). As mentioned, I hadn’t regarded my wardrobe as cluttered, but I was still able to let go of so many things.
What is my verdict after the first step of my KonMari journey? I think it’s a really good approach because one creates a vision to start with, and then concentrates on the joy and positiveness. It absolutely does make sense to declutter by category, and not by room, even if it can be very overwhelming. If it’s too much, start out with a sub-category only. Most people don’t have the time to spend whole days decluttering anyway, and they might have to break it up into smaller bites due to the lack of time.
Having said this, I have only done my clothes and will now move onto my books. This will be a challenge because I looove books. Read here how it went (sign up below to not miss any future blog posts).
Wish me luck, and as always, I would love to hear about your KonMari adventure.
Parting with items that we have kept for sentimental reasons is very difficult for us. Sometimes, our head is full of logical reasons why we should throw something out. However, sometimes our heart speaks a different language and we just can’t part with things.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we need to throw these treasures out. If they bring you joy and you have enough space, by all means, keep them. Unfortunately, sometimes we do not have the space to keep it all and we are forced to make difficult decisions.
Luckily, there are some methods that might help if you are in this situation and I have collated them for you in this little presentation.
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