Friday, March 25, 2011

Organizing family photos - getting over the hump

Family photos can be organized in
albums or boxes. Your perfect method
may differ from someone else's perfect
The subject of caring for personal photos has come up numerous times in the past couple of weeks, so I find myself posting about it once again. I spent part of this morning working with a client on a personal photo organization project. Sometimes the hardest part a consultant plays in such a project is convincing a person that the "collection" is not unmanageable. Most people store items in bureaus and shoe boxes. Many people spread them all over their homes. Most people feel overwhelmed. Remember that the organization of your personal papers and photos can be taken in steps and everything can be organized. You are not hopeless or helpless. Realize that a little help can go a long way.

It is hard when a family member is more inclined to be organized than another. It is not helpful when others remark about one's disorganization. Words of criticism tend to increase one's feeling of being overwhelmed. I walk into many homes where the person who has hired me feels that the personal papers they are about to show me are the worst mess that I have ever seen. They are embarrassed because they feel the material has gotten out of control or someone else has told them that it is out of control.

An example of a "mess" that I have found
I can unequivocally say that I have never seen a home collection in worse disarray than some of the town collections I have seen. The common home is smaller and the average person collects less paperwork, etc. than the average town. Archivists deal with "mess" everyday. There is little you can show us in the way of personal papers that will throw us out of step. I actually enjoy tackling piles. It is part of the reason I got into this line of work.

Do not be afraid to begin because of overwhelming feelings. Many people do not take on projects or stop projects because those "this is too much" feelings grow. Work out what needs to be done. Write a plan by yourself, or with a little help from a professional. Take your organization step by step. Start from where you are and dive in. Do not just hope to be more organized. Create a guide that plays to your personal lifestyle. Create a reasonable plan that outlines what you want to do and write out the steps. Think about your end goal. Do you want to display your favorite images? Do you want to create albums? Do you want to organize digital files? Be specific about what you really want.

My client this morning told me that one of her top priorities is to create a photo album celebrating the first year of her daughter's life. Her daughter is now 6. She has such an album for her nine-year old son. I think that there are some guilty feelings attached with not having such an album for her daughter. So, step 1. will be to begin sorting images using guidelines I will provide for her. Step 2. is to create that album for her daughter. Once she gets that done, she should have a huge feeling of accomplishment that will help propel her through the rest of the steps we've decided together.

Begin somewhere. Make a dent. Set a specific goal for yourself that will feel like a milestone when you hit it to get over the hump. Focus on moving ahead and don't look back.

1 comment:

  1. Your suggestion to simply begin somewhere -- just "make a dent" -- is totally spot-on! Choose a spot for the pile. Then, move your shoeboxes and videos toward the pile. Now, you're on your way. Bravo, Melissa!