organize: pictures and memories

Monday, May 7, 2018

Scrapbooking used to be life for me. I would spend entire spring or holiday breaks pulling together pictures of sorority events and hunting down the perfect matching scrapbook paper and stickers. I spent hours coming up with new page layouts and fitting as many pictures as possible on one page.

It's been over 10 years since I created a scrapbook but I keep them in a vintage chest in my family room. With the North Bay fires last fall, I started thinking more about what I would do if I was in that situation, what I would grab, what I would regret leaving behind. In most cases, families had just enough time to grab car keys and get out of their homes in time to save their lives. If I had 5 minutes to get out of my house, I would ultimately leave behind a lifetime of pictures and personal possessions.

Watching these families lose so much, I was given a chance to make sure that if in that predicament, I could grab a few things and that others could be retrieved later. The exercise turned into a two week project that purged three boxes of documents, took me through a lifetime of achievements, and gave me peace of mind that I didn't know was not there to begin with.

Utilize the Cloud
Since I started college, I kept all of my major college work and digital pictures on CDs. Like many of you, I wanted to keep these examples for future job opportunities to remember how crazy intelligent I am. Not once since 2001 have I needed that term paper on genetic modification - can you believe that?

One afternoon, I uploaded every document to my Gmail Drive and every picture to Shutterfly. This resulted in clearing out 42 CDs from my house (learn how to recycle here), and now I can look through my 2007 Spain pictures on the Shutterfly app whenever I feel a little sad. This also cleared out three boxes of hard copies of the above soft copies. The recycle bin was nice and full that week!

Double Take on Pictures
I also realized that all of the pictures were in 5 different spots throughout the house and garage. If there really was an emergency, I would waste precious time collecting everything. When I really sat down with all of my pictures, I had doubles of just about everything in a scrapbook (dispose), copies of digital pictures that I just uploaded to Shutterfly (dispose) and endless pictures that I don't really need.

Define pictures that I don't need: before digital cameras, my friends made fun of me that I wouldn't take a picture on my camera unless I was in it. True. If I was going to process pictures, I was going to be in them! Even 15 years later, a friend found an undeveloped roll of film and when she got the pictures back, she promptly sent me the pictures and said that they must be mine because I'm in all of the pictures.

Through this process, I collected piles of pictures that didn't include me and sent them to my friends. It cleared out 2 small boxes and it was a nice surprise for my childhood friends to receive snail mail with pictures of their high school volleyball games.

Once I did all of the above clearing, I purchased a plastic tote to organize* all of our remaining pictures that were not in scrapbooks that fit nicely in the vintage chest in the family room. Every pictures we have is now stored in that box, and in the event of an emergency, I can quickly grab it and run out of the house.

  • Purchased 1 compact carrying tote* to store pictures
  • Consolidated materials and donated 3 scrapbooks
  • Tossed 42 CDs, 3 boxes of documents and 2 small boxes of pictures
    I promised myself two years ago to scan these pictures and documents to the cloud just in case there really was an emergency. It was a fun project that I was glad to commit a few nights to finishing, and I did receive text messages thanking me for those surprise packages!

    Do you feel like you need to do this? What small step will you take to begin to organize your memories?

    *Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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