January 03, 2007

Photo Organizing Tips: Set Realistic Goals

Large projects are often dead in the water before they are ever begun. They seem so daunting that just thinking about them is an energy drain. Not good. The key, of course, is to break the project down into smaller (read: do-able) steps.

A goal like "I will organize all of my family photographs by the end of 2007 or die trying" is dramatic but not specific enough. Create goals that are small steps you can accomplish every month or week or day.

Here's what I mean by concrete goals:

  1. I will complete an initial inventory of the photo collection by January 31st.
  2. I will scan the most vulnerable images by March 1st.
  3. I will set aside 6 hours each month to work on this project.
  4. I will find a buddy (or a group of buddies) so we can work on our projects together.
Even your "Big Picture" goal can be worded in more concrete terms:
  1. By the end of 2007, all the damaged and vulnerable photos will be stored in a safe environment (starting with a rescue of all photos in those horrible sticky magnetic albums).
  2. All the remaining prints will be sorted into groups in rough chronological order.
  3. I will complete at least one photo album or tribute book by the end of 2007.

As you complete each goal, relish the satisfaction of crossing it off your list once and for all. If you tend to obsess over the big picture, ask yourself this brief but Very Important Question:
"Is it better?"
If you can say yes, then for goodness sake take a moment to celebrate your accomplishments. Big projects are completed in small steps, and it's important to stay motivated and on track. So go ahead and pat yourself on the back. Write a letter to a dear old friend telling them how lucky you are to have them in your life. You can even enclose a photo of the two of you (I'll talk about extra photos in the next Photo Organizing Tip).


Anonymous said...

Hello! I just found your blog through About.com Genealogy. I'm so happy to find an archivist. I'm going to library school in Fall of '07. Are you a professional archivist?

Thanks and keep up the blog!

Sally J. said...


Congrats on choosing library school! I've been working as a professional archivist since 1997, and my degree is from UW-Madison. Where are you headed this fall?

Did you check out The World's Fastest Librarian movie? It's the very first post on The Practical Archivist. You can find it under the tag "slis"

-Sally J.

emily said...

found your site after going a site about ephemera. Last year I was given a few boxes of old photos and scrapbooks to do with what I wanted. I'm enjoying your articles they're a great resource. Thanks!