Whatever time of year it is – it’s always good to clean up your e-mail folders. And not only clean up, but also see if you can adjust the way that you deal with e-mails.
Do you want to clean up rigorously:
1) Create an “Old” folder and put all e-mails older than the current year there.
2) Go to that folder and sort by sender, or by subject. Keep only the most recent, or those that still contain valuable information. You can probably get rid of a lot.
3) Empty the ‘Deleted items’ folder.
4) Check the ‘Sent items’ folder. Are there any messages there for which you are still waiting for a response? Put it in a folder ‘Waiting’ – see also point 3) below.
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If you have a lot on your mind, it is important to be able to relax, so that you can continue to think freely. Take regular time out for relaxation. And make time for family and friends.
Relaxing and keeping your brain flexible: you can do this in many ways. In addition to walking, good dining, resting, lazing around, reading or exercising, learning something new is also a form of relaxation. You use your brain in a different way, using a different part, and it can therefore let go of the other things – and thus relax.
Examples of new things: learning to play a musical instrument (and then my choice is piano, maybe not the easiest ;)), learning another language (tip: the app Duolingo), juggling, sewing, carpentry, getting to know edible plants, etc. There are plenty to choose from! And if you want to learn something really well – the more concentrated you are, the better you learn and relax!
Extra tip: don’t give up too quickly, buckle down to something! Set a goal. My goal: within a few years I want to be able to play some beautiful or fun pieces if I should find myself in front of a piano somewhere. That will take some practice :).
One of the speakers at The Photo Managers Congress (April 2021) was photographer and photo organizer Nicole Olds. She talked about the ‘digital photo diet’. So many, many, photos are taken; last year 1.43 billion worldwide. This comes of course from the fact that almost everybody has a camera permanently at hand – the smartphone. And people take photos of everything, literally everything. Not only to preserve pictures as memories, but also as a communication medium – often as things to share on the spur of the moment.
Sound familiar? – you take hundreds of photos so that you can be sure that you have taken at least one good one. And the camera and the computer can cope with the large number of images.
Or you use the camera as a notebook: a photo as reminder, reference, or evidence. Or maybe you walk about with an ‘Insta’ eye – would this be fun to post?
The fact is that in general we have (too) many photos. I too :).
You want to capture the feeling that you experience at a certain moment (Nicole Olds calls it ‘grazing’, ‘all you can eat’), and ultimately there is perhaps one photo that successfully recalls that feeling. Sometimes one photo is enough. More photos do not necessarily lead to more memories. Go for one good photo!
You can of course tidy your photos up, every week. But you can also approach it from the other direction: take fewer photos. Put yourself on a photo diet!
Go for experiencing the moment and not for capturing it with the camera (‘don’t spray and pray’). You can compare this with unwinding and minimalism. What do you really need, which photos are ‘keepers’?
Start by taking fewer photos. Perhaps a fixed number per day, or a fixed (small) number per event. Try this ruse: pretend that you are working with a roll of 36 photos.
And if you take many photos, sort them immediately. Are they Beautiful, Useful, or Sentimental (BUS)? Then they can stay. And you can use the ‘BUS’ at the moment that you are about to take a photo. Think again before you take yet another photo of an aeroplane wing, or yet another sunset. And if you take the photos anyway, decide immediately which one(s) you want to keep.
Less is more; this holds not only for possessions but also for photos. It is always a job to organize and maintain them.
How often do you make a backup of your digital photos? Even if you have copies of your photos in the ‘cloud’, it is sensible to archive your photos on an external hard drive (EHD).
A good guideline for safeguarding your photos is the 3-2-1- system.
Make three copies: two in your house (one on your computer and one on an EHD), and one outside your home, for example on an EHD in another building, or in the ‘cloud’.
A good discipline is to update everything every three months, and if you have a large collection of photos, then do it more frequently. Try to link the process of updating with another fixed event, such as the first of the month. Your photos are valuable for a reason.
And if you always have good backups, you can always make good photo albums collating precious memories. Soon you will be able to look back on all the photos that you made during this Corona period, or make a book of for example 25 years of a weekend on the island of Texel.
The chances are that you will be working from home in one form or another. It is important that you have a good place to work, but how do you do that if you don’t have your own work room or work space? If you are working with a lap top only, it is easy enough to find a place to work. But often you will also want some paperwork, a telephone, and perhaps a tablet or other device.
You need working space. Even if it is part of the dining room table. Arrange that you have access to the space for a certain time. Agreeing blocks of time (e.g. 09.30 to 12.00) works well if you have to take into account family or housemates that also need the table. Many creative ideas have been thought of, with home-made screens, marked-out areas, or an improvised extra table leaf.
In addition to the work surface, it is important that you have a fixed place to store your laptop and accessories, folders or writing pads etc. Your shelf or your cupboard. When you work, you know that everything is there. When you have finished your work or stop for the day, put everything away. Clear the table – make this a habit.
Working in blocks and clearing everything up helps you to find a balance when you working from home. Divide the days of the week into for example work, house, children, social contacts, exercise. Some activities will be fixed, others not. Make a schedule for yourself and off you go. The schedule does not have to be set in concrete, but it helps you to make sure that you do all the things that require attention.
Make clear when you are working and when you are ‘at home’ for other activities. If you have the flexibility to decide when you work, think about when you have the most energy to undertake particular bits of work. If the timing of the work is not under your control, take care to plan and make agreements about ‘focus’ time. My Plan-in is a handy tool for this.
Read also my tip about Concentrated working
Too many photos on your smartphone … Maybe another ten photos will be added every day, either taken by yourself or from WhatsApp from others. Another message that the memory is full, or uncertainty about whether the photos are stored anywhere. Are your photos already in the ‘cloud’? Perhaps you want to share them with others, or have access to them wherever you are. Remember that the ‘cloud’ is always ‘on’ on your smartphone or computer. There is continuous contact and your photos will be enlarged or compressed depending on the capacity of your smartphone. If it is not necessary for you to have access to your photos wherever you are, don’t use the cloud – that is better for the environment. Use your telephone as a photo album and your computer as an archive (see Tip 6).
It is time to organise and protect your photos. Choose the tips that appeal to you.
- Turn off the facility whereby photos that are sent via Whatsapp are automatically copied to your Photo Album on your telephone. You do this by opening Whatsapp – select Settings, and then turn off: ‘Save to camera roll’. If you want to save a particular photo you can do this by clicking on the photo in Whatsapp and selecting ‘Save’.
- Take fewer photos. Think about what you are going to do with them. Are they photos that you are taking for others, or are you using them as a memory jogger? What do you do with them in the end? Do you upload them onto Facebook. If so, they do not need to stay in your telephone memory. It is however a fact that Facebook and Instagram are not good archives, because the photos are compressed (and thereby lose detail). Save in your computer the nicest, best photos that you have taken and use.
- Clean up your photo collection if you need to wait somewhere, or are sitting in a train. You can achieve a lot in ten minutes. Be critical – which photos are worth keeping on your telephone or worth transferring to your computer archive. If you have very many photos, start with the oldest because those are the easiest to decide about.
- Or … delete ten photos every day, in the same way. Many photos represent ‘conversations’ that can easily be deleted as they are no longer of interest.
- In order to give you a better overview of the photos on your telephone, organise them by creating folders. For example ‘Family’, ‘Work’, ‘Advertisements’ or whatever. Putting photos in folders, and taking the time to do it (important), gives you the opportunity to see whether the photos are worth keeping.
- Once a week transfer to the computer the photos that you want to keep (or want to use to make a photo album). Delete these photos from the telephone, except a few that you want to have handy as a mini album.
- Once a month or quarter back up the photos on your computer onto an external hard disk. That is the most reliable back up that you can have.
- If you take very many photos in a short time, for example if you are travelling, then your memory may become full. If you are not using a ‘cloud’ then a photostick may offer a temporary solution. The stick takes the photos from your smartphone or tablet so that you can continue taking photographs. Then you can connect the stick to your computer and transfer to it those photos that you want to use or save. Be critical with the transfer process. Don’t fill your archive with photos that are not good (not entertaining or artistic or sharp), or which are duplicates. The photostick is not yet on the Dutch market, so if you order one online, take care because there are different versions for Apple or Android operating systems, and for small and large devices.
Books are usually not the easiest part of decluttering a house. They belong to a part of your life, they have become part of the furnishing, they are your memory, and they form a trusted environment. But they can take up a lot of space, collect dust, and be damaged by silverfish …
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Do you have a problem estimating time? For example, how long it will take to do something, or getting something finished in a fixed time? Start ‘clocking’ time.
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What do you with all your photo prints? I am often asked this.
If you still have many photo prints, and they are stored randomly, the best advice that I can give you is: sort the photos in chronological order, discard the failures, second-class photos and duplicates, and store the best in envelopes, folders, photo wallets or box files, together with sachets of silica gel (these keep the photos dry, and you can often find them in packed goods that you have bought).
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Around 2004, many people began taking digital photographs. So did I. That means that I now (2020) have 17 years’ worth of digital photos, about 40.000. They are in chronological order in folders in my computer (iMac – Photos).
Besides the date (year-month and in some cases day), the folders are also given a name, such as “Italy” or “Paul’s Exhibition”. That is my most important tip: in the photo application on your computer, make main folders by year, and sub-folders by subject, or main folders by subject (holidays) and sub-folders by country and/or year. For a trip, a special birthday or for example a sub-folder ‘ideas’, if you regularly get inspirations. It is important to remember that when you start a new sub-folder, first clean up the collection, discard all the failed and second-class photos, and make critical choices about which photos you want to keep. After a time, tens of photos of the same mountain are nog longer of interest. Are you a user of the iCloud, then the photos will gather by themselves. And still then it is critical to clean up. Do it once a week or month, or after a special happening.
For smart organizing in Photos (Mac): If you use keywords with the photos, you can have ‘smart’ folders, which gather the photos with the corresponding keyword.
Copy all the photos onto two external storage mediums (USB-stick or hard disk) as ‘back up’. Once a quarter is a good rule. You can copy the entire Photo Library onto the External Disk via the Finder, or you can export alle photos to your Desktop , using the ‘Photos Takeout’ programme. Keep one back-up disk in a safe place in your house, the other in another place. See also my tip ‘Make back-ups as support for memories’.