HeartWork Organizing

Helping you find peace and purpose through organization and design

10 Ways to Go PaperLess March 15, 2012

Filed under: Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm
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If I had a nickel for everyone who told me they wanted to go paperless, well, I could buy several reams of paper.  The truth is that our society is nowhere near going paperless.  In fact, our actual individual consumption of paper is up in the past decades!  But we can all take one or two free or easy steps to have less unwanted paper in our lives.  The less that comes in, the less you have to organize.  Take a few minutes and do just one or two of these steps, and have less in your life:

Steps to go PaperLess

1. Stop your newspaper, or subscribe to only one day a week.

2. Get off direct mail lists at the Direct Mail Association site.

5. Let magazine subscriptions expire if you didn’t read them last month.

7. Display kids’ artwork with clever front-loading storage frames from DynamicFrames.


Read the rest of this excerpted article where it was originally published on ShopGetOrganized.

What steps will you take to reduce your paper piles?



Organizing Photos on Your Computer, Part 2 October 20, 2011

Filed under: Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:50 pm
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With all the gadgets we have these days, taking pictures is child’s play, but organizing digital photos can be tricky.  Some people never get around to downloading photos off their camera because they don’t quite know where to put them on their PC, or they don’t know what or how to name them. One complaint I hear over and over is that the computer assigns names to individual photos that are ugly, random and completely unhelpful when trying to organize photos, and that makes the whole job just completely frustrating.   What many people don’t know is that you can download batches of photos with an actual English file name, so the computer will assign sequential names to them.

Digital Photo File Structures

What file structure most people have:

My Photos>>>uglynamedfiles.jpg all in one disorganized mess

What some people have:

My Photos>>>Files by Years>>>uglynamedfiles.jpg, still pretty much in a big mess

What you can have:

My Photos>>>Files by Major Categories>>>Sub Categories if Needed>>>pretty files names with your naming structure, like LambChops_Second_Brithday_01.jpg (and more just like it, sequential by number)

The Key To Easy Photo Downloads

I’m about to lapse into PC-talk here, but I’m sure there is a similar Mac operation.  The key is knowing the software that you are using to download the photos.  On a PC, check out Windows Live Photo Gallery, which is a free program that came with my new PC this year, or you can download it.  I don’t think it is the most intuitive program, but it is pretty functional, and it does allow you to download in batches that you have named.  You can read a pretty clear description of how to download batches of photos from your camera into your file structure.  You’ll want to read the second part of that help page, steps 1 and 2, to figure out how to batch them.  Read the instructions carefully if you want to place photos in sub-folders.  You must select the sub-folder under “More Options” where it says to “Review, organize and group items to import” in order to specify where the files should import to.

A note of caution, it’s easy to miss the step about naming the batch of files you are about to download. This is the important step where you substitute an English phrase for the ugly file name that the computer will otherwise assign.  This step in Windows Live Photo Gallery needs improvement, in my humble opinion.  If you have a ton of photos on your camera and you are only downloading a few at a time, you’ll likely scroll down to check off the ones you want to download, and the naming field will scroll right off the top of the page.  Once you’ve checked off the photos you want to import or download, just scroll back up, click on the field that says “Enter a Name”, and don’t get thrown off by the thumbnail picture, which is probably not one of the photos you are actually trying to download.  Wierd, I know.  After you have filled in this file name, proceed with the download.  If you miss this step, you’ll get ugly file names in your download.

Read up on a few more easy ideas on how to organize your photos in digital format, and find a shortcut or two that will work for you.  I’m hoping that I can find the shortcut to doing this same thing in Picasa, which is a photo organizing, editing and sharing program that is gaining in popularity. Should we be surprised?  It’s from Google, after all, and a key part of their world domination plan  I’m pretty sure the same step to naming batches is there, but I haven’t found it yet.  If you know, please share it here.

Photo Credit Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


Organizing Photos On Your Computer September 30, 2011

Filed under: Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 1:51 pm
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Wouldn’t you like to easily organize your digital photos?

First, know your software and system.  There are plenty of tools to help you pull your photos off of your camera or phone and get them into your archives.  Your camera probably came with a software disk.  Windows comes with photo programs.  Apple is all over photos, for sure.

The most frustrating thing about software might be that downloading your photos can result in your photos having odd, computer assigned names.  Search your download program for an option or field that lets you assign a name to a batch of photos while you are downloading them. You might be able to download a batch of photos that you name “birthday 2011”, and each photo will start with that name and then end with the number in sequence.  If you don’t like your download program, and you can’t do named batch downloads, go and search for another one.

According to Wikihow, Download a free image organizer. Fast small ones include Xnview (open source) and Irfanview (popular). Picasa from Google is an easy-to-use photo management tool. However, read the fine print on the agreement you sign with Picasa/Google. It gives Google the rights to all of the photos you put on the site, for their unrestricted use.  I do use Picasa to organize and edit my photos, but I don’t upload them to the Google web albums. One of the coolest things I can do with Picasa is easily brighten photos that I thought were too dark to save.

This one might seem a little obvious, but take the time to create different folders, and avoid dumping all of your photos into the Microsoft “My Photos” folder.  This is essentially like throwing a handful of photos into a closet and shutting the door.  Sure, you could search for a particular file later, but why would you?  Instead, just name the folders by year, or you might have folders with more meaningful names, such as:

  • birthdays
  • Christmases
  • home
  • weddings
  • vacations

From there, you can subdivide your photos using a naming system.  It is immensely helpful to have a naming convention for your photos so that you’ll be able to find them again later. Your computer file system will want to arrange your files either alphabetically or numerically. I use the following naming convention for my family photo files, which keeps my files neat and allows me to find files quickly:

Format:            Year_Month_Kidname_Event/Holiday

Example:         2010_April_KittyCat_Easter

Figure out this naming system once, tape it to your computer, and use it every time you download your pictures.  Suddenly all of those fun photos will be worth a lot more because you can actually find them again.  Unless you are married to a pro photographer, knowing who took the picture probably won’t be important in 5 or 10 years, so all family members can save photos the same way, with the same file name format, and create a very useful family photo treasure trove.

You might also check out http://shrinkpictures.com/facebook.php to help you size photos for different applications.

One last trick, and this one is great especially for the holidays, turn your paper photos into a digital archive without any fuss.  Contact Maxx or Monica at SaveMyPix.com to get up to 1,000 photos scanned for just $100.  You can rename photos returned to you once they are on disk.  But the best part is that making copies of digital photos is so easy, and you no longer have to be the one person with all the family archives.

Oh, and did I mention to be sure to backup your computer to safeguard all those treasures???

I’m always looking for new tricks, so please share your favorite photo info here.  Happy snapping.


Five Ways to Cut Digital Clutter September 27, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing,Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 11:22 pm
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Professional organizers call it digital hoarding.  Just because we can keep more data doesn’t mean we should.  Here are tips to make your digital life more manageable:

1. Live on one screen

Make it a goal to have a file structure, desktop,
electronic notepad, or whatever  you use fit on just one screen.  Use your preferred device’s own structure to create folders or grouped icons so that you can see your inventory/main headings without having to scroll or tap.  Incredibly complex data may require a second screen, but decide if it is worth it.  The more visual stimuli your brain has to process, the slower you will be. Think of your screens as a container (like a box) for an amount of data that you can comfortably manage, not a blank slate for all available cool apps.  It’s the same principle as keeping only the amount of files in your office that you can fit in your filing cabinet; left unchecked, chaos reduces productivity.

2.  Don’t be an early adopter

Yeah, it’s cool, but what will that really cost you?  Early adopters spend more in money, time and frustration working out the bugs for the rest of us.  The first iPhone in 2007 sold for $599; today the much improved iPhone 4 sells for $199.
Approximately 5% of the mobile handsets are Apple iPhones, which means that 95% of the world saved about $400 plus hours, days or weeks of learning time.

3. Digital Overload  is normal

Be weird.  If you always respond to email, texts, Facebook and Twitter, then people will expect you to respond to them. You train your network.  Inc. Magazine wrote about David Karp, founder of Tumblr, in June 2011 and his method of handling email. Two things are interesting. First, he reverse filters, meaning everything goes into a folder that he doesn’t read, and the folder he looks at only has emails from his
employees and girlfriend. Second, he’s right on that if you condition people to
expect that you don’t read email, they’ll get to you another way.

4. Admit Digital Addiction

If you have an addictive personality, knowing this may save your life.  Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows; What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, describes what the research tells us about the immense pleasure and gratification that our limbic brain gets from
electronic activity, including twitter, texting, and blogs.  People today may need to create physical or other barriers to access this stimuli.  Texting while driving is a well-known danger, and yet the problem persists.  Nationwide’s survey showed that 80% of drivers favor a ban on mobile use while driving, despite the fact that up to 60% of people admit to texting behind the wheel.  Or do as I say, not as I do?  Curbing or eliminating addictive behavior such as texting and emailing on the road may literally save a life.

5. Print your pictures

Here’s  a novel idea.   Instead of keeping thousands of poorly labeled digital pics, create a special family photo album once a year using commercial services like Shutterfly, Snapfish, and hundreds of others locally and on the internet who will print and bind your treasures. Then  you can delete all the photos of marginal quality, re-label any that have incomprehensible computer-assigned labels using a single year or topic file name, and set those aside on your hard drive.  These make great  gifts, but you already knew that.

What makes your digital life more simple?  We’d all love to hear.