Monday, March 30, 2009

How I Organize My Pictures

It's the end of another month so that means it's time for the Organizing Junkie's monthly round-up. This month we're organizing pictures and keepsakes, so I'm going to share my system for organizing all that stuff.

First of all, my dirty little secret lies in these two boxes. These are my Power Sort boxes and each of them is capable of holding 2,400 photos . . . and they're dang near full which means I have close to 4,800 photos in these innocent looking boxes.

Here's the first one and it's full of my mom's photos that I rescued and organized. My Mama Llama is hopelessly disorganized and it makes me crazy. She keeps asking me about them . . . "Jill, are you EVER going to do anything with my pictures?" No Mom, NE-VER.

I will though. It's part of my plan. The problem is that my plan, otherwise known as my TO DO LIST, has 18,267 other things on it as well.

This box is the back log of my life with Peanut Head before kids. I've been pretty good about staying on top of the photos since the monsters came along.

This is one of the 12 compartments from my Power Sort box. Each compartment holds 200 pictures up to 5x7 inches. I love these little compartments. They're genius. Before I had the Power Sort boxes, I had lots of the cute little photo storage boxes than you can pick up just about anywhere, but my pictures were always sliding underneath each other and getting mixed up after I organized them.

The Power Sort compartments keep the pictures contained and there isn't enough room for the pictures to slide down underneath each other. The other neat thing about them is that you can take one compartment with you if you're going to crop away from home, put a lid on it, and you're only taking the pictures you need instead of all of them.

The other cool feature is the straps on either side of the Power Sort box which keeps the lid secured to the box. I have dropped my Power Sort box before, you know I have, and the lid stayed on and all my pictures stayed put and organized. I can't say the same about my old picture organizing boxes. They were pretty though.

Here's my Power Sort Mini box. I use this one for the current albums I'm working on, and it has three compartments so it will hold 600 photos. I keep my bigger Power Sorts out of sight so they don't stress me out and cause me to think about my freakish backlog.

This is my File Mate. It's just an accordian type file, and it's where I keep things that are larger than 5x7 inches. If I put something in here, I make an index card with it's description and I file it in the Power Sort box with the corresponding picture(s) it belongs with to remind me to go and grab that item when I get to it. Someday.

Ideally, someday all my pictures will be in albums like this and I'll be caught up. I have two ongoing albums for each of my girls.

One of these is their school albums.

This is where I keep school pictures, class pictures, the first day of school, special happenings, awards, pictures of artwork, and handwriting samples.

I keep very little of my kids' artwork. They put it on their magnetic memo boards when they bring it home, and at the end of the month I take it all down and take pictures of it for their school albums. Then I get to throw it away without guilt.

The other album that I keep ongoing is a birthday album for each child.

In this album, I keep their birthday portraits from each year so I have a fun place to compare their changes from year to year. I also keep an ongoing record of their height and weight.

This album is also where all the pictures of their birthday parties go. I don't keep those pictures in the family album.

Here are all my completed traditional albums. I have a lot and they take up a lot of room. This is one of the reasons that I have moved to digital albums for our family album. At the end of each year, I have the family album/blog book printed and bound in a much skinnier book than one of these albums. If you want to see that, go here.

Finally, at the beginning of every year Peanut Head burns all of the previous year's pictures onto a CD and we keep it stored in a binder in our safe. Which reminds me, we haven't done last year yet. I guess we'd better get on that.

I hope I've given you some ideas for organizing and storing your own pictures. For more ideas, go to the Organizing Junkie.


  1. I love Creative Memories. I've also done a few storybooks. When you figure the cost of the album, pages, page protectors, papers, stickers, developing of film, etc. it makes the storybook seem very affordable!

  2. wow, that's impressive! I am about six years behind on my albums but slowly gaining. It's so much fun doing photoalbums and storybooks. You are doing a wonderful job, your girls will be so grateful once they are older!
    I do prefer "real" photoalbums over digital photobooks though. I think they are more personal because you can put handwriting in them and add receipts, movie-tickets and those things...
    keep going, great job!

  3. Do you have any idea how much a plane ticket would cost to bring you to me for a weekend????

    I thought I was on top of it until I saw your system! Now I am thinking I am buried by it all!

    I need to add "Organize photos and keepsakes" to my To Do List...which is just about as big as yours!

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. great system! My system is very similar, as I used to be a CM consultant! ;-)

  5. Great ideas! Thanks. I like how you organize your books for the girls. My books are kind of all over the place. :) Good stuff!

  6. Love that system! I too used to be a CM Consultant and LOVE those Powersort boxes! = )

  7. LOVE those boxes!!! I love the idea of a birthday album. That is a great idea, I may have to do that one. I just bought a 4g flash drive to back my pics up on but only got 2004-2006 on it so I bought an 8g that have 2007 through the present. I keep mine in our safe too.

  8. I used to be so organized with pictures, when it was on film, I would get them developed and then they'd go in the album right away in the order they were taken.

    Not so much with digital pictures.

  9. are an organizing GENIUS!!! I knew you were already but from the photos all organized and the gorgeous scrapbooks you are my idol!!!!! GOSH I wish I was just a quarter as organized with everything as you are!

  10. WOW is all I can say. When the twins were born, digital had not made the affordable scene yet. I have a scattered mess of prints from their first few years of life. I need to find one of those Powersort Boxes. My DH would love me forever if I could get rid of some photo boxes! Taking pictures of Art Work is a phenom idea! Our newest addition brings home art work weekly and this is the best way to keep the memory without the clutter. Thanks for sharing your awesome ideas with the rest of us!

  11. AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!

    I want to be your neighbor. I use CM products and am working on organizing over 8 years of photos. Funny, my oldest is 8, huh.

    Hope you post daily cuz I'll be waitin'!

    =) =)

  12. Whoo Hoo! You are sooooo organized.

    I use the Power Sort too! I need another one though. I have overloaded the one. Plus what do I do since we went digital??? Do I leave them on the computer and wait until I am ready to scrap them or do I print them all at once, file them and keep until I scrap? And what about the 3 boxes of memorabilia? I have ruined 2 file mates already by putting too much stuff in them. So now I have all the bigger stuff in totes and hanging files. Should I be keeping this stuff or should I be taking photos or scans and tossing it?

    I am putting my "life" in your hands. As my closest twin, I trust your judgment on this.

    Anne (who should know this after years of being a CMC but who just cant see it for her own stuff)

  13. I are the queen of organization!

  14. love the birthday album--what an ingenius idea. I'm so sad I missed org junkie's roundup this month (I just uncovered another stash of photos), but I suppose I could do it in April at the same time I tackle the closets....? Hmm.

  15. Dang girl, do you sleep?

    I so wish I knew you when my kids were little! All I've managed to do is keep the pics arranged by year in those "photo" boxes. I hate 'em. The tops don't fit right, the pics slip and I have too many to store. That "power sort" box looks like it would work perfect for me!

    Someday I hope to get all our pictures scanned and then copied onto a disk to store in our safe. It makes me sick to think we could lose all of them.

    Thanks for another great and informative post!

    You Rock!

  16. I hope to one day be half as organized as you are. Truly impressive.

  17. You do an amazing job on keeping everything together. Great job!!!

  18. Oh, how funny! I have two Power Sort boxes, and mine actually have more than yours and I have overflow in another box!

    I haven't tried digital albums yet. First I have to get a digital may have convinced me though. It's really hard to teach the old dog new tricks.

  19. Stumbled onto your blog and absolutely Love it! I love scrapbooking but get so overwhelmed with how to orgainize and the fact I'm so behind. I have created and completed 3 CM albums as gifts but not one for myself. :( I will be looking to your site for much needed guidance and ideas. Thank you so much! I'll keep you posted on my progress. :)

  20. I stumbled on to your blog from orgjunkie....I think. It is a favorite of mine and I check it regulary. I think what I love most is I want to be organized, be a better blogger etc. and you give simple yet easy to follow hints,pictures and advice on how to do so. I'm slowly finding some time... (mother of 5,ages 16- 16months) to make a list and tackle some of these projects. Thanks again.

  21. I'm in absolute awe! My son started Kindergarten this year and I already have a plethora of artwork. I would love to scan/photograph the art to store it digitally and throw the originals away. My only question is what is the best way to organize the digital art work files. Is there software out there that can help me?

  22. redjenn, I'm not familiar with a software that is specific to that task. Personally, I would just scan the artwork and organize it in folders on your computer.

  23. I am re-reading this post yet again. I am trying to get back on the wagon and finish my stuff. I think I need another jump start!

  24. Unfortunately, your Power Sort Box wouldn't hold 1/40 of my photos. I collect old suitcases and must have six of them full of photos plus the other scrapbook items for four children before the digital age. Help! I am overwhelmed! To add to the overload I am the family historian and have old pictures, books, business ledgers and more going back 100 years.

  25. You are so organized.... I am so jealous... I have so much photos and they are all over the place that my head is going to explode. Help!!!

  26. Are you for hire> I have 45 yrs. plus worth of unfiled photos! LOL!

  27. I am addicted to scrapbooking as well and have completed about 8-10 albums for each of my two kids. Have always used Creative Memories 12 x 12 albums with page protectors. Question: How did you get the cover and spine engraved with words?