Day 2: 31 Day Photo Decluttering Challenge | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Day 2: 31 Day Photo Decluttering Challenge

Monday, October 2, 2017

Day 2: 31 Day Photo Decluttering Challenge

Got a lot of photos? Do you want to be able to enjoy your pictures instead of having to search and search to find your favourites? Does the thought of tackling your photo collection seem so overwhelming that you keep putting it off? Me too!

That's why this month I'm hosting the 31 Day Photo Decluttering Challenge! Each day I'll share tips to help you declutter your photo collection so you can really treasure and enjoy all the best ones. And I'll share my progress as I declutter my photos along with you :)

Today you'll be kicking off the challenge by gathering your photos in one spot and setting yourself up for success by deciding on where you will work on this challenge.

Gathering Printed Photos

If you've decided to declutter your printed photos this month, you'll need to know how many you're starting with. Which means gathering up ALL your printed photos into one spot. Think about all these types of printed photos:

  • Photo albums
  • Boxes of loose photos
  • Photos in frames around your home

Now think of all the places these printed pictures may be stored or hiding in your home:

  • On bookshelves
  • Under beds
  • In the attic
  • In the garage
  • In the basement
  • On the top shelves of closets
  • Under the stairs
  • On the walls
  • On dressers
  • On nightstands
  • In drawers

Wow that's a lot of places! Pretty much anywhere in your home is fair game for printed photos. Go on a little treasure hunt today and gather them all up in one place. It will make it easier to see how many you have and whether you have duplicates. You can also assess how they are being stored and if that method is causing them to deteriorate (hint: garages, basements, and attics are not good for photos because of the temperature changes, humidity/dampness). 

Gathering Digital Photos

Just like with printed pictures, before you start decluttering your digital photos, you need to gather them all in one spot. Otherwise you could potentially be deleting the same pics multiple times on multiple devices.

Check for digital photos in all these places:

  • All phones 
  • All tablets 
  • All computers or laptops 
  • All external hard drives, jump drives, or memory sticks
  • All cloud-based storage places
  • All CD roms
  • All cameras
  • All camera cards
  • Any other electronic device you use to take or store pictures

Remember to check all current devices and all older devices that you no longer use but still have around your home. Same for cloud-based storage - think back to any sites you used in the past, even if you no longer use them now. 

I highly recommend you create a central storage place where you gather ALL these digital photos. Then you can back everything up in that one spot and delete everything from the other devices. As you declutter from that one central spot this month you can delete all copies at once, which saves a lot of time {more on that in a few days}. After you've gone through all the pics in your central location, you can back up your smaller collection and then decide where you want  any of the pictures you've kept to go.

Choosing a Work Space

If you're working on printed photos, here are some things to consider about a place to work this month:

  • You need a place where you have enough space to keep all those albums and boxes
  • You need a place where you can leave your photos in progress (i.e. not your dining room table if that's where you usually eat dinner because then you will be spending time getting things out and packing them back up again - that time would be better spend decluttering photos!)
  • You need a place where there is enough light to see what you're working on

Some options may be an office or a desk that isn't used very often, a guest room, or even your family room. You can set up a folding table to work on temporarily if you don't have a free surface.

If you're working on digital photos, it's not as hard to find a place to work. Just make sure that you also have enough light to see what you're doing. It's still good to choose one place to work for the whole challenge so that it limits the number of distractions and you can really focus on what you're doing. I'd also recommend turning off notifications or alarms on your computer, tablet, or phone during the times you've set aside for this challenge so that you can really focus on decluttering photos during those times (we all know how easy it is to get sucked down a rabbit hole when we're on any kind of device!).

Figure Out Your Starting Numbers

This is potentially the scary part :) Not really. But it may be surprising or even shocking. But it's worth it. Really. You can't show off your progress if you don't know what you're starting with. And by the end of this month you're going to want to shout from the roof tops how many photos you've decluttered!

So, if you're decluttering printed photos, you don't need to count each individual photo, but count how many albums you have and try to estimate how many photos are in each album so you have an approximate total. For printed photos, a 1-inch stack is approximately 100 photos, depending on what kind of material they are printed on. Gather your photos from shoe boxes and estimate how many pictures based on the height of your stacks. Don't forget to count up how many framed photos you're going to go through too.

For digital photos, it's a little easier. Most photo programs can give you a total. Or you can look up the properties of your picture folders to get a total. You probably have tons of duplicates, but don't worry about that right now. Just get a total count from your central spot so you know what you're working with.

My Starting Numbers

OK, ready to see what I'm working with?

Here is one shelf that hold photo albums from my childhood, high school, and university years. There are also a few yearbooks, my parents' wedding album, and my baby book as well and 3 small albums of my hubby's childhood. I'm not planning to touch any of those. So I have 10 albums and 2 scrapbooks that I plan to go through.

And here are my photo albums from my young adult life, early married life, and albums I made when my kids were little. Missing is my giant wedding photo album, because a friend of mine is scanning them so I can create a photo book (a project started awhile ago, before this challenge). These shelves contain 1 old album, 1 old scrapbook, and one box full of loose photos (all from my pre-digital camera days). I will be decluttering those and keeping only the best ones to scan. And then there are 12 photo albums of my kids' early years, all of which are printed copies of digital photos on my laptop. My plan is to pick out the best ones and create a photo book and then get rid of the rest.

I haven't estimated how many printed photos I have in all those albums, but it's a LOT. Before I actually start decluttering them I'll try to get a decent estimate.

And then there's my digital photos. I have a number for these... and it's crazy. I knew I had a lot, but I was quite amazed when I saw the total that came up on my computer.

See that number?! 47,765. Yikes!

Now I know there are a lot of duplicates there. Actual duplicates, where folders were copied more than once. So getting rid of those will reduce that number by a lot hopefully. Plus there are tons of similar pictures that I can get rid of and just keep the best of each pose.

If that number wasn't scary enough, I found some other folders on my computer with pictures too. I jumped in and started decluttering some of them before counting, but I'd estimate another 2500 or so.

Time to start decluttering!

Your Turn!

Today's task is to gather all your photos in one central place. Then, choose where you will work on this challenge. And lastly, figure out what your starting numbers are. Write them down so you can track how far you've come when you get to the end of the challenge!

After that, if you're ready to jump in and get started, then go ahead and start decluttering some pics. I'll be sharing tips throughout the month, but you can start with any "easy" pics right away. You'll know the ones.

If you'd like more decluttering ideas, you can check out my Decluttering/Purging Tips & Ideas board on Pinterest.

Where are you going to work on your photo decluttering? How many pictures are you starting with for this challenge?

Happy photo decluttering!

Here are the rest of the posts in this challenge: