Organizing, as simple as cake

I love Kristin’s analogy. I’m going to try this the next time I feel overwhelmed. (It might even be tomorrow.)DOABLE Sidebar O


Organize Professionally

Some of my clients have a lot of difficulty visualizing how they are going to finish organizing because they feel overwhelmed and defeated.  I say let them eat cake!

Have you ever tried to bake a cake without a recipe?  Maybe those geniuses on Top Chef

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From Paper Piles to Digital Files

This was a great class at RootsTech 2013 about using technology to help organize all your family history stuff. Valerie Elkins has some really good ideas to not only help you get organized but to stay organized.

Ok, so I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but this video show the whole second day of RootsTech. The class I want to share starts at 6 hours and 30 minutes.

Here is a link for Valerie’s Class.

If anybody knows how to fix this problem please let me know.DOABLE Sidebar O

Organizing Family Papers

Here is a simple list of the important parts of organizing family papers (and other things too). This comes from Minnesota History Society. You can find the original info here.

Step One: Gather them together

  • Bring together those items that you want to keep permanently. Keep them together in a box or a file, and clearly label them as family papers and mementos.

Step Two: Identify them

  • Remember that this information is what will make the materials meaningful to younger family members and future generations.
  • Fully identify writers and recipients of letters. Either write this information (inpencil) on each letter, or write a separate note to accompany a group of letters.
  • Write onto the back of each photograph (in soft lead pencil) as much information as is known about it – who; where; date; event or other circumstance.
  • Medals and other memorabilia: write a note identifying the recipient, occasion, and date, and keep it with the object.
  • Write down other relevant information about the persons or events, particularly birth and death dates, parents’ and other family names, civilian or military service units or employment, dates and places of service, memorable experiences.

Step Three: Organize them

  • The goal is to keep them from becoming scattered or mis-identified in the future, and to help others follow what was happening at the time.
  • There are many options, depending on the number and types of documents. They may include: keep all of each person’s letters and other papers together; keep a single chronological run of all materials; keep one group of only letters, and another group of other materials; keep separate groups of each type of material.
  • If photos or other items were received with a letter, keep them with that letter.

Step Four: Put them in protective enclosures

  • The goals: protect them from wear and tear, from light and dust, from becoming scattered or lost, and from losing their identity.
  • Use good-quality boxes, file folders, and other supplies. Archival-quality (acid-free) is ideal but not essential.
  • Unfold folded items; remove letters from envelopes; place them in file folders.
  • Remove pins, brads, and metal paper clips.
  • Label each folder or other enclosure with an identification of its contents.
  • Use separate folders or boxes for diaries and other volumes, or medals and other artifacts; do not put them in a folder together with letters or photographs.
  • For some items – such as medals and other artifacts, groups of related photographs or post cards, books in poor condition – consider the use of specialty enclosures that are available from archival suppliers.

Step Five: Store them safely

  • The entire group of materials should have its own “home,” whether in a box or a file drawer.
  • Avoid extremes of temperature and humidity; keep them clean; protect them from mold and insects.DOABLE Sidebar O


Organize Family History Photos & Documents into Binders

Treasures in Chaos

Today I came across a good article on Squidoo about organizing documents and photos, so I’ll share the highlights with you. You can find the original article here.

The basic idea is to use three ring binders and sheet protectors. Then instead of sifting through boxes, everything is protected and easy to see.

  1. Sort papers and documents into family groups.
  2. Decide what to keep. (If in doubt, keep it)
  3. Sort loosely into chronological order.
  4. Place into protective sleeves.
  5. Put sleeves into binders (fixing order if necessary).
  6. Label binder and put it on a shelf.

Some hints from the article:

  • Buy sheet protectors in boxes of 100
  • Make sure they are acid free, archival, top-loading
  • Buy high quality binders that will last

My mom has done something like this when she was doing family histories. I think it is important to keep it simple and get it organized. Don’t be tempted do make it fancy. If you want to go back later you can.

What have you tried in organizing you papers, documents and photos?DOABLE Sidebar O

An Organized File System

DOABLE Sidebar OA critical piece to organizing any story project (or any thing for that matter) is a well thought out system. I’ve worked for years on an organizing system for my life and I think it is getting pretty good. But I can’t say the same for how I’ve organized my story projects. They aren’t terrible but they have lots of room for improvement.

So today I started doing some searching for ideas. I came across one that I’d like to try on Genealogy Tools via Organize Your Family History. The instructions are for the Mac. I don’t use a Mac but the principles are the same. One main difference is that instead of “alias” on a Mac in Windows it is called a “shortcut”. The concept of an alias or a shortcut is a great one that I’m really going to start using. Here is Ben Sayer’s series of short videos with very clear step by step instructions on setting up folders on your computer:

You’ll need places to put archival copies of scanned documents, photos, and other files on your computer. This series of video screencasts will walk you, step-by-step, through setting up a folder system and putting files into it. They’re created on a Mac and take advantage of the powerful alias feature in Mac OS X, but most of the system will work well on Windows too.

What do you think? What kind of file organizing systems have you tried?


My Current Projects: goals and progress

Another Monday and time to account for my work last week.

In the Navy – Key West Chapter: project about my dad’s 20 years in the U.S. Navy. The priority is the chapter on Key West so he can pass it on to the Under Water Swimmer School website to include in their history page.

Due Date: asap

  • Listen to audio tape & transcribe

I didn’t progress like I hoped I would but at least I got something done. I put all the photos I have from Key West on my parents Kindle. Now my dad can look at the photos and record information about them. I think I’m a bit intimidated by the thought of transcribing an audio tape. I haven’t had to tackle this before. I just need to get started on it and over come my procrastination.

Journal for Martin’s Cove Reunion: a half sheet size journal to help make the trek experience at Martin’s Cove more meaningful. Have time line of handcart company with info about Mary Taylor and her family along with space for journaling and possible adding photos or sketches.

Due Date: July 2012

  • Decide on Binding – in process
  • Logo for Reunion
  • edits – waiting for mom to proof read

As I reported in another post I gave the proof copy to my mom to check over for mistakes. I’ll probably let this project rest until I hear back from her.

Mary: a small (7×7) book about Mary Taylor’s childhood and her journey to the Salt Lake Valley with the Martin Handcart Company for children under 12 to learn about their pioneer ancestor.

Due Date: flexible – would love to have at least a draft for July Reunion

  • write text
  • get illustrations from Kim

Nothing done on this last week other than giving my mom a copy of the outline. I feel like I should do some more reading about the Martin Handcart company before I try to tackle the narrative. Also until Kim gets a few of the illustrations done there is no pressing need.

Goals for this week:

So this week I’m going to dig into the Key West project and give it my focus.

  1. Start transcribing “Key West”
  2. Explore more binding options for “Martin’s Cove Journal”
  3. Check with Kim on “Mary”

Although I didn’t get to the Key West transcribing last week I did do another task that has been on my  list for a long, long time, cleaning up my hard drives. Even though it isn’t directly working on family stories it will help as I look for things and save new projects. Over the last few years I ended up with 4 different hard drives with info. My main computer was in good order but the other three drives were a mess, with stuff scattered everywhere. It could still use some more organizing with in some of the folders but at least now all the history stuff is in one place as well as all the photos. Plus I have a plan for where everything needs to go.

What tactics do you use to keep all the info in you life in order? I work hard at being organized but with varying success so I’m always open to new ideas.