{organising} One in, one out

One in, one out is a famous organising concept. It makes sense too in that for every one thing you bring into your house, you let go of one thing.

That only works if your house was streamlined to start off with and you’re very diligent applying this concept throughout your home, even with kids!

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I really like the idea of one in, more than one out just to try and keep on top of the stuff.

But let’s talk about where we could practically apply this concept:

  1. Time

Every time you add one more thing to your plate, unless that plate was very empty to start off with, think about what you can eliminate.

E.g. if you sign up for a new committee and it meets once a week, will your exercise routine suffer?


2. Money

If you get an increase or a bonus, think about where you can be generous. Can you increase your giving at church? Can you sponsor a child through World Vision or Compassion International? Can you pay more money into your retirement savings or unit trusts?

Something fun to try – even if you need all your increase just to keep up with inflation, just buy a bag of rice or pasta every shopping trip and give it to someone once you’re outside the store, or pop into the donation boxes I see in many stores. Recently Dischem (a pharmacy franchise in South Africa) had a big donation box for sanitary pads. The cashiers asked as I was paying for my toiletries if I’d like to pay for a pack for the box. Of course I said yes. It was so easy for me and yet adds up to a whole bunch of goodness when donated to a school.

3. Digital files

It’s so easy to download freebie printable after freebie printable. I understand – I myself offer about 7 freebies when you sign up to my mailing list. But… for each thing you download, ask yourself if you use it? Or if you’re not sure yet, download, and then delete something else you know you’re not using.

It may help to have a folder called “freebie printables” so you can see them all together in one place.

When you download a new app, see if there’s another you’re not using and can delete.

4. Photos

We all take too many photos because it’s so easy on our smartphones. I therefore recommend the Daily Delete, which Becky Higgins made famous.

Every night, go through that day’s photos and delete, delete, delete. You don’t need 30 photos of the same event unless you captured 30 different things.

If you don’t have a chance to do this every night, then play a game with yourself and every time you wait for the kettle to boil, see if you can delete 10 pics.

5. Stuff

This is the most obvious part. Definitely get yourself trained to look through your stuff after each shopping trip. When I buy new T-shirts, I train myself to “joy check” the rest of them to see which I can donate. Sometimes I don’t want to donate a t-shirt, but I do see something else that can go, so out it goes.

I actually go so far as to leave my new things on the bench at the foot of my bed until I decide what will leave, because I simply never want to live an overstuffed life.

Which of these is easy for you? Which will need more thought? Do share your tips in the comments so I can learn from you.

{Living intentionally} Recording your memories

Memory-keeping | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I think a lot of our issues with getting our memories recorded, especially family ones, is steeped in perfectionism.

We want the perfect Project Life album for each kid, or we want to make beautiful baby books, scrapbooks or albums.

I can’t tell you the number of people who have said to me, “one day when the kids are at school/ in high school/ I’m retired” I’ll finally have the time to do my kids’ baby books.

Can I lovingly say that I don’t think that’s going to happen if you haven’t yet made the time?

At some point you have to either start, or admit that your perfectionism is making you procrastinate.

Might I suggest that if you set loose boundaries it will actually free you up to do something and get it done?

Memory-keeping | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Case study

My twins’ baby books

I agonised (AGONISED) over getting the exact number of pictures for each child for each month of their first year of life. Because everything had to be equal, of course 🙂

It took me longer to do those baby books than to document the next 3 years of their lives. Maybe that was a good thing because I decided this was nonsense; it was time to get a system in place and just do it.

Once those baby books were done, I started on new albums.

I decided I needed a good boundary and I’d have to just make it work.

4 photos per month per child.

That’s it.

That’s what I now do, but sometimes I break free and choose 8 photos each in their birthday month 🙂

Knowing that I only have to choose 4 photos means that I:

  1. choose the photos that most depict the kids’ age and what they enjoy
  2. capture details (a favourite T-shirt; a favourite pair of shoes, always Thursday and Friday (their bears))
  3. easily get it done once a month

It’s ridiculous how easy this project is.

I choose 4 photos of Connor, 4 photos of Kendra, 4 photos of them together, copy it to a flash drive and print them out once every two months or so.

Memory-keeping | www.OrganisingQueen.com

If it’s important to you to get your kids’ baby books done, get a Project Life album done or just get your holiday photos into an album, I suggest just 3 things:

  1. Decide on some limitations or boundaries (I allowed myself only 40 photos from our 5-day Ballito holiday and 60 photos from the 7-day Drakensberg trip)
  2. Decide on your tiny milestones (I set mini goals that are time-based usually, like work on photos for 1 hour on the weekend – you could do 15 minutes an evening if you like. Whatever will work best for you)
  3. Make yourself accountable to someone (post a before pic on Instagram so that it’s out there and you’ll feel like making progress)

This is a lovely project to get stuck into this month if you haven’t already set some personal goals.

Have you set some boundaries to get your photo projects done?

If you have more questions about albums, or anything about my system, please ask in the comments and I’ll answer them there.

Otherwise, what do you have planned for the weekend?

I’ll be reading, cleaning my house and finishing my January photos 😉

PS today is my half birthday! Here’s my last birthday post.

Memory-keeping on a budget: My 5 best tips

I want to talk a little more about realistic memory-keeping.

I wrote a blog post about that before which focussed on the time aspect.

I thought I’d add to that post by talking about the other realistic side of memory-keeping, the budgeting part.

Here are my 5 tips on realistic memory-keeping on a budget.

1. Consider all your options before you start

We waste a lot of money (and time) when we don’t properly think through things. Some things you might want to consider are …

– what is your style?
– what is your budget? (your actual budget, not the idealistic budget) We all know this kind-of thing is a luxury so give yourself the permission to acknowledge that
– what do you NOT want to do?

I love the look of photobooks and so I bought some vouchers from 3 separate companies about 3 years ago. Well, I can now tell you I will never ever ever make a photo book again. I will happily pay for someone else (with my clean, visual style) to do it for me but for me, no thanks. You see, the book cost about R200 on special but I spent about 3 torturous hours putting it together. Not worth it for me. I would rather pay more and have someone else do it.

The next set was easier but still the time investment was a killer, and the third time (I don’t learn very quickly, do I?), when the system kept bombing me out, I asked for a refund and remembered why I do not do photobooks.

2. What is your minimum level for memory satisfaction?

There are many f.ree apps available and some very cost-effective ones too.

Is it snapping a photo with your phone?
Is it Instagramming it?
Is it putting a folder on Facebook?

I did a Project 365 last year. Most of my photos were also instagrammed but a lot weren’t. I didn’t want to Instagram hard days at work but they’re part of my story so those photos are saved to my Project 365, for my eyes only 🙂


3. Do you want to print anything?

After the photobook disasters, I decided that I’m just fine with photo albums. I love my photo albums. I have a big one for each child from 1 up to 5 years old. I print just 4 photos a month per child. I love having that creative boundary because it’s just supposed to be a snapshot in time of what that child was like at that point in his/ her life.

4. Choose your method of storage carefully

I have the same type of photo albums (200-page) for everything so they stack nicely on a shelf. They suit my style of photography because I mostly take landscape-layout pics.

Some people do a monthly or weekly Project Life . I do a monthly Project Life because I don’t like the idea of having weekly pressure 🙂

When you’re choosing how you want to store your photos, consider current and future costs.

When I ordered mini albums, I ordered 3 so that I was sorted for 3 years. That might not work for you if you like everything new. It doesn’t bother me to not have the most current everything so I’m good.

I love the idea of Project Life but not the shipping costs to South Africa. And so, my best budget memory-keeping advice…

Lime Album

5. If you do Project Life, buy only what you want from the digital kits

I paid about R1100 for my first kit – just the kit, not the albums – with shipping costs. That’s crazy expensive and hurts my head every time I think about it too long.

Next time around I ordered digital project life files off the site (only the 4 X 6 filler cards because I use a mini album – as I said, I LOVE boundaries!). I mixed it up so I got the Honey and Sunshine kits because they made me happy, printed off the PDFs and now I’m set. The only slight nuisance was cutting them out because I don’t have a paper trimmer. I only paid about R100 for the files and printing on cardstock. HUGE saving of R1000.


In my opinion, even if you do a weekly PL layout, you will still never finish the entire box in a year. Yes, you could use the cards for list-making (I do this too) but why waste money to start off with?

Which one of those was your favourite tip?

PS Do pop over to Pink Ronnie to read her tips on keeping to a memory-keeping budget.


{Intentional living} Photo night

Photo Night is one of my favourite nights of the month. Aside from Goals Night which I will talk about next week.

(you can now see I’m very creative with naming things!)

It’s the night I “tie up” all my photo-taking and memory-making activities for the previous month.

In other words, it’s hugely satisfying for a J like me who likes closure. I’m ESTJ.

  1. I copy my favourite photos to the M faves, kids together, C faves and K faves, etc. folders.
  2. I make sure I have small versions of anything I want to blog about. A full post to follow about this process.
  3. I print my 4 photos of each kid for their album, 4 of them together and my 6 – 8 project life photos for the month.
  4. A new thing for me this year until the photo album is full … I also print all the instagrams I want to keep. E.g. I had 82 from April and I printed 48 I felt best represented the month – 6 into a 10 X 15 collage, so just 8 actual photos.
  5. And then, most importantly, I back it all up.

Dotted throughout the post are some of my instagrams from March – the ones that made it to my album.

Confession time

I used to DREAD photo night because truthfully, it was a huge schlep, but it’s important to me to have my things organised just so. I even have a system written down on a Project Life card (!) with months on the one side, my steps on the other, and I tick them off as I go along.

So, huge sense of dread I until I decided to time it one month.

And it took me one hour up to starting the back-up (and then I go tidy something, cook something, read something, go to dance class, etc.)

One hour!

I was getting my knickers in a knot for one measly hour.

Since I now know it only takes an hour, I don’t dread it anymore.

It’s actually been as quick as 35 minutes some months but never goes longer than an hour.

My coaching questions for you

Is there something you currently dread doing? These are usually the things you also procrastinate on.

Is it worth it to you to continue doing?

  • If no, scratch it off your mental/ physical to-do list. Done!
  • If yes, time it and see if that changes anything for you.

Or write down the steps so you don’t have to go through the mental gymnastics to organise your thoughts every time.

Let me know what that thing is for you!

A brief look at how I organise my photos

I had this post in drafts so long that I had to choose new photos to demonstrate since they were 5 months old! 😮


Since I’m always interested in seeing how other people organise their photos, I thought maybe one or two of you would be interested in seeing how I organise mine.

This is some of the detail around it all. I’m fully aware that this is way too detailed for most people but I like it just fine for me 🙂

I have a yearly folder and then a monthly folder.

inside the monthly folder I have broad categories of events. An event means an actual event like a birthday party or just a category like “project life”.

This is my monthly folder for August this year.

Everything goes into the big folder and then I have a folder called sorted within that one. Once I’ve been through each folder (event, etc), I drag the completed folder into the sorted one.

At the moment the folders you see still have work to be done (and those other 3 are photos my friend sent me from her camera which I happen to love :))

By the way, the names of the folders are the way my brain remembers things. I always remember dates so that’s how I file… and then I have an everyday moments folder (previously called random but I decided to reframe and call it what it is – everyday moments I choose to capture) and any folders for this blog are titled with what the post will be about, like study.


Fullscreen capture 20130904 105347 PM.bmp-1

Let’s peek inside that sorted folder, shall we?

The two everyday moments folders will merge once I’ve sorted through the other one…as is the case with school stuff which I do every month and combine when I do my monthly recon.

Fullscreen capture 20130904 104944 PM.bmp-1

And then let’s have a look in one of those folders, one for this blog – the binder ring cards. There were probably about 40 photos taken overall. These 13 made the cut. You saw most of them in this blog post.

Fullscreen capture 20130904 105044 PM.bmp-1How often do I organise?

Well, I do a bit every weekend because I’m taking photos every week and I have to keep up.
I try to complete the month’s photos (I save favourites elsewhere in 2013 folders – favourites of Connor, favourites of Kendra, my favourites – no rhyme or reason, just my favourites) by latest the middle of the next month.
Which programme do I use?
Picasa – free download from Google – it is brilliant and I love it dearly!

How do you organise your photos?

{Weekend inspiration} Easy digital photo organising: 5 sanity-saving steps

I have a confession to make – I’ve recently become somewhat of a deal-buying junkie.

And the things I buy are photo books.

I suspect my thinking was flawed and I thought, like many of us do, that if I buy a photo book deal, like magic, my photos would organise themselves and jump into that book.

Ta da!

Not so, my friends.

You see, my photo organising is probably the least organised part of my whole life. Even if it doesn’t seem that way, I hate feeling like I’m always behind with a chore, a bit like laundry actually.

I had a mad scramble last month to get a photo book done on the last day. I’ve since tweaked my system somewhat so that I never have the situation of processing months and months’ worth of photos in a day or two.

1. Find an easy naming system

Think about how you’re going to retrieve the photos at a later date. I have a folder in My Pictures called 2011, and then 01, 02, 03, and so on, plus a folder for organising and one for crafts.

2. Download straight into the monthly folder after every major photo-taking session or weekly

It’s far easier to sort through 50 rather than 500 photos. If you take photos daily, you might want to do this once a week.

3. Go through each pic and be ruthless about deleting the duds

I’ve become a lot more relaxed since my children were born but I still aim to only keep print-worthy pictures. Would you print that photo? No? Then delete. When you postpone making decisions, it leads to clutter.

4. Make useful subfolders in either My Pictures or the current year

I have a To Print, To blog – Organising Queen, To blog – personal blog and some project folders like my year in review project. I compress all my blog pics and copy really good pictures to the To Print folder. Note I said copy – you don’t want to accidentally delete the good ones.

5. Compress photos for online sharing

It’s easier to share smaller pics with your friends and family via email, online web sharing or Facebook if your pics are compressed first.

I use Google’s Picasa to email pics to friends and it automatically compresses your pics when attaching to email. SUCH a useful tool.

A lot of companies automatically block emails of 2 MB or bigger so you may be marked as spam.

Bonus for bloggers

If you want to really save time, you could upload the photos to your blog and save them to drafts. Then all you have to do is type the text and publish! This explains why I have so many items in drafts!

One last thing – please do a back-up of your pics as often as you can.

You definitely don’t want to lose any precious memories so make sure you back up regularly.

Do you have an easy way for sorting your photos?

Question of the week – photo organising

I’m getting to be reasonably organised with my photos but I’m still not where I want to be.

There’s the downloading and backing up, the sorting into folders, the printing, the putting in albums or on the walls.

All so much!

My favourite thing that I do is I make a folder called “photos to print” and as I’m sorting and organising, I copy and paste (this is important so I can delete the whole folder afterwards) the photos in here. When I go to my printing place, I can just say “print all the pics in the photos to print folder”.


So share with me, what is your absolute best tip when it comes to organising your photos?

What are your organising goals for March?

I like to think of a few small things I want to do around the house every month.

I thought it would inspire and motivate you to also think up a few things and tackle one small task every weekend.

Let’s hold each other accountable and do this together.

For March my tasks are mostly photo-related:

  1. Print 12 pics of Connor and 12 of Kendra for their first year frames (yip, 8 months later :))
  2. Do the “Dion and Marcia” wall of photos in the passage outside our bedroom.
  3. Decide where “friends” wall will be and start planning configuration
  4. Two months’ filing

What are your 4 organising to-dos for March?

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