Family History photos

The idea behind Family History in 15 minutes a day is we need to be consistently keeping our family history organized and this can be done in short, daily sessions. And what better time to organize the photos than International Save Your Photos month!

The reason a house stays clean is because someone intentionally washes dishes, runs laundry, vacuums, etc. We don’t just do it one time and *poof* it magically stays beautiful. Ditto our family history and genealogy. We’re adding to our family history each day we wake up and start afresh: we take pictures, we talk to people, we journal (okay, you journal). Genealogy stops being “fun” when we’re disorganized and repeat the same searches, reshuffle the same papers, look for the same photos, etc. Managing our “system” clears out time and space for useful research.

Here are a few “Family History in 15 minutes a day” ideas in honor of International Save Your Photos month:

  • Take 15 minutes a day and sit in front of your computer deleting photos you don’t want/need

I’m not talking about rash decisions to cull family photos, just delete the obvious junk. I take photos at stores to comparison shop or remember when a sale ends, photos to text friends and ask if we need it for a project. I’ve got photos of things I sold in online classifieds. I use my phone camera every day, multiple times a day. It’s easier than taking notes. Just snap a pic of something you need to remember and voila!, it’s yours forever. Except you don’t need it forever so take 15 minutes to get rid of the clutter that distracts from the images that still matter.

That said, I had 29,000 photos on my computer and after deleting the junk I still have 27,000 photos that I actually want to keep. Now, on to organization.

While you’re at it, follow @CarolineGuntur, i.e. the Swedish Organizer, on Twitter. Her organization tips are very helpful, she’s extremely good at what she does, and who doesn’t need a little coaching and encouragement now and then. Even if you’re not ready to tackle your photos, she’ll give you the boost you need to tackle something. 

  • Delete photos from your phone after you’ve downloaded them to your computer. This is an easy “downtime” activity (waiting in a doctor’s office, kids’ lessons, etc.)
  • Visit and in honor of September being “International Save Your Photos Month,” sign the pledge and learn what you can do to save your photos.

A few ideas from their site: 

  • create a digital folder for each of your children with their photos
  • scan photos for digital preservation (not a 15 minute activity unless you’re just scanning a few select photos)
  • call a family member for the story behind a photo
  • record an older family member’s stories as you flip through an album with them
  • When your child brings artwork home from school, quickly snap a picture of them holding the artwork. Then feel guilt-free when you secretly toss it.

    Elementary School Art photos

    Elementary School Art photos

That beauty no longer resides in our home (the artwork) and my son is none the wiser. I used to take shots of the art alone, but frankly, what gives meaning to the art is the child behind the creation. 

I’m specifically ignoring the large, devoted projects like pulling out the boxes of old photos, scrapbooks, etc., and organizing and digitizing them. Been there, done that. That’s an important project but not a “housecleaning” job you do in 15 minutes or less. And there are some huge time-saving techniques I’ve used that I’ll share in another post. Big projects are fun but it’s our simple, daily routines that keep our lives organized and enjoyable.

Good luck and here’s hoping 15 minutes a day will improve your genealogy and family history work!

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