Last week we announced our 2015 resolutions to everyone and among those was one about digital storage. More specifically, we wanted to organize digital memories.
Memorabilia of the past consisted of paper, printed photos, and cards. It was concrete, easy to store, easy to find, and fun to look through. These days, though, memorabilia is showing up in a digital form: 6-second videos, e-cards, and long emails. And since it’s so easy to create and share digital memorabilia we end up with an amazing amount of digital clutter.
Now we’re posed with a new version of the same question: How do we organize our digital memorabilia? There’s so much of it, and so much coming in, that having a system is necessary for keeping track of everything.
Create Your System
First things first: establish a system. Think about how you store your physical memorabilia. Most likely you already have a system for memorabilia and, if it’s working well, it’s a great place from which to draw inspiration! Do you have one box for anything and everything that you treasure? Or do you have a box for photos and another for cards? Whatever the way, you can convert this system to digital.
Everyone will have a slightly different way and different platform to work with. I don’t need a ton of storage and I like to access my documents on the phone, so I use a cloud based service like Google Drive or Dropbox. Look around to find the solution for you. You can find programs that specialize in photos, are cloud-based, create back-ups, or you can store your files directly on your computer! Once you have decided on a platform create a single document, single folder, or multiple folders to store your digital memories.
What To Do in the Moment
Now that you have the system, it’s time to get a routine in place. Here are a few guidelines to help you get started.
Whatever the reaction is, respond in the moment! Whether you’re an archiver, deleter, or inbox saver, do what you need to do the first time you receive a thoughtful message or photo attachment. Reply in the moment, save the photo, or archive/delete the message. For years I thought that every single response had to be the perfectly cultivated email, so the recipient knew just how much I appreciated the note. Slowly, I realized that I’d much rather receive a quick thank-you note than radio silence for weeks.
You don’t have to save every picture or e-card you’re sent. Just like with your physical memorabilia, decide what’s important to you as it comes in. It’s especially easy to fall into a saving habit with digital media since it doesn’t take up any physical space. We seem to think, why not keep it? It’s not cluttering my apartment. The truth is that digital clutter, while we can’t see it, can cause the same stress and reactions as physical clutter.
When you’re stuck on whether or not to save something, think about what it would mean to print it out, whatever it is. If your only storage was physical, would this particular item be worth printing on paper and saving in your home? If the answer is yes, go ahead and save the treasured item!
Just as you do with your physical stuff, take the time to sit down and look at your digital stuff every once in awhile. Some items won’t mean as much after some time, and some will be lifelong treasures. Every few months, sort through your digital memorabilia, and don’t be afraid to let things go.
This is something people often forget to do. After you’ve deleted an item from a folder or from your email, it’s still sitting on your computer in the trash. It takes up space, and most of all, keeps us from really letting go. As Maeve often tells clients, “If you want to experience full freedom from deleting digital memories, empty your trash cans regularly and completely let them go.”
How do you tame and store your digital memorabilia?