Declutter Digital Photos With This Monthly Routine

I’m going to tell how how to declutter digital photos but first I’ll tell you why it’s so important.

Please enjoy this guest post from Photo & Home Organizer Paige Shockley.

I’m all about the memories. I want to easily enjoy my past memories, spend time making memories right now and I want to make space for future fun. After years of fine tuning my own photo decluttering systems, I started working with other people to help them streamline their own homes, photos and lives. I have tried many different photo decluttering systems and when it comes down to it, you don’t need an elaborate or complicated process. With some intentional thought and behavior, you can use a simple system to manage and declutter digital photos.

How to Declutter Digital Photos

My PICS Method will help you declutter digital photos and create a monthly maintenance plan so you can keep your photo collection clutter-free.

Before You Declutter Digital Photos, Consider This …

Take a minute to get clear about photos. Why are you taking and keeping photos? Having a vision in your head of what you want from your photo collection makes it easier to determine what stays and what goes. Keep this in mind while looking through your photos. Ask yourself this question: Does this photo (or series of photos) help tell the story I want to tell about my life and family?

Next, let’s do some quick math. What do you think is an appropriate number of photos to keep for an average month? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. If you keep 100 photos each month, that’s 1200 photos a year. In 10 years, it adds up to 12,000 photos. In 20, that number grows to 24,000. If you plan to have 50 more years of photos, that’s 60,000 photos. It’s your personal choice as to how you want to spend your time later on. Do you want to have room for new memories or do you want to be figuring out how to declutter digital photos (again)? Before you start, think about this question. How many photos do I want to manage at a later point in my life or turn over to my family someday? In my experience, people I work with who have a smaller photo collection feel calmer and less overwhelmed.

PICS: a maintenance plan to help you create digital simplicity

The key to getting your photos under control is to plan for regular maintenance. With the sheer volume of digital photos people have in their camera roll these days, this has to be done. Think of it like an oil change for your car or a preventative doctor’s visit. The typical camera roll includes photos of people and lots of other things, too. We all have screenshots of items we’re thinking of buying, books we want to read, quotes we love, the list goes on. Our camera rolls have become a hodgepodge of what’s going on in our lives and not all of it should have the honor of moving into our family photo collection.

Choose a time to declutter digital photos and do regular photo maintenance. The start of a new month is my cue to find some time to tidy up my own camera roll. I like to use waiting time for this; waiting for my kids in the car, at the doctor’s office or elsewhere. Using my PICS method, work your way through the past 30ish days of photos and memories and you will feel lighter when you’re done and ready to make new memories in the new month.

1. PREPARE yourself by using these questions to help guide the process.

  • Does this photo help tell the story I want to tell about my life and family?
  • Do I want to have to deal with this photo later on in life?
  • How many photos do I really want to keep?

2. INSPECT what you have from the past month. Edit ruthlessly.

  • Delete similar shots and burst mode pics. Make the decision NOW and your future self will thank you. Pick the best shot and delete the rest. Do not get stumped over which photo to keep. In the long run, you’ll be happy to have fewer images so pick one and move on.
  • Delete blurry and accidental photos you took of the ground.
  • Delete any photo that makes you feel bad. You have my permission to get rid of any and all photos that give you yucky feelings.
  • Delete screenshots you don’t need.

Consider putting things you want to reference later in folders in your notes app so they can be deleted from the camera roll.

3. COLLECT other photos that might help complete your story.

  • Text messages, emails, Dropbox or Google links, Facebook, IG. All these places could be holding photos you want. Did a photographer share pics with you or are you on a photo share site? Download any that help tell your family story. (This includes shared Apple albums, Shutterfly share sites, etc.)
  • Scan or photograph anything physical you want to include in your memories. This could include certificates from activities or art your kids have brought home. Consider snapping a photo of your child with their art or certificates to preserve the stage of life. (You can recycle or trash the original as an added bonus!)

4. STRENGTHEN your photo collection by creating a back-up.

  • Once the camera roll is cleaned and tidy, back it up!

Note the difference between a sync and a back-up. With a proper back-up, you can delete anything from your phone and it will still be in the other location. It could include making a copy to your computer, copying the month of photos to an external hard drive, adding to Dropbox or another cloud based system. There are many options. (Apple Photos is a sync, NOT a back-up.)

4 extra steps to help you declutter digital photos

1. Do a daily delete. It makes your monthly clean up that much easier.

2. Mark your favorites. Apply a heart, star or number rating to your photos. If a photo isn’t the best, is it even worth keeping?

3. Add tags or facial recognition to your photos. While some programs use AI to do some keywording for you, you might have some unique tags to add. This helps make your photo collection much more searchable for your future self.

4. Tackle your printed photos. Give yourself permission to do a small bit on a regular schedule and before you know it, you will feel lighter and less overwhelmed with your entire photo collection. As you declutter digital photos, let that inspire you to move on the other photos too.

Use the PICS method as a monthly habit and you will reap the benefits now and later. Be patient with yourself as you open up the space for making future memories!

To learn more about photo decluttering and organizing, follow Paige Shockley on Instagram.

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