Earlier this week we talked about kicking our digital clutter to the curb. One of the steps included in the process was to purge and organize our digital photographs. I provided a few basics but wanted to give you a more in-depth tutorial. So today I’m talking all about digital photo organization for home business owners.
Digital Photo Organization for Home Business Owners
Digital photos can quickly get disorganized, and that disorganization can impact both our private life and our businesses.
Most of the home business owners I know use one computer for both personal and business. In order to simplify our lives, be more efficient, and more productive, it’s important to have easily duplicable systems for organizing both personal and business photos.
Let’s start with a few guiding principles and the basics of digital photo organization.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
Before we jump into the how-to, let’s talk about a few guiding principles:
- Start with now: Move forward with this project not backward (into the past). As new photos come in work through this system with them. Keep doing that until your digital photo organization system has become a habit. Once it’s habit and you can do it in your sleep (oh, and you will!), then you can create a plan for working backwards through older photos. But work on your system and create your habit first!
- Delete ruthlessly: When I got my first camera, ahem, years ago, I had to be judicious about the pictures I took, because it was expensive, especially on an 8 year-old’s small allowance, to get film developed. But we’re in the digital age! And we can take ALL the pictures we want, without spending a dime. Until it’s time to get our photos out of our computers and off of our cameras. However, that doesn’t mean we have to keep all of those photos. Keep the best ones only and delete the rest!
- Give Yourself Time: This is likely a huge project that you’re taking on. Give yourself time to do it and do it well, without adding a lot of stress to your all ready busy life. Work for a specified amount of time each day or each week and don’t get in a hurry to “just get it done.” On the flip side, consider giving yourself a few deadlines, so that this project doesn’t become stagnant.
Now, let’s move on to the Basics of digital photo organization!
My digital photographs (personal and business) are a mess.
It was helpful for me to create a basic file inventory, so that I could keep track of where I was in my purging and organizing, especially as I added new folders. I used screenshots that I took and printed, then wrote in additional folders as needed. I highlighted them once I’d worked through the process within that folder.
As I worked on older photos and files, I used my screenshots to highlight each older folder as I completed the clean out.
I also used this Project Planner to lay out a plan of attack and to give myself deadlines, so that this project didn’t drag on through next year.
When completing your digital photo organization plan on:
- Deleting cruddy, blurry, cut off , and duplicate photos.
- Organizing your photos into folders.
- Developing a simple structure for naming folders.
- Adding Tags, Titles, and/or Subjects.
- Keeping an inventory of tags and file naming structure, for reference.
- BACKING UP your photos!
Those are the basics of digital photo organization. Now, it’s time for a more in-depth look at the process.
Digital Photo Organization on Your Computer
Use General Categories First
The first step in digital photo organization is to separate your photos based on two general categories: personal and business.
I’ve talked before about the importance of keeping business files separate from personal, like in 8 Tips for Staying Sane When Working at Home, and it holds true when it comes to digital photos, as well.
It’s much more efficient and “clean” if you keep a little separation between personal and business.
Get More Specific
We’ve separated our photos into two big folders: personal and business.
Now, it’s time to get more specific with your categories.
For personal photos those categories might include:
- Family & Friends
- Household (Photos related specifically to your home and/or your household activities)
- Hobbies (My husband and I bird often, so we have a Birding folder)
For business photos, your categories might be based on different facets of your business, or if you run multiple businesses at home, they might reflect each business.
My categories are a combination of both:
- Virtual Assistant Work & Clients
- Calyx and Corolla Blog
- Young Living
- I also currently have a “Writing” folder that could be combined with my blog folder.
Ideally, you won’t have anything else in this folder but your categorized folders. Clearly, I have some work to do here!
You may have noticed that I have a Purge and Org folder with “01” at the beginning (at the top of the list). It’s formatted that way so it will show up first in my list. I try not to use this folder too often, because I know from past experience that I’ll get waaaaay behind. But there are times when I need to clear my SD card but don’t have time to purge and organize my photos right then.
Get Really Specific
We’re making progress! We’ve got our personal and business photos separated, and we’ve separated them into categories.
Now, we’re going to get really specific with our categorizing.
For my personal folder, I start with a year.
Within my year folder, I create sub-folders with the number of the month, the name of the month, and the year.
This structure keeps my monthly folders in chronological order, which satisfies my Type A personality and makes finding things much easier.
Within each of those monthly folders, I create additional sub-folders with the name of the event or activity and, ideally, the date. It would look something like this:
01 January 2016, then Volleyball 1-6-16
Here’s a screenshot of the “inside” of one of my monthly folders:
You can see in this screenshot that I’ve include the name of the event, but I didn’t include the date. I’m consistent with providing names for my events and activities but not dates. That’s something I’m planning to work on more consistently in the coming months.
In my business files, I’ve created folders for:
- Each of my VA clients
- Each blog post I write (along with an “Edited” folder in each where I’ll store my edited photos)
- Social Media (Blog)
- Blog Style Guide (logos and other images)
- Email Marketing
- Blog Stock Photos
- And a Blog Stock Inspiration Folder
These are the sub-folders in my Blog Folder.
I have some work to do in this folder as well, because I have duplicate folders, folders that can be combined into one, and obsolete folders (like the one for my rebrand, which happened in August!) along with photos that need to be filed.
Your folders and sub-folders will be different, but this gives you an idea of how I separate things out.
**When creating your folders and sub-folders, a good strategy is to think about how you’ll search for the photo or group of photos you’re filing. When it comes to personal photos, I search chronologically. But when it comes to business images, I search based on content or client.
And as always, take these basics, then tweak this system to work for YOU. This is simply a starting point to get you going.
An additional step that I’ve added to my digital photo organization plan this year is to add tags to my photos.
I want to do this, so that I can search for all of my Great Horned Owl photos within the Wildlife Watching folder, or so that I can search for all of the photos that include one of my children.
I found it helpful to create a tag inventory as I started this piece of the project. This is nothing fancy. It’s simply a list of tags I’ve used. I just have them written down on a piece of paper. Eventually, I’d like to type up a document, but for now, the written list is working!
How to Add a Tag to a Photo
These instructions are for working on a PC. If you have a Mac, do a search to discover how to add photo tags.
To add a tag on a PC, right click on a photo within one of your files, then click “Properties.”
Then go to the Details tab and type your tags in the “Tags” section.
Finally, click “OK” to complete the process.
Okay, I can hear you going into panic mode….
Remember, we’re starting with now. If you start thinking about tagging all of your old photos you’ll jump ship. Start with now and move forward as new photos come in.
Also, if tagging your photos is just too much work or overkill for you, no problem. Just skip this step. I want to do it, because I know I will use it.
Make this work for you!
Don’t lose your precious memories. Take it from someone who has lost photos when a computer died. DO THIS STEP RIGHT. NOW!
Do your research to find a back up system that works for you.
I have my photos on Dropbox, and I also have an external hard drive on which I store them. Is this the best way? No, it works for me right now. I feel like I could research digital photos storage and back up for years and still not know the best way to back up my photos.
Again, find something that you like and that works for you and go with it.
That’s the process for digital photo organization for home business owners!
I know you’re sick of hearing me say this, but I’m going to repeat it anyway. I encourage you to find a system or routine that works for you, your preferences, and your personality. That way digital photo organization will become a long-term habit for you, and you’ll reap the rewards of being more organized: increased productivity, efficiency, and finding what you need quickly and painlessly!
Make sure you pin this post, so you don’t forget it!
Related Posts You Might Enjoy
If you found today’s post helpful, you might also enjoy these home business organization posts!
Questions? Let me know in the comments below!
What digital organization tips have you picked up along the way?
Thanks for joining me!