For most of the years I spent in Corporate America before starting my organizing business, I worked in Information Technology. One of my favorite managers from that time taught me an important lesson: when you automate a mess, it’s still a mess.
I think it’s easy for people to look at boxes and bags of old photos and negatives and realize that they have an organizing project on their hands. But what about the thousands of photos that are on your smart phone? They may be organized by date and even by location, but by the standards of my old manager, they are still a mess.
The solution to this mess: get them off your phone.
When I connect my iPhone to my PC, it automatically launches Dropbox, and my newest photos get copied to a folder called “Camera Uploads”. That gives me an opportunity to review the photos, delete duplicates or bad ones, crop the good ones, rename them with something searchable, and then move them into my Pictures folder. (Not surprisingly, my Pictures folder is organized by year, by month, and by event.)
I connect my phone to my PC frequently so that it can recharge and synchronize. I don’t always have time to review the photos in the Camera Uploads folder every time, so I may delay that until another time that I connect and Camera Uploads pops up. But it’s helpful to know that the photos are now on my PC, waiting for my review, so that I can feel comfortable deleting them off my phone.
What if there are photos that I want to keep on my phone so that I can show them to people, or refer to them when I’m shopping? I mark those as Favorites. This puts them in the Favorites album, and also puts a little heart icon on the bottom left corner of the thumbnail. When I look at All Photos on my phone, the Favorites sort at the beginning, which makes it easy to figure out which ones to delete. (This is on an iPhone, but I’m sure that Android phones have a similar function.)
So why should you get your photos off of your smart phone? Even if you are too busy right now to do anything more with your photos than get them onto your computer, you may at some point in the future want to organize them and share them, or turn them into digital or physical albums. (I do the latter, as I wrote about in The Last Scrapbook.) You will be completely overwhelmed at the prospect of tackling the tens of thousands (or maybe even hundreds of thousands) of photos that have accumulated on your phone. Be kind to your future self and do them in small batches now.