We spent our October focusing on getting organized (hallelujah!), and we’re so excited to touch on one more organizational topic before November rolls around: archiving (which may possibly be our favorite form of organization). Whether it’s hard copies of old family photos or digital copies of a client’s wedding images, archiving important files is a crucial task for planners and small business owners alike. So dig those shoeboxes full of photos out from underneath your bed–today, we’re breaking down the art of archiving.
Archiving is a process—so don’t expect to get it done in an afternoon. Like all big projects, you need to start with a plan of attack. Start by giving yourself a few hours (or days) to take inventory of the items you need to archive. Be sure to segment archiving tasks by type, and take inventory of each separately. So, you’ll want to assess your personal physical items (i.e. old family photos) separately from your professional digital files (i.e. your favorite client wedding images). Once you’ve taken inventory of what needs to be done, come up with a plan of attack for each group—you’ll want to map out your archiving process almost like you would your daily workflow.
Before you start archiving, you’ll need to make some serious digital decisions. What items are the most important to you, in which forms do you have them (digital or physical), and in which forms do you need/want to have them? Maybe you have images from every one of your clients’ weddings stored in a folder on your computer desktop. For the sake of freeing up memory on your devices, you’ll probably want to move those to an external hard drive for safe keeping. On the flipside, you may have tons of old family photo albums sitting in the back of a closet somewhere that desperately need to be scanned and saved digitally.
In the past, important family photos and files were all in the physical form—so there wasn’t much question as to what would survive for future generations. People simply threw photos in an album or box, passed them down to their children, and were done. With digital photo libraries these days, though, it’s not such a sure thing that our loved ones will be able to easily access old family photos when we’re no longer around. Part of the new-age archiving process, then, becomes considering how our children (and our children’s children) will access our photos.
If you have tons of important family photos, part of your archiving process should be coming up with a clear system of organization for these files for future generations. We recommend storing family photos on clearly labeled external hard drives. On each hard drive, you’ll want to be sure to separate photos into folders by years/dates (and, further, by occasions/events) and clearly label each folder. You also may want to consider developing a guiding document or spreadsheet (which you store on its corresponding hard drive) that helps to explain who is the photos, what the occasion was, etc., using file names as an easy way to reference specific images. You should also develop a file naming system for your images as well. So, rather than IMG34593, file names should read something like GRI_12_25_2004 for “Griffith Family, December 25 2004.”
Once you have everything organized and stored on hard drives, it’s also a good idea to store those same folders on a file-hosting service like Dropbox–just to make for easy, immediate sharing with relatives and loved ones.
Invest in Proper Storage
For your physical photos and files, you’ll want to invest in proper storage tools to ensure your keepsakes are stored safely for years to come. For photos, we recommend these archival photo storage boxes from the Container Store. And, for important documents and files, we love their archival file boxes. Acid-free resealable bags are also great for storing vintage postcards, letters, or artwork, and acid-free packing shred is a nice option for keeping any loose items secure. And of course, for all of our Aisle Planners, our “archive” feature is a great easy way to save all of your event related images, documents and files for future reference – without the clutter.
Overall, archiving is a process—but all it takes is a comprehensive plan of attack, the right products, and a willingness to invest some serious time. Plus, once you’ve tackled your archiving tasks, you’ll feel super accomplished, so much lighter, and ready for a glass (or three) of your favorite wine!