Archive for the ‘time management’ Category

Baby steps – your first photo book

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Dealing with digital snapshot photos can be overwhelming.  Last week we talked about overcoming overwhelm by working on decluttering in 5 minutes at a time chunks.  The first step was to make sure your photos are sorted into folders so you can find them.  Now on to a new goal with an exciting tangible outcome – your first photo book!  Thinking of the complete task can be overwhelming so break it all down to baby steps which I have listed below.

  1. Goal: make a photo book from photos in your top priority digital snapshot photo directory.
  2. Set your reward goal for your treat after you complete your goal and project!  Simple or complex, it is up to you.
  3. Set a realistic due date.  This is motivating for me.  I find without a deadline, I just don’t get to it.
  4. Make sure that all of your event photos from camera, phone, text messages, emails, Facebook and friend’s cameras are in your folder.  Scan any other memorabilia you want to include.  Move photo files as needed.  I have 317 photos without scanning memorabilia or checking to see if any other photos are in text message or emails.
  5. Open your favorite photo editing software so you can look through your photos one at a time.  I happen to like the free Shutterfly Studio but there are many out there.  I actually have many photo editing software programs loaded on my computer. Editing is the key to make a so-so snapshot look great!  Not everyone is a professional photographer, but editing the photos WILL give the best result.  Most photo programs have easy to use tools for straighten, red eye, crop and brighten / exposure.  Make sure you make a copy of the photos you plan to edit so you can revert back to the original – just in case.  Shutterfly Studio happens to automatically make a backup, but I usually will save a new copy for cropping.  I will discuss photo cropping and editing in more detail in another post.   Keep in mind that if you happen to have a lot of photos of your event, you may need multiple sessions before you are done editing.  If you are getting tired of the process, stop and come back another time.
  6. Delete ALL unflattering, out of focus or just bad photos.  Save photos that are too dark or too light for now, they can often be easily fixed by editing software.
  7. Rotate any photos that need it.  Some software will automatically rotate for you but some do not.
  8. Delete all but the best of similar photos by looking through large view of photos, one by one.  There is no need to have multiple versions of one photo.
  9. For very special events, some photos may need extensive editing in Photoshop.  Examples: combine group photos to make sure everyone is looking at the camera, removing distracting backgrounds or removing extra people in the background.  If you don’t have the skill for this, ask a professional.  Elemental Design does this!
  10. Review your photos again to see if there are any more that can be removed.
  11. Upload your photos to your favorite photo book printer.  This is also a great way to backup your important data for storm or disaster preparedness for free.  Step through their book design program to create your special event photo book.  Go with the quick load for super quick results.  I usually prefer to put my photos in the order I want so I can control the pages.  During this process, I sometimes reduce photos more as the pages lay out.
  12. Order and enjoy!  There is nothing better than giving someone a sentimental gift that means a lot!
  13. Reward yourself with your goal treat!
  14. Set your next goal…

Overcoming photo overwhelm – Filing

Friday, July 5th, 2013

With the use of digital cameras, the amount of photos taken at an event has multiplied exponentially.  Instead of a roll of 24 or 36, you might have hundreds of photos.  Just the thought of going through the photos seems to be overwhelming.  So you never get to it.  Days go by, months go by, years go by… no printed photos for albums… no keepsake scrapbooks or photo books either.  Most digital photos don’t even end up in a shoebox, if you don’t go through the photos they usually don’t get printed.   It may get pushed off the to-do list, but it is still in your thoughts.  Fear not, there is a way to get through this.

Like the art of decluttering your house, but we are going to start decluttering your digital photos.  The trick with anything is life, is to stop thinking about it and JUST DO IT!  If your goal is a heirloom memory photo book of your favorite event as a meaningful, thoughtful gift for someone you love or yourself, set the goal and work toward it.  Even if it takes a bit longer than you thought, you will get there if you work toward it.

Work with yourself and your natural tendencies.  Do you have more energy in the morning or at night?  Make a game of it and work for 5 minutes at the top of the hour then stop. If you like to be spontaneous, 5 minutes when the mood strikes you.  You don’t have to complete everything in one sitting.  Just work on small 5 minutes bites at a time.  Keep going if it feels good.  Set a timer if you like.

  1. Look in your My Pictures folder.  Do you have your photos in folders by date, sorted by year?  If not, that is the first place to start.
  2. First goal – make sure all photos are in folders so you can find them.
  3. My suggestion is to make a folder with the year under My Pictures.  Then under the correct year, I make a folder with European date and event description so events sort in chronological order.  Example: 2013-07-04 fireworks  or 2013-06 Wyoming trip or 2012-12-25.
  4. Set your reward goal for your treat after you complete sorting your photos into folders.  Simple or complex, it is up to you.
  5. Set a realistic due date.  This is motivating for me.  I find without a deadline, I just don’t get to it.
  6. Move photos from Downloads directory into correct folders.
  7. Save photos from cameras, phone, emails and text messages into correct folders.  Delete email since you don’t need it any longer.  Cleaning up your inbox and folders helps relieve overwhelm too.
  8. Once you have caught up with photos, keeping up with new photos won’t be as overwhelming.
  9. Reward yourself with your goal treat!
  10. Set your next goal – which event do you want to make into a photo book?  I will go thru the steps next week!

Definition of Responsibility

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Responsibility has always been a favorite attribute of mine. Years ago, I have attended multiple seminars presented by Landmark Education. I have kept this definition in my office memo files to share with co-workers. This is a concept that has been very useful to reduce my stress level. It is empowering to take responsibility for yourself instead of giving it away to others. This attitude is also very useful as a basis to work on interior design projects, keeping on task toward completion.


Responsibility starts with saying you are cause in the matter.

Responsibility is not burden, fault, praise, blame, credit, shame or guilt. In responsibility, there is no evaluation of good or bad, right or wrong. There is simply what’s so, and your stand.

Being responsible starts with the willingness to deal with a situation from the point of view that you are the generator of what you do, what you have and what you are. That is no the truth. It is a place to stand.

No one can make you responsible, nor an you impose responsibility on another. It is a grace you can give yourself – an empowering context that leaves you with a say in the matter of life.

© 1995 Landmark Education

Suzanne Dummer Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP
Elemental Design, LLC

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Time Management

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

I recently joined Mind Tools and have been enjoying the recorded interviews.  I have been very excited to find the large amount of continuing education recordings available.  A recording I enjoyed yesterday on Mind Tools site was The Myth of Multitasking by Dave Crenshaw also found at his site

In a nutshell, this is really switching between tasks and actually takes longer if the tasks require concentration.  This really seems to be true for me.  I have been working on organizing my tasks with a variety of tools lately and will endeavor to work more in this manner.   The only way to be more efficient is to shorten little things.   The switching between tasks time would add up considerably after time.  What is your billable rate per minute?  Is the task worth your effort?

I need to learn to use the technology and not let the technology use me.  I have been spending a lot of time lately listening to voice mails.  I ran across a tip for having voice mails converted to email.  It seems it would be much quicker to scan an email on my blackberry 8330 than listen to a long email.  I went with gotvoice because I have sprint and the call forwarding fees were too much.  Worth a look for free trial.

Suzanne Dummer Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP

Elemental Design, LLC

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Dedicated to improving quality of life for everyone with functional interior design.

We are ready to work magic to solve your built interior environment problems!