Conquering Genealogy Clutter

Since moving into a studio apartment with my fiance, I have had to pare down my stuff.  Space is at a premium and the slightest bit of clutter makes my apartment feel messy.  Do I really need this?  Do I use it?  Do I love it?  Do I have a place for it?  If the answer was no to any of these questions, then it couldn’t stay.  It either went into storage, the dumpster, or a donation bin.

And with all the paper and stuff I am getting in this teaching credential program, I don’t have as much space for my genealogy stuff as I used to.  I have to pare down yet again.

Family pictures, heirlooms, and family furniture is being kept at my Dad’s apartment.  This means no more midnight scanning binges or photo organizing. {My dad is cool.  But not that cool}

I’ve scaled back on my genealogy clutter and gotten more creative with my storage solutions.  Here are my lessons learned and some tips so you can do it too:

  1. Think about all the stuff you have to do your genealogy – pens, highlighters, notebooks, legal pads, binders, magazines, books, etc.  Do you really need all of it?  If you’ve read the books and you don’t find yourself referring to them regularly, then get rid of it.  Donate it to a friend or a library or a genealogy society so someone else can learn from it.  And do you really need all of those pens?  Or 15 highlighters?  {My answer is yes.  I love pens and highlighters.  I am addicted.  Hope is lost for me.  Do as I say, not as I do}Contain Your Office Supplies
  2. Categorize and Containerize.  I love boxes, bins, baskets, dividers, folders, binders, and creative solutions – both for physical items and digital ones.  Little bins or baskets from the dollar store can separate office supplies in your drawers or on your desktop.  Don’t have drawers connected to your desk?  No problem – I buy plastic drawers (often the Rubbermaid brand because that’s what at Target – but any brand will do) and make your own drawers.  You can customize the size to whatever you need so you don’t waste space.  And they are on wheels so you can roll it under your desk, in a closet if company comes over, or whatever.  For your digital files, categorize things into folders and put it all away.  If a folder gets too big to find things quickly, then break it up.Go Vertical for Organization
  3. Use technology to make life easier – not harder.  Space is limited in my house but I still like to take notes by pen and paper sometimes.  But if I keep those notes, then I have to file them away and I probably won’t ever look for it in the binder I filed it away in – and that all requires space I just don’t have.  So, when I use paper to take my notes, I snap a photo of it with my phone when I am done – it is automatically backed up to Dropbox where I can sort it into the appropriate folder right from my phone.  Plus, I can put that photo into OneNote using the app so it is with all of my other notes and searchable.  Then I recycle the paper copy and I just saved myself some physical space in a few easy steps.

  4. Put. It. Back.  If you take it out, put it back.  Put it away.  Because if you leave it lying around, it will pile up and before you know it, you have a mountain of stuff and it is so  much harder to put it away!
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3 Responses to Conquering Genealogy Clutter

  1. Elyse, you make it sound so easy. It probably is … except for that last step. That’s the one that gets me. Every time. One day, I’m gonna catch the culprit that keeps leaving stuff lying all over the house. One day …
    Jenny Lanctot´s last blog post ..Big Changes They Are A-Comin’

    • Try punishing yourself when you don’t put something back – stick a dollar in a jar every time you don’t put it back. When the jar gets full, donate that money to a genealogy society or genealogy cause – when it hits you in the wallet, you are more likely to remember to put it away.

  2. SO i don’t have any geneology to share but OMGoodness I love ur blog! good stuff. ;) maybe u could contact me. :D

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