Have 'the end' in mind
Are you feeling overwhelmed, maybe guilty or simply don't know how and where to start? Do you think you may do it later, or even who cares about all the family photos and stories? Here is a simple way to find your focus and motivation.
Before rolling up your sleeves and diggin' deep in your shoe boxes full of photos, just to find yourself hours later still reminiscing about memories those photos hold - get yourself a cuppa and sit down with a piece of paper and note down your intentions.
You may want to skip this part, but it is important. You need to identify your goal! In order to stay on track and be motivated along the way you will have to find your concrete end goal and a deadline.
Ask yourself: 'Why am I doing this?' For me, clearly it is to gather and consolidate our European family history as well as the children's New Zealand's family history - for them. And I am slightly obsessed with documenting anyway. What is it for you? Even if it is just for yourself. That is reason enough to do it. Sort out your (photo) life. They say, keep 20 % and toss 80 %. That is so right. And it feels good. Like a weight off your shoulders.
Ask yourself: 'What would give me a sense of accomplishment?' For me, ultimately it is to have all photos, printed and digital, from the European side as well as the New Zealand family side, in one digital family archive, and have them connected to their stories. Ultimately, having a curated selection of these in a legacy (photo) book, or books (volumes) for my children. I want them to know where they come from.
Ask yourself: 'How will I make time for this?' If you don't have lots of spare time, you will have to make time. That can be from two hours a day, or a certain day a week. Make it a date, put it in your diary and stick with it. For me, it is two hours on the weekend that I dedicate to work on my family history project. Usually early hours, if that is the digital side, or during the day, with my boxes of photos and my foldable table and notebook. These temporary boxes help me to put everything back in to when my time-slot is over.
Organizing your lifetime's photo and story collection just takes time. It took years to accumulate!
Ask yourself: 'By when would I like to have this project finished?' Set yourself an end date as it will help you to stay on track. Life gets in the way? That's ok. You can adjust your allocated time and your end date. For me, ultimately, it will be within the next 2 years, as I am working on the family photo books, one for the maternal side (European), and one for the paternal side (New Zealand), to give to the children when they are ready to leave home. These volumes are part of a set, with photo books of their lives as well.
Ask yourself: 'Who will hold me accountable?' Whom are you sharing your finished project with? Or who will cheer you on along the way? You are more likely to fulfil your goal when you tell a supportive person, who will hold you responsible. For me, it's my children (as my motivation) and a good friend, who knows my life story and that I love to document but can also get lost in details.
Only now you can start to gather your photos and memorabilia into your designated workplace.
Download this worksheet to have your goals all on one page. Print it, fill in and keep it in your notebook, your diary, on your desk or fridge. Have it visible.