Monday, January 28, 2008

A New Year's Resolution That Still Lets You Eat Brownies

How are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions now that a few weeks have passed?

While I love the fresh start that each New Year offers, I shun any resolution that involves giving up chocolate, watching Psych or finding matches for all the stray socks, Army men and Barbie shoes that populate my casa.

Those things are here to stay.

So, for all you weary resolution list-makers—here’s my suggestion:

On your resolution list where it says “go to gym 8 days a week” and “give up dessert until my 85th birthday”--go ahead and just scratch one of those off and replace it with “organize my digital pictures.” Yes, there is room for a healthy lifestyle, sweet indulgences and being able to stroll down memory lane.

This resolution is one that is very attainable, although it may seem like a daunting task at first. For those who still remain unconvinced, here is my cheat sheet for how to make sure you can find your favorite photos without losing your cool.

And it only requires 30 minutes per week.

Week One:
Start Searching: Get online and do a search for ‘image management software’ or ‘photo organization’ programs. Write down a few that look good. Maybe they had solid reviews from a computer magazine or other resource that you trust. Print out a few pages from your search and put them in your folder. All done.

Week Two:
Pick and Play: Spend 30 minutes reading about the top choices. Which ones have features you like (and are explained in a language that resembles English)? Do you want to mark your favorite photos, learn how to edit and enhance them, or find that picture of Uncle Lou on a moment’s notice? Take a few notes on the sheets you printed last week that will help you remember which products you liked and why.

Week Three:
Bite the Bullet and Buy (or Not!) Many image management programs offer free trials or even free copies. Choose the program you think will best suit your needs and download a trial version. Don’t play with it yet if you don’t have time. Just get it installed (making sure it comes from a reputable source) and make sure it opens properly.

Week Four:
Wander and Explore: Your goal here is not to become an expert. It’s simply to play with a few tools and see what each one does. Don’t save any of your changes if you’re editing a photograph. Just consider yourself an imaging explorer and get a lay of the land, so to speak.

Week Five:
Choose One Thing: Pick a technique or feature you’d like to learn. Only one. Monkey around, search the online help files or Google the topic to pick up some tips. You can even find photo software tutorials on YouTube.
If you’d like to learn more, great. If not, go back to your chore list.
One warning here: once you get started, you might discover that you’d rather do this than the laundry, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s encouraged.

Week Six and Beyond:
Repeat Week Five.
If you’re like me, maybe this photo organizing resolution is one that will stick.

If not, well, do an extra 30 on the treadmill for me, ok?