Thursday, September 12, 2019

Digital Scrapbooking and Memory-Keeping For Hire

One of the casualties of the busy lifestyle so inherent in today's culture is our photos--and with them our memories.  Unfortunately, we're not just losing our photos and our memories.  We're {losing ourselves}. 

I believe strongly in the process--how sitting down with your own photos and memories is a great source of peace.  Taking the time to look through photos, choose your favorites, and preserve them in a hand-held way where you can write memories next to them is powerful.  There's actually a lot of perspective, gratitude, and connection to be had through it, too.  Studies even show that looking back on happy times (in a photo album, for example) actually increases happiness in the present.

I've been doing this myself for years, so I know all these things firsthand.  However, I also know that memory-keeping has become a lost art.  And, no, I'm not (necessarily) talking about scrapbooking.  I'm really just talking about the simple act of printing up a picture and writing down something about it.  People just don't do that any more.  Digital photo snapping is super cool and easy to share, but we have SO. MANY. PICTURES.  So many people I talk to are {overwhelmed}, and most people don't even know what they're supposed to do with all those pictures.  Or how.

an heirloom-quality book from Heritage Makers, plus
digital scrap pages of the same event
Because memory-keeping comes second-nature to me, I have--in recent years--begun digital scrapbooking and memory-keeping for others.  There's no way, of course, that I could do ALL that memory-keeping entails since they're not my pictures and not my memories, but it's really easy for me to be the boots on the ground, so to speak, making everything happen.  Your wish is my command.

So if you find yourself wanting to do something more with your photos than confining them to JPEG Jail, let me help you.

There are lots of options from digital hardbound books to digital scrap pages, and I can even do paper scrapbooking if you prefer (only it takes a lot longer).  If you'd like a cute scrapbook-y kind of look, I can do that.  If you'd like a clean look, I can do that.  One of my favorite things is showing you the immense {Heritage Makers template gallery} and letting you pick a specific template you like.  One of the best things about a Heritage Makers template is that it's fully editable, so you can tell me, "I like this one, but take off all the flowers," and I can do it!  Using a template ends up faster, too, since I don't have to design each page from scratch, and since I charge an hourly fee, you save a bit of money, too.

You can read {why I choose Heritage Makers and what makes it the best} there at that link, and you can see a simpler digital book option (still the same high quality) as well as a paper scrapbooking option {right here}.

I can make any project you have in mind, from baby books to family yearbooks to graduation sign-in books and wire-bound cookbooks.  In fact, because of the variety of Heritage Makers products, I can create wall canvases, playing card decks, and even labels to make adorable chocolate favors for events or holidays.  If you missed the {digital DIY wedding} posts from last year, check them out at that link {and this part 2 link} to get an idea of everything that's possible, from invitations and creative save-the-date ideas to table place cards and gifts.

Let me be your memory-keeping partner.  You take the pictures and make the memories, then you share with me your favorites (both pictures and a little blurb about each one) so I can make those pictures and memories last.  {Here is the basic information} about how Scrapbooking For Hire (or any project) works.  For more details how it works, just {contact me} and I'll e-mail you a document outlining everything.

If you need a memory-keeping partner, don't put it off!  Memories get dimmer all the time, and photos left in digital form are always at the mercy of technology.  Let's get your photos out of the cloud and your memories out of your head into something that will be seen, held, and loved for generations.

Know anyone else who needs memory-keeping help?  Share!
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Thursday, August 29, 2019

My Best Methods for Organizing and Storing Digital Photos

Are you in {my Heritage Makers Facebook group}?  It's a great place for information and inspiration, but I love it when people use it to share projects they've created and to ask questions.

A few months ago, Angela posted a great question.  Here's her post:
"Looking for some advice on best methods of organizing and storing photos.  Please share your methods!  Go!  Thanks!"
This is a great question!  This is such a common question and common need that I want to share the answer with you, too.  Here's what I told Angela that I hope will be helpful to you also.

There's so much talk today on photo organization and storage that it can feel overwhelming and even impossible.  Some people even pay to have their photos stored.  But the purpose of a photo isn't to store it.  It's to see it.

So here's how I make sure my photos are taken care of, all the way around:  I store them digitally and in print, which are the two suggested ways for storing them.  (Experts say not to put all your eggs in one basket and that the safest way to store photos is in print.)  Storing photos in multiple ways might seem overwhelming, but the way I do it is actually really convenient--I only use one website for multiple methods!  Here's what I do:

  1. I store my photos in print (which, if you Google, is one of the safest ways to store them).  By "store in print," I mean that I publish my photos and memories using Heritage Makers books and/or individual scrap pages.  I choose {Heritage Makers for many reasons, most of which I have listed out here.}
  2. Because I use Heritage Makers, my completed projects (not just my photos) are saved in my Heritage Makers account in case of disaster, from a house fire to a kiddo spilling milk on it.  So I not only have my photos saved in printed books and scrap pages like the ones shown below, but this second method of saving my photos is that I have a digital backup of those books and scrap pages, too!

  1. I'm already uploading all my photos to my Heritage Makers account to make books and individual scrap pages.  They stay there in my account forever (as long as my account is active by being used every 18 months, which I always do).  Here's another super cool thing about Heritage Makers:   You can store all the photos that you've used in a project (like the ones shown above) FOR FREE.  That means that since I started using Heritage Makers in 2005, I now have 14 years' worth of digital photo storage... for free!  And storing my photos in my Heritage Makers account isn't just free--it's private.  (If you haven't heard yet that other photo companies sell your photos, be sure to {read this article ASAP}!)
  2. I save my photos on my computer before I upload them to my Heritage Makers account.  Computers {aren't the safest places to store photos}, but since I also back up my computer to an external hard drive once a month, my Photo Eggs aren't all in my Computer Basket.
  3. Once a year I order {a Millenniata CD from Heritage Makers} with all the pictures from that year on it.  Technically, if my computer crashes or something, I could just download all my photos back from my Heritage Makers account since they are stored there indefinitely (with my active account), but I like having another non-online source to have my digital pictures saved.
Experts say to store your photos one way in print and two ways digitally, so this is probably overkill by a tad, but I know my photos are SAFE and secure, plus I get to actually LOOK AT THEM in printed pages any time!  Print is where photos actually get loved.  

And I've saved my photos a total of FIVE ways in TWO methods (print and digital files) with not a lot of effort and minimal cost.

I personally organize my photos this way.  This video is 19 minutes of you essentially looking over my shoulder while I organize photos and explain my system.

I think the video is the best way to see what I'm talking about, but here are some pointers in written form for both physical (already printed) and digital photos.  Just click here to read:

My niece was here visiting for my daughter's graduation in May.  We were really busy most of the week (especially me), but it was fun to see that during downtime, my niece would pull out the scrapbooks and photo books I've made.  She and my son are the same age (22), and they enjoyed looking at pictures of themselves when they were babies "meeting" for the first time and toddlers playing together.  

That just wouldn't have happened if I'd had a CD or a flash drive sitting on the shelf.  The printed version, complete with details and memories written out, is what means something.

It's what pictures are for.

Get started preserving them with Heritage Makers {by following these steps}.  Because it's the BEST!  Really.

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Yearbook Boot Camp - preserving a year's worth of pictures in 8 weeks!

Have you preserved your photos and memories from last year yet?  What about 2016?  Or 2012, for that matter.  If it's been a while, or if you feel a little lost about the best way to go about preserving the myriad pictures you've got on your phone, camera, cloud, computer, etc., do yourself a favor and come to Yearbook Boot Camp.   It's all online!  And it makes {a fantastic gift that is meaningful for decades to come}.  

UPDATE:  This Yearbook Boot Camp was held September-November 2019.  If you are reading this after the fact, keep reading.  Yearbook Boot Camp was so popular that I'll be holding it again in January 2020, and probably again in the fall of 2020.  So once you've read this blog post, feel free to RSVP/register for upcoming YBCs!

Here's a little 1-minute teaser about Yearbook Boot Camp, then you can keep reading to find out details.  

Yearbook Boot Camp runs September 16-November 4, 2019.  In 8 weeks you will preserve one year's worth of photos and memories in a high-quality, well-organized hardbound book that you can gift your family for the holidays if you like.

Every Monday morning of Boot Camp, we'll "meet" at a 10-20 minute video call where you'll receive your assignment for the week and plenty of resources to help you complete it.  (And each video call will be recorded and emailed to you to watch later in the day if you can't make the call live.)  Then you'll set aside approximately 1-3 hours per week to complete your assignments.

Look at what you could have in just 8 weeks!  And I'm not talking about bargain bin "photo books," either--these are heirloom quality, fully editable books!!

photo credit: Brooke Mehr

photo credit: Brooke Mehr

photo credit: Brooke Mehr

photo credit: Brooke Mehr

There are 3 Yearbook sizes and many styles to choose from.  Using a template makes it go quickly, and EDITABLE templates by Heritage Makers give you lots of freedom and flexibility to make the pages exactly what you want.  There are 2 pages dedicated to each month of the year, but you have the option to add more pages if you like.

photo credit: Heritage Makers Template Gallery

REGISTERING FOR YEARBOOK BOOT CAMP IS SO EASY!  Just email by September 12, 2019.  You'll receive an email on September 13 with Venmo payment information.  Yearbook Boot Camp is only $15!  Once you're registered and paid, you'll receive an email with a link to our first video call (via Zoom) on September 16.  

I'll walk you right through all the steps of getting your pictures into something you can hold (and love!  and gift!).  The calls will only be about 10-20 minutes, and the assignments and helps (including step-by-step video tutorials) can be done whenever it's most convenient for you during the week.

photo credit: Heritage Makers Template Gallery

a screenshot of the page-by-page peek into the book shown above

AND GUESS WHAT!  If you invite a friend who attends Yearbook Boot Camp with you, you will be entered in a drawing to get your Yearbook free!  (up to $60)

Nothing better than that.

Although this is (or can be) a physical gift you can give your family, it's also a personal gift that will keep on giving right back to you because you'll have the skills and knowledge you need to keep creating and preserving your precious photos and memories!

Remember that registration ends September 12, 2019, so don't delay!  (To register, all you have to do is email and tell me you're in.)  

See you soon at Yearbook Boot Camp!  

Just about everybody could use some help getting a handle on preserving their photos and memories,
so share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your favorite social media platform!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

How to Transition from Paper to Digital Scrapbooking

Memories fade, and photos in digital form are always at the mercy of technology.  Maybe even more important to remember, though, is the fact that photos and memories {have been shown} to increase our happiness, gratitude, and sense of belonging while also lowering stress and anxiety.

At this blog you've seen lots of examples of digital books, from {life storybooks} to {time-saving yearbooks}, but {paper/traditional scrapbooking} remains a favorite method for some people.  As I always say, it's important to find something you love so that you'll do it.  Looking forward to something you enjoy makes it easy.

But what if you're a {burned-out scrapbooker}?

Or what if you LOVE the hands-on method of cutting pictures and using fancy scissors and adorable stickers but you just don't have the time (or table space) any more?

Well, you're in luck.  I can help.

If you're a scrapbooker but find it hard to make time for handcrafted pages--or if you've never been a scrapbooker but just need a fun but high-quality way to preserve your photos and memories--come to my online class.  It's free and only about 30 minutes but will be jam-packed with information!

You'll learn how digital scrapbooking can help you work faster (while it's easier on the wallet) without giving up the hands-on aspects you love.

You've probably guessed, but it's VERY true that not all digital scrapbooking (or storybooking) is created equal.  At the class, I'll teach you what I've found is the BEST out there--not just how to scrapbook digitally, but where.

No paper scrapbooking required!  This class is for everyone who knows that pictures are important and that they matter to kids, families, and hearts.

Here's what Sherry, a paper-scrapbooking lover, said about her first experience with digital scrapbooking using Heritage Makers:

Come dip your toes in the world of digital scrapbooking and see what it can do for you.

UPDATE:  Here's the recording of this great class.

Do your friends a favor and share this with them!  Everyone needs a little more happiness in their lives, and pictures are one of the best ways to get it!  So let's make memory-keeping fun and easy.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Antidote to the Emotional Toll of Social Media

In June, I shared my best time-saving hack with you: {Use Your Phone as a Phone}.  One of the things I looked at in preparation for writing that post was the effects that social media have on us.  When I googled it, all sorts of things came up about mental health dangers (in many forms) and how social media is disconnectingIsn't that the ultimate irony--something created to connect people actually has the opposite result?  As it turns out, social media takes quite a toll on us!

In reading articles about what social media does to us (two of which I'll share with you shortly), it occurred to me that I actually know the antidote to all these harmful effects!  So I am beyond thrilled to share them with you today.  We need an antidote to the emotional toll of social media.


I'll cite sources, but you will probably recognize the problems caused or exacerbated by social media use without needing sources, whether you recognize them in yourself or someone else.  They are, unfortunately, quite common.

The Independent published {this article} citing six ways social media negatively affects your mental health, which are:
  1. lowered self-esteem (which comes from comparing yourself to others)
  2. decreased human connection (including FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out, as well as fewer face-to-face interactions)
  3. disturbance of memory (spending so much time making sure you're posting the best photos that your memory of actual events is neglected and then forgotten)
  4. lack of sleep (using an electronic device too close to bedtime makes it harder to fall asleep; endless scrolling capability makes it harder to put the device down in the first place)
  5. decreased attention span (both from decrease in concentration and increase in addiction to social media)
  6. increased depression and anxiety (41% of people in a March 2018 poll said viewing social media made them feel anxious, sad, or depressed.)
"The Emotional Toll of Social Media" at adds a few more dangers of social media to our list:
  • having more "Facebook friends" than real friends (real=people to whom you'd send a wedding invitation or Christmas card)
  • feeling a sense of inadequacy (seeing only cookie cutter ideals and false standards)
  • cyber bullying (most common with children but not unheard of with adults)
  • feelings of isolation (easy to feel like you've "connected" with others when it's actually just one-way)
  • being socially stunted (with too much "virtual" interaction and not enough eye contact and hand-shaking)
  • stress (all of the above)

Many Millennials and Gen X-ers who are literally "connected" to thousands of people online suffer from loneliness.  At {a conference on loneliness among young adults} presented by University of Delaware professor Dawn Fallik and Brigham Young University professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad in March, so many young people registered that they had to add another session.  Imagine a whole room full of lonely youth, complete with the irony.  Twice.


Of course, one of the biggest solutions to the emotional toll of social media is to cut down on social media use.  You may remember some of my suggestions for how to do this in the "Use Your Phone as a Phone" article I referenced in the first paragraph of this post.  I share my experience there plus seven fantastic suggestions from Michele Tripple.  If you pick up your phone or login to Facebook more often than you should for good mental health, definitely check out that article.  (Link in the first paragraph of this post.)

The antidote, though, is something else.  An antidote combats a poison.  It counteracts or prevents a disease or other unwanted effect.  So if you've been depressed or stressed or felt inadequate because of social media, here's the fix to that!

It's something you may or may not have heard of:  Memory-Keeping.  If you click on the tab in purple at the top of this blog (under the header) that says {"benefits of memory-keeping,"} you'll find links to several articles, but here's a summary of what memory-keeping has been shown in studies to do:
  • reduce stress
  • lower rates of anxiety and depression
  • increase a sense of belonging and purpose
  • increase connections (to family members, friends, and life in general)
  • increase happiness (even more than chocolate and wine, the most common "go-to"s for boosting mood)
  • increase self-esteem
  • increase gratitude
It's true!  Memory-keeping can do all that.  


If you missed my article last November, {"What is Memory-Keeping? And Why Does it Matter?"}, you can hop over there for the details.  In short, though, memory-keeping is doing something with your photos and memories.  Sometimes people throw around the word "scrapbooking," but memory-keeping isn't exactly that.  It certainly can be, but doesn't have to be.

Both photos and journaling are how we record our life's experiences.  All too often, though, we don't make the time to go through photos and do something with them.  Photos are most often left in what I call JPEG Jail.  They stay on cameras or phones or computers, never to be seen again.  The process of choosing favorite photos and giving them a HOME (a tangible place for them to live, such as a book or album) and writing down our memories is Memory-Keeping.  It's organizing and giving meaning to our life's experiences.  It's reminiscing about good times and appreciating that we made it through the bad ones.  

I often hear people say they don't have time for memory-keeping.  It's unfortunate that we make time for social media and its potentially damaging effects while the antidote to those effects is right at our fingertips.  Ironically, we would all have more time for memory-keeping if we allowed less time for social media.  

Re-visit that list of the benefits of memory-keeping in those bullet points above.  Those things are not just things we want.  They are things we need.  We need less stress.  We need more connections with loved ones and more happiness.  


If you're ready to combat the depressive effects of social media, it's time to make time for memory-keeping.  Here are five steps to begin a memory-keeping habit:
  1. Set aside time.  We never "find time"--we make it.  You probably set aside time for other self-care such as haircuts and exercise and time with friends.  Setting aside time for memory-keeping isn't any different.  Choose a time that works for you, then put it on your calendar and keep your commitment to yourself.  It could be every Friday night or the first Sunday of every month.  I have a lot of resources and ideas for creating time for yourself at the {"don't have time?"} link in purple at the top of this blog if you need it.  If doing this with another person would help you, team up with someone else who needs the positive effects of being a memory-keeper, too!
  2. Go through your photos regularly.  Delete garbage photos (pictures of your finger or 12 pictures of the same thing) immediately!  Get your photos off your phone or camera regularly, too.  Set aside specific time for it if you have to.  Saving photos from your phone/camera to your computer is smart photo storage since you'll then have your photos in more than one place, but it also puts the photos in a place where you can actually do something with them.  From your computer, you can print them or create {a digital book or scrap pages} with them.  If you don't know {how to get your pictures from your phone to your computer, this short video} shows you how. 
  3. Organize your photos.  With the hoards of photos people often have, this can be a daunting prospect, but don't let it!!  This can be a really fun part of memory-keeping!  Seeing your photos and reminiscing has been shown in studies to increase your happiness!  Because memory-keeping involves doing something with your pictures, not just seeing them, though, organizing is an important step.  You have to know what you have and where those pictures are before you can do anything with them.  If you have digital photos to organize, you can see my method (and copy it!) if you like here at this {"organizing photos demo" video}.  If you have printed or physical photos to organize, find strategies at {"How to Organize Both Printed and Digital Photos."Please don't feel like you have to keep or preserve every photo you take.  Generally speaking, we just have too many for that nowadays.  Preserve just your favorites.  
  4. Choose your weapon.  There are lots and lots of ways to preserve your photos and record your memories.  It's important that it fit your style, interest, and budget, but it's equally as important (maybe a tad more!) that the memory-keeping method you choose be high-quality!  You don't want something this important to fall apart a few years from now.  I only recommend high-quality methods, and you can see {my top memory-keeping recommendations} right there at that link. Remember that you're not just finding a tangible home for your photos!  As important as that is, writing down your memories and experiences is vital.  You need a method that will support all the journaling you want to do.
  5. Start!  If you haven't been a memory-keeper before, just start.  Start with something small like looking through your photos and deleting some you don't need.  Or start by looking through memory-keeping methods you might like to use.  Don't get overwhelmed.  Do something small and enjoyable first and then your excitement will propel you from there.  And speaking of starting small, I suggest that you begin your memory-keeping with whatever is easiest.  Do you want to preserve the photos you have on your phone right now and do a {yearbook} from last year?  Do you want to write a {life story for yourself}, starting with baby pictures?   Or do you want to start with an event--the wedding, the graduation, etc?  Start with whatever sounds easiest!


I know that using something you already have--your own photos and memories--seems like a pretty simple way to truly combat serious problems such as depression and loneliness.  While not a replacement for medication if it's needed, memory-keeping is a much more powerful thing than we give it credit for.  It's {good for kids} and equally good for the big kids we call adults.  

While social media use can contribute to feelings of sadness and isolation, memory-keeping engenders connection--connection with family and friends, connection to your purpose and value, and connection to your own heart.  In his compelling Ted Talk, {"Everything You Know About Addiction is Wrong,"} Johann Hari even says that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety.  It's connection.  

So what are we waiting for?

I suggest you {get started right here}.
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Thursday, July 4, 2019

"Conversations with the Inspiring Jennifer Wise" from VoyageDenver

If you've read this blog much over the last 9 1/2 years, you've found hundreds of articles about photos, memories, family and personal stories, memory-keeping, photo organization, digital scrapbooking, time management, crafty DIY projects, and meaningful (and totally fun!) gift ideas.

What you haven't read a lot about is me.  My personal experiences and my own Heritage Makers projects are often scattered throughout, but there are very few posts about me, Jennifer Wise, the face (and heart and soul) behind LifeTales Books.  Why do I write this blog?  Why am I so crazy passionate about something as commonplace as pictures?  What brought me to this point?  And why?

I'm honored and thrilled to be featured in VoyageDenver Magazine in their Trailblazer: Rewriting the Narrative series where they "interview hidden gems from Denver and the surrounding areas."  In this interview, I talk about my business and my story, my path in entrepreneurship, what sets me (and Heritage Makers) apart from the rest, and my thoughts on female leadership in business today.

The interviewer chose the title:  "Conversations with the Inspiring Jennifer Wise."  So you can take that to mean that you'll come away inspired after reading my Trailblazer article!   And you can do that right here:

If you enjoyed the read, let me know about it by commenting below!  And share it with someone you know who would enjoy it, too!  Pin, Tweet, email, or share on Facebook.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

It's Not About Photo Storage: How to Organize, Print, and SEE Pictures

Isn't that kind of the focus these days, though?  Photo storage?  People spend a lot of time and money making sure their photos are safely stored somewhere.  But guess what?

We're missing the entire point!

Have you put away your winter clothes?  Why?  Because you don't intend to use them for six months, right?  That's what storage IS.  It's putting something elsewhere that you don't intend to use or see or even look at right now.

That's great for winter clothes, but what about pictures?

Pictures aren't meant to be temporary.  In fact, we take pictures to hold onto and remember moments that are fleeting.  So pictures aren't meant to be stored.  The purpose of a picture is to SEE IT.

So let's get back to basics and not listen to the digital photo storage frenzy going on around us.  Now I'm not saying digital pictures shouldn't be backed up, because they should, but that should never be our final goal.  We shouldn't be satisfied that our precious photos are somewhere where we rarely if ever see them, somewhere where we can't actually write down a couple of sentences about what makes that photo worth taking and worth remembering.

Connecting with your photos and memories has tremendous power including self-esteem and increased happiness.  Read more benefits, including self-care and wellness, {at this list}.

These four blog posts will help you organize, print, and SEE your pictures!  Read these helps and start seeing your pictures again!
Now when I talk about printing photos, there are lots of options, so here are two recommendations. 

I love this one because the product is beautiful and high-quality, but the METHOD is what really helps people get a handle on their too many pictures.  This video explains the method and the product, too.  It's called "How to Stop Being Overwhelmed by Your Pictures: a Yearbook tutorial."

And I like this method because although it's a clean, simple look like much of the online "photo books" out there, it's higher quality than you're seeing elsewhere.  (It's the same high quality as the method above, too!)  This method also has an auto-fill option so you can push a button and put your photos in a book.  (You can find a link to the video showing you how to to that {here}.  Scroll halfway down to find it.  It's the BONUS in red.)

Plus, if you're behind on preserving your photos, I have several suggestions (and a PLAN!) at the "how to catch up on your photos" tab along the top of this blog below the header.  Or find it {right here}.

When you're done reading whichever of those posts interests you most, or watching whichever video catches your fancy, come back and comment below to tell me which suggestions were the most helpful.  Which ones will get you SEEING and loving your memories in pictures, not just storing them?

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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Time Saver Hack: Use Your Phone as a Phone

Is your phone as big of a time-suck as my phone?  Or--as big of a time suck as my phone used to be?!  I have a super quick time-saving hack to share with you today that will help you free up some time.

I tend to keep an eye out for time-saving ideas because the ability to set aside time to make your photos into something meaningful is so important.  It's life-changing, actually!  And {we need our pictures} more now than ever before.

Besides, I was noticing how much "just checking Facebook" and "just scrolling through Instagram" was really cutting into my day and my productivity.  And my peace, to be honest.  ({This study} shows that social media can contribute to feelings of isolation, lower self-esteem, and decreased personal connections.  Isn't it interesting that a few of the many {benefits of memory-keeping} are greater connections, higher self-esteem, and a greater sense of belonging?!  Sounds like the antidote to the depressive effects of social media to me.  But I digress.)

A few months ago, I had been feeling frustrated and probably a little depressed because I would sit down for a break and pull out my phone, and before I knew it an hour had gone by.  I didn't like how it made me feel, and I really hate wasting time.  I was inspired to really look at my phone usage and habits after I read this awesome {seven day phone detox} strategy by Michele at Confessions of Parenting.  Michele's great steps included turning off push notifications (which I actually never enabled in the first place) and not picking up your phone first thing in the morning.  Great tips!!

And I loved {this article}, too, about how you can actually GIVE YOURSELF more time by putting social media on the back burner.

These articles were fantastic inspiration for what I thought could help me.  Here's what I came up with:  I decided to use my phone as a phone.  Shocking, I know.

Now, for you young 'uns, I'll tell you what phones were like in the olden days.  They were attached to a wall.  You used them for talking to people.  Their ringtones were very boring, yes, but phones back in the olden days did the job just fine.  You could communicate with someone who wasn't standing next to you.  It was pretty revolutionary and quite handy.

So I decided to plug my phone into the wall.  I decided to treat my phone as an actual phone.  If it rings, or if I get a text notification, I pick it up.  I don't need to know if someone posted something on Facebook, and I don't need to know what's new on Instagram.  I can look at that later if I want to.  I basically just need to know if someone wants to get ahold of me.  That's all.  

I do unplug the phone and take it with me when I'm away from a wall, but otherwise the phone stays plugged into the wall.  Like, you know, a phone!  I chose a central location (my kitchen, which kind of echos) so that I could hear the ring from wherever I might be in the house.  Doing this has made a huge difference.  It's not in my pocket where it's so easy to just pull it out and check social media "for just a sec."

Plugging in my phone was just the first part, though.  In order to make it even less easy to waste time on, I decided to delete all my social media apps from my phone.  Yes, I really did.  I deleted Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Those are so easy to get sucked into because the feeds are endless.  You can scroll and scroll and see new things for literally hours.  Before social media, nobody actually knew what that guy who sat in front of you in 8th grade algebra was doing with his life these days.  And we were just fine.  (Remember, too, that if you want to know how a friend is doing, you could actually use your phone as a phone and call her.  Or even text.  You don't have to scroll through "I love my dog" and "I hate politics" posts to find out.)

Now, I'm still on {Facebook} and {Twitter} and {Pinterest} (at those links, in fact, if you want to connect), but because those apps aren't on my phone any more, I force myself to check them only on my computer.  You can post to all of them except Instagram from a computer, and you can check all of them from a computer.  It has cut down A LOT on the time I spend on social media, which is the main way I used to waste time on my phone.
"...As if we could kill time without injuring eternity."  -Henry David Thoreau
If you have an addicting game on your phone that you waste a lot of time with, that's another thing to look at.  Could setting a 10-minute timer help?  Could you just delete it all together?  What other things do you have on your phone that drag you down that you could get rid of?

What would you gain by giving yourself an extra hour every day? 

Because pictures and memories and family stories have such powerful effects on kids and families, I highly recommend making time for them and making them a priority.  Pictures still in digital form don't do much for us because we don't have the memories that go with them.  Print or publish pictures in a way you'll enjoy so that you can actually SEE your photos as well as make a record of what makes each photo worth remembering (your memories).

Quality is high priority when preserving precious photos and memories, so look at the {three memory-keeping options} I recommend and choose whatever will work best for you.

Next, set aside time--if you need some {help finding time}, just click that link.  If you're like most people and haven't preserved your photos for a while, you're probably a little overwhelmed at even starting.  Don't be!  I have {two strategies, including video tutorials to walk you through, and lots of tips for catching up on your photos right here}.

Join me in doing things differently!  Don't let your phone suck away your valuable time!  Let's use our time more wisely and in more meaningful ways.  #dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs
"A man who dares waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life." -Charles Darwin
Share this helpful time-saving hack!  Pin this image to Pinterest, or share this post on Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

How to Preserve All Those Baby Pictures (plus some encouragement for moms, too)

Oh, baby pictures!  There's nothing like them.  Chubby cheeks and sleeping smiles.  First steps and first foods.  If there's a baby in your life, your phone is probably full of pictures of him/her.  Digital images are easy to share, from texting to social media, but if you want those precious pictures to last, they need to have more to them than a jpeg file name.

You probably already know about the risks of anything digital, such as {hard drive crashes and stolen phones}.  So what is important to know about digital photos and preserving them?  What's the best way to store these cherished photos for years and years to come?  Shiree and Michele from {Confessions of Parenting} asked me delve into these questions and give some advice on what to do with baby pictures to make sure they are preserved.

Here at my guest blogger post you'll find answers to those questions, solutions to photo concerns, and four fantastic ideas for making those photos last.  And some encouragement for moms (of all ages), too!  Click and read:

By the way, if you don't know how to get your pictures off your phone and onto your computer, this quick video walks you right through it in about 5 minutes.

This post at Confessions of Parenting went viral, so it's clearly something a lot of people need to know about.  Be a pal and share this post by Pinning, Tweeting, e-mailing, or sharing on Facebook!  Then tell me in the comments below what your biggest takeaway was from my "What to Do With All the Baby Pictures You're Taking" post. 
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Monday, May 13, 2019

Heart & Soul LinkUp ... is Moving!

Did you catch last week's linkup?  Did you find a new favorite blog post that's good for the heart and soul?  I find posts every week that inspire, educate, and make me smile.

We have some big news today!  But first:

Let's highlight the most-read posts from last week.  I'm including links to them, too, in case you missed them last time.  I personally loved each one of these posts.

from Flossie at Super Mom Hacks

from Maria at Krafty Planner

from Alicia at My Plant Strong Family

If you were a featured favorite today, you can celebrate by sharing on social media or your blog using this image:

I want to give a special thanks to each blogger who has participated in the Heart & Soul LinkUp!  If you've been a reader, you know what interesting, fun, and important things have been shared here at the linkup since November. If you found a new favorite blogger here, be sure to follow her/him on social media, or bookmark their blogs so you can always read those posts you love.

Thanks to:

We've had 6 lovely months of Heart & Soul linkups here at LifeTales Books and lots of great blog posts shared from some of my long-time blogger friends and a good handful of new ones.  More great things are in store as Heart & Soul moves from LifeTales Books over to Love My Little Cottage, hosted by Kristie!

That's right.  Heart & Soul LinkUp is moving.  With the move comes a name change, too.  Today, the Heart & Soul LinkUp becomes Little Cottage Link Party.

So instead of leaving links (if you're a blogger) and reading posts at Heart & Soul LinkUp today, head on over to to find the Little Cottage Link Party.   Kristie is leaving each weekly linkup open from 7:00am (Mountain) on Mondays until 7:00am (Mountain) on Wednesdays.  You can find rules for participating AND the very first Little Cottage Link Party right here at Love My Little Cottage.

I don't know about you, but I'm heading over there right now to leave my own links to some blog posts I'd love to share, and I'm looking forward to what others share, too.  See ya at Love My Little Cottage...