• Katie Zurawski

20 Years of Photos Organized in Just 2 Weeks – Guest Post by Jessica Stickel, Inspired Freedom Coach

We all have that one thing that we’ve been meaning to get to but life just seems to keep getting in the way. “That Thing” just never gets tended to. Whether it’s scrapbooking, signing up for a race, writing that book, or going on a dream trip, we all have something.


For me, it was going through my always growing set of bins of memorabilia and photographs. I had been a bit nomadic in my 20’s and into my 30’s. Because of that, I just simply could not seem to make or find the time to tackle this large (in my mind) project. Instead I just saved it all from pictures to postcards and everything in between.  Anything that ever reminded me of someone or something got thrown into a random bin.


Which brings me to the present.  With 8+ bins of memories, I finally said “I am done with the bins”.  Being very good friends with The Decluttering Queen, I was constantly being encouraged and inspired to go through the unnecessary extras of my life and free up some space. Also with a 2nd baby on the way I knew my free time certainly wasn’t going to increase.


I decided the time was now, no more excuses, no more confusion about how to do it, no more waiting for the perfect time. Let’s be honest it’s been 20 years of waiting, now it was time to create exactly what I was craving; organization of the precious moments of my life and a system for moving forward.


What I found was that when I finally committed to doing this I actually completed it in a few short steps.  This strategy made what I thought would be a lengthy task take just a few short weeks – two to be exact. I believe these steps could be applied to any “task” that you are wanting to tackle.


In the end it really just came down to these eleven S’s:


  1. Strategize

  2. Small Steps

  3. System

  4. Space

  5. Schedule

  6. Set a time

  7. Swap

  8. Say Yes

  9. Start

  10. Set your mind

  11. Surprises


First I had to STRATEGIZE for success.  For me it always helps to have a bit of a plan or visual list to guide me so that is just what I did. I wrote my main goals and broke it down into SMALL STEPS, which ultimately created a system to follow.  This helped me figure out what kind of space I was going to need.


My organization SYSTEM of choice was to separate all pictures and memorabilia into years; starting with middle school going all the way to the present. The way I chose to do this was to get large zip lock bags and write my age and year on each bag.  Once this was complete, I decided it was going to be easiest to lay everything out in a SPACE that didn’t need to be picked up daily.  I used my spare room and set it up with a long, folding table.  The table was big enough that I could spread out two rows of 10 years each. This worked wonderfully.


Next I had to SCHEDULE the organization process into my day/week. Luckily my two year old takes pretty consistent naps so I knew that everyday from 12-2 he would be resting his sweet little active body. This was my “GO” time. Once I choose this consistent window, I wrote down what my intentions were for the week. To ensure success,  I SET A TIME AND decided to SWAP out a current activity that didn’t support my goal. For me, this was the television. I actually had my husband take it out of the living room and put it in our back closet. Out of sight and out of mind. No being tempted to sit and watch “just one” episode” on Netflix. This small step allowed me to SAY YES to my priority.


Lastly all I really had to do was START – take action. The real secret was that I had to SET MY MIND and no longer allow myself to wait till I felt like it. As I stated earlier I’d been waiting 20 years to “feel” like it. Now it was time to tell myself and my time what to do.


What I found was that by finally beginning this project it opened me up to so many SURPRISES. I loved walking down memory lane and sharing my memories with good friends and letting go of the memories and papers that no longer served me. It added value to my days. I was happier after those two hours. They really infused my heart with gratitude for all that I had experienced thus far with the people and places that filled my years. It also energized me to find other spaces to create a system with. Now that I had momentum and clarity I cleaned out my closet and my cards. All important items now have a space and a name.


The memories I cherish are the true wealth of my life.  Now that they’re organized I can finally embrace and enjoy them fully. Knowing that they hold a special space in my home and that I can easily find them at any time made all the difference.


I have FINALLY said “goodbye” to the bins.  They are no longer taking up space in my bedroom, office, or any other nook that I could find to conceal them. Thank you Decluttering Queen for reminding me that it is possible to live with less and that systems create serenity.

I wish you all success in whatever your “thing” is and if you’re ever wanting to discover that next or better version of yourself I would be honored to serve you. Please check out https://www.inspiredfreedomcoaching.com/ to learn more.


Want to watch Jessy speak about her 20 years in 2 weeks journey?  Watch her YouTube video here.


This is a guest post by Jessica Stickel, the brains & heart behind Inspired Freedom, LLC. Besides being a mom and wife, Jessy is a licensed professional counselor and certified life coach.  She inspires others (including me) to live their best lives.  You can learn more about Inspired Freedom and its coaching services by visiting Jessy’s website.

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