I heard a lot of great sessions at RootsTech this year. But the one that really blew me away–because of the quality of its content and presentation–was Stacy Julian’s Do Something with that Box! Stacy is a blogger and podcaster and superstar in the scrapbooking world. You can learn more about her at www.stacyjulian.com.
“That box” that Stacy refers to is the box of family history papers, photos, ephemera and (sometimes) junk that so many of us have been given. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by that box, isn’t it? In her talk, Stacy took us step by step through her methodology to make the stuff inside that box accessible “so that when you want to find something you can and when you have time to take action you know what to do.” As a professional organizer, this made my heart sing.
One of the things I loved about her approach is that it makes the process of dealing with a box of family-history stuff less overwhelming. Stacy has you sort everything into one of five broad categories, then go through each category and assess the value of each item. You’ll be discarding lots of stuff during this process, undoubtedly. Stacy makes the point that scarcity creates value–if you are discerning about what you keep, your family members are more likely to look at and enjoy the items.
After sorting and assessing you’ll assign an action to each item that requires one (digitize, transcribe, share, etc), using a sticky note. The final step is to file the stuff into a file box using the same broad categories you started with. As you go through the documents, you’ll put those that excited you into an Action folder. Once you have ten items in the Action folder, you take action. An optional step in the process is to create a timeline, as you go, for each generation of the family represented by the box.
The system gets you to a “good enough” place where your stuff is easily accessed–by you or other family members–without expending a huge amount of effort. And when you have an itch to take action, you’ll know just what to do. Genius.
Stacy was kind enough to give me permission to make the handout that she gave to RootsTech participants available to you. At the bottom of this post are images of each of the five pages. Click on each to see a larger version.
The handout is great because it gives you the bones of her fantastic method. Hearing her speak about it was even better–there were videos included in her presentation and her energetic style was so enjoyable (and effective).
I have some great news: Stacy is developing an online course on this topic! So you’ll be able to get all the great content those of us in her RootsTech audience experienced (and probably more). I’ll be sure and post when that’s available.
In the meantime, take a look at this handout and see whether you might be able to take some steps to tackle one of your boxes while you’ve got extra time at home.
Edited to add: I was delighted to discover that Stacy has now written a robust blog post on this topic! Check out How to BEGIN with the BOX on her website.