First, I’d like to say thank you to everyone for your overwhelming response to my video newsletter from two weeks ago. Because of the positive response, I’ll be doing video newsletters more often from now on, but this week is back to ye olde written newsletter.

This past week was particularly busy for me, and I want to share with you a few shortcuts I used involving my smartphone camera.  One thing you may know about me is that I am a list person.  I love everything about lists–making them, organizing them, and mostly, crossing items off.  However, I recently felt like I was on list overload, and needed a new way to track certain things.  So I consulted with the teacher part of me and thought about how best to set myself up for success.  I happen to be a visual learner, so my solution was to use my smartphone camera to take snapshots of certain things, thus bypassing the need for more lists.  Here are a few examples I found helpful that you may want to try:

1) Say Cheese!  Snap a shot of your fridge and pantry

I normally make a thorough grocery list (confession: on my best days, the shopping list is written in the order in which I find the items in the store, a trick I recently found out my grandmother used to employ as well), but this week I just wasn’t that together.  Instead, I took a picture of my fridge and cupboards, so that when I got to the grocery store, I knew what I was running low on or out of.  Note: this is a good practice to get into, because I find that we each tend to overstock on certain items.  For some of us its peanut butter (guilty!), and for others it’s chicken stock or paper towels.  The weekly snapshots of your inventory will keep you from overbuying things you already have plenty of.

2) Snap a shot of specialty items and refills you rarely buy

Two of the four light bulbs to my living room ceiling fan have been out for weeks.  They are not the standard light bulb size, and I’ve had a hard time finding replacements because I’m not sure exactly what size to look for.  Well, I finally found the right size at a random store in the financial district this week.  Knowing that I will need these again someday, and betting that I will not remember where I got them or the exact specifications for the size, I wanted to save myself the trouble of going through this all over again so I took a picture of the package.  Now it’s in my phone forever, not written on a post-it that could be anywhere by the time the next bulbs dies.  Note: Use this trick for other odd items or refills that you’re not likely to remember off the top off your head.  Alternatively, try this for new items you want to remember down the road: Like a bottle of wine you tried at a restaurant and want to note it’s name for future purchasing? Skip the list–take a picture!


3) Snap a shot of articles or products you find in a magazine or real life.

During my haircut appointment Friday afternoon, I was flipping through the pages of Real Simple (for those of you who know me, you know that this magazine is my guilty pleasure).  I came across a meal plan I want to try.  Normally, I dog-ear the pages of food and product ideas that pique my interest, or rip the page out, with the intention of coming back to it and trying it.  But let’s be honest, that last step never happens.  Out of sight, out of mind.  One thing that is never out of sight, however, is my phone, so I took a picture of the meals and created an album right there for these sorts of ideas.  I was so proud of myself that I then snapped some pictures of recipes I wanted to try and a pair of shoes I’d like to buy.  These all went in to the same album, where I can easily access them, and, more importantly, act on them.

I hope you’ll try out this method of visually collecting data that would otherwise go on lists, or go unnoted.  When you do, please let me know what works for you and what challenges you’re coming across.

Happy Organizing!