Slow But Forward


Will I ever finish my photo project?

For 2016 I resolved to completely organize my digital photos.

  • I’d arrange them by dates in folders.
  • I’d save them on an external hard drive (and free up storage on my phone and laptop!).
  • I’d print out copies of my favorites and put them in actual photo albums.

I didn’t finish in 2016.

But I did make progress. I started backwards at 2015, then 2014, 2013, 2012. And now I’m at 2011.



So four years of photos are now neatly displayed in chronological albums sitting on my coffee table. Memories that we can look at. Laugh at. Reminisce through. (Somehow that’s more satisfying to me than scrolling through them alone on Facebook.)

The project seemed overwhelming a year ago (and in many ways, it still does). But here’s how I forced myself to do it:

Give it  just 10 minutes

I added a 10-minute block on my online calendar daily for “Photos to Print.” Then at some point during the day or night, I’d set a timer for 10 minutes and just do it.

I often think “I don’t have enough time” to do this or that. I’m an obsessive schedule-maker. I see my time and energy as limited resources that must be optimally allocated every day.

But 10 minutes? If we don’t have 10 minutes to spare every 24 hours, we’re not doing something right.

So I’m keeping the 10-minute daily block for “Photos to Print” on my calendar for 2017. I still won’t do it every day. But as long as I’m making progress—and I am!—that’s good enough.

Whatever you’re trying to accomplish this year, remember your small steps in the right direction will add up.

Continuing to move in the right direction is more important than the total number of steps taken altogether.

I’ll stick with the snails:

It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop.

* * *

Is there a project you want to finish in 2017? What keeps you moving forward? Please share in the comments.

43 thoughts on “Slow But Forward

  1. Dianna McBride

    Just the post I needed to read today, Lisa! The topic of pictures couldn’t have been better. Our grandson graduates from high school this spring and I want to go through all of our pictures, back from his birth, and do a scrapbook of sorts for him. Memories are precious to him. I had almost talked myself out of seeing this dream come to fruition until reading here this morning. I’ll be setting my timer and start pulling pictures! I know that system works because I use it for other tasks around the house that seem HUGE, until I break them down in to 15 minute intervals. Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, I think this will be a WONDERFUL gift for your grandson, Dianna! Something he can treasure forever. This kind of gift continues to give through the years, down to his own children and grandchildren. I do hope you find the time to do it. I know you two have had a special relationship through the years and this will put the cherry on top of it. 🙂

  2. Kristi Woods

    Wise advice, Lisa. And look at you go with all those memories now sitting in print. Good job! The timer is invaluable at my house as well, although it’s not used nearly enough. Writing is one area where I use it regularly. It does indeed make a large task seem manageable.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I use a timer for so many things at my house, too, Kristi. I’ve discovered I’m more satisfied as long as I’m making a little progress on lots of things instead of only working solidly on one or two, for better or worse. 🙂

  3. Bekahcubed

    This concept is what I’m clinging to during this stage with an infant and a toddler. With laundry and dishes, with unpacking the house (still, after a year here), with decorating. With discipline and training of my children. With Scripture memory. With reading. It’s slow progress, but it’s progress – and that’s what counts.

  4. BettieG

    Wonderful work getting so many of your photos organized! The “small dent” that you have made seems like a very large chunk from my perspective! I have had to slow down my agenda the last few years, because of the current season of my life. And, in the process, I am still learning to tell myself that these tasks that seem so small compared to the amounts I used to do are valuable, and better than stopping. Thank you for your encouragement today!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Bettie. I am pleased that I’ve gotten this much done already. I still have lots left to do, but at least I’m making progress. Sometimes we have to be satisfied with those small steps. You keep going too!

  5. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Lisa, and I can sure relate.

    For most of my life my avocation was restoring old aeroplanes, and building new ones…from raw materials, not kits. It’s not a speedy process by any means.

    And slower now, when I occasionally..well, stop breathing and need to be revived, usually by the dogs (using techniques that mother dogs perform on pups that suddenly stop breathing, but ‘scaled up’…interesting).

    I’m unlikely to ever finish the projects on which I’m working, but quitting would be wrong, because I do believe that the dream was gifted to me by God…loaned to me, actually…and that it isn’t mine to quit.

    Also, quitting presupposes that His purpose for me was completion, and it may be that I’m doing more good by simply keeping on in hope than I ever would do with a finished product.

    And finally, the dreams we are given, and hold, are, I believe, saved for us when our strength fails, and given to us by a delighted God when we reach His presence.

    I can just see Him, hopping from foot to foot in eagerness, waiting for us to unwrap what He has so lovingly saved from what we thought was the wreckage of our lives.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      This in particular moves me, Andrew: “…quitting presupposes that His purpose for me was completion, and it may be that I’m doing more good by simply keeping on in hope than I ever would do with a finished product.” Lots of power in that statement. Sometimes we get too hung up on the destination instead of enjoying the journey. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. Patricia Krank

    I am working on “our story” and I love the idea of taking just 10 or 15 minutes to write. I become overwhelmed when I try to do too much at a time and end up quitting for weeks on end. Hoping to do better in 2017.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s a beautiful project that you’re working on, Patti. I pray that you’ll make big progress on compiling your story in 2017. Just a little at a time and you will eventually finish!

  7. Barbara H.

    That’s one of my big projects I want to tackle (or at least start on) this year. I have several years worth of photos in shoe boxes, need to redo my old albums (those sticky ones that are no-nos now), and want to print out my favorites of the digital ones. My preferred way of working on a project is to block out however long it takes and just work on it til it’s done. But life just doesn’t allow for that. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement t take it in small chunks at a time. I’m that way with books as well – so many I want to read. But just a few minutes here and there a day gets me through a lot.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think I used to work best like you said–block out big chunks of time and knock it out. But even though my life now WOULD allow for that, I just don’t seem to stay motivated that way anymore. Oh well. I hope you get your pictures organized how you want them. I’m not sure it’s a project that we can ever totally finish, but at least we can continue making progress. I imagine it’s even harder to stay up to date now that you have Timothy’s photos to add to the (digital) pile.

  8. Sarah Geringer

    Hi Lisa, this is great advice. I recommend that you share it in the Friday Five linkup on 1.27.17 at Kelly’s theme that day is “Get Organized,” and I think your post will be a perfect fit!

  9. Brenda

    Lisa, great tip. 🙂 Bigger projects can seem so overwhelming that we don’t know where to start…so we don’t. Ten minutes at a time, is doable. 🙂 Reminds me of that phrase, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” 🙂 — (My problem is that my heart is so tethered to those pictures. My children’s younger faces looking back at me from yesteryear. It’s hard to look through them w/o getting emotional. I know, I’m a little crazy. 🙂 ) Nice post, thanks for sharing, Lisa. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Brenda! Looking at those little faces brings back such memories and I can just linger there and forget my whole project instead of moving forward. 🙂 Not crazy at all. We’re just sentimental mamas.

  10. Jean Wise

    I love the saying: how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time. I admired your process. I added to my weekly calendar small blocks of time for reading and working on old posts to update them. HA. Wrote it down, never did it. sigh. Maybe this year.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I relate to that, too, Jean. There are other little blocks I add to my calendar that I just delete every day. 😉 I think the secret for me is to keep those blocks limited to just a few recurring ones instead of overwhelm myself with a ton of 10-minute projects every day.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I guess the photo project is one that haunts many of us. Sigh. It just seems impossible to ever truly catch up because we continue taking pictures. 🙂 But whatever we accomplish is worth it.

  11. Betsy de Cruz

    I always love coming here, Lisa. This is a great tip. I’m working on a free Bible study for subscribers, hard to juggle with ither writing projects, but I can do anything for 10 minutes, surely. <3

  12. Debbie

    I’ve been working on my digital photos as well and oh my is it time consuming. I did it a little each day and I now have them in folders on my external hard drive. I also had to organize my photos (none are in albums) and I have MANY. I finally got them divided by state that we lived in. They are in boxes and at least if I think of a photo I’ll be able to find it…maybe not in a jiff but in a few minutes 🙂
    Great article Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      How time consuming it is! Yes, I’m in total agreement with you, Debbie. I’m not sure I’ll ever finish getting my photos totally organized, but I am much closer than I was. Sounds like you’ve made good progress! By the time we get done, the technology will likely have changed again. ha. That’s why I’m printing out the best of the best photos. At least I’ll have those, regardless of what happens with my external hard drive. 🙂 Our boxes don’t change.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It is actually amazing how much we can get done in just 10 minutes a day! I rarely hit the mark every day, but even with “most” days, it’s made a huge difference. Thanks for stopping by, Andrea.

  13. June

    I need to share this posts with my mom – she’s overwhelmed with photos (not digital!) too! Great tip, Lisa! I started using Lightroom at the beginning of last year and love the way it organizing everything for me when I import my photos. Beyond that, the trick is keeping up with photo tags to make searching for subjects easier. But at least they are all in their proper (dated) folders! It’s a start!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Photos can be so overwhelming, in whatever format they’re in! I value them so much and am so sentimental about them, that I think that makes it even more overwhelming to me. I hope your mom finds a system that will work for her without too many hours involved. “Keeping up with photo tags” is something I’m trying to do better with as well. If I’ll handle some things up front, I know it’ll be easier in the long run. Thanks, June!

  14. Kori

    Wow! What a task!! This is something I have been avoiding doing for years! But you are right….doesn’t matter how slow or fast you go. Encouraging to think such an overwhelming task doesn’t have to take place all in one sitting! 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ve been encouraged to see I’m not alone in this overwhelming task, for better or for worse. ha. (I suppose it’s the “misery loves company” thing.) But slowly but surely, I am whittling it down so I know it’s possible! 🙂 Good luck with your photos, too, Kori.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Good for you, Brooke! It’s amazing how much progress we can make with just those tiny snatches of time. That’s often how I read books, too—just a few minutes here, a few minutes there. 🙂 But it adds up.

  15. Kelly R Smith

    YES! Organizing photos is so important to me, but I never make time for it. I can do ten minutes. I can get it done! Thank you so much for the inspiration and for linking up with #FridayFive!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ten minutes—yes, you can do that, Kelly! Although, amazingly, there are some days that I don’t think I even have that. ha. Yesterday I just finished going through my pictures from 2011. Now to pick out which ones I want to print from that year and add it to my albums! I’m excited to be getting closer to completion.

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