How to organize your life with your camera phone

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About Alli

Alli Worthington is one of the most recognized names in social media and the Lifestyle-blogger community. She is the founder and publisher of Blissfully Domestic women’s magazine, one of the most trusted women’s destinations online, and the Co-Founder of the wildly successful BlissDom Conference. Alli’s creativity is only hindered by a lack of clones and need for sleep. She and her husband have five sons and a beautiful rescued dog named Mollie. They live just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

Some of us are born with a level head and the seemingly innate ability to develop systems to get organized. Me? Not so much, I was drowning in loose pieces of paper and post-it notes. I wrote everything down, had great plans to stay organized, but never could keep up with where the paper went.

Then I fell in love with my trusty camera phone. I’ve gathered some of my favorite tips that work with both Apple and Android phones. Ready to get started? Great, here we go.

1. In the Kitchen

When I’m in a rush and don’t have time to write down exactly what we need in the kitchen, I just take a picture or two. With a picture of what my fridge and pantry look like, I can easily pick up the staples without ever writing a note to myself.

We also store sugar, salt, and flour in french canning jars and mason jars that are not labeled. (Now sure, I could label them, but where is the adventure in that?) To keep us from forgetting what ingredient goes in what jar, I took a picture and added the label with a text labeling app. You can use any text labeling app you like best. I used Phonto for these pictures because I like to upload my favorite fonts from my computer to use.

2. In the office and living room

For me, the task of writing down all the serial numbers for electronics and computer software is something I know I should take the time to do, but never actually get around to doing it. Instead of copying down a serial code with eleventy-billion numbers, I simply take a picture of it.

I use Evernote (it’s free!) to save my pictures behind a secure passcode. My information is organized into different sections: software, electronics, car information and more. Next time you need to remember that zillion number serial code for something you bought last year, it will be easy to find.

If you are like me, you have USB flash drives to store extra digital files and can never remember what is actually on them. Now I take a picture of the flash drive after I fill it with files. This way I have a visual guide for what files are where.

If you have more cords than electronics but never can find the right cord when you need it, just take a picture. I take a picture of all my electronics with the cords in use so I can remember which cord goes where and in what configuration.

3. Closets, attic, and the garage

I once tried to remember where I put things by writing things down in a notebook. I even bought a pretty notebook to make it seem extra special. When I packed the camping supplies in a storage box I would write it down on my designated page. When I packed my oldest son’s winter snow pants in a bag and placed it on a shelf in the basement, I wrote it down. It went great…for a while. Guess what? I lost the notebook.

Now I take pictures of everything. Where I store the off-season clothes in the attic, the location of the extra coffee mugs, and just about anything else is all documented in my Evernote file.

4. In the garden

Take a picture when you plant your seeds and add the date and number of seeds planted on your image with a text label. I learned that by taking a pretty picture of my plants and adding a label with information, I was more likely to actually keep up with progress than if I wrote information in a notebook.

A fun side note: this is also a great project for kids. My boys loved taking pictures of their plants during each stage of development last year. The joy of taking blurry daily pictures of a bean plant from germination until the day the beans were eaten is more exciting to kids than you may imagine.

These are just some of the fun ways that using your camera phone can help you stay organized around the house. I use my phone in new ways all the time, like taking a picture of the boys’ playroom when it is actually clean, just to remind them of what it should look like. When someone says, “Oh, Mom, it’s clean!” I can ask if it looks like the picture. If not, it’s not really clean. There are no excuses when there is a picture for reference.

iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide

My book, iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide, is full of step by step visual tutorials for every thing you need to know about using your smart phone in amazing ways. You will learn everything from how to use apps that make your pictures even more beautiful, how to upload your favorite fonts to use on your apps, to how to post your Instagram pictures to your blog automatically.  After reading this book, you will know how to:

  • Take amazing photos with your iPhone
  • Easily edit photos on the go
  • Post photos to your WordPress blog directly from your phone
  • Back up your photos so you never lose them
  • Turn your images into stories
  • Create photo collages from your iPhone
  • Make your images pinnable
  • Turn videos into pinnable graphics
  • Easily create visual content for your brand
  • Turn iPhone photos into gifts for family and friends
  • Use your iPhone to get organized
  • Make money from your visual content

This book is also jam packed with:

  • iPhone app recommendations from award-winning bloggers who have “been there and done that.”
  • Photo editing tips and tricks from professional photographers
  • Details on which iPhone accessories and apps are actually worth spending money on
  • Tips for turning everyday photos into storytelling tools

Normally, the book is $9.97, but for a limited time only, you can get it on sale for just $7.00!

Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed. Alli is giving ten Simple Mom readers a copy of her e-book, iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide! To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, telling me your favorite thing to photograph. (If you’re reading this via email, please click over to the post and leave a comment directly.)

This giveaway will end this Saturday, September 29, and we’ll announce the winners soon after. I hope you win!

Join the Conversation

Comments

  1. I use my iPhone all the time to photograph my kids – and everything else! Especially since I broke my regular camera. This sounds like a great way to get organized

  2. Such a novel, clever idea! Never thought of using my iPhone for all those uses. I take pictures of my kids and memorable family moments.

  3. I like To take photos of literatur-lists for work. It is quick, easy and I will find it fast when I need them.
    But I love to take pictures of our everyday life, for examplne when we see the first Fall Leaves or when my son had made something he is really proud of. When I have some waiting-time, I can look at those pictures and write my journaling for later Scrapbooking.

  4. My favorite thing to photograph, after my daughter, is the food I prepare. It helps me remember the dishes that my family loves, which makes menu planning easier :)

  5. I love to photograph my son’s college football games.

  6. I love finding photos that my kids have taken with my phone. Seeing things from their perspective is so much fun!

  7. avatar
    Angel Vernon says:

    My favorite thing to take photos of on my iPhone are sunrises & sunsets. I have also recently realized some of those “organization” things I can use my phone camera for. I did use it to inventory the rooms and items in the house. I also took a picture of my daughters volleyball schedule so I always have it with me to check of needed.

  8. Great post! My fave thing to photograph is my family, of course!

  9. I love taking pictures of my kids and events at our school! Honestly, I am in deep trouble if I don’t figure out how to organize my photos! I have over 1000 pictures on my phone right now, and I need to get a system set! Thanks for the tips, I look forward to reading your book!

  10. I love to take photos of my family’s trips, whether its a big one like going to Disneyland or a small one, like fruit picking to the nearby farm.

  11. Brilliant. I love catching the little real life moments that I wouldn’t get out the real camera for, but will enjoy looking back on!

  12. I love taking pics of my kiddos doing crazy things and find it useful for taking a pic of a recipe before reading to the store!

  13. I love photographing my son’s REAL smile…not his fake one. It is hard to catch when there is a camera involved, but when I get it…it’s the most wonderful thing to see.

  14. Alli, can I just say that you had me at iphone. I love taking pictures of my kids and having my phone with me lets me catch moments my dslr would miss but I also use it for taking pictures of school lessons, notes I don’t feel like copying down and pictures of how my kids completed chores “should look” when finished. I also take pictures to send with my husband to the store for certain brands I like so he can find them easily just by looking at the packaging.

  15. I love the idea of taking a picture of the fridge before going to the grocery store! Brilliant! My favorite things to photograph are my kids, my yarn and my knitting.

  16. I love photographing my kids!

  17. I love photographing animals like dogs, cats, birds and others! They are lovely photogenic creatures!

  18. I take photos of my family, friends, garden, daily life but as I’m just about to buy an iPhone I’d love to win the book for some tips. Thanks for the chance.

  19. I like to take photos of telephone numbers, public or school notices when I am on the go and then I store the pics in dedicated digital folders or I now implementing to use to attach them to my calendar system on my phone. It is helping me a lot in staying organized!

  20. avatar
    Gillian Stickings says:

    My 9 year old disabled daughter

  21. I love photographing food I’ve cooked. It can give inspiration for future cooking and it makes me work harder on presentation.

  22. All great ideas! You have me thinking outside of the box now! Thank you!

  23. avatar
    Amy Monteiro says:

    My favorite things to photograph are my kids but I also have taken pictures of all the aisle heading at my grocery store so I can be sure my list is on aisle order.

  24. I take pitures of everything from my kids to a good cup of coffee. I also use my iPhone to stay orginized by taking pictures of things I want to talk to my husband about (should I buy these shoes? Do these dishes match the kitchen?) or books I want to get at the library.

  25. I love to photograph my 2 grandsons and flowers and beautiful scenery.

  26. avatar
    Michelle E. says:

    My husband and boys, by far. :-)

  27. avatar
    Robin from Frugal Family Times says:

    Like so many other responders, I am sure, my family is hands down, bar none, my favourite photo subjects!

  28. I still live in the Dark Ages with a flip phone. But my husband uses his smart phone to take pictures of grocery lists, serial numbers and lots of other things. Great additional suggestions.

  29. I of course love photography my children

  30. My favorite subjects are my kiddies.

  31. I’m constantly taking pictures of recipes…out of magazines, off the computer screen, handwritten at friend’s houses; but then they are always at my fingertips when I’m shopping for supplies and cooking in the kitchen!

  32. I love to photograph nature.

  33. avatar
    Ashley Pittman says:

    I love to take pictures of my daughters!

  34. I am getting an iPhone for the first time this week and I love photographing my grandkids. I’m also a teacher and I want to learn how to document the learning of my students and share it with their parents and my administration.

  35. My favorite thing(s) to photograph are my kids! I love the spontaneity that the iPhone enables.

  36. My kids of course, although these are all really great ideas!

  37. I just got my iPhone so I have a lot to learn. I only take photos of two things: my daughter and food!

  38. Such clever ideas… I am loving it!!!

  39. I love to take those photos of the fridge contents and add them to my Project Life album. It’s fun to see how our lives change through the food in our refrigerator—from bags of milk in Toronto to gallons in Atlanta!

  40. My daughter! I’m obsessed with her adorableness. :)

  41. What a brilliant idea! I love using my phone camera to take pictures of my kids, haven’t used a “real” camera in a couple of years. I would love to find out about more ways to make this a useful tool!

  42. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a text labeling app! I also like to take photos of my garden, so I can remember where I planted bulbs and perennials when they aren’t visible above ground. And, photos of my kids – of course.

  43. I love taking pics of my boys!

  44. Never would have thought of this! The baby is my favorite photography subject :)

  45. My favorite thing to photograph is my kids in daily life; fieldtrips, swimming, feet, smiles, meals, sleepy faces and silly faces!

  46. My daughters! What a great idea!

  47. Great post — hadn’t thought of these uses. My phone has become my only camera–I use it for family photos, and for my writing “inspiration” photos too. I’d love to resuscitate my craft blog.

  48. my favorite things to photograph are my 1 year old and my 3 year old!

  49. My kids’ sports and nature! :)

  50. Creativity and Wine: I love to capture two things on my iPhone, and almost religiously: my 2 1/2 year old daughter’s daily outfit creations (yes, we let her dress herself … today was totally purple-licious) – I want to be able to remind her when she is older of her intrepid spirit and confidence of her younger years and then secondly I take pictures of good bottles of wine shared with friends and family so we when we really discover a great one I have the label photographed so our local wine store can order it for us again.

  51. I like to photograph my kids in action….and some of the shots are very worth keeping to show them when they get older!!

  52. My husband & I just bought a 1917 brick home that needs some touching up. Along with our 2 boys, we’ve been making improvements here & there. I find great ideas online, in magazines, organizational how-tos, and real life examples. How do I remember them all? I don’t. I take pics with my iPhone & then save into iPhoto folders per room. It has been a great resource!

  53. I just started photographing my children’s rosters (with parent names and phone numbers if included) so I can remember names at all the soccer, volleyball and football games I go to.

  54. My favorite thing to take pictures of with my iphone is easily my 1 1/2 year old son. It’s also usefull for when I’m out shopping and need my husband’s opinion on something, I’ll just shoot him a picture.

  55. These are fantastic ideas. The only thing I have take pictures of with my camera phone are my kids and my office before school started (so I can remember what a clean office looks like). :)

  56. I take a picture of our medical records and school papers and file in Evernote in each family members photo.
    Love all these ideas!!

    Karin

  57. I love taking pics of my family and whatever we are doing.

    This is BRILLIANT! What a great way to use your phone. I love it!

  58. I take pics of books I want to read–at book stores, online, at friends’ houses, etc. and then request them from my library. Love these ideas and would love this book!

  59. My little ones!!!!

  60. My favorite photography subject is my almost 1 year old grand-daughter.

  61. avatar
    Lindsay Mulderick says:

    I love taking pictures of my sweet boy!!

  62. I love using my phone is practical ways. I need to get better about the phone-ography part though. Thanks for offering.

  63. My favorite is taking lots of pictures of my 2 kids!!

  64. Hands down, my kids!

  65. One tip I read about and have used a couple times is when I’m counting calories or weight watcher points. Snap a pic of your plate and figure out the calories later.

  66. I love to photograph my son most of all. I also love to photograph my family and friends. People- if we are being general! What a very cool idea to use your phone to document everything in life. So brilliant.

  67. avatar
    Jeanette C. says:

    I take photos of my cats in case one of the them gets lost…..hopefully that will never happen but just in case.

  68. What great ideas! Thanks! I’m kinda like everyone else, though… My camera phone is full of pictures of my kids! I need to start using it more for organizational purposes too… So easy and simple!

  69. Thank you for such a great article. I can really use any, and I mean any help to better organize myself. I don’t know if this is in your something in your book or not but I just thought of something I did during a discussion/presentation. I took some pic of the black board so I would know how the information/problem was arrived at for future reference. When writing up my conclusions I was able to refer to them and even include the final pic at the end. Thanks so much!

  70. Would love a copy!!! I find my SLR camera collecting dust as I use my iPhone more and more! I love to take pictures and put them on Instagram. Love the little slice of life photos people post. But loving these awesome tips-especially the serial numbers idea! Thanks!!! :)

  71. I missed telling you one of my favorite subjects…. The sun— rising in the morning and setting at night! And my family

  72. I use my Iphone to photograph my baby girl all the time! Love how I can capture anything at a moments notice! :)

  73. avatar
    NAtalia Gustafson says:

    Great Idea!. When I photograph i tend to remember more what I intented too. I more a visual person and it is easier…. Thanks for the tips.

  74. I love this post! I never thought about using my iphone for these ideas! Now I’m looking forward to learning more! I love taking pictures of my family. Recent pictures include ones of my son and his new folk band. :) Thanks!

  75. Would love to learn more about your ideas! I’ve already downloaded the Phonto app for adding text to photos! Love that! Love your offering. But, if I don’t win your book, I’ll be buying soon! THanks!

  76. The kids are of course my favorite subject to photograph! But these are all interesting ideas – thanks for sharing!

  77. Well, my favorite thing to photograph would have to be my daughter. As evidenced by my Instagram feed. ;)

  78. avatar
    Paige Shannon says:

    Great ideas! love that there is a labeling text. Just recently got an iphone and I love taking pictures. So much easier than always having my “big” camera and the lenses.

  79. Me too like others mostly take pics of our son :-) and I often take pics of daily things to send to a friend per whatsApp hehe… love that…
    Thanks for this post, I’d love to win a book but will def. put it on my list anyway…

  80. I love to take pictures of my kids! I want to be able to capture and remember every moment.

  81. avatar
    Vicki Bradley says:

    I love the post. A few years ago I began taking pictures of what the kids wanted for their birthday and Christmas. Everyone would ask and I would forget so I began to take pictures of items and their prices. This helped me and they are quick to download and email to grandparents, aunts, uncles and so on.

  82. Great post! My favorite thing to photograph is my family and friends. :)

  83. avatar
    Aimee Greenman says:

    My favorite thing to photograph is my kiddos!! I am blessed to be with them all day as we homeschool and I have an abundance of moments worth remembering.

  84. My favorite thing to take pictures of on my iphone is pics of my kids. Whether it’s a picture of them with their friends at a football game or scoring the winning soccer goal, my phone has helped me capture amazing moments of their lives on days when my camera was left at home crying on the shelf. :) I would love to have more ideas for creative ways to use my camera phone though!

  85. I love taking pictures of my pup. I also love using my camera phone to take pictures of quotes I want to remember in a book I’m reading.

  86. I love taking pictures of my kids!

  87. My iPhone IS my camera! I will enjoy learning more ways to use it. I love to take photos of our children and the puppy.

  88. avatar
    Lacey Wilcox says:

    I’m going to have to agree with many others–my kids are probably my biggest phone photo subject :). However, I’m an organizing disgrace, so I love the idea of using my phone to get things in order. It’s one of those moments where you slap yourself in the head and say, “Why didn’t I think of that??!”

  89. avatar
    Kris Encarnacion says:

    My favorite thing to photograph is my daughter – most definitly. I love the ideas on using photos as an organization tool though! I had a lovely little notebook that I have also lost :(.

  90. I love photographing my 4 kids but am lately learning to love capturing the quirky little things of my day.

  91. avatar
    deb mitchell says:

    I photo all kinds of things I want to remember
    recipes
    books i’ve read
    gifts I want to buy
    craft ideas at michaels
    displays i like
    brands of stuff–ie the kind deoderant my husband likes–they are always changing the packaging and I can never remember exactly what to buy
    flyers at school
    pages from magazines
    prices for price comparison shopping (ie new camera at Target vs Costco)
    where I parked the car
    stuff I want to post on Facebook–so much easier to post from phone vs camera
    disneyland annual pass or disneyworld tix incase they get lost
    clothing combos in the store when I only buy part of an outfit
    clothes for my son and husband when I am shopping and they aren’t
    stuff to show my mom who lives 6.5 hours away

    BUT I don’t know how to write on them or file them…..HELP more details!
    thanks

  92. avatar
    Kelly Meharg says:

    What I really enjoy taking photos of are people. I love capturing candid photos because it’s capturing someone in their genuine nature. Sure, if there’s a camera out, people will somewhat pose to an extent but capturing shots when people don’t know it’s coming- you get some of the best photos. You capture people’s expressions, you capture what that person is feeling and what message they are giving off. I love it because you can notice different body language and also, I really love capturing photos of a genuine smile or a genuine laugh. Especially from a child because they are so intrigued by everything and they are so easily amused. That’s something that makes me happy… true beauty in the form of a still frame.

  93. My new favorite thing to photograph (besides my kids!) is their artwork for organizing and printing at a later date.

  94. avatar
    Lezah Dunwell says:

    I used to photograph my two lovely dogs an awful lot but these days it’s my two beautiful boys <3

  95. I love to take pictures of things I am thankful for…a visual gratitude list: my kids’ many creations, a sister snuggled up reading to a brother, a budding plant, a sunrise, homemade cookies, nature beauty, tiny toes…

  96. My favorite things to photograph are my kids! The three of them keep my iPhone clicking :-)

  97. Gah. I keep intending to download Evernote. Must move that to the top of my priority list. And you are brilliant with that photo of serial numbers idea!

    My favorite thing is of course my kids. After that, probably nature in general. Thanks for the chance!

  98. What a smart way of using a smart phone!

  99. LOVE this post!!! Of course, my favorite thing to photograph is my family! :)

  100. I really feel like a member of the mamarazzi when I use my phone! I take tons of pictures of my kids…it would be great to learn new tricks, though…I am still a newbie with this iphone… :)