Progress Jars

Progress Jars

Two small jam jars, one full of plastic counters, one empty.

I’m trying to collect together my best photos. While I’ve mostly been good at processing photos and rating them in Lightroom as I take them, my quality standards have changed over time. This happens to all photographers: a photo that you thought was great five years ago might look pretty rubbish to you now. You’ve progressed, your skills have improved, and you’re probably using better equipment now, too.

Also, Lightroom’s processing has steadily got better, and I have Photoshop now, too. A photo that was, say, too noisy to use five years ago might now be salvageable.

So. Time to go back through all my photos and cast today’s eye over them.

I opened Lightroom and immediately scared myself by looking at the total photo count for my catalogue: 45,311 photos. Forty five thousand photos. Bloody hell.

Enter the “progress jars”, a trick I use to keep myself on track with long jobs. I have a couple of jars, and a bunch of tiddlywinks “flippers”; small colourful plastic tokens, basically. Though it feels a little infantile — sticking stars on wall-charts springs to mind — I find that the act of moving a physical token from the “todo” jar to the “done” jar is quite satisfying.

You also get a nice, always-on visual representation of your progress, in quite a pretty form. I keep the jars on the shelf just above my desk, where they can remind me what I’m meant to be working on when I have a spare moment, and tell me how well I’m doing at the task overall.

For the photo processing, each token is a month’s worth of photos. Seven years of photos equals 84 tokens that I’ll gradually move from the “todo” to the “done” jar, one little *plink* at a time.

I don’t know how long it’ll take me, but I’ll always know how far I am through.

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