How to document your life

As a journalist, I’ve written for several publications both locally and internationally, in various topics ranging from women’s health to ultra capacitors, to earthmoving equipment. Working in an industry that wants to document everything has led me to find new ways to document my own life. We’ve all grown up with journals and diaries hidden at the bottom of dressers or beds to hide from our parents and siblings. Blogging, I guess, was just a natural transition from our little locked journals.

After having my daughter, I have created even newer ways to document everything, trying to make sure it can get preserved no matter how much technology changes in the future.

So here are my little ideas on how to have a well documented life:

  1. Write on a Word document when you blog. How many times have you written on Blogger or WordPress only to have it deleted by some glitch or another? Eight years ago, after having been victimised by untrustworthy platforms, I decided to write on a Word document first before copying and pasting it on my blog. Ctrl S/Apple S while writing is your bestfriend too.
  2. Keep a journal. Although I blog constantly, there are things that I don’t feel that comfortable putting out there in the world wide web, as I’m sure a lot of you feel too. Those intimate things I want my daughter to know about I write in this really beautiful journal my husband gave me as a present (because he knows I’m addicted to all forms of paper).
  3. Bind your blog entries into a book (see picture). I searched for several self-publishing companies and found Blurb. They print books for a very affordable price and so I printed my first lot of blog entries. So far I have six of them. I print one each year. I am hoping to give it to her when she’s old enough.
  4. Write your kids a letter each year. When she turned one, I decided to write her a letter. I’m going to do this every year on her birthday for as long as I can. One day, I’m going to compile them into a little book as well and give it to her as a present.
  5. Use several external hard drives. I’m a paranoid little writer, which always works to my advantage. I save my files in three different external hard drives. Back up, back up, and back up. They are so much cheaper nowadays and come in such tiny sizes, there is no excuse not to have one. Computers are just hardware, they can crash anytime. I especially love Mac’s Time Machine, it makes backing up so much easier.
  6. Print photo books. Gone are the days of the photo album. Because I’m a photographer, I tend to go shutter crazy. I have a gazillion of photos that I used to print until I realised it is much better to make photo books instead. They are easier to send to relatives too, and make fantastic presents. These days you can print photo books for a very cheap price online (BigW, Snapfish to name a few). I usually wait until they have a sale before buying in bulk. I’ve sent several photo books to my in-laws and family overseas (birthdays, Christmas and New Year, random photo selections etc)
  7. Mash your videos together. I’m sure your collection of videos is as plenty as your collection of photos. That’s just how we humans are. It will take ages to mash them together (and what if you don’t have the skills?), so I found a cheap small business who does video editing and sent all my files to them to edit and burn into a DVD (or whatever format you prefer).
  8. Turn your favourite story into a book. I have a favourite bedtime story that Mama used to tell us when we were young. It was a story she’d tell us over and over again – the type that kids remember and argue about when parents miss some details. So I decided to turn it into a book. I wrote what I remember, I got an illustrator (for free because he’s a good friend) and self published it. Hopefully, one day she’ll pass it onto her own kids. That way, Mama’s story will always stay alive.

It’s a dream of mine to know that even after I’m gone I’ve left a piece of myself through my daughter. I may not be the smartest of them all but I have some nuggets of wisdom I want to impart, like I’m sure others do as well. Hopefully, I’ve documented our life enough for her to know about what her parents were really like, and learn from our experiences.

Originally posted at Planning with Kids

 How do you document your life?

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  • What great ideas Kristyn! I started my blog when my youngest was about 9 months old, as I wanted to document the joys of being a Mumma and I didn’t want to forget a thing! I like the idea of binding my blog entries into a book – especially the stories about my girls and posts I’ve addressed to them 🙂

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