007 – Using Your Photo App for Task Management

The Piano Pantry Podcast is available on these podcast streaming networks:

Apple PodcastsSpotifyAmazon MusicGoogle PodcastsOvercastiHeart RadioCastboxPocket CastsRadio Public


Episode Summary

Track tasks with your photo app. Shockingly simple? Yes, but there’s an important kicker you won’t want to miss. After taking a brief look back at the evolution of photo management in our lives, I’ll share how my photo app has become both a way of tracking tasks as well as a daily recurring task in and of itself.


Items Mentioned

Digital Photo Organization (2017)

5 Reasons Why Google Photos Might Be the Perfect Solution for Your Studio

Build A Lending Library of Piano-Themed Children’s Books

Music-Themed Comic Books for Your Studio Lending Library



Hey guys, today I am sharing something with you that I am honestly shocked and maybe even a little embarrassed by. Perhaps embarrassed isn’t the right word, but, when I’ve kind of become known in piano teacher world for talking about organization and productivity and one of the first podcast episodes I feel inspired to do on the topic is about using your photos app, I’m not entirely sure if you’ll be wowed or disappointed at the simplicity of this tip.

In any case, I hope if anything, this will go to show that (1) organization and productivity does not have to be complicated and (2) there are a wide range of ways we can have a workflow that works for us and (3) the tools and processes we use can and probably should evolve from year to year even if it’s in ways like this one that, for me, was completely unexpected.

I really wanted to make the title of this episode “how my photo app is saving my life right now” but just couldn’t bring myself to use such a generalized cliché statement even though it really is true.

In today’s episode, I’ll take a brief look back at the evolution of photo management in our lives, share a bit about how this change in personal workflow came about, and how my photo app has become both a way of tracking tasks as well as a daily recurring task in and of itself.

Welcome to the Piano Pantry Podcast where together we live life as independent music teachers. Hey, everyone, I’m your host, Amy Chaplin. As a piano teacher and independent studio owner myself, I love talking about all things IMT-life related from running and organizing a studio business to getting dinner on the table and all that comes between. You’ll get loads of easily-actionable tips on organizing and managing your studio while balancing life and home.

Let’s talk photo apps.

One thing I have always found to be life-giving is taking time to look back and remember. Looking back doesn’t always have to be about major life events or personhood. It can be as simple as remembering how you used to give lesson notes and see how that’s evolved over the last 5 years, how you used to be completely clueless how to cook and now you can hold your own, or how you used to know nothing about teaching online lessons and now it’s no sweat.

For photos, I’m old enough to remember the days of film and having to wait to see your photos developed only to realize half of them were terrible. I remember moving from film to digital and having to transfer pictures onto my computer first manually then by plugging my phone into my computer.

I clearly remember my own struggle with the mental shift trying to move from that process into the cloud photo stream and hating it at first. Having all my photos in one big stream and not being able to move them out of that and organize them into folders was stressful for me. I know that sounds petty, but it really was.

As a matter of fact, I have a blog post on my website from May 2017 – a little less than 5 years ago today called “Digital Photo Management” where I shared details on how we organized photos on our computer and were able to quickly retrieve specific old photos we were looking for.

In that post I wrote, and I quote…”I feel the need to also state that I do not use the iCloud Photo Stream feature. It drives me crazy! I prefer to simply transfer photos off of my phone once a month.” I read that now and laugh. That post is still up on my website and I’ll link to that in the show notes if you want to check it out, but that way of photo management almost defunct, really.

Now that we’ve taken a brief look back at the evolution of photo management in life, I wanted to share a little of how this change in task management came about.

This was all tied to a revelation regarding tasks lists – something I talked about in more detail in episode six which I’ll link to in the show notes but in short, it’s about recognizing the difference in three different types of tasks: one-off tasks that need to be done in the immediate or near future, recurring tasks or reminders – whether daily, weekly, or monthly, or annually, and then bigger project-management-based tasks.

My photos app has become the tool I now use for the first level of those items I mentioned: one-off tasks that are not tied to any kind of project or recurring task that I need to remember to do either immediately or in the near future.

To paint a very clear picture, I’m going to get really specific with examples from my own list. The idea is, rather than writing up a bunch of post-it-notes, or keeping a list in a tasks app, I simply snap a picture.

OK, here we go. I don’t know why, but I feel like I’m like about to give you a look at my dirty laundry or something, LOL.

  1. When someone sends you a message – whether that be through my texting app, in Facebook Messenger, or an Instagram Direct Message. Once you read these messages, there is no way to mark them as unread like you can an email. Sometimes they require replies that are longer or more involved than I can give in that moment. Unfortunately, odds are, I won’t remember to go back and reply so I take a quick screenshot. This goes for voicemail’s as well.
  2. I read a post on Social Media that I want to come back to and either read more of the comments, respond to myself more in-depth, or research or look into something they’ve mentioned. I take a quick screenshot. I’ll also say that in this instance, I’ve tried to use the save post feature but I NEVER remembered to come back to my saved posts. If that works for you, great.
  3. When students check out books from my music-themed children’s book library in the studio I have them hold up their book and snap a photo. When they return it, I delete the photo and snap a picture of the next one they take. If you want to check out a list of some of my recommended children’s books, I’ll link to a post I have of them on Piano Pantry.
  4. When I need to remember to ask my husband for help with something such as an error occurring on my computer but it’s not urgent to bother him during work. I take a screen shot or photo.
  5. During a student’s lesson, I noticed the assignment I gave them that I pulled from my bank of assignments in the repertoire section of Tonara, needed edited. I couldn’t take the time to do it during the lesson but needed to go back and fix it later.

Now that you get the big picture of the kinds of task items that it can be useful to enlist your photo app for, let’s talk about the most important factor in all of this – action.

If we begin taking photos of items as a to-do list but fail to go back and actually sift through them on a regular basis, all we’ve done is made a mess of our photo-streams and placed a weight upon our shoulders – another task list that you can’t actually tackle.

Don’t do that to yourself.

Pay attention to how it makes you feel. Do you find this makes your life easier or does it just feel like your to-do-list has simply grown into an area you can’t manage or control? If you try this and find it doesn’t work. Stop. Move on. Try something else. Just pay attention.

The best way I’ve found to ensure these items actually get completed is to to make it a regular-part in your routine. A task in itself if you will.

For me it’s daily. You could do it weekly but I wouldn’t recommend going any longer than that. Being that these are items that often need attention within a day or two, waiting more than a week kind of defeats the purpose. Not only that but if you go too long, it will go from being a recurring task that takes just 5-10 minutes a day to a long involved task that feels more like a large time commitment to sift through.

We’re talking small snippets here. Think if it like you would think of your email. Now I know some of you have email that’s out control so maybe that’s not the best comparison but think of it more in terms of something you spend time in every day. It’s part of my morning routine when I first get into my studio. First I spend 10-30 minutes in email followed by 5-15 minutes sorting through task photos and doing those action items. I also use this time to clean out my photos from the past day or two. Yes, you need to clean out your photos. I mean, do you really need 8 versions of that same photo? I digress and yes, this could be a whole topic unto itself.

Action. Make the tasks a task. Make it a regular part of your daily or weekly routine.

The last little tip I want to share with you today is to create an album called “Tasks”. In Google Photos, you can add a photo to what’s called an “Album” and I’m sure you can do this in Apple photos as well.

The photo remains in your photo stream but you can go to that album in view just the items in the task list. As long as you keep up on these items on a daily or weekly basis, the photo album isn’t entirely necessary, however, occasionally I have something that I just don’t want to do in the moment that’s not urgent by any means. Tagging that photo into that Album means I can view screenshots from last year that I didn’t get around to. For example, recently, last year, I wanted to research a brand of socks I had never tried but hear a lot about. There was no urgency to it so I never actioned that screenshot in my daily quests. However, when we drove 15 hours on vacation this past Fall, I scrolled through that album and could quickly see some of the old photos I wanted to research.

Again, this isn’t a necessary step but it can be a useful tool.

Well guys, it’s really that simple! Remembering little one-off tasks using your photos app doesn’t have to take that long and doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s what’s been keeping me sane these last couple of years and is allowing my brain to use memory space in more efficient ways. I hope it works for you and if not, as I said earlier, recognize that and try something different!

If you have any questions about this episode or just want to say hello, you can send me a voicemail through the link at the bottom of the show notes.

I would also love to connect with you online. You can find me at PianoPantry.com/podcast, on Facebook @PianoPantry, or on Instagram, my social media happy place @amychaplinpiano.

If you’re enjoying this podcast, consider hitting the “subscribe” button and then jumping over to Apple Podcasts to share a review so others like you can enjoy it as well!

Thanks so much!

Thanks for sticking around to hear this week’s fun fact. I’m here to tell you today that I cannot whistle. Well, I kind of can, but really poorly. I think it has something to do with the shame of my mouth or something, I don’t know, but it’s a skill I always wish I had but have never been able to improve. Not that I’ve actually put much effort into trying to improve – I think I would be had to not get lightheaded practicing. In any case, that’s something new you didn’t know about me that you do now!

Have a great week!