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Exclusive articles, interviews, and insights covering downsizing & decluttering, genealogy, photos and other media, aging well, travel, and more. We’re here to help you capture the big little moments and stories to bring meaning and even order to all of life’s collections for generations.
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MOVING & DOWNSIZING
Home Inventory Apps: You Deserve More Than an Inventory of 'Stuff'

A Home Inventory App That Captures More Than an Inventory of 'Stuff'

We did say, "It's that time of year again." Many of us are making plans to get organized once and for all. We tell ourselves, "2023 is the year. Yes!" But are you setting yourself up by relying on old habits and processes that never worked before? Why would they work now?  

Case in point: home inventory apps. Is that your tool of choice? Don’t get us wrong, we know inventory apps are critical across industries and even in private households. But they are unifunctional. These apps are administrative in orientation with not a whisper of fun or human connection. They support management and listing of large volumes of objects with hyper specific meta data fields so you can keep track of them and their value. In our opinion, that’s a lot of work for a very limited scope of value and use to you!  

Let’s Review the Newcomer: Artifcts 

Taking a page out of the book of publications you find online (like this one) that, for a fee, rank “best” tech apps and gadgets, here’s how we’d review Artifcts’ pros and cons compared to home inventory apps: 

PROS:

  • Modern and intuitive interface with multiple view style options 
  • Capture any object or collection with photo, video, and/or audio
  • Use preset categories alongside custom tags to categorize according to your own preferences 
  • Track important documents, manuals, and more 
  • Includes built-in optional fields covering smart categories such as weight, dimensions, location, and even future intentions for the object 
  • Private by default but permissionable and shareable for individuals, groups, and even social media 
  • No file compression – your files are secure, private, and exactly as you created them 
  • Ad free, and you own your data. Download in a click in multiple formats!

CONS:

  • Intended for personal use; not suited to business inventories. We did mention fun, right? 
  • Limited to five media files and three documents. Focus on what’s meaningful and interlink related Artifcts if you like with the @ feature. 
  • Beta features are released first to desktop. And usually released to mobile one week later; we want to ensure each feature meets your expectations. 
  • No barcode scanner. Got us here. Most 'stuff' people Artifct are too unique for barcodes!

We give Artifcts 4 stars as a home inventory app, but a full 5 stars a tech startup redefining "artifacts" to help transform 'stuff' from a burden to a source of connection, history, legacy, and financial security.

Where Artifcts and Home Inventory Apps Coexist 

There exists an interesting opportunity for Artifcts and home inventory apps to work for you, together. How do we know? Members of the Arti Community have told us! Here are three recent examples. (Names are changed for privacy.) Let us know if you have others! 

Meet Jeff. He’s spent several months cataloging his personal library using LibraryThing. He stepped back, proud of his work and realized, "Oh, but that one and that one and that one are uniquely special. They are gifts from people I admire, they are signed copies, I sought them out in off-the-beaten path shops." Essentially some of Jeff’s books are particularly valuable to him and maybe the world.

  • At Artifcts ... Like Jeff, you can easily attach your inventory to an Artifct as a document, include a link to the inventoried book’s listing in the “location” field of your Artifct, or tag your Artifct #LibraryThing so you know which Artifcts exist in that app as well. 

Meet Sandra. She hired a moving company that offers complementary digital inventory to ensure they know what she is moving and the condition of the items of particular value to her. Great!

  • Sandra (and you!) can Artifct those objects and attach the mover’s inventory or cross reference it if it has as digital presence. And, if you like to keep track of items by room or location, simply tag your Artifcts #livingroom, #teddysbedroom, and #garage for easy future reference. Click the tag and all Artifcts with the same tag in your personal collection will appear. Now, that’s a nifty home inventory app. 

Meet the Shroads Family. This family has traveled far and wide in the world and curated a valuable art collection along the way. They have a file with hardcopy receipts and related documentation as well as a running inventory in Excel that they update faithfully during tax season as part of their general estate management. But the details of the when and where and even the ‘why’ of specific pieces are becoming blurry and not everyone has access to these important supporting documents.

  • Through Artifcts, the documents, the details of each person, and critically the ‘why’ of the moment of the purchase coexist. Now individuals can permission and reference these Artifcts in their planning documents and not worry about how to unite separate bits of information stored in different locations. 

Happy Artifcting of those home inventories and beyond!

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Pint-Sized Perspective on Decluttering and Moving

This piece for ARTIcles was inspired by a neighbor who spoke with Artifcts co-founder Ellen Goodwin about the woes of all that "kid stuff" to get through in preparation for a move this summer. Thank you for being our muse! And if you missed our adult-sized version of decluttering to move, give it a read ->  

From the time Violet was a baby and stretching well into toddlerhood, she moved a lot, bopping around Maryland, Virginia, and Texas. Her age made it easier on us, the parents, in that she didn't fully realize what was happening. She was also in a phase of life during which she naturally was outgrowing everything from books and toys to baby furniture and clothing at a fast pace, so purging during each move was simplified a bit. 

Then she turned six.  

"I'm ooo-l-d," she whined. Insert palm in face on every parent who hears this sweet nonsense. Mitigating her pain somewhat was the fact that her 6th birthday was in fact extra special - it fell on Easter. So, we called it "B-Easter," and managed an impromptu egg hunt blended with tea party, followed by chalk, bubbles, kites, and bikes. Not bad! 

photo of chalk on pavement "Happy B-Easter"

What we were less prepared for was the storm brewing behind this sweet looking little Texan's face after sharing a few days later that they would be moving. You'd think we stole her puppy! "But you did make a New Year's Resolution to buy a house this year," teased my husband. (True story! What kind of "resolution" is that?!) 

Violet began plotting. How could she pack EVERYTHING? How could she make her new home JUST like her current home? She packed boxes herself. She filled bags and tried knotting them closed before I could even look and confirm it was really just full of her Beanie Boos. It was cute and annoying simultaneously. We had to get going! 

colorful collection of Beanie BoosClick the image to view the Beanie Boo collection Artifct.

While the word "fair" is banned in our household Try it! It's amazing how many other, more informative words your kid will use when fair is off the table it was deemed "fair game" to use her passions and personality to help manage the situation. Decluttering was going to happen as packing proceeded. Not everything was getting on the moving truck, whether you were 6 or 36. And we did not want to end enemies.  

Tried & Tested Pint-Sized Strategies

Here are the strategies we used with our 6-year-old, and more recently with a set of adult children who were equally disinclined to part ways with a lot of stuff all at once.  

  1. Don't make it an "all at once" task. Friendly disclaimer: We know, sometimes a move is unexpected and abrupt. This then does not apply. In general, you have some notice, maybe even months, to prepare for a move. Consider starting with your child's least used and noticeable items in deep drawers, backs of closets, bins and boxes that have collected dust, and 'stuff' that truly doesn't fit (or work!) anymore. Something small each weekend. Let them play and experience it one last time if they want as they sort into piles to rehome, donate, recycle, resell, or maybe even trash. Smallest box is for the move.  
     
  2. And time it. Ask them to focus on the task for no more than 15 minutes. For 6-year-old Violet that was less than one episode of Sofia the First and totally manageable.  
     
  3. Know thy child. Appeal to sweet spots. Violet loves, loves, loves to be a helper. Extending that to helping others who have unmet needs for new books, clothes, and toys was a major source of success and pride. She even made cards to go with her donations. And the donations were not generic. We brought some into a women's shelter, for example, where we knew who would directly benefit locally. Seeing is believing, even when you're six. 
     
  4. Take photos and videos (and Artifct it!) of special items that don't make the cut. Have you noticed how kids of all ages, even at 56, love to browse photos and videos on their phone, in social media, etc.? We even have a video of 2-year-old Violet dancing and the moment she stops you can hear her say, "I want to see!" Sometimes you just like to see something to trigger that happy nostalgia or moments of pride from that hard one roller skating derby or large collections of anything that can't possibly come or maybe will but cannot be displayed in its entirety.  
     
  5. Embrace porch or garage sales. There's simple logic in favor of selling a large amount of 'stuff' even for low prices and gaining the power to buy that new whiz-bang toy or container of slime or funny hat all by yourself! Kids don't generally have money of their own and this is a good opportunity to reward their help in the decluttering process. Violet sold books she'd outgrown and a several movies too. 
     

Special Case: Moving to a New Country

Another friendly disclaimer: In a country as large as the US, another state can sure feel like another country ... No matter the excitement and motivation to make the leap and move to a foreign country, I empathize with what you will go through in terms of energy, cost, and general discombobulation. Every move we made was hard but heading into a foreign culture amplifies the desire for the comfort familiar objects, foods, music, and more can offer.  

International moving and shipping fees, or conversely long-term self-storage fees, may mean your decluttering and downsizing tasks are more extreme. This is definitely a time Artifcts can help. Want to show off your transformer collection ... special dolls ... cool bike ... but can't take them with you? Artifct to remember and show your new friends what your life was like in your home country! 

We bet you can adapt these ideas to your own kids. Or, if you are a professional organizer, we hope these tactics can help you as you work with clients in similar situations.

Happy Artifcting! 

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Father, World Traveler, and Now Downsizer: The True Story of One Man's Triumph Over 'Stuff'

World traveler and five kids. Need I say more to justify how so much stuff can accumulate over time?

At one point in my life, I was moving every few years - living in four different countries overseas in a span of what seemed like no time at all. I've lived the last 19 years in the same house without the natural “cleansing” of a move (although I’ll admit I once had a trash canwith trashthat got packed and moved). And now, as the fourth child goes to college and we have only one left at home, it's time to downsize. It's time to change the narrative of our daily lives.

The children's reactions so far have included stress, from the change, and frustration with the perceived erasing of memories as we ask them to realize they’re moving on and we want to as well. As a person who looks to logic to control emotion and justify circumstances, I try to rationalize that the memories are just that, memories that cannot be taken away. However, those memories are triggered by objects that connect me to a specific time or moment in my past. Objects that often have stories behind them. 

Picture of a cardboard box full of sticks, rocks, and railroad ties

 
 
 
 
Some people tell fish tales. This Artifct is about survival.
 
 
Click the image to view the Artifct.

I’ve realized during this downsizing process just how many of my memories exist in boxes that no one has laid eyes on for a decade or more. If I had collected an actual object to trigger each memory I wish I could recall, I would have run out of space long ago. I've also accepted that nobody, including me, will reminisce those forgotten times or places if those memory triggers are not available.

Along came Artifcts. As I downsize not only what's around the house, in my office, and otherwise a part of our daily lives, but also everything that remained in boxes for decades, I’ve started documenting them in Artifcts.

1980 yearbook from Stonewall "Sabres" Middle School in Manassas, Virginia

Well, hello yearbooks! Click to view the Artifct.

 

It’s much easier for me to share and show those objects, and more frequently recall and tell the stories, using the ‘story box’ (aka the Artifcts app) I now carry around in my phone. There’s little chance of me being near my real boxes of stuff when I want to humble-brag about an object or tell a story about a commonality I discover with someone I've just met. But I’m almost guaranteed to have my phone on hand and the Artifcts app with it.

With Artifcts, I’m also more apt to capture and preserve the objects and stories in the moment as I acquire something (or even sometimes skip the acquisition and just document the memory). Just as importantly, I realized I'm regularly using Artifcts to capture memories as I go through boxes with my mother and other family members, and I have them tell the stories. When a loved one is gone, or I’m gone, it gives me great solace to know my memories can carry on and be used to tell the next generation about what Dad or Grandpop had and did in life. All these little objects form a mosaic, painting a wonderful picture of why we are who we are.

Again, it's rarely the actual object that’s important. It’s the memories triggered by the objects. Artifcts has enabled me to let the objects go as I downsize, or consciously document the importance of an object I keep so my kids will understand what it is when I’m not around to tell the story. Until then, I want to easily access to my objects, or memory triggers, so I can tell the story in person. My kids will probably want a “number of stories told” counter added to Artifcts so they can limit the number of times I reminisce. But reminiscing is a parental right, right?

- Matt Ramsey

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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