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At Artifcts We’re Talking #HabitChange in the New Year

Ellen Goodwin, Artifcts
January 18, 2023

I spent a week last summer with my aunt and uncle in Colorado. Each an engineer by training, and family genealogists and historians by passion, our conversations were wide ranging and invariably fascinating.  

What made this visit noteworthy was it was the first since my uncle retired. With a lot more time on his hands, he's in the throes of, you guessed it, #HabitChange. No more daily drive to the university where he worked. No more rush to feed the dogs, take out the trash, and out the door he goes to run his engineering lab. Instead, like a scene out of the movie The Intern, starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, he now has to make a daily plan to get out of the house and engage with the world as he steps into and shapes his retired life and lifestyle. 

Habits are of course hard to change. I am reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, and it's a must read in my view because it speaks to all of us no matter our day-to-day way of living. 

For example, are you the type of person for whom the moment an item is added to your to-do list you ignore it as though it were written in invisible ink? Or do you sweat that list out until it's done, hopefully as soon as possible, and then cross it off your list with great satisfaction? 

Yup, James Clear sees us all and has strategies to help. 

As I read, I could see how the new habit of Artifcting fits into Clear’s strategies for #HabitChange and wanted to share my translation of a couple of his tips to help you build as you curate your Artifcts collection. Taken slightly out of context, the best line of the book may even be, “Stop thinking about your environment as filled with objects. Start thinking about it as filled with relationships.” Relationships reflect interactions, shape habits. Don’t you want to capture those meaningful relationships, memories, stories? We think so, thus, Artifcts! 

Three Habit Strategies for the #Artilife 

STRATEGY ONE 

Like everything else in life, to create new habits, you need to consider first what “rewards” you want from, in this case, Artifcting. Depending on your situation, maybe you identify with one of these, and it will help guide you to the right habit-based approach to Artifcting and what you do with your Artifct once you create it: 

  • I need to be better organized and in greater control of the ‘stuff’ around me. Consider our 5 Ways to Start Artifcting, room by room, most valuable, most cherished, that closet you hate to open … 
  • All this stuff will not fit in my new home. There’s no arguing with dimensions. Get Artifcting early and don’t forget to include those dimensions in the Artifct details! 
  • I want to make sure my loved one is not forgotten. Artifcting need not be a solo experience. Create an invite-only circle to share and remember those who you have lost. 
  • I need help researching my family history. Invite-only circles on Artifcts are one place to start so that you can invite family in to see heirlooms, but social media groups are often another great source of information, and you can easily share your Artifcts into social media for more fact and family lore gathering. 
  • I love swapping good stories, laughing and remembering with friends and family. So try sharing an Artifct or two and see how that works for you. 

STRATEGY TWO 

Frame Artifcting as a "when" activity so it becomes intentional. The key here is to be very specific! 

  • "Every Tuesday at 9 pm, I'll grab my phone and create two new Artifcts." 
  • "When I add something into storage, I'll Artifct it first."
  • “When I buy something over $100, I will ask myself, “Is this an Artifct?” and Artifct it on the spot (with receipt!) and fill in the full details later. 
  • "When I unpack my suitcase, I'll Artifct my new mementos as I place them around the house." 
  • "Every Friday when my son brings his art folder home, I’ll Artifct his projects with him while he has an after-school snack.” 

STRATEGY THREE 

Try out what Clear calls "habit stacking" to incorporate Artifcting into your regular routines and existing habits. 

  • "Each season when I organize my closet, I'll Artifct any sentimental pieces, and then sort the items into three piles: keep, consignment, or donation." 
  • "As I review my estate plan each year, I will check that my Artifcts are included in the tangible assets memorandum."
  • “As I add an item to her baby keepsakes box, I will Artifct it. Then I will put the box away immediately.” 
  • "After we clean out the woodshop each winter, we will take breaks. During the breaks we’ll Artifct special projects and tools.” 

Still wondering whether and why to adopt an Artifcting habit? You're busy and you have your ways, after all! My uncle made an excellent point by referencing the 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner, "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain."

Don't lose your history. Pass it on with all the beautiful photos, videos, audio, and story details included, Artifct by Artifct. 

Happy Artifcting! 

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

Any mistakes in the interpretation of the habits to Artifcting belong to Artifcts. In fact, we would encourage you to download the free habit cheat sheets from the author at atomichabits.com/cheatsheet

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What's New at Artifcts
Collection Management Made Easy and Meaningful  

Artifcts thanks Sarah Reeder, Artifactual History Appraisal, for her contributions to the following article.

Reading time: 4 minutes

You may have one or many collections, intentional collections and accidental collections. Part of the fun of collecting is keeping track of it: Knowing what you have and what you’re still hunting for, what is sentimental vs. valuable, and what is okay to sell some day versus you’d prefer to pass down to someone special.

Short checklist about collections

 
 
We know a thing or to about accidental collections. Try out our free checklist available here.

If you were a professional archivist, librarian, or appraiser, you’d have a ready tool in your pocket to help manage your collections. It’s called a finding aid. But guess what? As you Artifct your collections, you are implicitly leveraging the best of finding aids, but in a friendly form that all can enjoy and benefit from. 

Here’s your peek inside the world of archivists where we show you how finding aids and collection management are made easy and meaningful with Artifcts!

What Is a Finding Aid, and Why Should You Care?

Unless you are a collections professional (archivist, librarian, appraiser…), the concept of a finding aid is likely foreign to you. For the longest time at Artifcts we even mistakenly referred to them as finding keys. Oops!

A finding aid is exactly what it sounds like: A tool that helps you locate items within a large collection in a fast and efficient way. A finding aid is a guide that describes the contents of an archival collection. A well-designed finding aid makes quick work of determining the topical relevance of any collection. After all, what good is a collection if discoverability hinders locating and using elements within the collection in the future.

Many of us have experienced the feelings of dread and being overwhelmed upon contemplating many boxes of inherited items that probably have something important contained in them but what and where? Imagine if you had a finding aid that told you exactly what was important and where you could locate it!

This is the magic of what finding aids do.

To a large degree, information within a finding aid is standardized per guidelines from the Society of American Archivists, “Describing Archives: A Content Standard,” better known simply as DACS. Standardization means a professional could work with or for any gallery, library, archive, or museum (aka GLAM) and their collections without much difficulty. They might simply display the information differently than one’s accustomed to.

A finding aid would have information such as: reference code, title, date, extent, name of creator, description, dates, and location. Does that list look familiar? If you Artifct, it should… 

For those of us who didn’t go to Library Science school, in our daily lives we probably do not want to think about taxonomies, metadata, bytes of storage, or even finding aids. We want to enjoy and share the meaning behind the items we’ve collected and ensure the stories and value behind them live on!

Enter Artifcts: Solving Age Old Problems of Finding Aids for Every-Day Collectors 

What we created at Artifcts is the solution to several age-old problems of finding aids in an individual and family-friendly fashion. And this means great things for you all!  While finding aids are brilliant tools for professionals, they are disconnected from how most of us describe and catalog the ‘why’ of our collections. We need more multitasking support in our lives.

Here’s how you can use Artifcts to preserve the history and the value of your collections beyond the constraints of traditional finding aids.

Use those QR codes.

If you were to work with a professional appraiser, archivist, or collections manager of any type, they will likely offer as part of their services a description of the collection and list organizing the inventory within your collection, a finding aid of some sort. But how do you link that list to your physical collection? At Artifcts, you can print a QR code or use Artifcts QR code stickers to link the physical and the digital.

music box with Artifcts QR code on the bottom of the base

 
 
An Artifcts QR code unlocks the story and value!

Record your stories.

Move beyond “scope notes” and “meta data” inherent to the archivist’s expertise – “This is a 19th-century {name of item}” – and breathe life, context, and personal meaning into the objects in your collection, e.g. “This is what Great Great Grandma brought from France when she moved to New York. And I’m giving it to you now.”  

Artifcts offers the options to share your story, indicate what you want to do with items in the future, and supply critical other information like where on earth you’ve stored the item in your home or elsewhere and the supporting documents (receipts, appraisals, and more). 

Connect the dots.

We typically describe each Artifct you create as connecting the dots, because only you know how photos of those specific items relate to shape a story or history. But we help you go a step further, too. You can use our @ feature to cross reference one Artifct with another, tying together pieces of a collection and pieces of a story that others may not otherwise realize relate.  

Description field on Artifcts with menu open showing options for linking with @

 
 
Simply type @ as you add the story or description to your Artifct to link to other Artifcts.

Leverage your community.

Let’s not forget the value in sharing and collaboration to learn more about items in your collections. Through Artifcts Circles and the option to give ‘Edit’ permission to other paid Artifcts members, you can crowdsource information from your loved ones and experts alike to capture important details about your collections that may add historical and family history information as well as increase the value, too. 

Preserve what is.

Add the photos, videos, and original documents you have to your Artifcts. There’s a spot dedicated to securely preserve each as is. No compression. No conversion. What you upload is what you can always download again, too.

 
 
 
 
In our spring 2024 series finale of Evenings with Artifcts, our expert guests shed light on the 'why' and 'what' of collections.

Ensure that if you work with an appraiser or other collections manager in the future, they provide documentary support through Artifcts, so that you can protect and share the value of your collections with friends and family as well as knock off those “to dos” with your insurance company, financial planner, and estate attorney. 

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You may also be interested in these ARTIcles by Artifcts:

What to Consider When You Plan to Donate Art and Other Collectibles

From Rare Art to Family Heirlooms: Tips From a Master as You Consider Selling Your 'Stuff'

Everything You Wanted to Know About Appraisals but Were Afraid to Ask

How to Artifct that Collection

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Artifcts® Platform Now Supports Publishing to Custom-Designed Books with Partner Akin

Whether you think about photo books as unique and personalized gifts or dream of publishing a life memoir, we love our books! Today Artifcts announced a new partnership with Akin (https://akin.house/artifcts-books/) to offer simple, custom designed books to Arti Community members who wish to publish their Artifcts to books. 

You need only look at the explosive growth of photo book companies to support everything from build-your-own to instant print from Instagram or your phone to know how much we love to have and to hold books. 

Together, Artifcts and Akin have made it simple and affordable to publish a custom-designed, premium quality, personalized book of your Artifcts.  

“Not everyone enjoys spending hours combing through photos, uploading them into software, stressing over layouts, colors, and font choices,” commented Artifcts Co-founder Ellen Goodwin. “Our partnership with Akin means you can simply choose the Artifcts you want to publish, share them privately with Akin, and they’ll lay out the book in the template of your choice and ship it off to you! The whole process for our members takes minutes!” 

Artifcts excels in innovation that places the needs of its Arti Community members first. People expect to share their stories with meaningful context that includes photos, audio, and video. Artifcts has ensured this promise translates to printed books, too. Unlike a standard photo book, for every Artifct you publish, you can include a QR code that allows the viewer to scan and access additional photos and video tied to the story. Your book can come alive. 

“We don’t want our members to worry about the book creation process. We want people to enjoy spending time reliving their stories, and recording what they value most,” said Artifcts Co-founder Heather Nickerson. 

For more information, visit Concierge & Other Professional Services or review the FAQs available at Artifcts.com/FAQs. 

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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Not Sure What to Write? Tips from Author Jeff Greenwald

He's authored 1000s of articles, several books, and what's maybe the first known travel blog. And during the Fall 2022 series of Evenings with Artifcts Jeff Greenwald shared with us simple but powerful tips, and a healthy dose of perspective, to help us craft our own stories behind the objects of our lives.  

Watch the full Evenings with Artifcts event here.

  • It is hard to write about an object with no personal meaning but even harder when it has tremendous personal meaning. Bear that in mind and go easy on yourself. 

  • Start with something true. This is the trick to writing anything nonfiction. For example, start with a little line about where you got the object: “I bought this in a street market in Istanbul.” And from there go on to describe the scene a little bit and what happened there that connects you with the object.  

Start with something true.

  • Other starters for your Artifcts:  

        • Where were you when you acquired the object? 
        • Was it a gift? Who gave it to you? Tell a bit about them. What was your relationship with them that they felt they should give you a gift like that? “The moon Rocket was a gift for my friend Dave Mccutcheon, and he and I have been friends for many years and share a love of robots and spaceships and dinosaurs... all those things we loved when we were kids.” 
        • Why is it important to you?
        • What feelings does it evoke in you?
  • If a story comes to mind, you can just start jotting it down anywhere. Let your thoughts go where they will. It can be a collection of random thoughts that you can look at later and put together into some sort of a story structure. 

  • We all have stories. Writers block comes from our internal critic. It challenges you with, “Why would anybody want to read it? What could you have to say? What makes you think you're so great that anyone should listen to anything you're telling them?” You have to tell yourself, “I have a right to do this because I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told whether or not you, my internal critic, thinks that it does.” Push the internal critic aside. 
I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told.
  • If you value the stories and need motivation to begin capturing and preserving those stories with Artifcts, make a deal with yourself like Jeff did. Jeff made a pact to give away the objects once their stories were told. Maybe you’ll choose to Artifct twice per week. Or perhaps you’ll start with those items that are most meaningful to you.  

  • A bit of advice Jeff shared from esteemed author Kurt Vonnegut: Write your stories as though you are writing them for one person, as if you are telling this person each of the stories. It gives all the stories a similar tone, a singular voice. 

  • Always include when and where the object was acquired. These are important details.

  • Struggling with a title? Write out 10 of them. It will help you to start to shape your story, too.

Our stuff, the objects that we collect, that inspire us, they are really not what's important. We do not need to keep them. The only thing that is important are the stories, and the only way to keep the stories is to tell them.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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