For Parents For Your Household

Turn Your Digital Photos into Albums in Just 20 Minutes a Month

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You want to turn your digital photos into albums but you are overwhelmed with all the photos.

You have thousands, and maybe even tens of thousands of digital photos on your phone. Your computer has an equal number. There are so many photos you just feel paralyzed about what to do with them.

You want to get the digital photos off your phone but don’t even know where to start. I’ve been there. I’ve dealt with the overwhelm caused by an abundance of digital photos.

I know you really want to enjoy the photos in a way that’s accessible for your family. But seriously! You just don’t have the bandwidth or the passion to do conventional scrapbooking. The paper, the stickers, the glue, it makes you want to weep just thinking about it. Or maybe you love it but are realistic that in this season of life, it’s just not doable.

You don’t just want to order a bunch of random prints because you have no idea where will you put them. But every month, you accumulate more digital photos. You just continue to let your digital photo collection grow, and the problem gets worse.

I found a manageable solution – photo books. And what’s even better?! I’ve learned how you can turn your digital photos into albums in just 20 minute a month.

Step 1: Start right now

This is the most important step. Start right now. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking you need to catch up and manage all your photos right now. Jump in with this month or last month’s photos right now.

You’re going to just focus on starting with good habits from now on. As you develop better habits around managing your photos, you will find the time to decide what to do with prior year’s photos.

Step 2: Release the guilt about your digital photos

As my husband likes to say, “Let’s just remove guilt and blame in this situation.” There is no reason to beat yourself up for getting behind on managing photos. You’ve been busy doing more important things.

As you sort through your photos, silence that inner-voice that says “you should have already done this.”

Step 3: Use Google Photo

Since I have an iPhone but don’t have a Mac, I found iCloud to be slow and clunky on my PC. Then one day, I discovered Google Photos thanks to my physical therapist – a busy working mom of three.

Discovering Google Photo was one of the best iPhone hacks ever. It is so helpful to me to be able to back up my photos and save space on my phone. I liked how easy I could also access my photos on my laptop and how quickly I could save them on my computer.

Even better, I discovered I can link my Google Photo to my Shutterfly account. This allows me to quickly get my photos into my Shutterfly account without even messing with hooking my iPhone up to my laptop.

Step 4: Schedule Time to Manage Your Photos

The main secret to managing digital photos is not to get more behind.  As Gretchen Rubin says, it’s easier to keep up than to catch up. Put a reminder on your phone calendar now for the last day of each month.

I included making photo albums on my 19 for 2019 list to build in some accountability for myself.  “Making photo books” is on a list I look at all the time, but I still need to extra prompt of a reminder on my phone.

Do this right now. Open up the calendar app on your phone and set a recurring reminder on the last day of each month to manage your photos.

Step 5: Purge Your Digital Photos

On the last day of the month, first spend 3 minutes deleting the bad photos and duplicates. Then open the Google Photos app and select “Free Up Space” from the menu. This will make sure your photos are backed up and then you can delete in the iPhone Photos app.

I don’t have an Android phone but I’m guessing it’s a similar protocol. Let me know in the comments about your experience on Android.

Step 6: Plan what photos you will use

Next, plan with the printable Annual Photo Plan organizer. Go through your photos for the month in Google Photo and decide what 3-5 events you want to capture for the month. Just everyday occurrences like going to the park or snuggling at home can be an event.

As you’re sorting through your photos, favorite the photos you will want to use with the star in the right hand corner. Jot the photos down on the organizer.

This step will take about 7 minutes. Try to limit yourself to no more than 20 photos for the sake of efficiency.

Step 7: Start a Shutterfly Photo Album

Seriously do this now. Go to and start an account right now. I’m not an affiliate nor is this a sponsored post. I’ve just used Shutterfly for years.  I know this system works to turn digital photos into photo albums.  This step will end your photo guilt and photo overwhelm.

First, choose your book size. There are often freebie offers for 8×8 books but I prefer the size 8×11. I also select the box for “standard styles” books because they are cheaper. I am frugal and standard style is a great value.

Next, choose your specific style.  I suggest going with a Year in Review book. It’s laid out by month and seasons for your family and thus makes it easy to plug in the photos you’ve starred as a favorite on Google Photo and jotted down on the printable photo planner.

Remember: Done is better than perfect. It’s so easy to get lost in a perfectionist spiral browsing all the books and all their features and not actually make progress on a book.

So, go ahead and title the book with your family’s last name and the year.

Step 8: Upload Your Photos

Next, upload your favorite photos for the month from Google Photo to Shutterfly. You do this by selecting Add Photos and then clicking on Google Photos.

Find the photos you have favorited for the month and then select add the photos to your photobook.

Spending the remaining 10 minutes by adding a title for the month, and dragging and dropping your photos.  You’ll likely need to add extra pages, so click on add extra pages.

If you need a work-around for adding your photos:

I prefer to have my photos backed up to my computer.  So, I like to log into Google Photo through my browser and then click on Albums > Favorites.  Select your Favorites for the month.

For example, these photos are my Favorites for January.  Download those and save those in a folder on your computer.  Upload to Shutterfly from your computer.

Step 9:  Finishing Touches for Photo Albums

Schedule some time towards the end of the year to rearranging your photos as needed and to write in captions if you’d like. I heard on the Happier Podcast that Gretchen Rubin just uses thin Sharpies and hand writes her captions.


You can beat photo guilt and photo overwhelm and turn your digital photos in photo albums in 20 minutes a month.  Follow these steps and grab your printable photo organizer here.

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