No matter how much of a minimalist you are, you likely have a few treasured keepsakes stashed away somewhere in the hard-to-reach spaces of your home, if not consuming valuable real estate in your closets, cabinets and drawers. I’m willing to bet these trinkets represent a little bit of a challenge to your sense of organization, too.
Organizing is all about managing your stuff with efficiency, so you probably already know that the first step in any organizing project is to purge excess items you don’t really need or use. For many of us, this leads to a dilemma: how do we justify storing boxes and bins of old memories whose only purpose is to give us the warm fuzzies? The mere thought of parting with beloved memorabilia evokes feelings of guilt or sadness, yet keeping them feels self-indulgent and counter-productive. Well, I’m here to assure you that you need not sacrifice your favorite childhood mementos in the name of organization. The key is in discovering a dual functionality for some, and assuming the role of a highly selective curator for the rest.
First, it’s important to recognize that less really is more when it comes to memories. Think about why items in a museum are so valuable. It’s because they are representative and rare. Second, understand that you cannot experience the nostalgia these items evoke unless you actually see them. If you pack them away in a storage bin in the attic or shove them in the back of your closet, they can’t fulfill their function of sweeping you down memory lane unless you drag them out and look through them. The more you have, the less likely you will be to do that. Seriously, when was the last time you made the effort to do that?
The challenge is to save just enough to preserve your cherished memories without creating unnecessary clutter or robbing yourself of the space you need for other items. One way to do this is to bring them out into the sunshine of your everyday existence and assign them a second function that enables you to eliminate other, less meaningful objects.
Here are a few examples of what I mean:
Follow EasyPeasyLiving’s “Organizing Outside the Box” board on Pinterest for more ideas on ways to repurpose objects in a functional, yet meaningful way. The possibilities are truly endless and limited only by your creativity.
Now obviously not every keepsake can be transformed into a functional object, and the idea of tucking away a few meaningful pieces in “time capsule” fashion has an appeal all its own. Just keep in mind that the best time capsules are a) representative and b) small. In other words, be selective about what you save, and define the space you are devoting to keepsake storage first. If you start to outgrow the space, review the contents and eliminate objects that are no longer as relevant as maybe they once were. If you can’t remember the significance of a piece, let it go.
A special note to parents: Involve your children in the decision-making process whenever possible. Let them select the artwork that means the most to them while teaching them how to make balanced, selective decisions. Do not fall into the trap of saving too many old toys, school papers, or baby clothes they’re not likely to remember. They will not thank you for offloading boxes of, what to them, is a bunch of meaningless old junk when they move out or you pass on.
With a little creativity, even preserving your memories without sacrificing space can be easy peasy!
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Valerie Sheridan is a professional organizer, wife, mother of two, and Founder/Owner of EasyPeasy Living.