How many boxes and bins of stuff are you storing for purely sentimental reasons? How cluttered are your shelves and cabinets with stuff you’re reluctant to part with because of all the memories they evoke? Whatever your answer, you’re not alone. Keepsakes...memorabilia...souvenirs...whatever you want to call them, are often the most troublesome belongings to maintain control over for everyone, myself included...and I can be downright ruthless when it comes to getting rid of stuff I don’t use regularly. As we struggle to figure out where to start in establishing order over it, more trinkets continue to pile up, making the task at hand ever more daunting.
Organizing your keepsakes is no different from any other organizing project. We begin with three primary goals in mind:
Let’s take a closer look.
First, decide how much space you’re willing to devote to your sentimental objects. Remember that stuffing them into a storage bin in the back of a closet or the deep recesses of your garage won’t allow them to trigger the memories...and that’s the whole point of keeping them, right? With that in the front of your mind, try some of these strategies to reduce the amount of space they gobble up:
Creating Easy Access
Let’s be honest...how likely are you to dig out those big rubber storage bins and old cardboard boxes from the crawl space in your attic and spend hours pouring over your kids’ old artwork? Yeah...that’s what I thought. So why are you keeping it? While most people neither plan to nor need/want to devote time to regularly reviewing their scrapbooks and photo albums, those options offer the ability to more easily find and share precious memories as long as they are stored within easy reach. The less you keep, the easier it is to create easy access to your memories so that you can pull them out when the mood or opportunity to share them strikes. And you don’t have to be a crafty scrapbooker to do it. The key is to reduce the volume enough that you can store them in an easy-to-reach section of your living space rather than in the basement, attic or garage. Imagine Cousin Sue comes over for lunch and you get to reminiscing. How easy will it be for you to pull out that stack of old letters she sent you from summer camp when you were kids? Make it so.
Consider some of the storage methods below and select the ones that work best for you and your family:
Preserving and Identifying
Most people keep some combination of memorabilia they’d like to pass along after they are gone and items that carry meaning for no one else but them. Do your loved ones a favor and differentiate between these two categories to make their job easier when faced with the daunting and emotional task of going through your things after you pass. I know it may sound morbid, but knowing you have done your part to make that process a little bit easier for them will ease some anxiety for you now, while also ensuring that you will be leaving them precious memories instead of just more stress to add to their grief. Here are a few loving steps you can take to achieve this:
Of all the items you make space for in your home, your keepsakes are really the only ones that can’t be replaced. If they are worth keeping, they are worth devoting some time and effort to preserving with care. While it can be overwhelming to think about that huge stash of old papers, photos and trinkets stashed away in your attic (or wherever), tackling it now and making some intentional decisions to transform it into a more manageable storybook of your life will be some of the most enjoyable and thought-provoking work you’ve ever done. With these three stated goals and the creative, yet practical strategies I’ve laid out over the last few blog posts, even establishing order to your keepsakes can be easy peasy.
Valerie Sheridan is a professional organizer, wife, mother of two, and Founder/Owner of EasyPeasy Living.