For many, myself included, sorting through memorabilia is one of the most difficult organizing and decluttering tasks. It is hard to not attach memories and feelings to some of those special pieces. I am not going to tell you to sort through everything and take mental pictures of it all before you toss or donate it or to ask if it is really all that special. Memorabilia is personal and everyone has a different interpretation of what falls under keep worthy or not. Because of memorabilia’s nature, it doesn’t fall under my typical sorting pattern. I have a fairly simple method of keeping things that are special and important that I hope will help you as you begin this task. The goal is not to make it overly complicated or involved, but to create several containing systems or spots in which to save these special and important pieces and then file it accordingly.
You may wish to alter my rules and you are certainly welcome to do that. Chances are, you’re a little less or more sentimental, so tailor the rules as needed.
Three action steps:
Start with the really old items:
Begin with the really old things that you have been holding on to for years and years. These are the things that you know you really have no reason to keep and aren’t overly attached to. Spend a little time doing a quick purge of these items, moving quickly and efficiently without spending time to over-analyze. Label the things you are keeping by year or era. Examples of categories may be high school, college, wedding, grandma’s items, 1990-1995 etc. Working chronologically backwards is helpful for me as those are the things that are harder to remember where they’re from and why I kept them in the first place. If you find yourself not remembering or knowing why you kept something, it’s probably time to donate or toss.
Choose a bin for each child:
If you have children, use a bin or a box to store things that aren’t paper in nature and therefore can’t be filed or stored flat. These may be items such as special outfits or blankets. Keep it in their bedroom closest that you can easily access it and look through it with them. There is no sense in keeping these special items stored in the basement or tucked into a dark corner where no one will ever even look at them. Having a bin for each child also limits the sheer amount of stuff that is kept as well.
Pick a method that works for you:
Establish a workable method from this point forward that works for you and your family. If you get all the old stuff sorted and don’t have a plan for implementing the deluge of papers and memorabilia that come in to the house, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed again. I choose to keep our children’s special papers in a file drawer that has a file folder for each year. Artwork and larger pieces get stored in a large folder. You can also take pictures of artwork and special pieces and save them digitally as well. The file folder method can easily be used for other memorabilia as well. Scrapbooks, both digital or paper, are also a great method to keep the memorabilia out of the closer and in to a special, easily accessible place.
These three action steps have been invaluable for me as I decide how and what to keep. Only you can truly determine what is important enough to keep and what you can do without. If you feeling overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of what you have to go through or it is emotionally difficult, start small so you don’t get overwhelmed. With the implementation of these steps, memorabilia doesn’t have to overwhelm you or stay stashed in chaos in your closets, garage, basement, or storage.