Weekly Quick Tips

Organize What You Love

Ah, memorabilia….keepsakes…those photos, cards, letters, programs, baby clothes and knickknacks that remind us of the people, places, and times in our lives we love best. Memorabilia can be a wonderful thing, but it can also grow to be overwhelming, and can sometimes seem nearly impossible to store in any remotely orderly way. Fear not ~ there are ways of weeding out the mementos you truly want to keep and creating storage systems that will keep them safe, accessible and contained.

When it comes to sorting items with sentimental value, many traditional organizing tactics go out the window: asking “When was the last time I used this?” might be an effective way of deciding whether to keep a certain kitchen utensil, but it’s not very useful when you’re faced with an old stack of letters. Memorabilia often brings with it a raft of hidden emotions, and sorting through it can require the emotional equivalent of kid gloves. Before you start sorting, try to prepare yourself for the feelings that might come up as you go through the mementos you’ve gathered. Break down your sorting sessions into reasonable chunks and give yourself time to decompress as needed. Perhaps most importantly, be kind to yourself as you sort. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop; making rash decisions when you’re confronted with too many emotions can cause more harm than good. When you’re ready to sort, get yourself in the habit of asking “Why should I keep this?” for each item you come across. Of course you won’t always have a positive ~ or any ~ answer to this question. If you find yourself holding on to things only because you feel you should, because they allow you to live in the past rather than the present, or out of spite for another family member, it may be time to let them go. Memorabilia that simply takes up space, or, worse, reminds you of bad memories or brings up negative feelings, probably doesn’t deserve a place in your home, or your life.

With memorabilia, as with many other things, the more you keep, the less likely it is that everything in your collection will be meaningful, and the harder it’ll be to find space for the pieces that are truly important to you. Setting some limits of how much of each kind of memento you’ll keep can help make both sorting and storage easier. Setting limits doesn’t mean you need to be spartan in what youkeep, or that you must force yourself to get rid of memorabilia that truly has value to you. Rather, it means focusing on the quality of what you keep, and less on the quantity. Keep, what we call, the ‘memorabilia gold’.

When it comes to storage solutions, the Organizing Lives philosophy is to keep it simple. Because no one method of organizing, or storing ‘keep’ items works for everyone, ask yourself, “do I need to see or access my memorabilia on a regular basis?” If not, a labelled bin, its size dictated by its’ contents, and vice versa, on a storage room shelf is the perfect solution. If your special mementos are something you will share with others or access on a regular basis, a decorative basket or shadow box displayed to match your decor could be the answer. What does remain consistent is that your memorabilia has a ‘home’, and the size of its’ home will always dictate your limit of ‘collecting’. One bin, basket or container per family member, overflow not part of the deal.

Practical, functional and sentimental all rolled into one!

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