Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Managing Memorabilia

At a time when our population is getting older and we're dealing with a tough real estate market, you may find a lot more baby boomers downsizing. One obstacle while downsizing is tackling the years of memories, clutter, stuff and possessions that need to be whittled down before moving into a smaller home.

Even if you're not moving but just decluttering the attic, the principles are the same. I found one resource that addressed this issue nicely, and I often share it with clients and attendees of presentations. It is excerpted from "Let Go of Clutter" (2001, McGraw-Hill) by Harriet Schechter. Hope you find it helpful!

A vital step in the letting go of clutter process is learning how to manage MEMORABILIA. When you let go of objects that remind you of memories you'd rather forget, you make room for the things that matter most to you. It is important to manage your mementos so they don't keep cluttering up small spaces. Otherwise, you run the risk of becoming a "memorabiliac": someone who accumulates vast amounts of personal memorabilia. Personal memorabilia means the things we keep that evoke personal memories, pleasant feelings, bittersweet emotions, or a sense of historical connectedness. It's the stuff that we think of as "priceless" because it often has value just to us.

While downsizing, you should let go of anything that doesn't touch you in a positive/poignant way; save only what you have space for; and, keep your meaningful mementos in simple, easy-to-maintain systems/spaces.

Sometimes there are things we think we're keeping for sentimental reasons that are actually not mementos at all. Such "memorabilia IMPOSTERS" include:

  • antique or old knickknacks that have no real PERSONAL HISTORY -- as opposed to inherited items or gifts

  • outdated but non-historical LEGAL documents that can be archived with your old tax papers

  • old resumes and appointment books or calendars -- if keeping for historical purposes, they can be stored in your archive files

The CHOICE is yours. Ultimately you will keep what you want to keep, so don't waste time justifying your choices or making excuses. Just try to let go of anything you feel ready to shed, and keep moving forward.