As I (Tracy) work with clients one of the things we always find as we organize is memorabilia. It could be souvenirs from trips, cards, artwork, baby clothes, baby books, pictures, school papers, framed art, grandma’s jewelry or china, T-shirts or other clothing items, gifts from a special family member or friend, something from a time in their life that was hard, etc.
The biggest question? What do you do with it all!?! Chelle and I talk about all of this on our show Manage Your Memorabilia. Be sure to listen!
Why do we have so much memorabilia cluttering up our home? Because we don’t have a plan for where it should go. We don’t have a plan for when it should leave our homes. We delay making decisions because they take energy, a lot of it, and because we don’t know what decisions to make. What if we make the wrong decision?
Here are three steps to follow to manage your memorabilia:
HAVE A PLAN
First, stop buying stuff. Stop bringing things into your home. Ask people to stop giving you stuff and in turn stop giving other people stuff. Check out our ideas for clutter free gifts here.
Release people to give away gifts you’ve given them and souvenirs you’ve sent them. I mentioned to my client that her daughter was holding on to this entire cup of souvenirs that she had brought her from a trip to Mexico last year. The souvenirs didn’t do anything – just sat there taking up her precious desk space in a plastic cup. When her daughter came back into the room the mother told her that it was okay to get rid of the cup of souvenirs. It was amazing…You could hear the daughter exhale a sigh of relief. Release the people in your life to get rid of stuff!
Change your thought process. We are trained to think that we need to purchase things on a trip. We are trained that it is proper to keep everything we are given out of respect to the giver. We are trained to see, want, buy. Change all that training. Instead, before you buy or keep anything think, “Where will this item be displayed in my home? Will it make the space look beautiful? Do I even have room? Does it make me happy to use it and see it?”
Plan the life of each type of memorabilia. Here are some examples:
- Greeting cards: They sit on display for a day or two and then, IF you love one and want to keep it, it immediately goes in a small clear tub on a shelf in your office or in a hanging box file in your file cabinet. When the tub is full you MUST eliminate some.
- Souvenirs: We only buy something we can use (T-shirt that we will wear) or something useful (a popcorn bowl from Jamaica – IF we don’t already have one and we eat popcorn and we have a place to store it). What about only buying ONE clutter-free gift while traveling (Kansas City barbecue sauce while in Kansas City)?! In order to keep our home clutter free we don’t bring freebie-cheap stuff into our home.
- T-shirts or other clothing items: They go into the closet to be used. When they no longer fit or I’m not wearing them they leave my home. It is okay. This fulfills the desire for a clutter free closet. You will still have the memory of the trip or event.
- Kid’s paper and artwork: Paper that comes into the home always goes into the inbox. We process it daily. My kids learn to do this with me, making decisions about what to keep and then THEY throw their own papers into the recycle bin and put the special paper they’ve decided to keep in the temporary 12X12 box on my desk. Quarterly we file the papers in their memory bins in the basement. THEY help do this so they learn how to organize. (Tracy has a class that teaches all of this available here.) We don’t wait to make decisions on their papers until later. Do it daily! More ideas are in the show notes here.
- Family heirlooms or other “special” things: Obviously it is okay to store something on a shelf in your storage closet. I am not saying you can’t keep anything. But, if you are not using it, don’t love it and are only keeping it because you think you should, make the decision to LET. IT. GO. Start by asking family members if they would like it. Check online if you think it is valuable. If so, sell it so someone else can enjoy it. If not, donate it. If it is still sitting there so you can sell it in 3 months face the reality that you are not going to do this task and donate it to a cause you believe in.
Decisions take energy! They wear us out. It is the last thing we want to do when we get home from a busy day. So the stuff starts building up and before you know it we are overwhelmed with the clutter around us.
Decisions don’t have to be perfect. We are bound to make a few wrong organizing decisions as we begin to make them daily. It is okay! The organizing process will include some bad decisions just like parenting, friendships and decorating!
Make decisions daily. Every time you are tempted to set something down (or stash it in the basement or spare room) pick it up and deal with it. The more you make decisions on a regular basis the better you get at it!
Follow your plan. Look at the examples above. Make a plan and follow it.
Talk to yourself. Say things like… Stop. Do I need this? Does this fit with my vision for a clutter free home? Can I live without this? Where will I put this item? What will I get rid of if I bring this into my home? What is the worst thing that would happen if I got rid of this? Make decisions based on these questions.
Remember, if you DON’T keep something or DON’T buy something it is ALWAYS easier. No more decisions to make about where to store it and what to get rid of!
Write them on your calendar and keep your appointment. Do what you say you are going to do. Follow through.
Be accountable. Tell someone what you are going to do and when you are going to have it completed. Set an appointment for them to come and see it. Deadlines. They force us to get things done!
Get started by picking one type of memorabilia. Create a plan. Gather all of that type of memorabilia in one location in your home. Make decisions. Follow through!
How do you manage your memorabilia? Any tips you have that work in your home?