You might be a sentimental clutterer if you keep…
– every picture your children ever drew!
– the soccer trophy your daughter received when she was 9 and she’s 45 now!
– your grandmother’s collection of china plates, which you never really liked anyway!
…especially if all they have been doing is collecting dust for decades!
Unlike sentimental clutterers, organized people don’t see every scribble, photograph, trophy or inherited item as a treasure and keep only favorite pieces that they really love. They understand that you see nothing and appreciate little when you keep every sentimental object.
If you’re facing that moment in life when you wonder what you’re going to do with all the sentimental items that fill your closets, cabinets, bureaus, under-the-bed spaces, attics, garages, etc., take heart because there are ways to rationally deal with life’s clutter when the time comes.
The first thing you need to do is ask yourself – and provide an honest answer about! – why you’re keeping an item. If you’re keeping it solely because of misplaced guilt – like your mother’s voice in your head saying “You can’t get rid of that!” – it’s probably time to let it go. To help you make a guilt-free decision, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this item useful to me? Can it make my life easier? Does it fulfill an essential need or save me time and/or money?
- If I keep this item, where will it live in my space that reflects my respect for it? (Shoving in the back of your closet isn’t respectful!)
- Do I already own something like it that has the same function or a similar sentimental meaning?
- Does this item help me to live the life I want to live? Does it reflect my values? Do I enjoy looking at and/or using it?
If sentiment alone not guilt is what drives you to keep an object, you need to learn to attach your feelings to the MEMORY rather than the object.
One way to preserve the memory associated with the object but not keep the object itself is to take a photograph of it and then do the generous and eco-friendly thing of letting it go to a good home.
Often with sentimental objects, it’s emotionally easier to let go of them if you know they will be used and appreciated by their next owners. Most junk removal services these days are responsible and recycle or donate stuff that is still useful to someone.
Here are some additional ways to break free from sentimental clutter:
1. Children’s artwork:
Buy an artist’s portfolio case at an art-supply store and store your kids’ artwork by date. Periodically go through it with your children, decide which pieces are the best and keep only those.
Take a digital photo of the artwork itself and also take a photo of your child holding the artwork as a reminder of his/her age at the time the piece was created. Put each child’s pictures in a separate photo album with their name on it. To get more mileage out of your photos, use the images to turn into greeting cards and stickers at snapfish.com and moo.com.
Make a memory box to hold treasures so your children’s history will be accessible for them in a way that won’t be overwhelming. Limit the treasures to only what the box will comfortably hold to avoid overwhelm.
Do you have travel memorabilia that you just had to have when you came across it on vacation, but now it lives in a box in the closet? Take photos of the objects, add them to the trip’s photo album and let them go.
If the items still interest you but you simply have too many for them to all be out at the same time, trying rotating them – put some out; put some away and then switch them periodically. That way, you’ll get to enjoy them all again over time.
Who doesn’t have boxes of photos waiting to be organized into albums? An easy way to deal with the problem is to scan them yourself or have them scanned for you onto a DVD. You can also create photo books in just minutes by using sites like shutterfly.com and blurb.com.
The question to ask yourself is: “Why do I want to keep this book?” Be honest with yourself. The likelihood is that you’re never going to read most of those books again. Worried you’ll miss the books you give away? Don’t. You can always borrow those titles again from your local library or get another copy later if you really feel you made a mistake. Chances are very good that you won’t even miss them once they’re gone, but you will enjoy the space you open up in your home.
5. Family heirlooms:
Here’s the test for keeping heirlooms: If having it around you makes you feel really happy, keep it. If it’s stuffed in the back of the closet, give it away. Take solace in knowing the pleasure it will bring to the person who can use it.
6. Correspondence and documents:
Instead of keeping every holiday card or letter, keep only the ones that are the most significant to you and create an album with them so you can revisit the memories whenever you like.
Do you need help getting rid of sentimental stuff or clearing out a deceased loved one or friends property? Contact JunkXS for sympathetic, patient help.