I would say 90% of my clients own boxes of memories. What are boxes of memories? Well, anything from photos, cards, mementos, jewelry (that they will never wear since it’s in this box and not with their other jewelry) along with other odds and ends. Are you one of those people? Don’t be shy – It’s ok if you are, as I mentioned above, most of us fall into that category at one time or another.

Firstly, let’s talk about those hundreds upon thousands of printed photos we have under our bed or tucked away in a drawer. It’s bad enough that we have endless storage on our phones and computers filled with photos you will never look at but having photos that take up physical space in your home can be remedied. Let’s take a moment to sort and purge the excess. Take all the photos out of the frames, purge the frames that are no longer your style and save the others for future use – see I don’t want you to just throw everything away.

Take all the photos and start sorting by “Life Chapters” for example High School, College, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s.. 1st baby, 1st grandchild, you get the point. Once you have sorted these, go back through the images by pile (stay focused on each pile individually otherwise you can become overwhelmed…I’ll talk about the pitfalls of multi-tasking another time). Really look at the photos, do the people in them still mean something to you, does the image make you laugh, cry or feel any emotion? These feelings will be your cue to keep or discard. Take a hard look and do some real cleaning here because the goal is that after this process you will now have a place to enjoy reminiscing rather than feeling overwhelmed which only leads to grabbing the shoe box top, putting it back on and shoving the box where you found it.

Secondly, old notes and mementos; if there isn’t anything terribly memorable or if it doesn’t trigger a good memory let it go. If you are holding onto an item that you just love but aren’t sure why, maybe just take a photo and then discard the item, still allowing for a memory, but opening up more organized room in your home.

I’m a huge supporter of people creating photo books using Shutterfly, Snapfish or a similar company. This allows you to make a beautiful book displaying your favorite photos and memories. This is also a great place to insert the photo of your memento along with other memories. When you take the time to make a photo book you will actually enjoy walking down memory lane and it will reduce the physically clutter in your home.

Lastly, cards…. we all have the urge to send them and people do love getting things in the mail outside of bills! Display your cards for 7-30 days and then toss them in the recycle bin. I’m a bit of an extremist so I understand seven days might be too short for most! Unless someone has really taken the time to write something special inside the card let it go with ease. Again, look for that spark of real feeling or emotion, let that guide you. Another option for more personal notes, snap a photo and save it on your computer under a file called “special cards” this makes it easy to find when you want to re-read it and keeps your space clutter free!

Quick Tips:
1. Sort Photos by “Life Chapters”
2. Make a Photo book using Shutterfly, Snapfish or a similar company
3. Cards, Only keep them if there is a special personal note

Sarah Parisi – The Clutter Curator
Chicago’s Premier Home Organizer