When I couldn’t snap shut the cover to the file box I used for memorabilia, I decided it was time to sort though the items. I sorted through the items, eliminating a few things; then repeated the process of going through the items. Each time I touched an item, I found myself digging deeper into my reasoning for keeping these objects.
In some cases, I’d decided the item was the type of thing I should keep even though it didn’t have much meaning for me. Each year, I sort through these items and I’ve found the box of memorabilia has gotten smaller as the meaning of some items has changed over the years.
Are there items you feel obligated to hold onto? Why? What do you get from holding onto these items? If you have memorabilia that you truly enjoy looking at, then you have found the right items to keep.
I used to find myself holding onto ticket stubs, programs, photos, notes, cards, gifts, magnets, and other trinkets to remind myself of different events, vacations, even classes I attended or taught. I tossed everything in a memorabilia box, where I’d promptly forget about the things.
When I couldn’t close the cover, I pulled out the box and sorted through the items. Although there were items that jogged my memory, a pleasurable evening out with friends didn’t require that I hold onto a ticket stub. There were cute drawings from students I hasn’t seen for over a decade. Pretty cards with a signed name but no special note.
Spend 15-minutes looking through your memory box; are the items still meaningful? If you don’t have a memorabilia box, you could start gathering items from around the house and create one. (Not items that you display – unless you don’t need to look at them – but things that live in drawers or random boxes.
I think a memory box should be looked through once a year, not for decluttering, but for recalling the memories you’ve made a point of labeling as special.
If you keep tickets from movies, concerts, and plays, are they tossed into random drawers or do you keep them in a memory box or scrapbook? If you keep them together and organized because you like the way they prompt your memory of events, no problem, keep them.
If you like the memory prompt but don’t find it necessary to keep the actual ticket, consider scanning them and storing the images on your computer (and backing up on a cloud service).
On the other hand, if you randomly tossed some old tickets in your junk drawer, some in your desk, and others in another drawer or box, question if they are important to you – because scattered all over the place, they aren’t really doing anything for you.
You can toss or recycle tickets; you don’t have to keep them.
If this doesn’t apply to you – Scan 5-10 documents so you don’t need to hold onto the originals.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm Susan, a writer and teacher developing a second career as a Decluttering Coach.