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Clutter Video Tip: How to Organize Sentimental Items, Part 1: Rules for Keeping

Memories, like the corners of my mind… Are the corners of your mind over flowing with memorabilia?  Are you home organizing photos and sentimental keepsakes? How do you get organized when you are surrounded by scattered pictures and heirlooms? Watch this video for the rules for decluttering and keeping your misty water colored memories in order. Then you can make sure it’s the laughter we will remember, whenever we remember… The way we were.

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Hi. I’m Lorie Marrero, creator of the Clutter Diet book and on-line program, and we are going to do a two-part series on sentimental items. I get so many questions about this. This is a hard subject for people. So, we’re doing Part 1 of this little series on the rules of keeping sentimental items. And Part 2 is going to be about some ways to more easily let it go.

So we have four rules for you about keeping things that you feel sentimental about. First of all, you need to prioritize it. So like wine, sentimental items and memorabilia are best enjoyed within limits. So we suggest, if you have trouble with this, using what we call a limiting container. So this could be any kind of container you like. A box, or a bin, or a basket, or some kind of large tin, whatever it is for you. And you have that as the amount of space available to keep this kind of memorabilia. So if you’re talking about cards and letters, or you’re talking about old clothing, whatever it is, keepsakes from kids’ school years, you know that when that container is full, that is your cue to clean out what’s in there and prioritize the items before you add anything else new to it.

So I just cleaned out my son’s room. I’m sitting in here. He just went to college a few weeks ago. And some of the things that I found in his room were his baby blankets. And he had a very strong attachment to these two blankets, very much like Linus in the Peanuts characters, only double. And, you know, out of all the stuff that we found in the room these were the only two things that I really wanted to keep. So I was able to just prioritize and say, you know, all the other stuff isn’t as important as these, which I find are really the essence of his childhood., So you want to really think about that. What really makes up that memory for you in the strongest possible way with the most succinct amount of items.

So, the second rule about keeping sentimental items is that you want to identify it. If you’re keeping it, you want to make sure that if you get hit by a bus, somebody else knows what this is. This is particularly important with pictures. So if you had your children all of sudden needing to go through all of your photos, do they know who these people are in the photos? Do they know what year it was? It’s great if you can just very quickly simply organize your photos even into a shoebox with little dividers or something. You don’t have to put everything perfectly away in albums – if you’re not ready to do that or don’t have enough time to do that – but make sure that somebody can know who those people are and why these things are being kept and what significance they have.

The third rule is to organize your stuff. You need to have some kind of system. If you’re going to keep this stuff, the whole point of keeping it is that you can access it when you want it. And as my good friend Barbara Hemphill says: “If you don’t know you have it, or you can’t find it, it is of no use to you.” So, make sure you have a filing system, or you have things labeled in bins or something so that you can actually find what you’re looking for.

And the fourth rule of keeping sentimental items is that you want to enjoy it. Give it a place of honor in your home. If you’re going to bother to keep it, why not get it mounted or framed? Hang it up, put it in your everyday living area so that you can enjoy it. You can find little items and put them all in a shadow box, you can take a big collection of, you know, running race t-shirts and make them into a t-shirt quilt. You can Google that and find out there are a lot of people that will make a t-shirt quilt for you. You can make pillows out of other kinds of fabric items, old clothing, or even things like these blankets. I could theoretically make a pillow or something out of these. So, make sure that you are finding ways to incorporate these memories into your daily living.

If you’d like some help making some of these decisions – we know it can be very hard when emotions are involved – we can help you, walk you through that. We have a team of organizers on-line seven days a week that is available to you at about the price of a pizza, and better than that, you can try it out for free with our Quick Start Program. You can find out more about that at

See you next time, and may you always be happy and grateful for having more than enough.

You may have been searching for how to decide what to keep or letting go of memorable items.

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