I was reminded recently of a dilemma most of us tend to face when attempting to organize our homes. That is how do we let go of sentimental things? Furthermore, how do we organize those sentimental things we decide to keep? For myself I have developed a simple 8-step process that to help me handle this daunting task.
Step One – Pep Talk
Many of us struggle to let go of our sentimental items because we fear it will imply we no longer cherish the givers or items as much. This is completely untrue and unfair to ourselves. We can’t keep everything. We need to realize this so we can move on and come to terms with letting some things go.
So during this phase, just give yourself a mental pep talk. Remind yourself it really is okay to let some things go. We still love and cherish the people and the items just as much. We just no longer have the ability to keep it all. And that is okay.
Step Two – Assess
Before you can jump ahead to figuring out what you can let go of you need to assess what you have in the first place. This includes the number of items, the number of people the items are from, and the types of items.
Once you go complete this step you will better be able to determine how much you have and how much you need to let go. For that we move on to step three.
Step Three – Set a Number
Once you see how much you have compared to your space, you are ready to decide how much you can realistically keep. I encourage you to leave room for more to come during this stage as well.
Now you set a number of how many items you can realistically keep from each person. Five to ten items per person is a usually a good place to start. If you find it difficult to reach this item just yet, it is fine to pick a larger number now and try for a smaller number next time.
Step Four – Choose Favorites
Now that you know how much you can keep, you are ready to pick your favorites. Ideally you will keep those items you still use first. Those will be followed by the items in order of personal sentimental preference. I find it easier to pick what is staying rather than what is leaving.
Step Five – Home for Favorites
By now, you should have a rather good idea of the size of the lot you are keeping. You are now ready to determine a proper home for these remaining sentimental items.
During this stage I recommend making or purchasing a memory box that can more specially hold any sentimental items not in use. I like to keep the memory box on the top shelf of a closet to pull down and enjoy periodically. I also like to keep 3 to 5 smaller sentimental items out as special home decor pieces to be enjoyed more often.
Step Six – Take a Moment
Great job! You are half-way there. This step is optional, but for myself I find it crucial. During this step I encourage you to slow down and take a quiet moment to cherish the items you are letting go one last time. You can even hold and thank each item and the person who gave it to you to give yourself a greater sense of closure and peace.
You can also snap a picture of the item to place in an album or scrapbook. Your album may be physical, digital, or any medium or combination of mediums that speaks to you.
Step Seven – Plan of Action
Now you have both come to terms with letting go and also decided what to let go. It is now time to determine what to do with those items leaving. For this you will designate four bins, bags, or piles with the following four labels:
- Give Away – For those items you would like to re-gift to someone you think could use or enjoy the item.
- Donate – For those items in decent condition that you don’t feel you would be able to sell.
- Sell – For those items you can list to sell or place in your next yard sale.
- Trash – For anything broken or unsafe.
Then you will pick up each item and place it into the most appropriate bin. Try to go through a first initial phase super quick and set aside any questionable items. Then go back through the questionable items a little more slowly until all items are placed in a bin.
Step Eight – Follow Through
Now we are ready for the most crucial step – the follow-through. All of your hard work will likely have to be redone if you don’t go through this step as timely as possible. I recommend following through within a few days or less.
Discard the items you’ve marked “Trash”. Prepare items marked “Give Away” for transit to their destination. Make a definite plan for the items you’ve marked “Sell”. For instance, you may list on a yard sale site or set with other belongings you have designated for your next yard sale.
Step Nine – The Final Step
Congratulations! You are now at your final step. You have gone through your sentimental items, decided what to keep and what to let go. Also, you’ve found a home for those items you are keeping and either followed-through or have a plan in place to do so! Be super proud of yourself! Each time you need to go through this process again should be easier and easier each time!
If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, don’t forget to comment below! I’d love to hear your experiences with going through your sentimental items or see the memory boxes you create or purchase. I’ll be sure to share my own experiences in a future post!