A classic Tip of the Week from July 18, 2004
I tend to be a sucker for things that bring back fond memories of family, friends, and events: sports trophies from my school days, knicknacks picked up from places I've traveled to, items given to me by the people I love.
Keeping meaningful things around is not, in and of itself, a problem. The challenge comes in managing these things once they've accumulated for many years, and in deciding which ones are really worth keeping long term.
I try to keep my memorabilia in check by sorting through it on a regular basis (every year or so), purging the things I know I don't need to keep (such as unremarkable stuffed toys from childhood), and finding creative ways of paring down the rest of the stuff. For example, though I want to be reminded of winning competitions with my cheerleading squad in junior high school, I don't need to keep the trophies I earned; instead, I can gather them together, take a few photos, and then get rid of the trophies themselves. That way I can keep the memories—and can even paste them in a scrapbook with other memorabilia—without building up clutter.
I won't get rid of anything I know I'll regret giving up—scarves from my grandmother, for example, or my great-grandfather's collection of old postcards—and I encourage my clients to keep things that truly have value to them. Weeding out the things that aren't as important, however, can help make those special items even more precious, and can help keep you from being overwhelmed by stuff.