Monday, November 15, 2010

Dealing with Sentimental Clutter

A common decluttering tip you've probably seen is to purge your sentimental clutter, or at least as much as you can bear to part with. You lived through it, the conventional wisdom says, so you really don't need to keep the mementos to keep the memories.

I disagree with this statement wholeheartedly. Maybe my memory is worse than most, but scrapbooks and other items are great memory aides. While I'm probably not going to forget the amazing overseas trips I've had, or my favorite vacations, I do tend to forget some of the little details. Flipping through scrapbooks, diaries, and cards reminds me of these things. While I agree that we shouldn't spend too much time living in the past, sometimes it's fun to remember special times and trips.

Lately though as I've gotten serious about ditching my clutter, I have begun to resent the space and weight all those scrapbooks and journals from years past are taking up, especially compared to the amount of time I spend looking at them.

Toss versus keep isn't the only solution
Luckily, there is a middle ground between keeping those space-hogging memories or dumping them. You can digitize them instead. I'm finding more and more things I'm willing to part with, provided I have digital copies to look at when the sentimental mood strikes.

There are several methods of digitizing your memories:

1. Scan scrapbooks, cards, papers, art and other mementos: I hate the amount of space my old scrapbooks from college take up, especially compared to how often I look at them, so scanning them is the perfect solution. While this can be time-consuming, it's nice to be able to view the pages anytime from my laptop.

2. Retype (or scan) old journals. Scanning takes a lot of time, so for things like journals I've willing to part with I find it easier to just retype them. You may want to scan a few pages to keep a sample of your handwriting or to capture special pages.

3. Take pictures of items that you'd like to remember, but don't want to hang on to anymore.

As a bonus, making digital copies of items and keeping them online or in a safe spot outside your home protects them from being ruined in a disaster. Just don't forget to back-up your digital memories in more than one location.


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