Here's another entry in the Ask the Organizer Series... questions I frequently get asked while helping organize clients' homes or really whenever I tell people this is my job. This category is particularly tough because of the emotional ties one can have to these items.
Case in point: I was helping a lovely client clear out her family home so she could move to an apartment closer to her daughter. While going through old belongings, we found the baby book of her younger sister, who passed away at age 8. It was one of the only tangible things she had related to her dear baby sister. What do you do with things like these?
When you are working towards the goal of "Everything has a Home", where exactly is the home for these kinds of items?
Question: I have tons of little mementos and pieces of family history that are in all different places in my house… pictures, souvenirs from trips, old paperwork, awards, and the like. I never know where to put these things- I want to keep them but don’t know where.
Answer: Almost every client I have worked with faces this dilemma, and I have a ridiculously simple solution: go to a discount store, buy a medium-sized plastic bin or two with a lid and handles on the sides. These are now your memento bins.
When you come across something of this category that you want to keep, just toss it in the bin. Don’t get bogged down categorizing it. If it’s something that someone else might not know the history of, jot some notes on a post-it note and stick it on the item.
Label the outside of the box “Mementos” so you know that’s where things go to live. Store it in your bedroom closet on the floor, in a front hall closet, or in a spare bedroom… somewhere easily accessible but out of the way.
If down the road you have some time and can sift through the box and make it more organized, great. You can easily separate out items into categories, like Photos, Work Items, Family History, Childhood and place them into separate bins. But just having all of these emotionally important items together is an organizing victory.
This process also gathers items that are important to you personally and lets your loved ones know, should anything unexpected happen to you, that these were meaningful items to you... and when faced with processing a household full of items, knowing the important stuff is a big relief.
So go out to you local Walmart or Target, purchase a bin or two, and when you find these types of items floating around your spaces, toss them in. They'll be safe and easily identified.
PS- I talked briefly about photographs in this post and I have a LOT more to say... keep an eye out!!