Items with sentimental value can be one of the hardest things to get rid of. We all have at least a few things that we never want to lose, but some of us might go a step further, keeping things that are not even useful or necessary.
If you keep too many emotional tethers, then you will eventually run out of room – and place to store new things. Keeping things purely because you feel obligated to is an easy way to clutter up your home, especially if you are not actively displaying them or doing anything with them.
Sorting Your Sentimental Clutter
It is important to remember that sentimental items are not bad. You do not want to throw something away just because it is clutter, so you need to spend some time sorting through everything that you might want to get rid of.
Make sure that you have some kind of box or storage space to put all of your ‘keep’ items, as well as an easy way to put all of the ‘do not keep’ items aside. This could be cardboard boxes, sides of the room, spaces on a bed, or even just different rooms entirely.
It also helps to have some kind of goal. Know what you are trying to do: are you wanting to declutter your home, or is it also your attempt to move on from some emotional ties that you no longer want? Knowing what you are aiming for can help you stay motivated if you are dealing with a lot of very sentimental items.
Building a Keep Pile
Your ‘keep pile’ should be the things that you want to keep in your home – anything that is too important, valuable, or simply useful to throw away. Ideally, this should end up being the smaller pile between the two since you want to shift as much clutter as possible.
Putting something in the keep pile (or box, or space) should be a very careful decision since it is easy to decide that you want to keep everything anyway. For example:
- What makes the items unique or significant? Do you still remember the meaning that it has? Things that can’t be replaced are the best ones to keep since they are inherently special.
- Does the item have a positive impact on you? If something helps keep you motivated or gets you through tough situations, then keeping it on display can be really important.
- Do you want it? If there is something that you genuinely want and do not feel like you can stand to throw it away, then keep it – but do not let yourself slip into a hoarder mentality.
- Can you use the item properly? If you have something old that does not really function or is not appropriate to display, then there might not be any reason to keep it since it will just end up in a box or closet somewhere.
- Where is the item? If you have always kept it out of the way, to the point that you do not even look at it yourself, then you might as well get rid of it. If something is prominently on display, though, then it might be worth keeping.
Always keep things that have a major positive impact on your life, especially if they matter for multiple sentimental reasons. You want to refine your pile to the perfect combination of items: the things that you would never give up or sell.
Your goal is to clear up clutter, so do not just throw everything into this pile. Look at their values objectively and figure out which items are more important than others, then get rid of the things that are not actually that valuable to you.
Building a Do Not Keep Pile
Your ‘do not keep pile’ is exactly what you would expect: a pile of things to get rid of, give away, or otherwise remove from your home. These are the clutter items, the things that are not worth keeping around even if they have sentimental value to you.
It can be hard to make a conscious decision to throw something away, so it is a good idea to look at each item as part of a whole rather than a single thing. For example:
- Are the memories associated with the item positive ones, or ones that you have begun to feel sour over? Sometimes sentimental items can become “out of date” as we grow.
- Do you associate the items with any negative emotions, including things like wishing that you could go back and make different decisions? If so, it might be having a bad impact on you.
- Does another item already call back to the same sentimental moments or meanings? If you have a painting made by a deceased family member, then you might not need their old chair or a stack of their favorite books, especially not if they are getting in the way.
- Is keeping the item practical? Some possession requires extra work to maintain or protect, such as fragile glass decorations needing to be kept safe in a place where they can’t get damaged – which is not ideal in a smaller home.
- Are you going to pass the item along? If you are not planning to use something as an heirloom, then the only thing keeping it in your home is your own connection to it.
- Can you keep them in another form, such as a photograph or digital image? This can be a nice alternative to keeping some larger items that are not practical for your home.