Take Care of Your Memories
According to the Psychiatry.org, “People with hoarding disorder excessively save items that others may view as worthless. They have difficulty getting rid of possessions, leading to clutter. The clutter then disrupts their ability to use their living or workspaces”. Chances are, being that only 2 to 6% of the population is estimated to have the true disorder, you are not a hoarder. But, most of us have a card, essay or piece of a child’s artwork you’ve assigned meaning to, felt emotion for or otherwise connected with at some point in your life. How do such items fit into an organized office and lifestyle?
I have a client who has a file drawer full of what motivates him or gives him inspiration. He likes to pull out articles from the Internet, old greeting cards he has received, notes from people, etc., to inspire himself. He also has a rather overwhelming amount of memorabilia sitting on his desk. If you’re reading this sitting in your office, or maybe in your kitchen, pause and look around your space for keepsake items. Have you actually noticed these displayed items recently? Once we cross over from a few kept items to, well, more than a few, the items simply become part of the landscape. There becomes so much clutter that we’re not truly enjoying the items we’ve chosen to keep.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not objecting to a file or two of kept cards or keepsakes, or a framed picture, ribbon or award. However, I am a bigger fan of taking a picture of meaningful items or scanning an important document and saving it in Evernote. Electronic storage not only eliminates clutter, it also provides a much easier way to search and find items. What’s more, electronic storage is not impacted by fire, floods or other natural disasters when the cloud is used.
Many find discarding things from their children, or even their own childhood, to be the hardest. I, too, am guilty of this. I have a small bag in my attic for each of my children containing special things from their childhood. But, believe me, this bag could have been bigger. I do have a plan for the bags. Someday, I will give them to my girl to organize and discard as they wish. But, I also have pictures and posters and all sorts of artwork—yes, some of it even those Mother’s Day gifts so grandly presented over the years—stored as images. I can jump on my computer or pull out my phone and view and share the items easily. It is so much easier to view these items more often because doing so does not involve a climb into the attic, a dusting off of an old trunk or a riffling through a mountain of paper in a storage bin.
Apps for Keepsakes
Besides Evernote, there are two noteworthy products out there worth mentioning. The first is Keepy, an app designed to store, organize and privately share your children’s artwork, schoolwork, mementos videoed performances and more. Keepy brags their tool is a “guilt-free way to reduce the piles of your kid’s artwork.” The second is a product called ArtKive. ArtKive basically does all the work for you. They ship you a box and you fill it with all your artwork and mementos. You ship the box back to them, and they photograph the items and organize them in a nice book. My clients love the results and find their memories are more easy to access than a large plastic Tupperware tub.
I have a friend who has kept what she calls her accolades folder. She hangs on to her letters, cards and emails of thanks, appreciation, and praise. Not only does this give her a data bank to pull from for possible marketing quotes, resume and CV drafting, etc., but she also finds the compilation to be a great morale booster and mood lifter. We discussed her using Evernote to store her stash. She can now search by topic, author, date and more, quickly and easily, wherever she is.
In his song, “Open the Door, Richard,” the great American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan wrote: “Take care of your memories,” said my friend, Mick, “For you cannot relive them”. Maybe you can’t actually relive them, but well-preserved and organized keepsakes can certainly get you close. Happy travels down your memory lane.
Sara Genrich is an Organization and Productivity Consultant, an Evernote Certified Consultant and the creator of the Organizing@Work for Success Workshop. She’s committed to providing real-life solutions so her clients have time to focus on the things that really matter.