top of page

Decluttering: How DO You "Let It Go?"

NJ Expert Organizer, Marilyn Shain Labendz, encourages you to save what's important wisely.

I have learned a great deal with helping people at all stages of life organize and declutter their homes.

  • There is NO right and wrong in what you should keep and what you should toss/recycle or donate. It's YOUR memory.

  • It's not what you keep but how and where you store it.

  • No one has so much space that everything special can be visible and out front all the time.

Emotions play a great part in decision making:

A client of mine recently lost two very close relatives within a short period of time. While trying to maximize space in her dresser, we found 10 years of her spiral notebooks of daily "to do lists." I, the organizer, couldn't really understand why she still needed them. She declared, "My mother saved her journals for 10 years and so I am going to do that, too." Certainly, she should keep them - in an accessible place, but not in one that takes up vital space needed for daily use.

On the other hand, at some point in time things that we hold on to become just that: things we hold on to. As life goes on and we add more memories we often run out of space for our tangible reminders. We have to prioritize the ones we keep around over the ones we store.

Example: Saving Playbills and ticket stubs:

  • Take a photo with you and those who accompanied you holding up the Playbill and the ticket stubs. (Thank goodness for "selfies.")

  • Make an album in your photo files that will be an ongoing history of your theater attendance.

  • You can make a "Snapfish" or other brand book of what you've seen.

  • You can also print out the photos and put them in a notebook.

  • Only save the ones that are signed by the performers.

As you sift through the papers focusing on the difference between clutter and memories, here are the steps to organize these items:

Make 3 piles: Keep, Toss, Maybe.

(TIP: Start with one drawer, one corner or one closet at a time and don’t move on to the next space until you’ve finished!)

  • If it represents a legal, tax or medical related document or something related to what is going on in your life now, or you simply can’t part with it…Put it in the “keep” file.

  • Bank statements, etc. can be found on line and there is no need to keep hard copies.

  • Important: Most financial records don't have to be kept beyond 3-7 years. Check with a professional.

  • Did you even remember that you had this particular item, and what was your gut reaction? Did you say: “I can’t believe I even kept this!? “WHAT?!...What was I thinking?” “Who was this person?” “Who even wrote this?” I don’t even know what this is about… Toss it!

  • If your response was warm and fuzzy as in “Ohhhhhh…. Look what I’ve found?... Put it in a “maybe” file.

So now you have your 3 piles completed … What next?!

Your Toss” pile:

  • One last review of the just to be sure.

  • Then get rid of it! (Responsibly).

Your “Keep” pile…Time to start sorting.

  • Organize your “Keep” pile into categories.

  • Get a portable file box or carton, buy or make dividers, and file each paper appropriately.

  • (Tip: Remember, you will most likely add to this box from other piles!)

Your gut-wrenching “Maybe”…We just can't keep everything.

  • For those items that we need the actual "thing"to touch and see, create a memory box, carton, bin, whatever you choose.

  • Put it in a storage area that is accessible, but don't let it take up vital space for everyday things we need.

  • So many stores sell beautiful boxes. I have loose photos in one box on display and guests often go through them, which makes for great conversation.

  • The scanner is now your new best friend! All those book reports, report cards, job reviews, thank you notes, birthday and anniversary cards, etc, can be scanned in its own folder and saved, easily accessible on your computer or tablet desktop.

  • At a later date you’d be able to view, print, or email the items!

  • If it’s an item that you want to have nearby, take a photo with your smartphone, create an album and label it memorabilia and you’re done.


Some personal thoughts:

I have saved every recipe hand-written by my mother or her sisters and I just won’t part with them. It just gives me that warm fuzzy memory. I have hand-written recipes from my father in law, a professional baker, stained with flour and grease from the bakery. Will my children want them? Perhaps not! But, at some point I’ll photograph them and create an online or hard copy album or book with notes and stories for them.

We all have some memorabilia that is hard to part with and we all accumulate too much "stuff." But we can control what we keep to avoid memorabilia becoming clutter.

NJ Expert Organizer, Marilyn Shain Labendz, acknowledges the stress that letting go of  memorabilia can create.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page