What about sentimental items?

When Marie Kondo came on the scene a few years ago, lots of people were talking about her decluttering mantra: “Keep only things that spark joy.” It makes sense. Why hang on to things that aren’t making you happy (or serving a practical purpose in your life)? It seems like a straightforward concept until you get to those boxes in the attic full of childhood toys and memorabilia. The wedding album tucked away in the closet. Your great grandmother’s jewelry, passed down through the generations. Marie’s “joy” principle becomes a little more challenging once items have sentimental meaning attached.

Keepsakes, photographs, family heirlooms, and gifted items are harder for people to let go due to the emotions and memories that go along with them.

Does that mean those things are immune to decluttering? Apologies in advance to anyone who isn’t ready to hear this, but the answer is NO. Just because an item has a happy feeling attached to it doesn’t mean you need to keep it forever. (The same applies to items that have been gifted to you.) Eventually, those items fill up boxes and dusty corners of the basement, only to get looked at once every few years. Sure, you may feel happy when you do decide to take those items out, but are those few moments of joy worth all the wasted space they are occupying?

A few tips for anyone who has trouble letting go of sentimental items:

  • Keep only the things that are really important to you.
  • Take pictures and document the rest. The memories are what often holds meaning, not the physical item itself.
  • Transfer photos/papers to digital files. You can still hang on to them this way, but they won’t take up as much physical space.
  • Donate items to other family members who may want them. (This way, you can still keep things within the family, but can take the responsibility off yourself.)
  • Don’t feel guilty. At the end of the day, it’s just stuff. You are not obligated to hang on to every item that comes across your path. Getting rid of something doesn’t mean you love a person, event, or memory any less.

The Magic of Mindset

Last week I had the pleasure of helping a client get their overly cluttered walk-in closet in order. After day two we had a few large garbage bags of items to discard and several boxes to donate. When we were done, my client pointed out several things on her now-organized shelves and said “Oh, I forgot about those!” It was exciting for her to finally be able to access things that brought her joy and not have them lost among clutter anymore.

You’re probably thinking,“Why didn’t she just get rid of all that extra stuff sooner?”

There are a number of things that hold people back from making changes in their lives, even if they are positive changes. The big one (as was the case with my client) is mindset. You can have the desire, the time, and the resources to do something, but without the right mindset, you’ll never make it happen.

You’re mindset plays a huge role in everything that you do. If you’re constantly telling yourself, “I could never do that,” “I’ll never get it all done,” or “I’m not good/smart/motivated/whatever enough for that,” you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Even just by saying “Oh, I’ll never find the time to organize,” you’ve already convinced yourself that you aren’t capable of doing it, thus making it likely that you’ll never even give it a shot.

This week, I launched a new branch of my business: clutter coaching. There is more to organizing than simply put objects away and keeping your home tidy. Having the right mindset, letting go of the things holding you back, and truly understanding the reason for chronic disorganization are some of the things I want to help my clients work on. Through clutter coaching, we can work on those things together. Creating an entirely new mindset and new (better) habits might be seem daunting, but it will 100% be worth it in the end.

I’m so excited to be sharing this new venture with you all! 🙂


Ready to learn more about clutter coaching? Click the button below and let’s get started!

Challenge Wrap Up

It’s hard to believe that this is the last day of the New Year, New Habits Challenge already! The first weeks of the year have flown by quickly. Whether you took part in the challenge or just made the decision to start your own organizing journey this year, I am proud of you. The decision to make important life changes and those first few (scary) steps are HUGE. Even if you tried the challenge and it didn’t quite go as planned, I hope you give yourself a pat on the back for even trying.

I am pleased to report that my own challenge to do the dishes every night before bed went extremely well. I will be one hundred percent transparent with you: As someone who worked in the culinary field for several years, I loathe doing dishes. I have often viewed dishes as a “chore” and would avoid doing them for a few days at a time. When multiple people live within your household, however, ignoring the dishes for a couple of days can add up and create a lot of visual clutter in the kitchen. Going into this challenge, I decided that even on days where I really didn’t want to do the dishes, I would force myself to do them anyway.

And you know what?

It wasn’t that bad! Doing the dishes every single night was actually way easier to maintain than doing them every other day. By keeping up with them more regularly, I cut down on the amount of time I would normally spend washing dishes. As I’ve mentioned before, getting in the habit of doing something for just fifteen minutes a day can make a huge impact on your day-to-day routine. The best part of the challenge was waking up every morning to a completely clean, empty sink!

I have loved receiving pictures and hearing about your own organizing challenges! If you haven’t done so already, leave me a comment or send me a message on social media to share your own challenges with me! 🙂

Holiday Declutter: Avoiding Burnout

Most of the people I know seem to fall into one of two groups:

a. The “I love everything about the holidays” group

b. The “Ugh, it’s the holidays” group

If you identify with the first group then this post is probably not for you. (Go put up some more lights and buy your family matching plaid pajamas. This is your time to shine!) If you find yourself in the second group, then I welcome you to the club.

Many people get super stressed around the holidays. When you’re a kid it’s all Santa, presents, and excitement. Sadly, it no longer feels like “the most wonderful time of the year” when you’re an adult and all sorts of additional expectations are thrown at you. There are presents to buy, parties to attend, dozens of cookies to bake, and family members demanding your presence. This is where step one of the organizing process comes in very handy. (Yes, the principles of organizing apply to areas outside of the physical mess in your home! Don’t worry, there will be plenty more on this later.)

The first step of organizing is to declutter. Simplify. Purge. Edit. It doesn’t matter which term you use, the principle is the same: Cut back. If you want to be less stressed around the holidays, then it’s time to cut out the excess. Despite what anyone else says, you don’t have to do everything during the holidays. Did you get that? You don’t have to do everything during the holidays. A lot of people feel like they have to cram their schedules with as much “stuff” as possible this time of year. If you’re already working a 9-5 job, parenting, taking care of your house, running your kids back and forth to soccer practice, and doing all the normal day-to-day responsibilities adults get stuck with, adding an additional week’s worth of activities on top is going to leave you exhausted and stressed. For what? For the sake of saying you did a Christmas photoshoot every year? For the sake of seeing those relatives that you don’t speak to the rest of the year? For the sake of attending more parties than you did the previous year?

If any of those things are important to you/your family, then that’s great. Keep it up. You should do the things you enjoy during the holidays. If you’re just doing them to please other people, or because you feel like a “failure” if you don’t do them all, then you need to reevaluate. Will some people be disappointed? Maybe, but that’s their problem, not yours. Focus on yourself and the things that bring you joy, too.