Question: I collect magazine articles and have files upon files of them. What should I do with them?
It sounds to me that you like collecting information. Maybe you like to “know” things and pass information along to others. Or you like to have the info “in case” you might need it. Maybe it’s a bit of both.
Clutter is defined as something you do not love, that is not useful and that you do not have room for in your space. With that in mind, I have some questions for you:
· Do you actually refer to the articles? If not, is it because you can’t find anything or you never actually need to use the info?
· Do you have room for your articles or is your collection outgrowing or has already outgrown its space?
I once worked with someone who had an extensive magazine collection. Someone asked her for place card ideas for a party, and she brought in a stack of ideas culled from her collection. I was blown away. I have never had the patience to maintain magazines articles to any extent. For me, they were clutter; to her they were very useful.
Be honest with yourself about how useful your articles are to you. If you can’t find what you’re looking for but have actually needed the info, it’s time to set up a system that works for you. By asking me your question, I’m guessing that the collection is either not useful to you or you have too much of it.
“In case” are code words for fear. You just might be collecting information to make you feel like you are safe, “If I ever need to know this, I’m covered!” It would be ideal to address the emotion and not collect the stuff, or you set yourself up for needing more and more stuff to cover the fear.
To start clearing and set up a system that works for you, I would suggest this approach:
Until this past weekend, I had pockets of memorabilia throughout my house. All of it was contained, nothing I considered out of hand, but I hadn’t looked at some of it in years. I decided I wanted to pull it all into one place and go through it to see what still had meaning. Key concept here: Still had meaning, not meaningful years ago.
So what did I find? I found the very first real, store-bought -from-Hallmark valentine I got from a boy in 4th grade. It gave me loads of smiles then. And I’m sure the basketball tournament ticket stub from 8th grade was once very meaningful. I’m guessing someone significant made meaningful eye contact with me at one, or maybe two, games.
What did I feel for both things now? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Why did I still have them (and more of their brothers and sisters)? Because I hadn’t looked through the spiral-bound School Record pockets since… I honestly can’t remember. Or the jewelry boxes in deep storage. Or the baby clothes I thought I had already given away.
It was great fun to do this with a friend. She brought bins of cards, letters, pictures, and we hooted with each other over some really funny stuff. We lit a roaring fire and burned some things, recycled, pitched, and packed other things for goodwill.
It wasn't easy. Some things were very sticky. When in doubt I kept some things and got rid of others. There are no right answers.
At the end of the night as we were sipping gin and tonics in front of the mound of burning ash, we thought these things were worth keeping in mind:
Of all the things we keep, I think memorabilia is the most ripe for feelings of guilt. I truly believe that we are most restored and at peace in our homes when we are surrounded by things we use or love, and we cannot be if we are keeping things out of obligation. The more we release and let go of these things, the more free we will feel, and the less sticky everything becomes.