Random header image... Refresh for more!

#MicroblogMondays 13: Keep or Toss

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.


Lifehacker had a timely (for me) article on how to decide whether to keep or part with sentimental items.  You ask yourself whether you’d buy it again at full price, if the object has happy memories associated with it, of if you’d still want it if someone you disliked gave it to you.  All fine questions, though I’d personally never use them to cull out the mess in my storage room.

It was timely because I had reason to go through three boxes of old papers this week — stuff from high school until graduate school.  Old stories, autograph pages that were supposed to go in yearbooks, letters, notes that friends passed me in the hall, photographs.  None of Lifehacker’s questions obviously applied to those papers.

If Lifehacker showed up at my house and told me I could only keep ten things, those three boxes of paper would make the cut.  As would photographs of the twins.  The family tree.  The most important things to me seem to be made out of paper.  What tangible objects would you save if Lifehacker told you that you had to clean up your storage spaces?


Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Donโ€™t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blogโ€™s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts.

1. No Baby Ruth 20. Solo Mama 39. Kasey
2. lostintranslation 21. Infertile Girl 40. Dubliner In Deutschland
3. Jen (Days of Grace) 22. S 41. Laurel Regan @ Alphabet Salad
4. articulation 23. deathstar 42. Microblog Monday: Wear a Hat
5. Uma S 24. Rain 43. queenjohnsonclan
6. Gil (The Hardest Quest) 25. Amanda 44. Emma
7. Corinne Rodrigues 26. Shail 45. Fran
8. Waiting for Baby 27. Good Families Do 46. stephanie (Travelcraft Journal)
9. Persnickety 28. apluseffort 47. My Path To Mommyhood (Jess)
10. D 29. Amber 48. Kimberly
11. earthandink 30. Elizabeth Project Progeny 49. AHalf Baked Life: Liminal
12. Mary Francis 31. Loribeth (The Road Less Travelled) 50. With love, Tania
13. Turia 32. Mali (No Kidding) 51. Middle Girl
14. Geochick 33. Mali (A Separate Life) 52. Clothes, Control & 2 Books @ Nabanita
15. Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles 34. Parenthood Diaries 53. sharah
16. Non Sequitur Chica 35. torthรบ il 54. Ke Anne
17. Buttermilk 36. Running Nekkid 55. Heather
18. Losing itty bitty Liddy 37. Cristy 56. Tara
19. Isabelle 38. Mina


1 No Baby Ruth { 11.24.14 at 5:45 am }

Agreed on the paper front. Pictures, for sure. Correspondence from my husband’s and my time living in different countries. Hospital bracelets.

It’s funny, too, for me to think of “buying something at full price” in relationship to the vast majority of sentimental items I have. Major disconnect there.

2 Jen { 11.24.14 at 6:13 am }

Photographs. Clothes I don’t wear any more (“But I bought that to wear for R’s first birthday!”). Toiletries with special memories – I kept the bubble bath from the night before my wedding for years and used it on my anniversaries. It’s hard being a sentimental person who doesn’t like clutter!

3 UmaS { 11.24.14 at 6:31 am }

You know, I’ve a theory for clearing up. Whatever I put up in my loft and have not used it or thought of using it for one whole year, those are the things that I don’t need for survival. I easily let go of them and give them to people who might find a use for it.
This clutter cleaning is very much needed if we are staying put in the same place for many years !

4 md { 11.24.14 at 6:33 am }

photos, books, baby clothes, wedding memorabilia..

5 Corinne Rodrigues { 11.24.14 at 7:05 am }

Being an Army brat taught me to keep things to the minimum, Mel. Then I went and married someone who sees sentimental value in every little thing! ๐Ÿ™‚ Took some years for us to reach a balance – but we’re getting there. Books and photographs are the hardest things for me to let go off!

6 Persnickety { 11.24.14 at 7:09 am }

Photos. I have a lot of clutter, but have kept and left behind so much I don’t know what I would reach for!
We are continually trying to declutter.
Even the photos and the letters, I would scan, and keep the memory stick

7 lostintranslation { 11.24.14 at 7:26 am }

photos, letters of loved ones and diaries, my wedding dress, a few items of baby clothing and probably some more stuff that I would discover when cleaning out the storage…

8 D { 11.24.14 at 7:37 am }

Such thought provoking questions! Photos would definitely be up there. It is kind of sad to say that I have a whole attic that is full of stuff. Out of most of that stuff, I have no idea what most of it is. I think I have one box that I have had since high school that has random stuff that meant something to me at one point. I’d probably keep that box, too…wherever it is. ๐Ÿ™‚

9 earthandink { 11.24.14 at 7:51 am }

And those paper items are the reason I’ll invest in a fireproof filing cabinet as soon as I can afford one. I remember seeing pictures from a devastating fire, one man standing where his house was, and pulling out photos from a fireproof safe of family members who were gone. And realized I wanted one of those for that reason. (And for my writing.)

10 Tracie { 11.24.14 at 7:59 am }

I agree with you on the paper. I think the things I love the most are made out of it. And now, after reading earthandink’s comment, I want a fireproof safe. Oh my goodness. That is a good idea.

11 andy { 11.24.14 at 8:32 am }

My main keepsakes are paper too! my baby book, letters to and from my birth mother and Liam’s birth mother. ALL pictures, even of the family members I don’t speak to and who make my blood boil. I remember an old superstition (Amish in nature maybe?) that a part of a persons soul is captured in a picture and that you should never destroy them because it destroys a bit of their soul. Ever since hearing that as a kid, I cannot throw out/destroy pictures of people. I even have a box of half pictures where I have cut out someone to use in scrapbooking, but kept the other half instead of throwing it away. I guess I have my own box of “horcruxes”.

12 Ellen O'Neil { 11.24.14 at 9:15 am }

I have been decluttering for a while now…and try to follow the William Morris quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I do keep old photos and some old writings. Unfortunately my husband goes by a different philosophy and has rather bad taste, so my efforts are thwarted by Tiki mugs and garage sale finds. He is more sentimental than I am, and also finds beauty in things that I can’t stand. But I love him…and so….

13 Turia { 11.24.14 at 9:19 am }

Oh I am a paper hoarder too. Stories I wrote in elementary school, my unfinished novel from high school, my autobiography I had to write for an assignment in high school, love letters from old boyfriends, all the cards Q.’s given me, etc. etc. I am terrible with paper and can never get rid of it. I sense years ahead of me where I try to purge E’s artwork and end up storing it instead.

Photos too, although I am not as organized with them.

14 Vidya Sury { 11.24.14 at 9:54 am }

I desperately need motivation to do the keep or toss thing right now, Mel. Gosh, my paper mountains are freaking me out. I’ve begun to clear them up – but you know how it is….go through three, toss one and then settle down to read the rest and never get anywhere. Sigh.

I’ve begun to take photos of various things – easier to store and gosh, what a lot of dusting saved!

Still, I have miles to go before I sleep.

I feel a post brewing ๐Ÿ˜€

15 Buttermilk { 11.24.14 at 10:06 am }

I would have to save some of my paintings. I can part with some of the others. I would also save my small stash of baby keepsakes. I think the rest of my worldly possessions can go.

16 Isabelle { 11.24.14 at 10:28 am }

My husband and I keep a box of all of our greeting cards to each other as well as all the memorabilia for our celebrations: receipts for restaurants for our anniversaries, train ride stubs, brochure of places we visited during trips, etc. Those I will keep.

17 fifi { 11.24.14 at 11:48 am }

Paper is my major clutter problem too. I’m pretty good at throwing away old clothes and gadgets, but I’ll procrastinate forever about tackling a box of old papers.

A number of years ago, after a breakup, I decluttered my photograph collection. This was pre-digital, so there were a lot, many of them blurred or with red eyes or heads cut out. I felt weirdly guilty about binning them, even though I’m glad I did. I’m so glad that digital photography makes this process obsolete!

I have a scrapbook for greeting cards. Only the “special” cards go into it — the handmade birthday card from my niece, the photo thank-you from my friend’s wedding. The rest are binned as soon as the occasion has reached a reasonable time in the past.

18 Sharon { 11.24.14 at 11:54 am }

I have a small box of items from my sons’ early baby days, containing their hospital bracelets and a few preemie outfits, that would make the cut. I’d also keep a few particularly special cards and letters from family members, a couple of whom have passed on, as well as all the photos I have of my family and my beloved deceased dog. (These wouldn’t take up as much space as you’d think, since so many of my photos are now digital.)

I also have a couple of journals I kept in high school that I would keep. Occasionally I like to read back through them to remind myself both how much I have changed. . . and how much I have stayed the same.

19 Ana { 11.24.14 at 12:55 pm }

Those “rules” are kind of bizarre when it comes to sentimental items. If you COULD buy it again, it wouldn’t be a sentimental item, right? How do you judge your child’s outgrown onesie or first self-portrait in preschool? I go with my gut. If I want to keep it, I do…but I do revisit every so often, because the attachment often lessens with time, and my full box of outgrown baby items I couldn’t bear to part with is now 2-3 outfits per child. EVERY PIECE of artwork that came home has been whittled down to one storage container for every 2 years. My high school journals were recently tossed (mostly because I do not want anyone reading them should I suddenly die).

20 Battynurse { 11.24.14 at 1:20 pm }

I struggle with this. Having recently moved into a much smaller space I’ve gotten rid of a lot of stuff and will likely get rid of more eventually. Part of me is considering getting rid of school yearbooks etc. I pretty much haven’t looked at them in years so why keep them. Plus the possible added benefit of someday sharing them with my children isn’t there anymore either.

21 Mrs T { 11.24.14 at 1:29 pm }

Photos. The outfit Miss E wore home from the airport. The stuffed bear I got for Christmas when I was 5. And as for Ana’s point above, I’ve kept my journals from elementary, middle and high school even though I would die all over again if someone read them after I was dead. Even *I* don’t want to read them again… and yet I can’t throw them out.

22 Amber { 11.24.14 at 2:17 pm }

I’ve been getting rid of a lot of stuff lately in preparation for selling our house and moving. There are some things I just don’t know what to do with, but can’t throw away, and those are all the paper items like you mention.

23 Mali { 11.24.14 at 3:03 pm }

My great-grandmother’s piano. Photos. My ring. My Christmas tree decorations. My letters home and diary from my AFS year. Obviously if that’s all I’m really sentimental about, I need to declutter.

24 loribeth { 11.24.14 at 3:05 pm }

This is an issue I struggle with too (I always tell people, “Why do you think we haven’t moved in 25 years??”) I would hang onto all the stuff people have already mentioned — photos, journals, Katie’s things, the letters dh & I wrote to each other (in pre-Internet days, when we HAD to rely on snail mail and long distance was expensive). My latest project (just begun) is to cull our gargantuan book collection, which is currently spilling off the shelves & includes piles on the basement floor. It’s going to take awhile, and it’s sooooo hard — but it has to be done…!

We moved around a lot when we were kids & would purge stuff with every move… but we didn’t have an much STUFF as kids today have either. My parents have been in their current house 30 years now and are talking about downsizing… my sister & I still have stuff there. We made a stab at clearing out the basement crawl space a few summers ago — but some of the stuff I told my mother she could get rid of then (old dolls, etc.) is STILL there. (I tried…!) I did save some of the papers I wrote in university and my old scrapbooks. I also decided I couldn’t part with my old Barbie dolls just yet, even though I have no little girls to pass them on to, as I once hoped I would. I think I had every Valentine I ever got in grade school, but I threw them all out– except for one from the boy I had a crush on in Grade 4. ๐Ÿ˜‰

My sister & mother were going through a box of stuff from my university dorm room with me on the phone — it was mostly old mugs & glasses, etc., & I told my mom she could put it all in her next garage sale or give it to the local thrift shop. Next time I came home, the glasses were sitting there in my mom’s kitchen cupboard. At least I know I come by it honestly. ๐Ÿ˜‰

25 torthuil { 11.24.14 at 3:30 pm }

I generally dislike clutter a lot, so I think my storage room is pretty well organized and the stuff in there is of value. I would throw away some of Mr. Turtle’s crap LOL! Actually, I’m sure there are some things of mine it wouldn’t bother me to dispose of, but like you I’ve kept a lot of writing and notes from youth through to university. I consider it part of my history and while I don’t often go through it, I like to know it’s there. If an object triggers a memory that is important to me, I will tend to keep it. I don’t get overly attached to objects as a matter of course though, and I resent things that get in my way and don’t add quality to my life. I’m not sure how having a child will affect my attitudes – children attract a lot of stuff, but at least for the moment the thought of disposing of any of AJ’s stuff isn’t remotely bearable.

26 celeste { 11.24.14 at 3:36 pm }

Eeeeek! I am a memory keeper. I have all of my family’s old photos, including some of my parents’ baby pictures. I’m trying to get those all into a digital format so if a disaster strikes at least the images can be preserved. I also keep all old letters and cards. I have some from my great aunts and uncles that I go back to when I miss them.

I have so much STUFF from my oldest’s elementary school years. Now that my daughter is bringing stuff home, I’m starting her collection. And while I do go through and get rid of stuff on the regular, there is so much that I will keep as long as I am physically able. If Lifehacker came by and told me to pare down, I’d tell them to stuff it. Lol.

27 Cristy { 11.24.14 at 3:36 pm }

It’s so hard to cull through items and make decisions like this. Even within papers I’ve keep from high school through graduate school, I find that things I thought I would keep forever I’m now parting with (mainly because of lot of this is now available electronically).

Things I have kept though: treasured books (both from childhood through graduate school), photographs, sweaters (I have a thing for sweaters), stuffed animals and some blankets (goes with the sweaters).

28 SRB { 11.24.14 at 4:22 pm }

Interesting questions to ask while decluttering. I find the “would I buy this again (at full price)?” question useful only when it comes to clothing. Will need to think seriously on the ten items… drawing a considerable blank.

29 Mina { 11.24.14 at 4:34 pm }

I know this is going against the trend, but having being raised in a culture where children are constantly told what to do, and in a period when everyone was told what and how to do it, I am reluctant at taking advice from any lifehacker. If I feel attached to something, I keep it. When the time comes for me to let it go, I will. Until then, I keep the junk I need to keep to make me happy. That includes LOADS of papers, letters, cards, notes, souvenirs, tissues, tickets, trinckets, items of clothing, and books. I never give books away. Granted, I’ve been buying only ebooks for the past 2-3 years, so that is helpful. But yes, I have dedicated space for things I have to still keep, and I go through them when I feel up to it. And if I can purge, I do, if not, I just enjoy revisiting the feelings they evoke. Life is as simple as one makes it. ๐Ÿ™‚

30 Kasey { 11.24.14 at 4:36 pm }

Agree with SRB – the full price question has me thinking clothing, which I desperately need to declutter. I’m working on it. I have 3 boxes of things from my childhood in storage in my Mom’s basement. Living in our tiny apartment I am much less sentimental than I used to be out of necessity and sometimes this makes me sad. Things I would keep. The two boxes of photos and mementos from Rob’s family which is ALL of the family stuff in existence from his side, and the kids memory boxes. And can I keep my blog as that is the storage of my life.

31 DublinGal { 11.24.14 at 4:37 pm }

I would have to keep photos, my old diaries, letters.. I have a big problem with getting rid of stuff, since I’m quite sentimental about things.

32 Laurel Regan { 11.24.14 at 6:26 pm }

I’ve moved several times, most recently across the country, so I’ve pared down a lot in terms of possessions. That said, there are certain things I just wouldn’t part with – and you’re right, they’re mostly paper! Scrapbooks, photo albums, and old journals top the list.

33 queenjohnsonclan { 11.24.14 at 7:05 pm }

This is an awful question for me. I feel like I’m the only woman in the world who would pass out if I was asked to keep a scrap book or heaven forbid…a movie stub lol. I don’t hold on to anything. It sounds harsh even to me but I am just so easily…cluttered I guess. I have to say my son’s hero award, my daughter’s first “real” painting, and probably a lovely photo of payday and I on our four year anniversary would be things I want to keep. I can’t think of anything else material to save. I am trying to get better with photos…I like a snap shot in time as much as the next person, but other than that I don’t regret not having that many keepsakes. The things I want to remember or things I would never forget anyway and events that have faded in my memory are free to go to the backroom of my mind and await their summons (if it ever comes ๐Ÿ™‚ )

34 Emma { 11.24.14 at 8:21 pm }

Photos for sure! And photo albums/scrapbooks. My camera is another thing I would want to take with me if I had to choose a certain number of items to save.

35 Fran { 11.24.14 at 8:55 pm }

I store very little, but I do have high school diaries and personal diaries which have come with me every time I moved home! So I totally agree with you keeping those three boxes!

36 Jess { 11.24.14 at 9:38 pm }

Hmmm, great question! I am a huge hoarder and would throw out pretty much nothing if not for my extreme un-cluttery husband, who I swear occasionally goes through stuff not touched in a while and puts in a bag to see if I miss it and then throws it out when I don’t…immediately. I keep EVERYTHING. I just might use it someday. On my list are all my notebooks and old diaries (you could never ever replace those! I agree those boxes should be saved!), my yearbooks, my collection of sheet music and all things related to my violin, all kajillion of my books, and photos. I actually mourn physical photos and need to do a better job getting them printed. I worry a giant EMP is going to wipe out all my memories from about 2007 on. More photobooks, and then I would save them. ๐Ÿ™‚

37 Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) { 11.24.14 at 11:07 pm }

Sometimes if I take a photo of something, I’m more okay getting rid of it. That way, it can still bring back memories without taking up space.

38 Justine { 11.24.14 at 11:17 pm }

It’s funny … once, I would have said the journals that I kept from childhood, or the pictures of my youth or the kids when they were young, but I don’t feel attached to those things any more. I used to tell my son, when we were out somewhere without a camera, to “take a picture with his mind” … and maybe there’s something to that … maybe I’ve tried to internalize all of the things that mean the most to me. Which is not to say that I don’t have paper (old letters, primarily) … just that if I had to lose them, it wouldn’t be, as Bishop says, a disaster.

39 Middle Girl { 11.25.14 at 12:17 am }

I’ve lost most of the artifacts of my own childhood. The few that remain are dear. Otherwise, drawsings and writings of mine, my son and daughter. My mother’s papers, a letter my father sent many years ago, and select photos.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
The contents of this website are protected by applicable copyright laws. All rights are reserved by the author