Tag Archives: memories

Daily tip #7: Let go of the past

Here is another ‘clutter versus change’ scenario to ponder. Sometimes people hold onto possessions they no longer use because it reminds them of times gone by when they were in a happier state of mind or life circumstance.

I have noticed that when my clients are surrounded with objects from the past, they have a hard time being in the present moment. This makes it difficult for them to be open and spontaneous to creating new and happy experiences.

The more clutter you have, the less you are able to be in the present moment and grab the good times as they happen.

Here’s a bonus to get you moving towards a clutter free home. Did you know that simply getting rid of clutter in your home can save you 40% of your cleaning time?

Click here for more information on how being organized and ditching old items can make you healthier…

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Tips for Decluttering Your Life and Your Home

Tips for Decluttering Your Life and Your Home

I recently received a question from an addSpace follower. I am certain that many of you also have a similar concern so I wanted to go into detail and provide practical steps to help you declutter your life. This is what she asked:

What questions can I ask myself as I sort through boxes of “stuff” in order to get rid of most of it?

The answer:

For starters, if these boxes have been packed and loaded for a long period of time (over 3 months), before you open them you need to ask yourself – “what exactly is in there?

If you don’t have a (more…)

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Scrapbook Organizing Tips

scrapbook shelf

Many of my clients are stuck in the muck of their scrap booking projects. Scrapbook inertia is a common phenomenon. It often comes from wanting to make your pages perfect or simply not knowing where to begin.

Perhaps you can’t figure out how to (more…)

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Garage Organizing ~ FAQ

Cleaning Garage

Here are a few answers to my most frequently asked questions:

Q) What Tools Do I Need To Organize a Garage?

Gather boxes, in all shapes and sizes along with a box of large trash bags.

Q) When Should I Begin?

The day after trash is emptied if possible.

Q) How Should I Begin?

To begin, remove everything from your garage. I know this sounds intimidating, but this is the only way you will clearly see what you are holding onto.

Start 3 piles outside (more…)

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Little Known Secrets For Photo Storage

Photo Album

Proper photo storage is more than simply placing pictures in a photo album. Using the proper materials can help preserve your photos for years to come, and you can (more…)

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Recycle Your Family Treasures

memory box

Two of my clients provide a great example of why it pays to rethink old storage habits. John and Millie had lived in the same house for twenty years. They started off as two and soon became a family of five. After their kids went off to college, they decided to downsize into a smaller home and nicer neighborhood.

They went from a 5-bedroom home to a three bedroom. The second bedroom became a home office. They now had an extra bedroom that could serve as a guest/crafts/TV room. Although their kids were in college and soon to graduate, they still had all of their childhood memories and extra clothes. Sound familiar?

Instead of moving all of their college kids items into the spare bedroom or garage, they hired me to meet with each student to help them determine what they wanted to keep as they transitioned into young adults living on their own. This process was helpful for both the kids and the parents.

John and Millie agreed to store 4-5 bins for each child until they settled down with their own homes. The remaining items were either taken by the children to be used at school or donated. The reality is this: when young adults are faced with the reality of lugging around memories and extra clothes, they find it fairly easy to downsize. If they don’t have to make that choice, they will always resort to keeping everything form their childhood because, after all, mom and dad have enough space!

Without questioning what they were storing, John and Mille might have been stuck warehousing 20-30 boxes for each child for the next 10-15 years. Or until they died! This is not an exaggeration. I have seen this happen more times than you can imagine.

The most common comments I hear from kids as they sort through their old possessions are “Why did mom keep this for so long? Or even more tragic, “Where did this come from?” Realize that you are not doing your kids any favors by storing their keepsakes and cast-off clothing and toys after they leave the nest.

The same principal applies to your old items. If you do not take the time to purge, your children are left with that task after you are gone. It is much harder for them to decide about what to release because your possessions come loaded emotional charge. There is also a lot of guilt associated with getting rid of the items that you lovingly stored for years. After all, they feel that maybe they should keep these things because you did for years. If they get rid of it, does that mean they are dishonoring you? These are just a few of the thoughts I hear as children sort through their parent’s memory items. Please do not make your children go through this process on a large scale. It is very difficult and emotionally draining.

It is wise to set aside time at least once a year to work with your children and downsize their possessions, be it memories, books, games or clothes. Do not hang onto possessions forever simply because they represent good times and happy memories.

If your children are young, you can start a new routine for their childhood memories. Keep an under-the-bed bin for each child. Throughout the year, place memories into this bin. Every summer, go through the bin with your child and toss what they no longer wish to keep. The goal will be to have only one box of memories by the time they move off to college or out of the house. When they leave and begin their new life as adults, send the bin with them!

*addSpace Quick Tip Trophies do not stand the test of time in storage. Arms and heads are frequently missing years later. Keep this memory intact by peeling off the placquard and paste it into a photo album beside the photo of your child receiving the trophy. After all, it is really about the achievement, not the trophy itself. Discard the trophy. Or better yet, give it to your school rummage sale; kid’s imaginations make trophies a top selling item, believe it or not!

Children have huge hearts. Keep a donation bin in each child’s room by their door. As they outgrow or lose interest in toys, games or books, they can place these items into this bin. Take these items to charity. Make sure your kids realize how their items will be used to help others. Take your kids on a tour of your local Salvation Army training center or other local charitable facility. Children are natural-born philanthropists. Once they know what happens to their castoffs, they love to send their extra possessions on to others in need!

Recycle and repurpose. Your life will become rich as you spread your good fortune. Send your possessions back into the world so that they can circulate and make more great memories for others to enjoy. Adding space always brings more joy and satisfaction to your life!

by Kathi Burns – addSpace To Your Life!TM,
a Professional Organizing and Image Consulting Agency
Want to get better organized and look your best?
Get more quick tips by visiting the addSpace To Your Life!TM website.
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Please direct a courtesy copy of your publication to:
advice@addspacetoyourlife.com or snail mail it to:
Kathi Burns
AddSpace To Your Life!TM
259 B Hillcrest Drive
Encinitas, CA 92024

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Beach Cottage Basement Witnesses 5 Generations of History

Situation: A beach cottage with at least five generations of family memorabilia stashed into the basement. The family has inhabited this cottage since 1887 and the basement is now a combination of items from several storage rooms.

Memories abound and many valuable articles are decaying in cardboard boxes. The room is damp and chaos reigns supreme. It is overwhelming to go inside. With a small cottage and a large family, it would be a bonus to have another room for visiting out of town children and grandchildren as well as a place to store extra kitchenware and clothing.

Solution: Delve into each box and separate family memories one by one from trash and donation items. We preserved all valuable memories into plastic Sterilite boxes that stacked into one corner of the room.

Divide the room into two separate areas, storeroom and guest room using the existing partitions.

The storeroom area was set up with rows of shelves to hold extra dishes, baking and kitchen cookware that would not fit into the house. We also stored holiday items, extra clothes, memories and luggage into this side of the room.

In the guest area, books were organized on the huge floor to ceiling bookshelves. A gaming table was arranged, the bed set up with side tables with lights and a cozy reading area equipped with a wing back chair and floor lamp. This new improved basement will easily accommodate 2 – 4 houseguests.

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Garage, Storage Units and Keepsakes

big garage before

Situation: This garage had plenty of built-in storage but a mess was created when we decided to get rid of the off-site storage unit and consolidate everything into the garage. As with most organizing projects, there is usually temporary chaos before there is order.

Challenge: The back wall of this garage had built-in floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall shelves but they were completely full of childhood memories consisting of one large plastic bin per child per year.With three kids all of them at least in middle school, that meant a lot of bins!

big garage after

Solution: We went through all of the kid’s  memory boxes. At first it was very hard for my client to get rid of childhood papers. She eventually became a champ at making decisions and letting go of enough memories so that each child’s memory items could fit into only one to two bins each. This reduced the storage bins from about 6-8 per child to 2 which gave us a lot more space to store items brought from the off-site storage unit. My client did an amazing job learning how to let go. Her kids still have plenty of great memorabilia to discover and uncover later!

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Kitchen Bar Counter Checks Out for Lunch



This kitchen bar counter had turned into a dumping ground for all things that didn’t have a pre-defined place to live elsewhere. The owner had spent the past year investing all of her energies traveling to see her husband in an assisted care living facility. She simply did not have any energy at the end of the day to maintain her own home.

An additional challenge was that this home had been her main residence for 40 years and, as is normal for everyone, she had accumulated many duplicate and unnecessary possessions.


Determining what types or categories of items had actually found their way to this area. Most of the items did not belong in the kitchen/living room but ended up there by default because there wasn’t any space in the other parts of the house to store them.

Like most classic organizing projects, we had to begin organizing and de-cluttering other parts of the house before we could tackle this particular area. For this client, our work began in the garage. Once we had the garage organized and purged of all unnecessary items, we had created enough space to move what she wanted to keep and store from the kitchen area.


Begin by tackling, purging and organizing the two car garage which had initially room for only one car. Once that area was organized, we had space to bring in the other items from the kitchen that needed to be stored there long term. These items mainly consisted of memories, clothes and holiday decorations.

Many of the duplicate items were given to her daughter who was in the process of purchasing a new home so it was a win-win for everyone!


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Organizing closet crammed full of clothes and memories



My client had fluctuating weight issues and did not want to get rid of any clothes in the off chance that her size changed. She had massive amounts of clothes that were too big and clothes that were too small. (more…)

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