Let's Talk About the Hard Stuff: Decluttering Photographs, Journals & Letters


I think that most of us could agree that some of the hardest items to sort through and to let go of are old: photographs, journals and letters. Compared to most of the other items in our homes, these are some of the most sentimental. Sorting through them we find accounts of our childhood and adult years, words of encouragement, funny stories, and reminders of life as we knew it. These items conjure up all sorts of memories, both good and bad, of people that we have shared life with. Depending on our collection, the thought of going through the boxes of old photographs, cards and letters can feel overwhelming.

If you were to let go of some of them, wouldn’t it be like you were letting go of your memories? Not necessarily. While I do come across a photograph every now and then that reminds me of a particular moment in time, overall I have a pretty good memory of my life! I can still remember many a summer spent with my family at the pool or building Lego villages with my brother down in our parent’s basement. I can easily recall meeting my then-boyfriend-now-husband in high school and falling in love. There is a lot that we can remember but also a lot that I’m guessing, we rather not! Going through these items is a wonderful way of sorting through and shedding memories that you wish to be reminded of and those which you are ready to let go.


Tips for Decluttering Your Photographs, Cards & Letters:

  • Create a piece of art using your some of your favorite old photographs, cards and letters.

  • After sorting through, put your collection into a large scrapbook. This way you can easily pull it out and remember the good times!

  • Digitize your collection. While it will take sometime, scanning your photographs and letters onto your computer will allow you the ability to easily pull up your collection and enjoy it with friends and family.

  • Keep the memories alive by passing on stories to your family and friends.

  • Chances are your going to have some photographs that don’t mean much to you - they might mean a lot to your sibling or your parent though; in which case, consider mailing them to them as a pleasant surprise! Keep only the photographs that really mean something to you.

  • When going through your old journals chances are there will gaps of empty pages between writing. Instead of keeping the original journal and allowing it to take up valuable space, consider going through and typing up passages that mean a lot to you and that you wish to remember. Afterwards you can store them in a folder or small binder. I know that when I was going through my old journals, I realized that there were a lot of things that I had written down that I honestly rather not keep or have anyone else see!