Do you keep everything? Is your house full of mementos that, while not on display, are taking up a lot of space in your closets and under the bed? Do you have so many knick-knacks that you don’t even know where they are? If you answered yes to any of these 3 questions, you might want to start thinking about my solution to keeping so many mementos, which is learning to use your digital camera to reduce the clutter.
Most people who have clutter issues tend to keep things that hold no intrinsic value until every corner of their house is full of things that “mean something”, even if they don’t. Movie tickets become valuable, old shoes become a memory of a hike, or a broken bike reminds them of when their kids were little. But what if you could “keep” all these things without having to maintain, store, or deal with the space they take up? That’s the key to using your digital camera (or your scanner) to take a picture of the item, put it in your computer, and tag and organize it in folders that make sense. Then, you can get rid of the item in your house and still be able to remember what it meant to you by taking a look in your digital photo album!
You can start doing this slowly, by picking a single box of mementos and going through them one by one. You can make a nice background out of some white or black paper, set your item up, and snap a few pictures until you get one that you like. Continue going through the box, being careful to get the shot you like of the items, until you have finished taking pictures of each one. Then, when you put them in the computer, tag them with keywords like “vacation”, “kids”,”hobbies”, or whatever. Once they are securely in your computer and backed up, feel free to dispose (or recycle, if possible) your items. It will be hard, but knowing that you still “have” them will make this process easier, especially if you are dedicated to clearing out the clutter that has become your life! Although I live a fairly clutter-free existence, I have just started doing this with things from my childhood that my mom keeps giving me. That way they don’t just move from her house to my house while staying in boxes for someone else to deal with. I keep a copy both on my home computer and in a Flickr account online just in case something were to happen to my own machine.
A big one that parents might want to use this system for is their child’s artwork. If you had kids, you know that you have had piles and piles of their paintings and drawings, and whether they are 10 years old or 30 years old, you still have them in your house. But by scanning them into your computer, you can keep them, organize them, and then clear out the mess. By freeing up even this minimal amount of space in your home, it will be easier to work on more decluttering projects in the future.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a box of mementos, charge up the digital camera or scanner, and get started!