memory book and photos decluttering organising

Why we should organise and preserve our precious memories – and how to do it

Have you been meaning to get your photos and memorabilia organised, but don’t ever seem to get around to doing it? In this guest post, Jasmine Sleigh gives us some inspiration, and discusses why we should make time now to preserve our precious memories.

Preserving memories

We are taking more than 1 trillion photos a day but so many of us say we do not know how to keep our precious memories.

I decided to embark personally on this new project this year to see if I could set an example of how to manage the huge volume of sentimental stuff.

I turned 40 and that tends to give some poignant reflection. Our brains are both flexible and wired to create a narrative that serves us well. So, at 40, I am thinking about I tell my life story so far to my son and to myself in a way that abbreviates by necessity and by design. I have also become more sentimental and reflective.

The project I have embarked on requires cutting to the chase and getting it done. I am not one to spend years in the formation of something perfect. It’s one of the many reasons that so many vocations are unsuitable for me. Good enough is actually good enough, then I need to move on.

I have also been spurred on by spending the last four years in a self-chosen vocation to sort out other people’s belongings. In over 150 homes I have heard over 150 poignant stories of how belongings shape our lives. I have also taken over 2000 bags of recycling, waste or donations out of these same homes. This gives me a unique insight; there isn’t much in life that you have control over, but what you do with your possessions is one of those rare areas where you can call the shots.

memory box filled with letters photos and cassette tape

So, I have started to create proper memory boxes of physical items of our lives, photobooks of the family archive and 30 minute films of key chapters. I want to create a distilled and accessible route to my key memories.

It requires discipline (you simply cannot put everything in), a sense of story and celebration (I need to choose my take on the more difficult parts of the narrative), and a time limit. I want to have this project completed for my son’s 8th birthday, as my gift to him.

There will be a part two of course, and the memory boxes can be added to, but it’s vital to me that I get this done. I hear far too many people saying they want to do this and then it never happens. Then one day it’s too late and when you need those accessible, easily brought memories they are not there.

Pile of black and white photographs to be organised

We have seen lofts stuffed full of memories and giant boxes of unsorted photographs. I am increasingly seeing computers full of uncategorised footage. Where do you start when it becomes imperative to remind yourself of who you are?

So that is why I have started my project, and I suggest you too make a plan if this is on your ‘to do’ list as well.

An understanding of who we are in context boosts our self-esteem, and celebrating our positive adventures is proven to relive them afresh. So, for the reasons to do it and the reasons why it would be unthinkable if we didn’t, let’s do this and put in some time to preserve our memories.

If Jasmine’s post has inspired you to get your own photographs and memorabilia organised, help is available. There are over 250 APDO members across the country – find your nearest organisers here.

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