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Ask yourself these 9 questions to make sure keepsakes don’t turn you into a hoarder


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Photo: Stocksy/Nicole Mason

There’s a very fine line between saving every little thing that has the slightest bit of sentimental value—whether it’s a vacation souvenir, a love letter from your middle school crush, or a college T-shirt that now more so resembles a ratty dish rag—and becoming a full-on hoarder. Sometimes those keepsakes stay in your home because you truly love them, but more often than not, the hanging on is a result of sheer guilt and fear of letting go. Well, fear not, because one professional organizer has an easy way to ensure you’re not taking up precious space with things that just take up space.

“Put on your thinking cap and take a clear, objective look at why you’re keeping your keepsakes.” —Lisa Zaslow, organizational expert

MakeSpace’s organizational partner, Lisa Zaslow knows all about battling those heartstring-pulling attachments. To help clients figure out what they should and shouldn’t keep, she came up with a simple checklist of questions so no one ends up drowning in piles of emotionally dense clutter. “Put on your thinking cap and take a clear, objective look at why you’re keeping your keepsakes, Zaslow tells Well+Good via email. “Then ask yourself these questions to determine if something is truly a treasure.” Because even if your aesthetic is decidedly not minimalist, everyone could stand to imbue their healthy homes with a dose of Marie Kondo–esque editing.

So, using Zaslow’s list of nine key questions, clear relics of the past from your closet—and every other nook and cranny of your healthy home—guilt-free. (And re-watch the closet-cleaning montage from Sex and the City for some high-vibe inspo.)

Should you keep the keepsake? Here’s your expert-approved checklist.

1. Would it be one of the first things I would grab if there was a fire?

2. Do I love the way it looks?

3. Does it bring back happy memories?

4. Is it a unique artifact connected to my family’s history?

5. Am I saving it for someone else who actually wants it?

6. Would I remember the memories even without the object?

7. Could someone else use it now?

8. Am I keeping it because of guilt or regret about the past?

9. Does keeping it make me feel badly?

Then, use your answers to the questions to inform whether or not you really need a given keepsake in your life—or whether it would be better to let it go. “You have permission to let go of old mementos,” Zaslow says. “You’ll free up space and will feel lighter when you free yourself of things that have been weighing you down.”

Armed with these strategic questions, it won’t be long before you have a smaller collection of items you loveand more space to create new memories in the future.

Here are some genius organizational tips to steal from tiny homes. Or, find out the best way to transition your closet from winter to spring.

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