Marie Kondo’s name is on everyone’s lips. She is the decluttering expert who helps her clients learn to enthusiastically part with anything that doesn’t spark joy.

kids red car may 65 text

I love her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her process has helped me to finally get a handle on some of my cluttered spaces. My closet took me 8 hours, and I discarded 10 bags of clothes! What a load off!

Those of you who have read Kondo’s book remember that she tells her clients to save the mementos for the last step. It is best to start by decluttering the parts of your life that have the least emotional ties. If you’ve followed her advice, you may have conquered your closet, tackled your books, papers, and cosmetics. But maybe you’ve stalled because revisiting your photos and mementos is something you’re not quite ready for.

Have you made it that far yet? In the past have you tried chipping away at organizing and maybe even paring down the number of family photos and mementos?

This can be an emotional and draining task. Maybe you have started only to spend the entire day reminiscing! Maybe you are reluctant to part with any of your photos or mementos. Maybe you think that they take up comparatively little space, so it’s ok to keep everything.

The thing is, Marie Kondo is right about the necessity to tidy even sentimental items. Here are some reasons why tidying your photographs is important:

It makes the collection manageable. Wouldn’t a collection of 1,000 meaningful photos be easier to manage than a 10,000-photo mixed bag? I’m obviously not talking about discarding important pictures here, but how many generic landscapes, pictures of people you don’t remember, out of focus, or other non-vital pictures do you have? I promise you have many you can discard without any regret!

It reduces anxiety. You don’t have so many things to worry about preserving and protecting.

It makes the most of the photos that are important! Imagine that every picture you look at makes you smile as you recall a memory. That’s what they should do!

It takes up less space. You may think your 40 albums don’t take up that much space, but they do.

The most important why comes from Kondo herself: “By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past. . . To put your things in order means to put your past in order too.” 

If your photos represent your memories, and they sit in a closet unviewed for decades, what good are they? Hold each photograph, memento, or souvenir as you look at them. You will know immediately whether this object still sparks joy! If you have to say to yourself “Well, maybe in the future I will feel differently about this,” that’s your first hint that you can let it go. The important objects will bring a rush of memory and emotion, and you will greet them like old friends.

Try it when you’re ready. Like the rest of Kondo’s advice, this will not fail you. Happy tidying! 🙂

PS: looking for a way to jumpstart your personal archiving project? Check out my ebook More Storage More Problems: Easy Steps to Manage Your Flood of Digital Photos