Larger items, though physically more difficult to dispose of, are the easiest to toss or give away, like I did last month with some furniture.
The thousands of letters, photos, financial records, and other documents are what stymie me. I need to scan and tag them electronically, perhaps adding a detailed description. Then they must either be disposed of or organized in a rational filing system.
This process also carries with it a lot of emotional baggage. Kathleen Hughes, baby-boomer writer who is well along in her task, describes the paradox of keeping.
The longer you keep something, the more valuable it seems but the less anyone seems to know about its origins.Ms. Hughes adds:
Taking heed, I am adding descriptions to every scan. "You're not that interested now," I tell my children. "But one day you're going to be very interested. Trust me."When motivation flags, remember that we're doing it for the children:
One of the best gifts that parents can leave their children is an organized life. Harried heirs often must sort through decades of memories and clutter, clueless about items' significance. Of course, it's better to communicate the details of one's estate while one is alive, but that's a difficult conversation that understandably keeps getting postponed.I hope that, as with exercise, I make a habit of clearing up. Getting started is tough, but the end result is a source of happiness. Gretchen Rubin:
Now when I look around my office, I feel a shock of relief. All those clean surfaces! No more stacks of papers and books teetering on the edge of the desk! No more feeling harassed by uncompleted tasks! It gave me a real boost.