You love seeing them arrive in your mailbox: the sentimental cards, wedding invitations, birth announcements, letters, and postcards sent from family and friends who want you to know that they are thinking about you. What you may not love is figuring out what to do with them after they have been around for a few weeks. They pile up in different corners of the house, hide in drawers, or fall behind that dining room buffet.
Here’s some simple steps that can help you finally make that decision about what to do with your correspondence.
Keep or Toss?
Dispel any fears or guilt you have around tossing some of your correspondence.
The person who sent you that birthday card is not going to visit one day and expect to see it displayed front and center on a shelf. Your friends will not cut you off for cold insensitivity if they find out you tossed their wedding or birth announcements.
People send you cards and letters for the same reason you send to them: to share news, to celebrate and acknowledge their special days and to show that you are thinking about them.
No one intends for their cards and letters to become a physical burden or a storage nightmare, yet it happens.
Gather all of your cards, postcards and letters together in one space.
Visualize when you are going to read them again in the future. If you can’t picture yourself re-reading correspondence, then it is okay to get rid of it.
Keep in mind, it will take time and money to properly organize and store your correspondence so it makes sense to stop and ask yourself if it makes you happy before you start evaluating what you want to keep.
If the card, postcard, announcement, or letter makes you smile and happy to see it again or documents something you don’t want to forget, then keep it. Otherwise it should go into a toss pile.
Now, take what you have left and sort it: by sender, year, occasion, etc.
After the sort, it’s time to decide whether you want to scan and create electronic files of your correspondence or store your stuff in boxes and folders. If you want your cards and letters to be around for 20 plus years, then you should be purchasing archival quality storage materials.
What about the Future?
Developing a correspondence keeping criteria helps you quickly decide how to deal with your cards and letters, both those on hand and those arriving in the future. Once you have a system in place, you’ll wonder why you didn’t figure it out sooner.
What fears may be holding up your need to keep or toss correspondence? Do you have strategies that have helped you maintain your sentimental cards and letters?
Please, share your ideas in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
Image Courtesy of: Antti Kyllönen