But after a lifetime of work and travel, she has lots of awards, photos, and other memorabilia. We've culled it considerably, and it's now better organized, but it's still mostly in piles.
Recently we hit a major snag: We searched in vain for the address of a relative she hopes to visit soon in Hungary. Her "contacts" pile was a jumble of addresses from 40+ years ago, phone numbers for friends who have passed, even notes scribbled on the backs of envelopes.
We were both frustrated.
So here's where my philosophy of the month comes in: You can't find something if you keep everything.
To organize an enormous amount of stuff, you have to devote an enormous amount of time, and most of us won't. What's the alternative? Keep only what you need and can manage.
Easier said than done, of course. How do you choose what to keep? I recommend you sort through what you've got — twice. At least.
The first time, you won’t want to let anything go: your high school yearbook, a old report you wrote for work, photos from a vacation long ago.
The second time, you'll be more ruthless. As the piles dwindle and disappear, you'll see that less is not just more, it's freedom.
And you'll be able to find things when you need them. Finally.