Rethinking the value, place, and price of nostalgic items.
We keep things that have special sentimental, emotional value. Nostalgia makes us keep jewelry, T-shirts, awards, costumes, wedding cake, and pieces of pizza. When we find these things, we feel good, remembering why they're special. It's the memories that are important, though, not the things themselves.
Fortunately, scientists have discovered that when we think about money, we get more selfish, we think less of other people, and we essentially become momentary psychopaths. This explains the finance industry. It also tells us how to beat nostalgia at its own game.
Nostalgia is no match for money.
Try this technique: Grab a big glass jar. As you consider your items one by one, for every item you want to keep, put $5 in the jar to be donated to a charity—or even better, to a political candidate you would never, ever vote for. You're paying rent for that nostalgia item. After a few contributions, you'll quickly realize that nostalgia is no match for money.
Instead of holding on to a bunch of things, grab your digital camera, PDA, iPhone, Android, webcam, or whatever, and take a picture of your nostalgic item. Put the pictures in a special folder called "Super-important emotional stuff." You'll never actually go back and look at it, of course, but you'll know it's there when you need it. And when you die, it will be so much easier for your heirs to get rid of all that useless stuff by simply dragging a folder to the trash. Nothing says "I love you" like making it easy for your loved ones to move on once you've kicked the bucket.
For more tips on how to declutter, see Get-It-Done Guy's article How To Decide Between Trash and Treasure.