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Exclusive articles, interviews, and insights covering downsizing & decluttering, genealogy, photos and other media, aging well, travel, and more. We’re here to help you capture the big little moments and stories to bring meaning and even order to all of life’s collections for generations.
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DECLUTTERING & ORGANIZING
TIME Magazine Wants YOU ... to Declutter with Artifcts

Decluttering is a bit of an art, isn’t it? While one person may find it completely normal to retain 100s of back issues of magazines and spontaneously start new collections or justify pretty oddball purchases, you may look at all that ‘stuff’ and question, "Why?" But maybe you in turn struggle with sentimental gifts from close family and friends.

Finding the process that works for you can be daunting. Should you set a 15-minute timer and tackle the low hanging fruit? Do you want to keep what gives you joy and take a hard look at the rest, room by room? We’ve written about practical minimalism, which has something to offer for everyone, and decluttering with dementia in focus. We've given you an earth-friendly guide and decluttering targets. So many options! 

But as you take inventory of your home or perhaps contemplate downsizing your home, sometimes the best solution is the one that can check off multiple boxes at once in your busy life.

How to Declutter, Smarter 

TIME magazine published a story this week that placed our wellbeing and mental health at the epicenter of how to declutter. Their seven approaches were informed by mental health and home decluttering experts. One of the tools recommended was Artifcts. Here’s the excerpt:

Another app, Artifcts, helps preserve memories through a combination of images, audio, video, and text. If your grandmother has a lot of vintage jewelry, you could take a picture of each ring or necklace and record her telling a story about its significance. “Now you’ve got her words, her voice, her story, and it’s forever,” he says—yet the objects cluttering up the closet can go.

Paxton also uses Artifcts to digitize his seven kids’ artwork. Every Friday before dinner, he spends five minutes taking a photo of their latest creation and then records them talking about their work. Each kid chooses one piece of art to keep per year, and the rest live on in digital form.

If you are using Artifcts to support insurance claims, populate (at last!) that memorandum of tangible assets in your will, or document your collections, you may be a bit surprised to learn that others use Artifcts to document that which they are giving away or selling. 

Setting aside hoarding disorders and those with infinite resources for housing and storage, the key is this: We cannot keep it all. We must make tradeoffs for space, safety, and sanity, and sometimes that means letting go of items we wish we could keep, whether they are our own or we’ve inherited them. Artifcts is so much more than an inventory app, because here the memories and stories along with the curated items you value most are captured and preserved together, making it easier to let go. 

Our founders' favorite strategy for decluttering smarter with Artifcts is quite simple: Start with the obvious, what’s there in front of you. Kid art cluttering the counters? Old photos on the fridge? Piles of holiday letters and cards sitting on your desk? Simply snap a photo, add a short story, save, and you’re done! You can now recycle those items guilt free and reclaim your counters, desks, and exterior fridge space. That makes Artifcts a powerful decluttering app, sort of a "whistle while you work" phenomenon.

And, by the way, their families know this is a favorite strategy, so they’ve learned not to leave things out. Yet another way Artifcts can help with the clutter!  

TIME Magazine: 7 Low-Stress Ways to Start Decluttering 

We were so moved by the piece from TIME that we are bringing you this special ARTIcles by Artifcts to recommend you take a moment to read it and reflect on the options they have surfaced and see if any of them are the right one to help you in this moment in life and time.

Illustration of objects you might declutter in a home on a yellow background

 
 

Happy Saturday, and happy Artifcting!

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Hello decluttering, organizing, or downsizing professionals! 

Check out Artifcts for Professionals and stay tuned for an announcement about our FREE upcoming 4-part training series this spring. In the interim, you might enjoy these sorting-, decluttering-, and organizing-themed webinars: 

Heather Nickerson, CEO of Artifcts, Chat with MaxSold: Get in on the auction 

Evenings with Artifcts: Practical Minimalism with Matt Paxton and Zoë Kim (VIDEO)

Getting Organized Ahead of the Holidays

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Minimalism Techniques that Can Help Us All

A decade or so ago when Zoë Kim, of Raising Simple, began taking small steps toward a more minimalist lifestyle, it was her kitchen that was her motivator. How could she function when there was so much stuff, food stuff to use and not waste, but also stuff to fit into cupboards, wash and dry, and generally even remember to use! Why did she even have five wooden spoons when a few would do?

 
 
 
 
"That {stuff} began to weigh on me as I started to grow my family." - Zoë Kim

Back then, minimalism was not the popular theme it is today. There weren't podcasts, checklists, blogs, and books at every turn telling you how to start down this path. Advice was lacking that was practical, especially for this mom of two. No way was she going to tackle her whole house never mind start counting how many she had of each item in her home.

Fast forward to 2023. She's the mom to seven children in a blended family with her partner Matt Paxton. While he had spent nearly his entire career helping hoarders, supporting people who need to clean out their houses and others who were downsizing, he was never a minimalist. He liked his stuff, and the stuff from his dad - so many paintings! - and his grandfather. He liked it all so much that as he wrestled with how to pack it up to combine households with Zoë, he almost didn't move! (Read more about that experience in his book Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff.)

The key for me was recognizing I had enough. Enough is the important word. I did not need more. - Matt Paxton

Minimalist Hacks for Daily Life (with Kids!)

Zoë and Matt appeared recently on an episode of Evenings with Artifcts, and they shared their combined insights on parenting as practical minimalists.

At the heart of this way of living for their family is that they have dramatically reduced the number of decisions they have to make on a daily basis, from getting dressed to setting the table for dinner. And for people like Zoë who are naturally disorganized, it's hard for her to make much of a mess when she only owns three pairs of jeans. And she can fold them any which way she pleases, and they'll fit in her drawer!

 
 
 
 
Practical minimalism helped Zoë, who is disorganized at heart, live a fuller, less stressful life!

See if any of these hacks from Zoë and Matt can help you!

      • Create a space for things. It will fill up, then you'll have to clear it out. This is great for kids (a locker, cubby, or drawer) and kids at heart, too. Artifcts cofounder Ellen Goodwin loves these bright, recycled, collapsible crates that come in multiple sizes.
      • Use it or lose it. It's been multiple seasons or years? Give it to someone who needs it or will at least put it to go use today. And stay tuned, because we'll have a great guide for you this Earth Day (April 22).
      • One in, one out. That applies to nearly anything: t-shirts, hats, shoes, books! And pause to Artifct the sentimental ones first! Who needs all these t-shirts anyway?
      • Model the behavior you want to see. Let "them," whomever that is in your life, see you make those same hard choices and let go of things. 
      • Give a fixed time limit. Your spouse or child says they want to sell it? Okay, set a limit of 48 hours and then move it on out, one way or another.
      • Capture the stories. Telling the stories helps us let go of items. You'll find you don't need the item itself as much as you thought you do. Artifct it; let it go. Here's one man's story of capturing stories in order to downsize.
      • Collections can exist, but maybe not all at once. You might not have room to display it all without drowning your space. Rotate monthly which items in your collection you display, whether that's a statute or a painting. Here's the painting Matt Paxton currently has on his office wall.
I give credit to Marie Kondo on this one. I think it's important to frame it not as what you are letting go of but what you are deciding to keep. - Zoë Kim

At the end of the day, Zoë and Matt are united in the view that they have a better life because they have less stuff. 

We encourage any of you seeking additional practical daily living tips to read Zoë's book, too. Maybe buy the digital version - an act that means one less book enters your home! 

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Collections of Dubious Financial Value

“The number one reason I hold onto things is I don’t know what to do with them! And I never want to take the time to figure out how to properly dispose of them either. Poor Earth. We are such a wasteful species.” — Ellen Goodwin, co-founder of Artifcts

For others, the mere possibility of items “someday” becoming valuable is enough to trigger the collector mindset within us all: Barbie dolls and beanie babies, stickers and trading cards, stamps and coins, even free toys from fast food restaurants make the cut for some people.

three mint collectors coins in their boxes

 
 
These coins aren't valuable or sentimental, really. Maybe at a stretch they are aspirational.
 
 
To save my family a headache, I should just sell them at some point. — Ellen Goodwin

One of the great joys of the Internet is the ease of checking online consumer marketplaces like eBay and Etsy and high-end auction houses alike to get an instant sanity check on the value of whatever it is you’re holding onto. 

Bear in mind, if you love it and it’s doing no harm (you have the space, it’s not creating conflict or a safety hazard, etc.) then you may have no immediate need to get rid of anything at all. But even then, we’d ask: why not Artifct it? At least then your loved ones have a clue as to where you got it and why you’ve held onto it so they not only know you better NOW but one day, hopefully many years from now, they can make easier and faster decisions as to what to do with it all if you are no longer here.

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You may also enjoy these ARTIcles by Artifcts:

Going Green with Artifcts (+ Downloadable Guide!)

Upcycling Stuff After You Declutter: Personalized Art

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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#HabitChange: Rescue and Preserve Those Memories!

Reading time: 3 minutes 

This is something like a public service announcement based on a eureka moment I had one weekend back in November. I have a new rescue plan for my online memories! 

I was checking my email accounts—you know, the “real” one and the “shopping” one—and two messages back-to-back caught my attention. One was from Shutterfly with a “Your memories from this week 13 years ago,” subject. The other was “Your memories on Facebook,” featuring one of my posts from this day in 2015. 

I am all for solid habits and routines keeping my life sane. Now I have a new one: When I get these reminders, I will pause and ask myself, “Is this a memory worth rescuing?”  

If yes, I will Artifct that.  

If you care about your memories, use a product designed for that purpose 

Social media and photobook builders do not want to make it easy to download and use your content elsewhere, search quickly, or even keep your privacy at the forefront. They have one function – communication and sharing with your “people,” whomever they may be. And why would they do otherwise? They deliver on exactly what they are designed for! 

The same goes for single purpose apps. Really, you are only going to capture your voice your loved one’s voice? Why would I invest time and money in that when I could have so much more in the same or less time with Artifcts? 

It’s okay to want and expect more 

We have evolved in the digital world and can now help you to capture, preserve, and share your memories and reap other benefits, too! 

While at Artifcts we often argue a picture is not worth 1,000 words if you don’t know the story and you don’t know the person is, we can bend those rules. Take this example. 

Which is better?

Option 1: Compressed pics with a few details. 

Or

Option 2: The full story with audio and video, too? 

(P.S. The friend in question refuses to use social media, so it’s impossible to share this memory with her there, only trapped in random text messages or emails to be buried and lost!) 

At Artifcts that’s exactly what we do for our members. Bring your entire memory together where it’s still easy to share, never compressed, always searchable and downloadable in a human friendly format, and has still MORE benefits, supporting move, insurance, and estate planning being just three. 

Now, if you are going to put this plan into action, too, I want to warn you about a hiccup when it comes to Facebook: the photos you posted, Facebook has compressed. Truth is that nine times out of 10 I don’t care and can just download the image(s) from Facebook and use it the Artifct. If I do care, I can grab the original photo from my digital storage and add that to the Artifct later. 

And if you wonder, yes, I used the text I posted on Facebook to quickly create the Artifct. I went back the next day to edit the Artifct and add more to the story that I remembered but hadn’t wanted to share on Facebook. A win for memories! 

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You may also enjoy our past #HabitChange ARTIcles:

We're Talking #HabitChange in the New Year

#HabitChange: Back to School Edition

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Evenings with Artifcts Kicks Off October 18

It's that time again! Evenings with Artifcts is back with an all-new five-part series this fall. What topics are on the docket this time around? Telling your story, a culinary lens to women's history, photography tips, and panels to answer all your questions on organization and more will be streaming into your home!

Be sure to RSVP for the events each week for our new series. You're welcome to share with friends, family, and others you meet. The more the merrier!

If you missed any of our past Evenings with Artifcts, catch up now!

 
 
 
 

THE FALL 2023 ROUNDUP

Bob Jordan joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 1: Bob Jordan (@NUZMAN9)

Former television news anchor; professional videographer at Video Family Biographies

FAMILY HISTORY, STORYTELLING, LEGACY

 

Related content: 

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

- Interested in storytelling tips for your Artifcts? Check out this ARTIcles story.

Gena Philibert-Ortega joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 2: Gena Philibert-Ortega (@GENAORTEGA)

Author, researcher, and instructor whose focus is family, food, and social history + material culture

WOMENS HISTORY, FOOD HISTORY, MATERIAL CULTURE

 

Related content: 

- Eager for more? Check out Gena's book: From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes

- Artifct all things culinary with help from our culinary checklist and "How to Artifct Recipes

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

Linda Pordon joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 3: Linda Pordon (@LINDAP)

Interiors and brand photographer

PHOTOGRAPHY, DESIGN, STORYTELLING

 

Related content: 

- ARTIcles by Artifcts: Three Tips for Elevating Yout At-Home Photography

- Artifcts Inspirational Checklists: Photographs

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

Organizing for the Holidays on Evenings with Artifcts

Week 4: Professional Panelists Talk Organizing & the Holidays

Interior design, organizing, and paper declutter

ORGANIZE, DECLUTTER, STRESS MANAGEMENT

 

Related content: 

- ARTIcles by Artifcts: Decluttering Targets in Your Home

- Artifcts Inspirational Checklists: Decluttering

- When the avalanche of catalogs hits, save the back cover, then unsubscribe here.

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

Surviving Downsizing on Evenings with Artifcts

Week 5: Survival Tips from a Serial Downsizer (@MATT)

Father, world traveler, and serial downsizer

DOWNSIZE, ORGANIZE, DECLUTTER

 

Related content: 

- ARTIcles by Artifcts, including: The True Story of One Man's Triumph Over 'Stuff'

- Artifcts Inspirational Checklists: Decluttering

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

If you'd like to suggest a topic or speaker for future events, share with us at Editor@Artifcts.com.

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Decluttering for Dementia: Paper Clutter

When decluttering, what stays and what goes somehow gets more and less complicated simultaneously when the process involves the belongings of someone who has advancing dementia. It’s doable, of course, but understanding what you might experience along the way, and some tested tactics, may help set you up for greater success and (hopefully) less frustration.

Today we're choosing a narrower topic within decluttering: papers and documents of all types. Why? The black and white of documents may be more emotional than you first imagine and all to easy to dismiss and toss when time and stress conspire against you. For a more general discussion about decluttering and brain health, check out this article.

___________

Life is life, busy and full. And whether we intend to collect and hold onto documents, photos, magazines and more, it happens. Sometimes we have best intentions of someday putting that all to use—"how to” do something around the house, tips for gardening, vacation brochures—or we fear that we may need it one day, e.g., warranties, user manuals, and tax papers. Even with modern day options like Pinterest, paper is still top dog for many of us.

So, when it comes to a breaking point, and you realize you just have too much, you can’t find anything, or maybe you’re preparing for a move, how you get through it all becomes the question. And when the person who owns the items has advancing dementia, we’ve learned there are some interesting complications to be aware of and to plan for to reach a productive, if not happy, ending. 

Here are a few common complications to consider:

      • Sometimes those living with dementia may believe people are taking items from them that are in fact items they have chosen to get rid of or are still in the home, but they cannot recall where they are located.
      • Visual cues range from helpful to critical memory prompts, and yet all of one’s belongings cannot possibly be out on display for a safe or pleasant home environment.
      • Loved ones and other care providers may be under time pressure for a move to downsize or transition into a memory care-supported community and thus while the home may technically have space for all the belongings, there is a need to begin decluttering and downsizing. The person with dementia may know, and forget, this move is coming.

Common Paper Clutter, the “Why” Behind It, and What Now

Magazines. You paid for them. You enjoyed them. You plan to reference them. You have/had kids that need them for projects. Maybe you haven’t even read them, because you want to read them closely and that takes time you can’t seem to find. So, you hold onto them. 

For people with advancing dementia, … reading through periodicals may no longer even be possible due to poor short-term memory recall. 

What now? Drop off with schools, recycle, sell collectible issues, Artifct those with memories attached, like these Seventeen magazines from the 60s.

Warranties and User Guides. Having the warranties and user guides in hardcopy can feel reassuring, you have recourse, you have details on what to do if there’s a problem. And not so long ago, these documents simply weren’t available unless you kept them in hardcopy. Times have changed. And many times, warranties aren’t even valid without registering your purchase within a certain period of time. Was that 30 years ago? 

For people with advancing dementia, … the visual support of a hardcopy is often necessary for memory recall. But, in reality, will that person be responsible for repairs or administrative tasks to support a claim? 

What now? Digitize valid warranties, and, with few exceptions for collectibles or antique items potentially, let the user guides go. You can find them online. 

Photos. The older the better, as memories go. And if you know what they are and you are not sitting on triplicates, blurry images, and unknown scenes, maybe they aren’t too cumbersome. But when you have photo clutter, and original negatives, you have risk of loss and degradation and an accessibility issue. You can’t likely keep it all out in the open and accessible. Digitization is your ally! (Check out tips for digitization.)

For people with advancing dementia, … talking through photos and the stories behind them is not only good for the individual but can bring them closer to loved ones and caretakers who will enjoy hearing the stories and capturing their loved one’s history and legacy. 

What now? Artifcts really helps with favorite photos – pair photos (a picture of them and/or the digital copy) together in an Artifct and the story behind them. You can even add video or audio of you/your loved one telling the stories. Photos can’t talk after all!

Letters and Greeting Cards. They are personal, the other person touched them, wrote on them, took the time to send them to you the old-fashioned way. The problem is they proliferate, and you store them away without looking back through them, so what good are they then? They are not all created equal – quick, functional notes, greeting cards with just a signature … – and yet we keep them all as though they are equal!

 
 
This card even had feet that move. Check out the video. >

For people with advancing dementia … Like photos, the older the better for memory recall. And when the people who may have given them to you are no longer present, this can be very grounding and ease loneliness and anxiety to have these touchpoints with your past.

What now? Encourage a three-pile sort:

              1. The benign, less meaningful that you can recycle;
              2. Special ones you can give away to another person who might cherish them;
              3. Historic, only copies, and the most meaningful to keep. For group three, this is the time for digitizing, scanning, or photographing them, whatever suits your needs and budget (time and money). Consider Artifcting important cards and letters so they are secure and preserved, as well as accessible whenever you want to see them, and easy to share. If you have room, consider displaying some again framed and set on a side table or bookshelf, for example.

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No matter what type of papers and documentation lurk as the result of a life well lived, take it bit by bit, listening along the way if you are helping to understand what’s most meaningful and why. This alone will take you a long way. Preserving the memories and stories will help make this process of letting go that much smoother. It’s not truly gone then; it’s there for reliving and sharing the experience.

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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