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15 Decluttering Targets for Artifcters

September 14, 2022

People love to prescribe decluttering. Often, they even give you tips on how to get started. The lists to help you think through what “goes” typically go something like this: 

      • Is it broken? 
      • Is it a component (like a cable or remote) to a gadget you no longer own? 
      • Do those clothes even fit anymore? Are they sporting holes? 
      • Holding onto legal and tax documents beyond their usefulness (e.g. 7 years for most tax documents)? 
      • Hmm, you don’t even know what the object is or why you have it?  
      • Is it expired, as in cleaners and paints, make up and fragrances, or spices? 

And so on. All valid options for a quick declutter. 

More frustrating is that the advice usually ends there or will weave in a, “Get rid of it, but take a photo first.” Really? I have 1,000s of photos to scroll through, I’ve forgotten the details, and, again, what am I supposed to do with the physical photos anyway? I’ll just do nothing, thanks. 

Why We Have to Talk About This 

We think standard decluttering advice is partly helpful, partly a clever ruse to distract you from and avoid an entire segment of ‘stuff’ - the stuff that also has sentimental value. “Time to let go,” they will say. And how exactly should I do that? Will you pay for my therapist? 

We’ve tapped the Arti Community for a fresh take on decluttering targets full of all those sentimental, history-filled, "just cool," or “you never know what it might be worth one day” things that make decluttering especially challenging. We know how hard it is.  

Let us know how these targets help you and which are missing. And, when in doubt, call in a specialist to help! We provide some ideas at the bottom of this article.

15 Decluttering Targets in the Age of Artifcts: Artifct, Share, and Let Go!

With contributions from Matt Paxton, host of the PBS series "Legacy List with Matt Paxton" and author of "Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff." 

1. OLD CAMERAS 

You know, the type that used actual film. And other gadgets that you remember the good ol’ days when you see. Anyone still hanging onto an original iPod?

* Expert tip: Like a passport, Artifct the camera and all the places it’s been! Then … how old are we talking? Maybe a local school or a child would be interested? If you want to sell it, you could check specialized marketplaces, including KEH Camera. As with any technology, please do not throw it away. Contact your local municipality about recycling, try tech vendors like Canon, or pop into local stores, such as Best Buy.

2. THAT OUTFIT YOU WORE ...

… when you graduated, honeymooned, won the big deal at work. If you’re Dolly Parton, yes, that sequin-embellished gown will likely go into a museum, so let’s just set those exceptions aside. For the rest of us mere mortals, you know the drill.

* Expert tip: Artifct it, and include a photo of you wearing it back in the day, if possible. 

3. CHILDREN'S ARTWORK

We all know it’s bountiful. So, let’s pick and choose what we keep, and no matter what, keep the stories. So, record the basics in each Artifct. They gave it to you when? How did they make it? What is it? Better yet, record them telling you and include the photo and video. There’s nothing like hearing those tiny voices again when they are all grown up.

* Expert tip:  Tag the Artifcts with their name and age or grade for easy sorting: #Amara #1stGrade. 

4. FURNISHINGS

Come on, we’ve talked about this! We know whole rooms in houses not to mention pricey monthly storage units exist that are bursting with furniture you remember from parents and grandparents or are considered family heirlooms but that no longer have a place in your current life. Better than those bulky items hanging about are the stories that they bore witness to when you slept there, relaxed on those, placed family photos on them. 

* Expert tip from Matt Paxton: If you’ve decided to try to sell the item, list it on Facebook Marketplace and if it doesn’t sell in, say, 24 hours, then move it over to a Buy Nothing group and get it out. Remember your time is worth at least $25 an hour; do not spend six hours selling a $100 item. And don’t forget – you already decided you don’t want it, and you have the memory on Artifcts, which will easily outlive the use of the furniture. Don’t let haggling over the price ruin your decision to make space in your home. 

5. HOLIDAY DECOR

There could be any number of reasons—it’s faded, maybe slightly damaged, out of style—why you never take it out to use or display anymore. But you likely have a lot of history with it to Artifct and share.

* Expert tip: If it’s still useful, consider getting it to a donation center a few weeks before the holiday so others can pick it up to enjoy! 

6. VALUABLES

Consider your crystal, jewelry & watches, and collections (coins, stamps, statues, art): Are they worth more to you as cash to reinvest in other items you will care for or use more? Or could they be of greater value to someone else in the family? Take a hard look.

* Expert tip from Matt Paxton: I tend to Artifct the item and share it with my family members to see who has the best memory or story of the item before then making the final decision to sell it or gift it (and to whom). To help with your sell vs. gift decision, seek out the best industry specific site to price the item (e.g. Worthy.com for a wedding ring) or send the Artifct to Heritage Auctions using the “What’s it worth?” feature for a free valuation. 

7. HERITAGE AND HISTORICAL ITEMS

Baby bassinets, antique gowns, family bibles, tools of trade, we pass these items down through the generations, often with little care for their preservation. And they take up a lot of space, especially if you are the ‘family keeper’ and have the majority of the items.

* Expert tip:  Small museums, historical foundations, and even professional archives may be interested and will in fact preserve them!  

8. RECIPES

Hanging on to a cookbook for a single recipe that was beloved? Combine a photo with your secret methods and ingredients and send that book on its way. And if you have a mess of recipes from a loved one that you never make but are holding onto just because, photograph the collection for a single Artifct, along with any singleton standouts, and then recycle.

* Expert tip: For truly special recipes, consider preserving or framing them. Maybe even turn them into something new, like this Arti Community member did with her mother's recipe.  

9. PHOTO ALBUMS

Bulky, yellowing, photos slipping, and, hmm, who is that in those pictures that are a bit blurry, too? If you have only one or two albums, this is really not a good category for you. If you have more, and they sit in shelves and boxes never opened, consider whether now is a time to digitize the pictures and Artifct the memories. Maybe you’ll even opt for archival-quality photo books to recast the past with fresh perspective in a coffee table friendly format!

* Expert tip from Matt Paxton: Trim down the massive collection to a more manageable pile before Artifcting, digitizing, printing for photo books, or sorting and gifting to relatives. Get rid of what you no longer need: duplicates, negatives (you haven’t used them yet, you don’t need them), generic landscapes (e.g. beaches and mountains with no identifiable people), and pictures of people you don’t know or don’t like. It’s okay to throw away pictures of your former in-laws that you haven’t spoken to in 20 years.

10. T-SHIRTS 

These are sneak-y! Durable, especially if they end up in the back of the closet or bottom of the drawer, as well as inexpensive, gift worthy, and great mementos. Suddenly you have dozens, some don’t fit or have yellowed stains, and/or they are otherwise ready to be retired. Some you might elevate to framing, others to those popular t-shirt quilts, a few in good condition to vintage clothing shops, and the rest, simple Artifcts with great stories.

* Expert tip from Matt Paxton: You could always offer them up to your favorite niece and Artifct you and her wearing your favorite Duran Duran t-shirt 30 years apart! If you think it’s cool, it’s probably cool to the next generation, too. Worst case scenario, Artifct them and give them to Goodwill. My biggest tip here is to make sure you are detailed when Artifcting. Give the details of the band, when you saw them, who you hung out with and WHY you loved the t-shirt so much. My kids loved my skateboarding t-shirts when they found out I met Tony Hawk at Mt. Trashmore in 1989. The beauty of Artifcting is that it allows you to put your family and friends in the moment with you to enjoy the memory as much as you do 

11. BASEBALL (FOOTBALL ETC.) TRADING CARDS

Those skinny boxes literally pile up, and you never kept them as pristine as you think. Share them with a neighbor kid or post them on freecycle or similar. Just move them on out.

* Expert tip: Suspect there’s hidden value? Artifct them and click “What’s it worth?” and Heritage Auctions will take a look!  

12. GLASSWARE, CHINA, SILVER

If you’re using them, this category is not for you. If you are dusting and polishing for "remember when" or "they belonged to {loved person}," Artifct them instead, check with family, and if there’s no taker, out they go.

* Expert tip: Not a tip, more of a confession. Co-founder Ellen Goodwin thinks a genius Etsy shop would sell gorgeous mixed china pattern sets. Unique design + reselling = a win win. Put her on the waitlist so it can join the family silver she saved!

13. BOOKS

Do you catch yourself reflecting on a funny passage, what was happening or where you were when you last or first read it, or maybe where you got it, and saying “Nope, it can stay for now.” How many books are in this category? Don't lie. Books carry intellectual and personal growth and even sometimes spiritual weight. But even with books you can capture the essence of what it means to you and move it on to the next reader.

* Expert tip: Check between the pages and then consider taking them to school book drives, local donation centers, or even shops like Half Priced Books. 

14. STUFFED ANIMALS

Okay parents, confess, how many of these creatures are more sentimental to you than your child (or future unborn grandchild)? And what about all those that are forgotten moments after receiving them? Or loved soooo much that they are probably a health hazard? 

* Expert tip: Local requirements vary, but you can offer cleaned toys to some fire stations and animal shelters and lovingly reminisce with Artifcts. 

15. TRAVEL MEMENTOS

We’re willing to bet if you collect them all in front of you, you could pick out the especially valuable ones to you from the lineup. Maybe the details have even grown pret-ty fuzzy. A memento might be cool, but if you feel a clutter crisis closing in on you or you simply want to lighten the load, it’s time to pare it back. 

* Expert tip: Matching items to photos or stamps in a passport, maybe with a bit of audio from you, is a fabulous way to relive those travels and offer a final tribute as you send it off to a new home. 

Sometimes We Need a Little Help

Decluttering help can take many forms, depending on your circumstances. Here are some additional resources that might be just what you need. 

Artifcts Concierge. Register free today on Artifcts.com to give Artifcting a try! We are also highly experienced in the art of capturing the stories behind objects and paying attention to the details that matter for your future depending on the ‘why’ you have the objects and what you may want to do with them next. We can provide virtual or in-person Artifcting support to propel you forward in your decluttering! 

Keys Guild. Collectibles advisors trained through the Keys Guild can provide onsite services to identify items of value for resale and the optimal outlets (i.e. top dollar) for selling the items. To learn if there is a Key in your area, use this contact form

NAPO. The National Association of Productivity & Organizing has a large nationwide membership base ready to help you organize, declutter, and more. Find a NAPO professional in your area by zip code here

Archivists. These professionals may be less familiar to you, but they are often working for or collaborating with institutions of all sizes and types that take donations. Consider original works of fiction or non-fiction; war memorabilia; scrapbooks, journals, letters, and diaries; and media (photographs, slides, film, even websites too). You can learn more and locate an archival consultant at The Society of American Archivists

Auction houses. Valuable items and collections may be a good fit for auction. Auction houses vary, some with broad specialties, others niche. Many now offer online auctions, not just traditional raise your paddle affairs. Their appraisal services for single objects and entire estates can also help inform which of your items will go up for auction or sale in any venue (e.g. auction house, 1st Dibs, Ebay, Etsy, Facebook Marketplace) and which maybe have more sentimental value. 

Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff.” If you’re in more of a “Let me think on it,” or do-it-yourself mindset, we recommend this book. Matt Paxton joined the Artifcts board recently but long before we even met him, we were fans of his book because of its practical advice, engaging stories, and litany of self-starter tips and resources.  

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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10 Ways Genealogists are Using Artifcts That May Help You, Too

Reading time: 4 minutes 

No one knows how to use any product better than the power users among us. One of our power user groups at Artifcts is genealogists.

We've found genealogists as a whole to be tech savvy, detail oriented, creative, outside the box thinkers, and progressive leaning in the evolution of their methods. Curious what draws them to Artifcts and how they use it, surprising even the people who built Artifcts? Let’s go! 

10 Things Genealogists Have Taught Us About Artifcts 

If you are not a genealogist, you may think, “Don’t genealogists stick to family trees and research archives?” To some degree that was our expectation as we began building Artifcts. But the love of the details and the joy of bringing others in on their discoveries has meant Artifcts is solving a problem that genealogists couldn't quite put their collective fingers on until we came along. We suspect their tricks of the trade at Artifcts will help all of us non-genealogists in our quests, too! 

1. Tags are clearly limitless.

Folders are like corsets. Free yourself with tags! Create as many custom tags as you like on each of your Artifcts to later click on or search by (simply start your search term with #) by family member, location, document type and more.   

Fun fact: Genealogists were the first Arti Members we know of to add more than 10 tags to a single Artifct. 

2. The Artifcts timeline is a beautifully simple design and powerful resource.

Unlike traditional genealogy timelines, your Artifcts timeline is not weighed down by black and white details and restrictions on managing. With a click and drag you can reorder or choose to add more detail to your Artifcts. Creating a timeline for each family member? You can do that automatically by simply tagging each Artifct with the applicable family member and then sorting your timeline view by that tag, e.g. #DanielD or more specifically #DanielDb1938.  

BONUS! You can add public or private “time period notes” to your timeline to keep track of gaps you want to address or validate in your research and then Artifct. 

3. The stories and facts you need are available in fewer clicks

You can inter-link individual Artifcts you create using the familiar @ feature you likely know from social media, email, or even leaving comments in a Word document. Just build the people and Artifcts into your Artifcted "story” with by typing @ and making your selection. Once saved, you and others who can access the Artifct will be able to instantly segway to a related person or Artifct. No one you share your Artifct with will have to guess how all the dots connect. You will connect them as you create your Artifcts!  

Only because a genealogist asked did we ever try to write a “life story” in an Artifct. It’s easy to do when you have all your other Artifcts to help tell the story! Check it out in this ARTIcles story >

 
 
Here’s another sweet and silly example using the @ feature that we love from a summer vacation. Click the image to view the Artifct.

 

4. Brand/Artist is a perfect “free form” field.

A free form field, oh boy! Try using the Brand/Artist field to record Grandpa’s name and his link in the family tree for easy reference by anyone who you give access to view your Artifct. But remember, depending on where you build your family tree, you may need to grant them access there, too.

BONUS! Next time you fill in this field, you can select Grandpa again from the dropdown menu without having to retrieve the link. 

5. Location doesn’t have to be a physical place.

You can insert a link to the folder, share drive, or part of a family tree in whatever software you use to look for “more information” related to an Artifct if you need to dive deeper or reevaluate in the future. Remember, even if you privately share an Artifct with someone, no one else can see this field. If you are instead interested in including a video snippet in your private Artifct but want family you share it with to have access to the full hour long video, you could link to it from the Artifct "Description."

6. Artifcts sharing lists and circles bypass the usual pain of sharing.

Never again will you have to text, email, or airdrop a photo or audio or video snippet to a family member. With a free Artifcts account, anyone you specifically grant “view” access will have the option automatically to download any of the great photos, videos, and more you include in the Artifct in their original formats. No tiny, pixelated photos or videos (unless of course that's what you started with).

7. “Documentation” is for more than receipts and appraisals.

Documentation in each Artifct you create accommodates letter collections, chapters of family books, PDF scans of family recipe books, and more. It’s not just for receipts, appraisals, and the like. And thanks to feedback from genealogists, when you click and share an Artifct, you can choose if you’d like to also share the attached documents. By default, no documentation is ever shared.

8. Colors matter, so use them!

The introduction of options to change your font color and highlight your text in various shades as you write the description/story for an Artifct is also thanks to genealogists. Why? Because in the world of genealogy, colors have very specific meanings and help keep branches of the family tree straight. Others may use them for fun, but genealogists reminded us of the value of color. 

9. Ditto: Image captions matter.

While we introduced the option to add captions to photos thinking it would tie each more easily to the stories and people written about in the Artifct, genealogists instead started using them to reinforce information in the photos in a citation format. “Bravo,” we say.

Artifcted diploma by @tmacentee

 
 
We love the detail genealogist @tmacentee uses to record important events and accomplishments. Click the image to view the Artifct.

10. Stories can last for generations with Artifcts.

Start with the mundane black and white details, add in the family lore and research-in-progress as the fuel, and you can capture the interest of your most stubborn friends and family. Okay, maybe we knew this going into the creation of Artifcts, but if research-oriented genealogists are willing to adapt their tried-and-true methods to pick up Artifcting to ensure the STORIES of the heirlooms, trees, photos and more live on, then surely the rest of us mere mortals should do the same.  

It can be a bridge too far for many people to enter the world of sophisticated and complex genealogy software. Artifcts is a powerful tool, with a friendly, warm, and easy to use experience layered on top to welcome all. 

How do you use Artifcts? We’d love to hear all of your tips, hacks, and best practices. Please join us on Instagram or Facebook or write to use at Editor@Artifcts.com.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Artifcts Is Our Love Language

Reading time: 4 minutes 

In 1992, Baptist Minister Gary Chapman published the non-fiction book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. (Side note, if anyone out there has a copy, go Artifct That!) 

The book outlines five ways that romantic partners express and experience love, which he termed, “love languages.” In short, Chapman’s five love languages were words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.  

In our household, although acts of service and quality time are always encouraged, Artifcts has become our go-to love language. It transcends the generations, spans the distances, and lets us all know we are loved.  

Saying I Love You Artifcts Style 

My entire family knows I say I love you with Artifcts. There are freshly baked late-night chocolate chip cookies and banana breads when coming home from school, and of course, the recipes (and love notes) that follow via Artifcts. 

Gifts are given along with the Artifcts (and the explanations for why THIS gift) as are adventures. One of my favorite Artifcts surprises to date has been gifting our then 19-year-old a trip to Iceland, itinerary revealed and documented via Artifcts.  

I am lucky and thankful that the Artifcts go both ways in our household. My husband is especially sweet, Artifcting the moments, mementos, and memories (and cards!) that say, “I love you.” I was brought to tears when he Artifcted a piece of art he bought me AND included an audio recording of him explaining why he picked THAT piece and what it meant to him. Call me strictly sentimental, but I love having his voice safely paired with the Artifct. 

Saying I Love You Across Generations 

My mother-in-law and my husband have an especially meaningful love language in Artifcts. She’s been Artifcting since we launched and now has several hundred Artifcts and counting. She loves being able to share her stories and memories with her children and grandchildren, and my husband loves learning bits and pieces about his mom that he never knew before. (The grandchildren do too!) 

For instance, little did we know that @Grandmom counts an eight-foot python skin among her most prized possessions until she shared the Artifct with us! 

 

 
Who knew? We didn't until Grandmom Artifcted it!

My father has also recently gotten into the Artifcting mode, creating and privately sharing Artifcts with our family, documenting his life from 4H to retirement. I learned things about my father I never knew, and that is the greatest gift of all.  

As for us, and our generation? My husband and I Artifct FOR our children since we know they may not always remember the small moments and otherwise important details. My husband Artifcted the older kids’ swim trophies as we downsized, and I routinely Artifct special moments for my daughter, from learning to ride a bike to skiing her first black diamond. Sure, she’ll have the photos, thousands of them, but photos can’t talk and one day she’ll want to know the stories behind those photos.  

 

First time skiing a black diamond.Important firsts, remembered always. Made with love on Artifcts. 

Saying I Love You Across Distances 

One of the great things about Artifcts is that you don’t have to physically be there to send and share Artifcts. Part of my family lives in Denmark, and we capture and share the small moments, favorite recipes, and special memories via Artifcts.  

I love waking up to a new Artifct from my Danish family. We’ve even utilized Artifcts to subvert the insanely slow snail mail process. This year for my birthday, my Danish family Artifcted my birthday card, complete with photos, a funny story, and videos! It was the best and greenest birthday greeting yet.  

We also create Artifcts Circles when we travel together, or celebrate holidays together, sharing Artifcts, stories, and memories for all to see. It helps make the distances between seem not so large and gives us all something to look back on and cherish until our next time together.  

Creating A Sixth Love Language? 

We’ve come to think of Artifcts as our sixth love language, although I suppose it’s more of an amalgamation of several of Chapman’s original love languages. In our house, Artifcts always include positive words of affirmation. Creating the Artifcts requires quality time and is without a doubt a service to the next (and current!) generation, in addition to being one of the best gifts ever. 

We’re biased for sure, but we can’t think of a better way to say I love you than Artifcts!  

Wishing you and yours a Happy Valentine’s Day.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane, No Car Required 

Reading time: 3 minutes 

Did you know that over the past 2.5 years, our co-founders and guest editors have authored 218 ARTIcles by Artifcts? That’s a lot of writing AND a lot of information!  

With the genealogy conference RootsTech fast approaching, we thought it would be fun to resurface some of our most popular family history pieces to get us all thinking about how DO we preserve our family histories and tell our stories. We suspect that just like the Artifcts we each create, no two answers will be exactly the same.  

Winning By A Landslide 

First up, and winning by a landslide by number of views and clicks in recent weeks, is What Should You Do With Old Scrapbooks. Scrapbooking is more than a hobby. It’s a time-consuming, big-hearted passion and nearly infinite outlet for creativity. These works of art visualize people’s stories. 

The thing is scrapbooks also take up space and collect dust. They feature people no longer in our lives. They can raise more questions than answers with the items they feature. And then, the physical reality – they fall apart. Read on for more on scrapbooking dilemmas and possible solutions. 

A fun and not-too distant second is Could You And Should You Part With a Family Photo, authored by guest editor and genealogist legend, Thomas MacEntee. In this piece, Thomas explores drastic methods used to ensure future access to precious family photos. You might just discover you have company in your own approach to old family photos! 

How To’s and Family Stories Near the Top 

It seems our members have also really enjoyed digging in and learning HOW to Artifct to preserve all their family stories, memories, and histories tied to the items they keep and pass down for the next generation. Our How to Artifct Family History and Heirlooms was our most popular “How-To” series, and our ARTIcles story titled, I’m The Family Keeper, What Do I Do With It All was wildly popular with folks looking for answers to the perpetual question of “What do I do with all my ‘stuff’!” 

Another fan favorite has been How Two Sisters Overcame the Guilt To Lighten The Load Of Family Heirlooms, authored by guest editor Rachel Donnelly, co-founder of PALS. Rachel shares her heartful and funny story of how she and her sister successfully navigated an 1890s family home chock full of family heirlooms.  

Just Because 

And in our “just because” category our co-founders Heather and Ellen decided to get in on the fun and share their favorite family history themed ARTIcles from the past two years. For Heather, it’s A Family History in Five Artifcts, where Artifcts Community member @Grandmom accepted the challenge of documenting her family story with five Artifcts. Amazing, and daunting when you think about it.  

As for Ellen, her favorite is Did You Know Great Grandpa Was an Inventor? When we don’t pause to ask the questions and listen to the answers, so many great tales—fish tales and those more ... verifiable—are lost to time. 

We hope you’ll enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as we did when we researched it! And, if you plan on being in Salt Lake City for RootsTech 2024, please stop by Booth #1517 to say hello to our co-founders and team. We love meeting our Artifcts members in real life! 

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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