Transitions With Jean Blog

’Someday’ is here; time to work on your to-do list

May 3, 2020

What, oh what, do you do with this extra time on your hands?

Do you remember all of those things that you set aside, saying, “Someday, I’ll get around to it”? Well “someday” is here.

When my customers are making a transition from their big family house into a smaller, more manageable home, I tell them to stop going through drawers, stop reading through old letters and cards, and stop dealing with old files and pictures. It all consumes too much time and energy.

But now, maybe you have a little extra time on your hands.

What an opportunity to attack things that no one else, including your children, should have to deal with.

Some of it is just stuff and some is very personal - your special memories, but no one else’s.

Now is the time.

To get started, gather things that are alike. Do just one type at a time.

1. Pictures: Go on a scavenger hunt and find every scrapbook and every picture from a drawer; don’t forget the ones from those boxes in the basement. Pick a comfortable work zone to pile them up on, perhaps the spare bed. Be sure you have a chair so you can sit comfortably. Don’t start until you have all the pictures together. Then, relax for the rest of the day. You finished a big task already.

The next day, grab a cup of coffee, some cookies for sustenance, and a pen. Now, let’s do those pictures.

Make a box for each of the kids and one pile for you to keep. Be sure that everything has names and dates on them, even if you guess the date, “Mary Jones, 1980’s?” If you don’t know what they are a picture of, throw them out. Are there meaningless, random pictures? Be ruthless with the useless.
Keep just the special ones.

For eons, haven’t you said you were going to get at them? You are doing it. Have a cookie!

2. Files: Forget that poor little shredder. It can’t handle this great task. Put a big box in the garage marked “shred”. Why the garage? Because it is easier to get rid of from there. Start working on those files; fill a bag with things to shred, then dump it into that garage box. Recycle the toaster instruction manual.

3. Cards and letters: Again, gather them all together. Don’t do them when you do the pictures. You have time. Some cards are just signed. Hardly special. Keep one from a beloved person but clear out the non-essential. The goal is to deal with them. Add to the kids’ boxes with special cards and letters.

As for those loving letters that are very personal, set them aside for now. Wait until the evening to read them, maybe with a glass of wine. Relax, relish the memories. If they are not meant for someone else’s eyes, now is the time to use that little shredder.

What is next? If you finish all of that, there are the slides. Yes, I said slides! 

Jean Long Manteufel, senior move manager and CEO of Long’s Senior Transitions in Appleton, writes a column on the first Sunday of each month about life changes associated with aging.   She can be reached at 920-734-3260 or


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