Memory Box: Hyperfocus-free Alternative to Scrapbooking for the ADHD Adult
I used to be really into scrapbooking. Like really into it. I love paper and stickers and photos and writing, and I’m really sentimental, so it kind of makes sense. It was about the memory keeping, sure, but it was also about the art. Annnnnnd it was the first thing I cut out of my life because of hyperfocus. Though, to be fair, most scrapbookers are pretty obsessive even without ADHD. Few people legitimately have the time for it. And it’s hecka expensive!
So I didn’t regret leaving it behind. But after quitting my favorite hobby cold turkey, I had to find some other outlets.
To curb the creative aspects, I took up planner decorating instead. It involves all the same fun paper, stickers, cool pens, and arrangement of scrapbooking, but on a smaller scale. (Although, these days I’m not doing that as much. As evidenced by my new PB&J planner project.)
For the memory keeping aspect, though, I wasn’t quite satisfied just having 10,000 pictures stored at random on our home server. There’s digital scrapbooking, but I never really got into that. I’m more of a hands-on person. I enjoy cutting, pasting, hand-writing, and touching stuff. (That’s the same reason why I use a paper planner and why I write all my notes and journals by hand.) And digital scrapbooking is almost as time consuming and expensive as paper scrapbooking.
And there are some mementos that can’t be stored on the computer. So what are you supposed to do with those things?
Enter… The Memory Box
I went to Hobby Lobby and got one of these:
Then I decorated it to look like this:
And I gave it to this guy:
For our 5th wedding anniversary.
I had filled it with as many love notes, mementos, and memories as I could find. And we have been adding stuff to it ever since. Screenshot text messages, receipts from date nights, pictures of the two of us… happy thoughts.
It has turned out to be one of the easiest ways to collect our happy memories.
How it Works in 3 easy steps:
- You get a box. – I got mine at Hobby Lobby for maybe $15.
- You decorate the box. (Or not.) – If you’re the artsy type, go ahead and decorate your box. I used scrapbook paper, gold paint, scrapbooking stickers, and some crafting tape. (The roll on adhesive kind.)
- Attach notes to things you put into the box. This is so you remember the time frame and context surrounding the object. Maybe write down the who, what, when, where, and why of the keepsake, or just why it’s important to you. If it’s a love note, you can leave it as is, or make an aside like “I was having a really bad day when you sent me this message”.
The important thing is that you’re selective enough to keep only the stuff that really matters to you and that you remember to write and attach a thought to it.
And HAPPY MEMORIES ONLY!
I only have one major pitfall and that’s not printing stuff out.
I’m really bad about not printing out the photos. They pile up, get lost in huge folders of photos on my computer, and then I don’t remember exactly what I wanted to say about them.
I take screenshots of messages or emails and the same kind of thing happens.
These days, however, my printer is connected to the same network as my phone so I can print directly from my phone. That helps, because I don’t have to first put it on my computer, then dig it up and find it.
(I rarely upload my photos to my computer. I usually just wait until my phone runs out of storage space. That’s probably my biggest problem.)
I highly recommend this form of memory keeping, because it’s an almost effortless way to put your own voice to your memories. And as ADHD individuals, our memory is never as clear as we’d like it to be.
Even without the printed stuff, you can build a lifetime of memories just by writing on receipts, tickets, napkins, etc. Nothing has to look perfect or even pretty. It’s all about what it means to you. And going through the box from time to time is a huge pick-me-up whenever you need a smile on your face.
So that’s it! That’s my memory box strategy. How are you keeping up with your happy memories? Let me know in the comments below! (Hey, that rhymes!)