Ready to conquer clutter - but for realsies this time?​

GET THE SYSTEM I USED TO DECLUTTER
75% OF MY STUFF (FOR FREE!)

Grab your copy of my 20+ page Ultimate Decluttering Guide
for a simple, step-by-step process to help you get
from stressy & messy to clean & serene.

Ready to conquer clutter - but for realsies
this time?

GET THE SYSTEM I USED TO DECLUTTER 75% OF MY STUFF (FOR FREE!)

Grab your copy of my 20+ page Ultimate Decluttering Guide
for a simple, step-by-step
process to help you get from
stressy & messy to clean & serene.

Ready to conquer clutter - but for realsies this time?​

GET THE SYSTEM I USED TO DECLUTTER
75% OF MY STUFF (FOR FREE!)

Grab your copy of my 20+ page Ultimate Decluttering Guide
for a simple, step-by-step process to help you get
from stressy & messy to clean & serene.

by Sara Brigz

They say the only thing certain in life is death. And let me tell ya, after coping with the losses of three of my loved ones this year, that realization hit me like a ton of bricks.

Anyone who’s had to go through the pain of losing a loved one – and figure out how to sort through their belongings after they pass – knows that it comes with a buttload of challenges. Things like:

  • not knowing where to even start in sorting the clutter
  • powerful waves of grief that interrupt the decluttering process
  • the reminders of your loved one around every corner
  • the guilt of parting with items that you know you won’t use, but were important to your loved one
  • and sometimes even tension with family members over specific sentimental pieces (especially since old family dynamics can resurface when emotions are high – helloooo middle child syndrome!)

Frankly, nothing can make this situation less sucky. Because in my opinion, grief is pretty much the suckiest of all the emotions. But there are certain things that can keep the situation from feeling even worse. In this post, I share some of my strategies for decluttering after a death, from practical tips you can implement right away to deeper emotional work that may take more time.

If you’re also looking for general strategies on how to cope during a personal crisis, here’s a post where I asked 21 experts to share their best tips of how to live intentionally in times of stress.

Please let me say that if you’re needing to read this, I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts really are with you, friend. And even though decluttering after a death is never easy, I hope these strategies can help in some small way.

1. THE STUFF IS NOT THE LEGACY

 

Want to know one of the biggest game changers for my own decluttering after a loss? Here it is. Legacies do not live in our stuff.

In my experience, the stuff is merely a symbol – a placeholder – of a quality you admired about them. A baking tray is less about the tray itself, and more about the recipes they taught you. It’s about the quality time spent in the kitchen together – the sharing of experience through food.

In the same way, a souvenir from their travels is less about the object itself. Or even the specific memory it evokes. Instead, i’s a reflection of their adventurous spirit.

Here’s the thing. If you’ll use the object regularly and think of your loved one fondly every time you do, then by all means keep it. But it can be freeing to realize that you don’t need to keep it in order to honour their legacy. You can declutter the baking tray and honour and remember them by baking their signature cookie recipe every holiday season. Or let go of the souvenir and celebrate them by taking an impromptu trip to somewhere new.

2. START EARLY

 

I think the natural tendency is to put off going through someone’s belongings until you feel ready. But the thing is, you’ll never really feel ready, you know?

It can be so tempting to just chuck everything into storage (or hide it away at home) to deal with at a later date – but by trying to avoid the negative emotions, we rob ourselves of the ability to feel, process, and start moving past them.

Obviously I’m not saying you need to declutter right away, or even in the same week or month. But it’s important to realize that it’s going to be emotionally taxing regardless of when you start, and postponing it won’t actually make it any easier – and it can actually be super useful in helping you work through your grief.

 

3. START SMALL

Begin by decluttering a category of things that might be less emotionally charged, especially at the beginning when the waves of grief are the most powerful and close together. Maybe it’s their thumbtacks. Or their charging cables. Or their Tupperware. If you come across anything particularly sentimental in the process, set it aside and come back to it at a later date.

If you’re new to decluttering, I also recommend grabbing my free guide. It’ll help you through the basics of how to start, what mistakes to avoid, and how to develop a clear vision of your decluttering goals:

 

4. RIDE THE WAVE, BABY

You know what’s funny? According to Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist at Harvard, a wave of sadness only takes 90 seconds from start to finish… but only if you allow yourself to really notice it and feel it. That means that the negative emotions that we spend days (and even months or years?) trying to avoid and distract ourselves from could actually be felt and released in a matter of seconds!

Honestly, it works. For example, I’ve started letting myself cry – like, UGLY cry – when I need to. I’ll feel the grief in all its glory, and then starts to fade within a minute or two. Now, at the start of the grieving process, I might have a bajillion of those little waves in a day… but gradually, they get further apart.

The key is to let yourself feel it fully. So if you’re decluttering and you feel the urge to cry, don’t hold back. Stop everything you’re doing, cry as hard as you need to, stop once it passes, and carry on. Also maybe grab a snack and some water, because crying all the time is dehydrating AF.😉 And maybe practice a little mindfulness while you’re at it?

 

5. LET GO OF THE GUILT

Just because it was important to your loved one doesn’t mean it needs to be important to you. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but hear me out here. The process of decluttering someone else’s items involves figuring out who you are, what you enjoy, and what matters most to you.
 
Chances are, you didn’t share 100% of your interests or hobbies or interior decor preferences with your loved one. And it’s okay not to share 100% of their preferences for their belongings after they’ve passed.
 
Oh, and if you’re feeling guilty about things going to waste while decluttering? I wrote a blog post all about how to declutter sustainably which should help.

 
Decluttering While Grieving

 

6. TAKE LOTS OF BREAKS

Going through a deceased loved one’s things can be exhausting emotional work – especially in the early days of bereavement. Decision fatigue from decluttering is a very real thing, Take naps, eat snacks, drink water, and meditate regularly to recharge. (I’m also a big fan of hug breaks – and yes, self-hugs count!) You could even take a long shower, a brisk walk in the fresh air, phone a friend, or bring a little more simplicity into your day.
 

Self-care is always important, but it’s even more so when you’re grieving. All of these are non-negotiables in my mind. So if you can, opt for slow and steady rather than powering through, so that you can rest up and not burn out.

 

7. NORMAL DECLUTTERING METHODS MIGHT NOT WORK

I’m a sucker for Gilmore Girls. Now, the revival was disappointing in a number of ways (but let’s save that discussion for our next round of patio beers, shall we?). That said, one of the most compelling aspects of it for me was watching Emily Gilmore navigate the grief surrounding her late husband.

There’s this one scene, for example, when she’s cavalierly getting rid of all her possessions – her furniture, her clothes, practically everything in sight, because it doesn’t “spark joy.”

And look, I’ve got nothing against Marie Kondo’s methodology, because I know it works for plenty of folks! My point is that grief can really fuck with the joy-detecting process. It’s like our ability to determine what sparks joy becomes unreliable: either we feel no joy about any of our stuff, like Emily, or we confuse joy with our love for the person and end up keeping everything.

Honestly, the same goes for many decluttering strategies I’ve seen. Like you know how people say you should declutter something if you haven’t used it in six months? Yeah, that doesn’t work so well in this situation.

When you’re decluttering in bereavement, remember that no two people’s grief is the same. So a method that works well for someone else may not be right for you, and that’s absolutely okay.

 

8. BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF

I’m going to say something kind of obvious, but stick with me here.

There’s no such thing as an A+ in grieving.

Everyone feels things at their own pace. That means you’re no better or worse of a person based on how deeply you feel. Or even how quickly this process goes. The key is to find self-compassion, because you’re coping with a lot right now – and in this moment, you’re doing the best you can.

As much as you probably wish it could be, progress likely won’t be consistent or linear. You’re going to find things that trigger grief, so give yourself lots of space for that. And while it’s totally fine to have general goals (like, I want to spend this week going through the living room), try not to stick too heavily to a pre-determined schedule. After all, grief just doesn’t work like that.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS ON DECLUTTERING AFTER A DEATH

Decluttering ain’t easy at the best of times, but when you throw grief into the mix – well, it’s a lot to deal with. It can be overwhelming and guilt-inducing and stressful, and can leave us feeling helpless, confused, and wanting to scream into a pillow. (Or is that just me?!)

While we never really “get over” a loss, learning how to declutter after a death can be an important step in finding more peace. And by pacing ourselves, working through our guilt, and strengthening our self compassion, the process becomes more straightforward.

I hope the tips above on how to declutter while grieving will help you feel a little more in control, and will be the first step for healing through the process of letting go. (And for more decluttering help, you know where to look.)

 

by Sara Brigz

One of the reasons I think decluttering rocks is because it helps you work through all your emotional baggage and start living more intentionally. Basically, I think the whole point of clearing clutter is learning how to care less about acquiring stuff – and become more aware of the people and experiences in your present moment.

And that’s basically the definition of mindfulness, my friend!

I’m a semi-regular meditator, but I haven’t always been. I actually spent years being intimidated by it (and even a little skeptical about it!). I wrote it off as some sort of spiritual woo-woo practice – that is, until I discovered that mindfulness is so much more than just meditations. Especially meditations that take themselves too seriously.

And in these difficult times, mindfulness is more important than ever.

Now, if you’re anything like me, sitting down for a 30-minute meditation can feel daunting. So I’ve assembled nine straightforward mindfulness activities to try. Each one takes between ten seconds and five minutes, and most don’t require any equipment or tools.

Give ‘em a try, and let me know which is your fave in the comments!

Oh, and I also have a *free* workbook called the Ultimate Decluttering Guide, which is designed to help you declutter your home mindfully! Grab your copy here:

 

1. SNACK AWAY


Grab your favourite “guilty pleasure” snack and eat it, completely without guilt. What’s the catch? You can’t do anything else while you eat it. No scrolling through Instagram, no binge-watching TV. Your only job is to focus on how awesome it tastes

As you eat it, try naming one thing for each of your five senses:

  • How does it look?
  • Does it smell yummy?
  • What’s the texture like?
  • What can you taste?
  • How does it sound when you chew it?

Taking a pleasurable activity that we often power through (I’m not the only one who mindlessly eats, right?!) and focusing all our attention on it is one of the best little intentional activities we can do.

2. BOOGIE DOWN


Pop your headphones in – or hook up your stereo – and blast your favourite upbeat song. Let loose, and dance your hiney around the room like a maniac. Don’t check your phone, don’t think of anything. Just focus on that sweet, sweet music. Also you get 10 extra bonus points if your music of choice is super trashy 90s pop. 😉

3. COUNT TO TEN

One of my favourite YouTubers, Anthony Ongaro (of Break the Twitch), has a beautifully simple method for living a little more mindfully. He suggests waiting ten seconds between deciding to do something, and actually doing it… or choosing not to.

As he explains in this video, “There’s no shame in this process. It doesn’t matter if you do – or don’t do – that thing [after waiting the ten seconds]. This is simply a practice for slowing down a little bit, and being more present in each of the small decisions we’re making day to day.” I’ve used this strategy to help replace some impulsive actions with a little more intentionality… even though, let’s be honest, I still do impulsive shit sometimes! Oh and P.S., Anthony was also featured in this blog post about how to live simply and intentionally during a crisis.

4. SWEAR YOUR ASS OFF

At least one study has shown that swearing increases our pain tolerance. So what better way to get through a mindfulness exercise (which may or may not feel like torture to you!) than to swear through it? I’ve created a potty-mouthed meditation called Calm as Fuck, to help you find a little mindfulness with a whooooole lotta swearing. I dare you to get through it and not feel just a little bit better! 😉

5. CREATE REMINDERS

It’s easy to get lost in to hustle and bustle of the day, and for our brains to be constantly whirring around while thinking about the past and the future. So try setting up a series of reminders to be mindful.
 
It helps to place them where you spend a lot of time, or where you frequently check – like your phone lock screen your desktop background, the bathroom mirror, on a shelf in the fridge… and change the notes around frequently, because your brain will experience sensory adaptation. (Basically that’s just a fancy way of saying that after time, you’ll get used to having the notes there and you’ll stop noticing them. So by changing the colour and/or position of the note every week, you’ll make the reminders more effective.)

Dishes are in a sink, ready to be washed mindfully.

6. FIND ONE GOOD THING

Choose a task you’ve been putting off, and commit to spending five minutes on it. (If you end up wanting to continue, that’s cool – but there’s no expectation to do more than the five minutes.) Find and pay attention to one pleasant part of the experience.
 
Let’s say your dishes are piling up, so you spend five minutes doing a few of them. You can’t stand doing dishes, but the water temperature feels kinda nice. Focus on the sensations of the warm soapy water for those five minutes. Or if you’ve been putting off writing an email, start writing it for five minutes. Even if the experience of writing it is unpleasant, focus on something that isn’t so bad – maybe you’re sitting in a comfortable chair, or the sun is shining into the room. Even though the task might kind of suck, keep your attention on the positive aspect of the task while you work on it.

7. TAKE FIVE DEEP BREATHS

Sometimes a few deep breaths can be the difference between reacting to something impulsively and responding to it thoughtfully. It can also totally transform the trajectory of a shitty day, and help you refocus if you’re experiencing decision fatigue. So go ahead and sit up (or stand up) tall, and take the deepest breaths you’ve taken all day. Focus on the feeling of filling up your lungs, emptying them out, and – my personal favourite – that moment where the direction of airflow changes.

8. MAKE MINDFULNESS A HANDY SKILL

When I first started meditating, I struggled to focus on my breath. I’m not sure why, but it just didn’t resonate with me right away. But another mindful tactic did – and that was placing my attention on my hands. Try setting a timer for two minutes. Rub your hands together repeatedly for 5-10 seconds, and then put them face up on your lap (or by your side, if you’re standing). From there, focus on all the tingly feelings in your palms for the rest of the two minutes. Having something physical to focus on – besides your breath – might just be your ticket into mindfulness.

9. GET SOME PERSPECTIVE

This is going to sounds morbid, but this next tip has been such a game changer for me. When you’re talking to someone, try asking yourself: “What if this were the last time I saw this person?” Focus on staying mindful when you’re talking to them. Really listen to them, without distractions. Say the things that need to be said.
 
I lost a friend very suddenly at 19, and in my last conversation with her I was noodling around on my phone. Had I known, I would have definitely been more present – so that’s how I try to show up now. I’m not perfect, of course, and I don’t expect you to be either. But asking yourself this question only takes a few seconds, and it can definitely help you stay focused on what really matters.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Living mindfully isn’t a one-size-fits-all venture. The common, serious-style meditation ain’t for everyone, and that’s okay! There are other mindfulness strategies that virtually anyone can implement in order to find a bit of calm, or live in the moment just a little more often.

From dancing around like a fool to focusing on the one positive aspect of a shitty task, I hope that these five-minute (or less) hacks will help you de-stress your day in no time. And you can use all that newfound mindfulness to kick ass in all your decluttering goals!

by Sara Brigz

I’m not gonna lie, times are rough right now – and it feels almost impossible to keep life simple. As I write this, the COVID-19 pandemic is raging hard and many of us are cooped up in isolation… which is a whole struggle in itself, amirite?

This past year has basically been one crisis after another: devastating wildfires, hurricanes, political unrest, the worst global economic decline since the Great Depression, and now a pandemic. And on a personal level, it’s brought the loss of two loved ones. Like, are you freakin’ kidding me, 2020?!

And the cherry on top of this shit sundae? Many of our usual activities and healthy coping strategies have been put on hold, leaving us with no choice but to cocoon ourselves in blankets and cry and re-watch Friends for the 874th time. (Oh wait… is that just me?!)

 

Being the potty-mouthed optimist that I am, I honestly believe that we can get through this shit together. Our routines may be totally out of whack right now, but there are still things that we can do to create little moments of meaning and, dare I say it, legit happiness. That’s why I gathered some of my favourite experts from the sustainability, mindfulness, and decluttering communities and asked them the following question:

What’s your best tip for keeping life simple and intentional during the pandemic?

Get ready for them to drop some kick-ass knowledge about self-compassion, finding calm in the chaos, and oh-so-much more. (Plus, if you stick around, you get my not-so-expert tip down at the bottom!😉) The best part is that these tips can apply to both a global crisis and a personal crisis, so feel free to share this with any friends going through a tough time… whatever the reason.

Now let’s get to it, shall we? Here are 21 ways to live simply and intentionally during a crisis:

1. Reframe your to-do list.

“What’s been helping me recently is focusing on a ‘done’ list versus a ‘to do’ list. It’s easy to feel unproductive and then down on myself if I’m looking at an unrealistic list of things I’d like to do in a day.  It’s quite uplifting and motivating to see a list of all the *small and big* things I have accomplished.”

– Sophi Robertson | yourecofriend.ca

 

2. Find balance between routine and easing expectations.

“While there are many things out of our control during this time, it’s helpful to work on finding balance between easing the expectations we hold for ourselves and still doing small things consistently that move us forward. Just like any major transition, even the strongest habits are easily disrupted in this environment. Be kind to yourself and others while still looking for tiny bits of familiarity in your routine to gain some consistency day to day, even if it’s much less than you’d typically expect of yourself.”

– Anthony Ongaro | breakthetwitch.com

 

3. Acknowledge your feelings, and ask for help if you need it.

“These times are fucking hard, but you are a lot stronger than you think. Don’t deny what you are feeling. You can’t avoid your emotions, but if you’re not quite ready to face what you’re feeling, learn something or do something that you always wanted to learn or do. It might surprise you! If that doesn’t help, and you still can’t shake the feeling, it’s best to seek help (if you can). Showing that you need help is the strongest thing you can do.”

– Simple(ish) Living | instagram.com/simpleishliving

 

4. Focus on being, rather than doing.

“It’s a simple approach that applies whether or not we’re in a pandemic, but it’s difficult to apply. Focus on BEING rather than DOING. I can easily get caught up in doing activities with little energy spent on how I feel in the process. This is the fastest way I’ve seen burnout occur and this puts my physical and emotional wellness at risk. When I shift the focus to BEING in the present moment, I can more easily tap into connecting with myself in a way that benefits me the most.”

– Sandy Park | tidywithspark.com

 

5. Prioritize what's most important to you.

“It’s funny because the question seems simple on the surface, but it’s really more like an onion once you pull back the layers of each person’s personal circumstances. Right now I believe the best way to keep life simple and intentional during this pandemic is to prioritize what is most important to you. For some people, that might mean keeping their kiddos fed and occupied while juggling working from home. For others, it might be about maintaining their mental health as anxiety has been kicked into overdrive. Some people might have more free time, in which case it’s a good chance to prioritize learning about sustainability and how to avoid excess – while others might be overwhelmed and hanging on by a thread. No matter what we’re experiencing right now, it’s all valid.”

– Tara McKenna | thezerowastecollective.com

 

Woman of colour stands in a field with a mountain in the background
6. Get some fresh air.

“Spend as much time outside as nature (and your local government) allows. It’s amazing how the monotonous task of laundry folding can become a peaceful practice when done in the presence of fresh air and sunlight.”

7. Try out some new skills.

“Before the pandemic I was one of those people who had every hour of every day booked with something. Now that business is not as usual, I have a lot more free time. Rather than fill it up with TV or excessive Zooms (it seems like there are opportunities to be on Zoom calls all day every day), I have honed in on opportunities to teach myself new skills. After some trial and error, I figured out how to make kombucha (nailed it with strawberries). Now I’m onto sourdough bread.”

– Jonathan Levy | zerowasteguy.com

 

8. Focus on your values.

“I spend more time focusing on what I value, and I spend a lot less time with everything that distracts me from what I value. I’m pulling myself away from the inevitable hurry and hustle.”

– Marie Beecham | mariebeecham.org

 

9. Create mindful rituals.

“For me, simple and intentional living all comes down to little rituals: small moments of joy or mindfulness that I actively create through the day and aim to follow routinely. Especially when I’m running around after my toddler son, these little rituals mean so much! It can be as simple as making a cup of tea, having a hot shower with a DIY body scrub, or taking a few deep breaths. Even wiping down the kitchen counters or unloading the dishwasher can be meditative and helpful for living in the ‘now’ when I’m feeling stressed.”

– Leah Payne | leahstellapayne.com

 

10. Assess what you truly need.

“Quarantine has many of us sitting with everything we own, which can cause a lot of discomfort though we may not understand why. We are having to adjust our wants and our purchasing habits, something I hope we take with us when life returns to “normal”. Now is a great time to assess what you (and you family) truly love, use, and need. If you are using this time to declutter, please do so with the environment in mind! Consider actively giving your items away to folks who will use them, rather than doing a big donation dump. Let this time be your gateway to the sharing economy, sustainable consumption, and community resilience.”

– Sarah Robertson-Barnes | sustainableinthesuburbs.com

 

 

Pssst – if y’all are interested in learning how to declutter sustainably, I’ve got a whole blog post about it! There’s also some info about what to do with your decluttered items in my Ultimate Decluttering Guide. Grab your copy here:

11. Dive into hands-on projects.

“One of my favourite ways to keep life simple and intentional during these tough times is to take my mind off the chaos by diving into hands-on projects! Gardening is a great way to connect with nature and food. We’ve been growing everything from chilies, cabbage, squash, tomatoes and more! Another thing that has helped is learning new recipes and baking from scratch. This trying time has taught me that we humans have always been self-sufficient, we just need to reconnect with those traditions and bring them back into our systems. Brampton, a city in Ontario, has even given free soil and seeds to its residents! Growing our own food is so important especially when we need to focus on reducing our contact with others during this and future pandemics.”

– Elizabeth Teo | instagram.com/zerowastecutie

 

12. Keep a gratitude journal.

“My best tip for keeping life simple during the pandemic is to keep a gratitude journal. We can get so caught up in the daily stresses and fear of the unknown that we forget that we have a lot of great things going on in our life NOW. Taking 5 minutes every evening to write down what you are grateful for, it will remind you that you have many things in your life that spark joy. Choosing to look at the bright side of life and being intentional about where you invest your time and emotions will help you find peace in the midst of chaos.”

– Janine Morales | tidycloset.net

 

13. Have a plan for your day.

“Have a plan, even if it is a loose one. I am working from home with my husband and 2 children, 3 and 14. Very early on everyone got their own daily schedule. Very simply put, have purpose. Make your bed, get dressed for the day, read a little, play a little, move your body a little. My main focus was to keep everyone mentally healthy. If we are happy and safe, only then can we focus on environmental sustainability.”

– Leslie Acevedo | instagram.com/salt.light.provision

 

14. Listen to podcasts.

“For me, it’s all about recreating positive relationships with objects that would be considered ‘waste’ and shifting my idea of waste to create. During this time, I’ve been able to tune in to a lot of podcasts when I’m cooking, exercising, or doing nothing and enjoy conversations from people that have interesting thoughts to say. While I miss in-person human interactions, I’ve found podcasts to provide me similar forms of energy, and it makes me happy. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable at home since that’s the most important thing!”

– Isaias Hernandez | queerbrownvegan.com

 

15. Keep things flexible.

“As a mom of a toddler with a husband who’s now working from home, we do our best to keep things simple, flexible and intentional without putting too much pressure on things. For example, my son has as much independent play time both indoors and outdoors as possible rather than structured, one-on-one play time with me. This simplifies the day because I get to feel refreshed doing my own thing as much as possible.”

– Elsbeth Callaghan | practicallyzerowaste.ca

 

16. Reflect on each day.

“Every night I write a list with what I did well during the day, and what my intentions are for the next day. It has been a great help to keep track of what I’m doing with my time. And it has prevented me from falling out of balance by either procrastinating or overworking. And if I do overwork one day, I’m allowed to procrastinate on the other!”

– Ana Sofia Batista | subtler.org

 

A person is dropping food into a pot of water in the kitchen.
17. Get creative in the kitchen.

“I can only speak for myself and what’s helped me maintain a feeling of calm during the pandemic! Cooking simple meals and challenging myself to use up as many ingredients as possible before heading back to the market; learning about the useful wild plants that grow around me and finding ways to incorporate them into my life; slowly and without pressure picking up new skills like fermentation and growing food; and most importantly, finding little ways to celebrate each day. Fresh sheets, an old jazz record, candlelight — just something special that makes me happy to be alive.”

– Allison K. | instagram.com/nonlocal.joy

 

18. Be inventive and resilient.

“One of the things that most attracted me to minimalism and sustainable living was that it gave me the opportunity to be inventive and resourceful. An unexpected result is that it has taught me resilience. So my best tip is to be flexible, and find creative ways to work with your limitations. Lose yourself in a rabbit hole of flourless baking, and seek out space-saving, long-lasting natural products, things like shampoo bars and soap nuts, which are not only eco-friendly, but are also incredibly practical right now.”

– Nash Gierak | defyingspace.com

 

19. Reframe your thinking.

“Don’t focus on the things you could, should or would ordinarily do. Think of what you can and will do, and use this to inspire you.”

20. Focus on well-being and connection.

“I have been trying my best to maintain these three things to keep myself well during this time: physical health (exercise, staying hydrated, adequate rest and a balanced diet); mental health (journaling, meditation and virtual therapy); and community (staying in touch with family, friends and neighbors as well as volunteering).”

21. Determine what's within your control.

“For me it has been about categorizing what I can do to make the world a better place and what is beyond my control. I do the best that I can and try not to sweat the rest. I want us to be remembered as a society that dealt with this pandemic with grace and not with panic. We’ve used these credos to get us through this challenging time.”

– Meera Jain | instagram.com/thegreenmum

 

Now if you’ve made it this far, woohoo! Here’s my quick tip for living simply and intentionally right now:
BONUS: Keep life simple by dancing your ass off!

“To find some mindfulness in all this shit, I plug my headphones into my old iPod, blast an upbeat song, and then proceed to dance around my tiny apartment like an absolute fool. Doesn’t matter if it’s Motown or N’Sync or Lizzo, you bet I’ll be shaking my ass like I’m Beyoncé‘s backup dancer – even though all I really know are awkward Dad-style dance moves. It might not be a fancy meditation, but giving myself permission to boogie unabashedly for three minutes is a total gamechanger for mindfulness.”

– Sara Brigz (das me!)

 

Final thoughts:

So far, 2020’s been kind of a pain in the ass, hasn’t it? It’s easy to get lost in the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I hope these tips can help you take little steps toward intentional living. Here are some of the key takeaways from our experts:

Prioritize your time. Figure out what’s most important in your life, and then guard it at all costs. It might be family time, or time in nature, or “you” time to recharge.

Have a routine. Whether it’s regular mealtimes or mindfulness activities or dancing around in your underwear in the mornings, pick some sort of routine that grounds you. And then…

Be flexible. The situation is changing from day to day, and sometimes things don’t go as planned. Allow yourself to go with the flow.

Distract yourself. Find enjoyable hobbies that help you grow as a person and connect with the world around you. That might mean gardening or cooking or decluttering your kitchen – whatever it is, immerse yourself in the awesome feeling of learning a new skill.

by Sara Brigz

Are you doing some kitchen decluttering, and want a little minimalist inspiration? (Or should I say…minspiration?) 😉 Or maybe you’re kind of overwhelmed and not sure where to start, so you want to figure out which things you can safely get rid of?

Well stick with me, my friend. Because I’m about to run you through 30 things I decluttered, and really don’t miss in the slightest.

My partner and I live in a 300 square foot (28 square meter) studio apartment, and trust me when I say that our kitchen is TEENY TINY. We have very little storage space, and even less counter space, so we have to be super selective about what we keep in it. It really doesn’t take much to clutter it up!

For the last few years, we’ve decluttered our things in “waves.” Whenever we moved, had the motivation, felt that our space was too cluttered, or just wanted to simplify our lives, we’d start to question what we actually used, and then we’d part with the rest. And along the way, the 30 things below didn’t make the cut.

Now, obviously no two people have the exact same needs, and I’m not telling you that you should declutter all these things just because we did. You might have some of these things, and have space for them, and use them all the time – and that’s okay! Plus there are probably things that we’ve kept and use all the time – like our pasta maker – which you might find ridiculous. We aren’t the same, and we don’t always have the same cooking styles, and I actually think that’s super interesting and cool. You do you, boo!

 

I hope this list serves as inspiration, and a gentle reminder that we really don’t need all the things we think we need, or that we’re told we need. Use it to think critically about which shit you actually use, and which shit you’re just keeping because you feel like you should!

OH! And P.S., did you know that there’s a free decluttering guide that can help simplify the process for you? Grab it here:

Now that you’ve grabbed your free declutter guide, here are the 30 kitchen items we got rid of and don’t miss at all!

1. MICROWAVE

The first apartment I had when I moved to Toronto had a microwave, but the next one I moved to didn’t. I decided to do a little experiment and see how long I could last without one – and two years later, the experiment is still going on! We reheat our food on the stove top or in the oven. It takes a little longer, but the space it saves is TOTALLY worth it.

2. SERVING PLATTERS

We’re pretty chill people, and we really don’t entertain often enough to warrant keeping any fancy serving platters. Plus, if our guests aren’t okay with their food being served in normal bowls or baking trays, then are they really people we want to be friends with?

3. CAKE PANS

Hi, my name is Sara, and I bake cakes in a casserole dish. Just call it one of my little eccentricities, or my signature baking style! (I expect a call from the Great British Bake-Off any day now.) 😉

4. TOASTER

We toast our bread in the oven. It might not be the most efficient from a power standpoint, but we really don’t have room for a toaster! And honestly, I’m not that much of a breakfast person to begin with.

5. TEAPOTS

I used to have a dozen teapots. I collected a whole bunch, but really only used two or three of them. So I gradually got rid of them over the years, until I decided to just make tea in my big mugs (or in a pot, if I’m making it for more than one person). It works just fine for me!

6. FRENCH PRESS

I’m a sucker for lattes, and we have a little secondhand espresso maker that I use every morning. But believe it or not, I used to have five (!!) other types of coffee brewers – two French presses, an aeropress, a drip, and a little Vietnamese coffee maker. They were taking up so much space in my kitchen, and I felt like I had decision fatigue every morning, so I decided to keep my fave and ditch the rest.

 
 

7. KETTLE

We used to have an electric kettle, but it took up way too much counter space for this apartment. We just boil water in a pot on the stove.

8. TABLECLOTH AND PLACEMATS

Okay, this might be controversial. (Let’s be real though – pretty much any of these could be controversial!) I find it way easier to wipe down the table when something spills than to wash placemats or a tablecloth. It also saves us a bunch of precious storage space in our tiny apartment!

9. SERRATED KNIVES

I mean, look – we’re both vegan. We really don’t need steak knives. We also keep our chef’s knife sharp enough that it cuts through bread super well! So we ditched our bread knife, too.

 
 
A bright, decluttered kitchen with wooden stools and a white backsplash

10. PIZZA CUTTER

Our chef’s knife also works perfectly fine for cutting pizza, so that’s one less “uni-tasker” in our home. (See #29 for more on uni-taskers!)

11. RAMEKINS

They always look so fancy, but we never used them. That’s just not our style of cooking or baking! (We’re much more into batch cooking and freezing meals over here.) So we gave them away, and never looked back.

12. FOOD PROCESSOR

You might be one of those people who say you couldn’t live without yours. But we have a high-powered blender, which works just fine for most things – and we kind of enjoy the process of chopping veggies by hand.

13. IMMERSION BLENDER

Our regular blender gets used all the time, for everything from smoothies to soups to making almond flour and icing sugar. We really don’t need a second type of blender.

14. EXTRA BOWLS, PLATES, AND CUTLERY

We kept about five of each, because we really don’t entertain more than a couple of people at a time. (We’re both introverts, haha!) If we ever do want to eat as a big group, we’ll go to a restaurant or we’ll get creative and serve finger foods. Why hang onto more than we really need, amirite?

15. SKEWERS

We don’t have a barbeque or grill here, but we did keep one single skewer for all our poking needs. (It comes in handy if things get stuck in our funnel, or for juicing a lemon. Seriously! See #20 for more on that.)

16. SLOW COOKER

I love the experience of cooking, and I felt like I was kind of missing out on that when I used our slow cooker. I know they’re super handy for a lot of folks, but with my working from home and my enjoyment of the whole cooking process, the appeal of the slow cooker kind of wore off! (Plus, they take up a LOT of room.)

 
 
Wooden kitchen platters displayed on white backdrop

17. TOASTER OVEN

Like with the microwave and toaster, we just use our oven. And it’s just dandy, thankyouverymuch!

18. EXTRA CUTTING BOARDS

As I mentioned, we’re vegan – so we only chop veggies, fruits, and other meatless things. That means we don’t need a separate cutting board for animal products. We use one side of the cutting board for fruits and the other for vegetables, so our strawberries don’t end up tasting like onion.

19. SALAD SPINNER

To quote the Simpsons… you don’t make friends with salad! Just kidding. We eat salad. We just dry off our lettuce with a towel. It might take longer, but it’s one less dish to wash!

20. CITRUS JUICER

If you use a skewer to poke a hole through the nipple bit of a lemon, you can squeeze the juice out in a stream! Honestly it works surprisingly well. Alternatively, you can cut it in half and squeeze it out by hand.

21. GARLIC PRESS

One of my talents and pleasures in life is being able to finely mince garlic into ridiculously tiny, perfectly even little pieces. But also if I’m feeling lazy, we have a microplane.

22. MUFFIN TIN

We just didn’t use it often enough to keep it. So in instead of muffins, I’ll make cake, banana bread, zucchini bread, or lemon loaf!

23. PLASTIC WRAP

As part of our low-waste efforts, we wanted to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics – and plastic wrap was one of the first to go. For food storage, we’ll mostly just put a plate on a bowl (or a bowl on a plate), but there are tons of other options out there, including reusable waxed cloth wraps, shower cap-style bowl covers, silicone lids, or even just good ol’ plastic or glass food storage containers.

 
 

24. ALUMINUM FOIL / TIN FOIL

We ran out a few years ago, and started experimenting without it. Mostly, we just grease or flour pans really well, use a lidded casserole dish, or omit it altogether. So far, my food has remained entirely edible. 😉

25. PARCHMENT PAPER

I know many folks who say that parchment paper will only ever be pried out of their cold, head hands – but I ran out years ago and haven’t really missed it. I find that greasing or flouring a surface prevents sticking most of the time, and that’s good enough for me!

 
 

26. WAX PAPER

Honestly, I think I only ever had wax paper because I was told it was essential – I never really understood the purpose for it. I ended up giving it away about four years ago and haven’t really thought twice about it.

27. TRASH BAGS

We still end up with some plastic bags as packaging, so we’ll either use those, or nothing at all. Our trash is all dry stuff, since any food products go into the compost bin – so it’s mostly just produce stickers and the odd packaging that can’t be recycled. There’s nothing gross that will stick to the bottom of the trash bin, which necessitates a trash bag.

28. PAPER TOWELS

We use washable rags for cleaning, and tea towels for drying things. They’re better for the environment, and also it’s one less thing to cart home from the store!

29. UNI-TASKERS

What I mean by “uni-taskers” is anything that only serves one purpose – things like a strawberry huller, avocado slicer, corn-on-the-cob holder, taco holder… I’m grouping these all together because honestly, there are so many that this could probably be a whole blog post in itself! We did keep some uni-taskers that we actually use, like our tofu press and can opener, but we probably got rid of about 95% of the ones that used to clutter up our kitchen.

30. OTHER PEOPLE’S EXPECTATIONS ABOUT WHAT I SHOULD KEEP

Keep what makes sense to YOU, and don’t let anyone else (your parents, society, or even me!) tell you what’s important to hang onto. Oh – and this applies to your whole life, and not just the kitchen. 😉

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

These kitchen tools might be essential for some, but decluttering them has made our transition into tiny living WAY smoother. Since we have limited storage and counter space, we had to examine our cooking habits and keep only the things we actually need and use!

Whether you want to declutter for a move, to make cleaning easier, or just for a little more simplicity and peace of mind, your kitchen is an awesome place to start. You’ll notice the benefits right away (since, if you’re like us, you probably spend quite a bit of time in there), and so many of the kitchen things we think we “need” really aren’t must-haves at all.

 
 
by Sara Brigz

Have you ever felt that you couldn’t relate to meditation? You know, that it takes itself too seriously, it’s not fun, it’s kind of boring… well chances are, you just needed to find one that swears like a sailor on leave. 😉 That’s why I created this potty-mouthed meditation!

(P.S. Did you know there may be some evidence that swearing increases pain tolerance? It also decreases perceived pain when compared with not swearing. How’s that for fucking badass news?!)

What does meditation have to do with decluttering?


Here at Let That Shit Go, I’m all about simplifying your life. And that doesn’t just apply to the clutter in your home.

Our thoughts are the basis of our actions, so I firmly believe that adding just a teensy bit of mindfulness to your day can lead to some SERIOUSLY awesome habit changes. Like, it definitely helped me work through common decluttering mistakes and beat decision fatigue, and it might just do the same for you.

And I mean what is decluttering if not slowing down and mindfully sorting through your things, so you can hone on the kind of life you want to lead?

So if you’ve been feeling stressed AF lately, or you’re cooped up at home, or having a bad day – or hell, if you’re just looking for a laugh, I hope this guided meditation will help you quiet all the bullshit and find a little calm.

Oh – and it probably goes without saying, but this meditation contains swearing/cursing and is definitely not safe for work, kids, or people without a sense of humour. 😉

 

Learning mindfulness has been one of the biggest game-changers in my life.


I don’t meditate for hours on end, and I don’t do it every day.  But sometimes it’s helpful to take a hot second to find a little stillness. (This is especially true if you feel stuck while sorting through your shit!)

I find it helpful to try and identify feelings that might be flying under the radar, like:

  • Are any of my muscles feeling all crunchy bunchy?
  • Am I feeling anxious?
  • And WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED IN THE LAST EPISODE OF ‘LOST’?! (Okay, so sometimes my mind wanders. But it’s been years and I still don’t get it!!)

Sometimes, a few minutes of sitting and breathing is the difference between “a shitty thing that happened” and “a shitty thing that ruined my whole day.” Know what I mean?

Your pal,
Sara

Hey! I'm Sara.

I help big-hearted people master their mindset and kiss clutter goodbye.😘

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