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

Decluttering can seem daunting sometimes, can’t it? Especially when we have mountains of crap and big goals for a simpler life, but we’re not sure where to start. When I first started paring down my stuff, I drew a ton of inspiration from people living in tiny homes, and people exploring life in an Airstream. (And this was long before my partner and I ended up sharing our own tiny apartment!) These folks took the concept of downsizing to an extreme, questioning everything that they owned and only keeping the things that really mattered.

Even if you have no desire to live tiny – or even to downsize at all – I know you’ll find value in hear from today’s guest, Melanie from A Small Life.

In 2013, Melanie decluttered and downsized into an Airstream travel trailer with her husband. They lived there for four years and blogged about their experience, from the first renovations (seriously – the before photos are BANANAS) to the decision to sell it and move into a small house.

Today we chat about transitioning to life in an Airstream, the perks of living tiny, and what it means to live a small life. (Oh, and how to handle decluttering with a partner!) Enjoy, friends.

 

 

1. Hey Melanie! So happy to have you here. For those who don’t already know you, tell us a bit about yourself!

 
Hi Sara! Thanks for having me. My name is Melanie and I live in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. I am a writer, blogger and stylist. I help people simplify and beautify their homes, and I have a focus in sustainability and small spaces. In my free time, I love puttering around my garden and hanging out with my chickens and dog.
 

2. What led you to start your blog, A Small Life? And what does it mean to live a small life?

 

In the original iteration of my blog, I talked about all kinds of things– mostly what was going on in my life at the moment. Back then, I was about to get married and I was really focused on that. But the change in my blog came after our wedding.

We wanted to relocate, but most of the rentals in that area were out of our price range. One night I was browsing Etsy and came across an interview with a couple that lived in a Winnebago. I told my husband about it and he said, “You know we could do that.” That moment completely changed my life.

To me, living “a small life” isn’t necessarily about the size of your home. To me it means: living below your means, owning less stuff, having a “make do and mend” attitude and prioritizing your happiness.

3. You lived in an Airstream for about four years, right? What drove you to make that change?

I did! After we got married we really felt like we were stuck on a hamster wheel financially and just could not ahead. Living in the Airstream allowed us to save money and helped us to focus on what we truly wanted in life.

 

4. How smoothly did the transition go for you?

It wasn’t an incredibly difficult transition for me. I’ve never been one to have mountains of stuff, but I will say that life is never all sunshine and rainbows either. Just like living in a traditional home, stuff in the Airstream broke and it still got messy. Even though I love living in a smaller environment, I also acknowledge that it won’t solve all your problems either.

5. What did a typical day look like for you in the Airstream?

A lot of people think that because I lived in an Airstream, that I was travelling all the time. I wasn’t! The Airstream never left the land it was parked on. I had a full-time job as a librarian, so I went to work every day and came home to my little Airstream refuge. My husband worked from home, so when I got home, we’d eat dinner together and watch some TV. It was a very normal life.

6. Did you have to declutter much prior to moving? And if so, what was the toughest part of that process for you?

 

I did declutter a lot, but I had a tight timeline, so I think in some ways that really helped. I’m one of those people who gets in moods where she just wants to throw everything away and start over. Moving is kind of miserable!

Learning to be honest with myself is probably the toughest part of the process. I think myself, and many people, keep things because we want to be the person who wears the smaller size or makes 5 course meals. Knowing myself and being honest about what I will and won’t do has been the biggest game-changer for me.

 

7. Were there any decluttering strategies or quotes that especially helped you while you were simplifying your stuff?

I love the William Morris quote: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

8. Do you have any tips for getting a partner or family member on board with decluttering?

This is one of my most frequently asked questions and most people don’t like the answer! Haha! I think that you have to be incredibly gentle and patient with family members. Sometimes clutter comes from deep-rooted trauma. You know your family best and you probably know what the best way to approach them will be.

But in general, you have to set an example. Tell your family your intentions and what you intend to do, but don’t declutter their stuff for them. This needs to be their choice. (Unless they are very small children, then declutter away! Haha!)

For example, my husband is not a minimalist and he has a lot more stuff than I do. And that’s ok. Over the years, he has simplified his things, but he’ll never be a minimalist. I accept that and love him anyway.

9. How is your life different now than life in an Airstream? And what did you learn from the experience?

Living in the Airstream allowed us to save enough money to put a downpayment on a small, fixer-upper home. It also allowed us to be able to save enough money to where I was comfortable quitting my job and starting a small business. It completely changed my life for the better.

From the experience, I learned that most “stuff” is meaningless. How I spend my day, freedom of choice and experiences are so much more important.

10. What would you say to someone who is considering downsizing?

Do it! It’s an incredibly freeing experience. And if you want a jumpstart, I have a course. 😉 It’s called The Two Week Declutter and for two weeks you’ll receive an email with a task to help you minimize your stuff, so you can maximize your happiness.

Final Thoughts from Sara

 
Not all decluttering needs to involve downsizing. And hey, not all downsizing needs to involve living in an Airstream! But we can learn so much from people like Melanie, who show us that not only is living an uncluttered possible – but it can also be done in style. 😉
 
For more from Melanie, you can find her at asmalllife.com and on Instagram @asmalllife.

by Sara Brigz
Have you been thinking about downsizing or living in a small space, but not sure how you’ll make it work? Or maybe you’re in desperate need of tiny apartment storage that’s functional AF?
 

Well my friend, you’ve landed in the right place! These storage solutions and design ideas are a total game changer. They’ll help you conserve precious floor space, keep clutter at bay, and feel more at home – even in a tiny apartment.

 
We ended up living in a tiny studio apartment for a whoooole bunch of reasons. For one thing, I’m fascinated by the tiny house movement. I also love a good interior design challenge, and have you seen the real estate prices in Toronto?! Seriously – it’s nutso.
 
Since we moved in about two years ago, we’ve been slowly doing renovations to make it more functional. And, let’s be honest, just more aesthetically pleasing. Because whoever lived here before had just the worst taste in interior design!
 
Also I know I said “we’ve” been doing renovations. But really, I just think up the designs and then my partner does like 98% of the grunt work. #bestpartnerever
 

Our little 300 square foot home (about 28 square metres, for those of you outside of North America) might not be perfect. But thanks to these storage solutions it’s become super livable! And I hope the takeaways below will be a useful jumping off point for your own space.

1. CONSERVE FLOOR SPACE WITH A SLIDING BARN DOOR

 

Our tiny little kitchen didn’t have a door when we moved in. And with two of us living here – often on different sleep schedules – we wanted to have a way to block the light from the kitchen when one of us (*cough* me) gets up way earlier than the other to make coffee. That said, we didn’t want a normal swinging door that cuts into our usable space.

Enter our barn door! We scored it secondhand from the Habitat Restore (it was $40!). Then we painted it blue, and used a kit to turn it into a sliding barn door. It can actually serve as both a kitchen door and a bathroom door… except we currently still have a bathroom door too, because we haven’t gotten around to removing it yet. #whoopsieee

The takeaway: Barn doors and pocket sliding doors are a great choice for tiny apartments. After all, they use less floor space to open than a regular door.

 

2. TRADE IN YOUR TRADITIONAL BED FOR A MURPHY BED

 

I’m someone who’s seen A LOT of tiny apartment design videos. So it’ll come as no surprise that I’ve dreamed of having a Murphy bed for a whiiiiiile.

When we first moved into this place, we had a double bed taking up a whole corner of our living room/bedroom space. Now with this Queen-sized Murphy bed, we’re able to use nearly all of that space during the day! Basically, we flip the bed up in the morning, and then the space can be used for potty-mouthed meditations or spontaneous 90s dance parties or whatever.

I tend to get the same few questions about our bed, so here are some things you may be wondering:

  • “Is it heavy?” Nope – it has springs that are calibrated to its weight, so it feels like lifting about 5 pounds.
  • “Will it fall down during the day?” Nerp, the same springs that help us lift it up also keep it in place!
  • “Could it close up while someone is sleeping on it?” Unless you’re able to bicep curl the weight of a full-grown human, I highly doubt it would be able to close while someone is sleeping in it.
  • “Is it going to kill you like those Murphy beds do in SIMS 4?” I mean, so far so good? 😉

The takeaway: Traditional beds use up a proportionately large portion of a tiny apartment. (I’ve calculated it at around 33 square feet, which is about 1/5 of our living room/bedroom area!) So studios can end up feeling like bedrooms all the time. When floor space is tight, Murphy beds are a design element that can open up the whole room. Plus, they look super cool. 😉

 

3. DESIGNATE ONE WALL OF THE APARTMENT FOR STORAGE

 

The Murphy bed is part of a larger set of built-ins which we designed so that we’d have room for our things. Because the apartment only has two tiny closets and an awkward layout for arranging furniture, storage was definitely at a premium! (Even though, as you probably know, we decluttered 75% of our stuff, so there isn’t thaaaat much to store haha.)

Personally, I’d much rather have more storage than I need with lots of space around my stuff, than have everything jammed and crammed into a space and be tough to access. These drawers, shelves, and cabinets make the most of the vertical space (8.5 feet) we’re fortunate enough to have here, so that everything has a spot.

The takeaway: Designating an entire wall for storage can help cut down on the furniture in a tiny apartment, and means that there will be enough room for all the things you use regularly.

4. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX WITH BEDSIDE TABLES

 

These are one of my favourite design features of the built-ins. I cooked up this idea when I realized how bummed out I would be without having a place to put a book or a cup of tea while lying in bed. Basically, it looks like a regular drawer when it’s closed, but then it opens up like a little table! I’ve also seen some great floating side tables that attach directly to the wall, which can save valuable floor space in a small home.

The takeaway: Conserving floor space in a tiny apartment is crucial, it makes sense to think outside the box with interior design elements like side tables – especially when for many of us, they’re only used as a place to charge our phones, amirite?

 

5. INCREASE CLOSET STORAGE BY ADDING A SECOND HANGING ROD

 

We’re super lucky to have have a tall closet, but the space wasn’t being used effectively when we first got the place. So we decided to divide the closet in half, with one side for taller hanging things on the right (dresses, coats, and even our bags and yoga mats!) and the other on the left with double closet hanging rods.

One major strategy we’ve learned from cohabitating in such a tiny space is that it’s beneficial to have some clearly defined storage spaces for each person – that way, I can store my stuff the way I like it, and my partner can store his stuff the way he likes it, and no one has to silently resent the other for not arranging their clothes by colour of the rainbow (*cough* it me).

The takeaway: Nothing creates more space like decluttering a closet, but adding a second rod in the closet (tension rods work great!) can both double the usable storage space and help divide the storage more evenly if there are multiple people living in a tiny apartment. And the peace of mind from having your own storage space? PRICELESS.

 

6. CHOOSE A DESK THAT SERVES DOUBLE-DUTY

 

It took us foreverrrr to figure out a desk design that folds down when we need it, but also acts as storage! But oh man, it makes me so happy to have a place to hide our laptops and chargers so they’re not always in view. (One of my least favourite things is random cables that are always just… there.) Now we’re able to flip down the desk whenever we need it, and the rest of the time, you wouldn’t even know we had a desk!

I’ve seen some nifty little foldaway desks that drop down straight from the wall, and roll-top desks are also great at hiding clutter! Or another option for tiny living is to choose a dining table that can easily double as a desk.

The takeaway: Desks can be kinda cumbersome, especially in a tiny space. Even though the perfect desk for your space might not look exactly like ours, it’s possible to find or DIY a desk that serves multiple purposes.

 

7. FIND STORAGE IN CREATIVE PLACES

 

This is the only feature on this list that we didn’t install ourselves, but I couldn’t not include it. This little milk door is a remnant of when this old building was constructed, and it’s been turned into a little cupboard! (But it’s sealed up on the hallway side now, of course.) We use it to store our tote bags, so they’re easy to grab as we head out the door.

When you’re working with a tiny apartment, sometimes storage solutions can come from the unlikeliest places. The gap between your sofa and the wall? Add a little storage console! Got space above your toilet? Add some shelves! Toekicks in the kitchen? Install shallow drawers for your baking trays!

The takeaway: Look around your home as though it’s the first time you’re seeing it. Notice any spaces that aren’t being used, and start brainstorming! Sometimes all it takes is a little creative thinking to find storage in a tiny space.

clothes are hanging on a rack as a clever storage solution for tiny living

FINAL THOUGHTS

We definitely have more design ideas in mind to make our tiny apartment more functional – in the kitchen especially – but I think we’re off to a pretty great start. Honestly, it’s come a long way since we first moved here! By tweaking a few little things (and, let’s be real, a couple of pretty major things) both of us have been able to live pretty darn comfortably in this little studio.

If you’re looking to downsize or make your small space more functional, consider things like:

  • installing a barn door or pocket door, rather than traditional doors on hinges
  • choosing a Murphy bed to save space during the day
  • adding a wall of built-in storage, to eliminate the need for furniture like dressers and desks
  • coming up with a creative side table that doesn’t take up floor space
  • using a tension rod to add a second hanging space in the closet
  • a fold-down or roll-top desk that serves double duty
  • adding storage to otherwise unused spaces

Living comfortably in a tiny apartment can sometimes take a lot of creative storage solutions and design elements. I hope that the ideas above will help you figure out ways to make your tiny living more functional and fun!

Oh, and if you’ve got big decluttering goals for your tiny apartment, I’m ya girl! Be sure to grab your free copy of my Ultimate Decluttering Guide here:

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

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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