When I shared the story of how I shattered my knee, I mentioned my immediate emotional response as I laid on the trail and waited for the ambulance to arrive: I felt an urgent need to SIMPLIFY. Everything. I thought about all the things in my life that felt undone, untied, unkempt. I thought about how my weeks […]

Project: Simplicity

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SARAH PETERSON

unnamed-2When I shared the story of how I shattered my knee, I mentioned my immediate emotional response as I laid on the trail and waited for the ambulance to arrive: I felt an urgent need to SIMPLIFY. Everything. I thought about all the things in my life that felt undone, untied, unkempt. I thought about how my weeks were spent juggling, maintaining, making lists, checking lists, shuffling crap around, doing busy-work instead of growth-work, buying things I “needed”, cramming said things into already overflowing closets…and then spending my weekends trying to recuperate from the week, and also preparing to do it all over again the next week. I never had enough time for my family, friends or boyfriend because I was so busy tending to these habits. This lifestyle made me feel out of control. It made me feel like my stuff owned me, my business owned me, my tasks owned me. It made me feel hopeless. I remember thinking: why bother cleaning that closet? It will eventually become overwhelmed again. I felt spread thin, like I was doing everything poorly. For the first time in my 34 years, I was suffering from anxiety. It took a traumatic knee injury to slow me down. Bed-rest for almost 2 months will make you think about your life…a lot. It took shattering my knee into 20 pieces to fully recognize that I needed a big change.

So I return to those feelings of urgently desiring simplicity. This topic surfaces for me several times a day, and I’m still figuring out what it exactly means to me. My ideal life I’ve dreamt of does not require acquiring a lot of stuff, but instead creating a life of a lot of freedom. I’m learning that simplicity is not a default setting, the more we live, learn, meet, do, and see, the more complicated life can become. I’m learning that simplicity is like a muscle, one that needs consistent exercise to stay in shape.

There are business issues that I am still pondering how to simplify–because let’s be honest, we can’t all work for 6 months and then go bike around the world for 6 months on $10 a day like this guy. I know simplifying to that extreme would not make me happy. When I say simplicity, this quote from Leo Babauta embodies it best (for me):

It means getting rid of many of the things you do so you can spend time with people you love and do the things you love. It means getting rid of the clutter so you are left with only that which gives you value.

Imagine a day, a week, a month, a year, a life that is only full of things that give you value. (Heart explodes with excitement!) I’m officially declaring Project: Simplicity a new long term goal. I know something like this doesn’t happen overnight. But I’m starting. Now. My BFF nonchalantly sent me a text recently that said, “Mindful not mind full.” Bingo. I have no doubt that simplifying all aspects of my life will improve it greatly, and help to make me more present, more alive, more grateful, more free, more mindful.

So as I start this life change, I’m working on the below ideas first, because they are creating the most immediate internal chaos.

A place for everything and everything in its place.

This new dresser came last week. As I’ve been healing for the last 3.5 months, I noticed that piles were forming in my apartment. Not because I wasn’t where can i purchase viagra hobbling around to put things away, but because I didn’t have enough storage space. Now that I have 8 drawers of new space, everything easily has an assigned place. When it’s not in use, it goes to its place. My chaotic temperature decreased about 10 degrees simply by making my home feel more organized.

Scan old photo albums, warranties, tax documents, etc.

When we sold my mom’s upstate house this past June, it was a major accomplishment. She became free of maintaining a home she didn’t use anymore, so a huge weight lifted not only off her, but off my sisters and me as well. However, I lost a basement of free storage, and mountains of boxes of high school and college memories landed in my New York apartment. One of the bulkiest things? Photo albums. I’m currently working on pulling each photo out of its album and scanning to a specific folder (i.e., “family vacations,” “college basketball team,” “summer in Savannah” etc). Similarly, the documents I’ve been hanging onto like recent tax returns, my memory foam mattress warranty, social security statements…stuff that I’m not sure I want to pitch yet, I am scanning all those as well. Everything will be backed up, twice. I geek out over the weightlessness it will feel to be paperless!!

Digital overhaul.

iPhone, MacBook, iPad…I’m always out of space. Maybe it’s the 30,844 photos in my library? I do this perpetual dance of deleting a little bit to make room for a little bit . It drives me crazy. And it’s reflective of how overwhelmed I’ve been in my offline life. I’m auto-backing up my photos and documents (twice like #2), so I can feel at peace deleting them from each device. I exist to live, not to manage my files every dang day.

Purge clothing, accessories, products, junk.

We all are familiar with this one. “If you haven’t worn it in a year pitch it.” “For every new item you bring into your home, pitch 2 old items.” “If it isn’t functional or fashionable, pitch.” Pitch pitch pitch. I have enough sleep clothes to last me a year without doing laundry. WHY? Each time I open the drawer I break a sweat trying to close it. Why do I save so many old bras? I have zero room left in my triple bathroom vanity. Too many products. It’s like the suitcase rule: you somehow bring as much stuff as you can fit (at least I always do). I’m also guilty of saving odds and ends for future DIY projects or jewelry designs. If I haven’t used something in a few months, I am probably not that excited about the idea, and will never use it. Now that everything is in its place (see #1), I’ll be going back through each closet, drawer and cabinet and purging a lot of the excess.

Unsubscribe from all excessive newsletters.

Clutter in my inbox creates clutter in my mind. The act of deleting each morning distracts me from other things I could be doing, reading, starting, thinking. I unsubscribed from all at the start of the 2015, and it felt GREAT. But the newsletters found me again somehow. I think this is a task that needs to be maintained every 3-6 months.

I will make Project: Simplicity updates here and keep you posted on progress and any bumps I come along. I hope this inspires you to think about a simpler way of living too!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I'll receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Please read full disclosure here.

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July 29, 2015

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Hey, I'm Sarah!

Designer, DIYer, & Deep Googler

I've always been infinitely curious on how the things I love are created. Whether it's the recipe of a decadent soap, a beautiful piece of jewelry, or a jaw-drooping, drool-worthy interior... I have an persistent need to figure it out... and do it myself!

Learn more about me

SOLID PERFUME STICKS

LABEL MAKER

"LOVE" ART PRINT

FAUX FUR BLANKET

FLAUNT PHONE CASE

PERFUMIES.COM

amazon

society 6

anthropologie

FLAUNT.COM

Change the way you wear and carry perfume with these perfume sticks that fit in your pocket!

When in doubt, label everything. I'm amazed at how long this little machine's batteries last.

Got this one after my husband popped the question. It's how I feel when I'm with him!

The coziest blanket you'll ever find. So good I gifted them in different colors to my beloved wedding guests!

Currently using this--it's the perfect shade of radiant orchid pink, and I love the square corners!

Fiberclay PLANTER SET

SHEEPSKIN rug

PLANTER (for DIY CANDLE)

IMITATION Pothos

Bisley FILE CABINET

michaels

etsy

amazon

michaels

container store

Scatter a cute planter set from Michael's around your home--it will make your decor feel cohesive.

I throw these everywhere... the floor, my work chair, the couch. They are 100% worth every penny.

I love to turn planters  into large DIY candles. It's my favorite gift to give... Everyone loves a huge multi-wick candle!

Shhh... When I want my plants to cascade more, I add in an extension like this while they grow.

I used two of these sleek Bisley cabinets under this delicious slab of wood to DIY my dream desk.

HANDMADE CERAMICS

MICRON black PENS

Fanny Pack // BELT BAG

SCARF NECKLACE

THRIFTED DESIGNER SCARF

calLahan ceramics

amazon

shopbop

mignonne gavigan

thred up

Sign up for alerts, it's almost impossible to purchase these beauties before they sell out!

These are the only pens that let me write neatly. There's something magical about them! #01 is my fave size.

The fanny pack has officially changed my life for the better. No more big bag shoulder and back pain!

The most beautiful handmade accessories around. (I wore MG "Burst" earrings for my wedding!)

Make money on clothes you no longer wear, and find designer goods (with tags still on!)

Storm Cloud Wall Art

Tillandsia AIRPLANT

FLORAL Macbook case

Distressed Mirror

GLUE GUN

anthropologie

amazon

etsy

anthropologie

amazon

Living in LA's perpetual sunny and 72 degree weather has made me LOVE clouds because I so rarely see them!

The most low maintenance plant on the market. Find a cool planter and plop it in. Mist every 2-3 weeks.

I've cracked too many screens in my lifetime to not protect my devices. Love this feminine floral hard case.

A mirror that looks like a moon? Make it a full moon everyday in your house!

Everyone (and I mean everyone) should go through life with a trusty glue gun by their side.

uline hair detangler

Silicone ALPHABET MOLD

fave white tee

THERMAL LABEL PRINTER

e6000 GLUE

amazon

amazon

amazon

amazon

amazon

The best detangler I've found. I throw the travel size bottle in my gym bag, travel bag, and beach bag.

These ABC molds allow for ample DIYs. Jello, melt and pour soaps, crayons... the fun really will never end!

My favorite white tee. I've bought about 18 of them by now. Best cut v-neck, long in the body, high quality. (Why not get a few.)

Print a lot of labels and tired of buying ink for your printer? Get this thermal printer and never buy an ink cartridge again.

This is the glue that holds my life together. No really... I use it for everything.

Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens

Caudalie BEAUTY elixir

Candle Making Pitcher

singer sewing machine

photography backdrops

amazon

amazon

amazon

amazon

replica surfaces

100% my most favorite portrait lens. Do yourself a favor and add it to your cart immediately.

I take this face mist with me while traveling and instantly feel more refreshed and awake after a few spritzes!

Never buy a candle again! Use this to DIY your own (they smell better, burn longer, and save money).

This is the sewing machine I used to DIY my wedding dress! Easy to use, I recommend it to any level sewist.

I use these surfaces to shoot styled stock, product, and brand photos that need clean, realistic backgrounds.

PLANTER (for DIY CANDLE)

amazon

I love to turn planters into large DIY candles. It's my favorite gift to give. Everyone loves a huge multi-wick candle!

LABEL MAKER

amazon

When in doubt, label everything. I'm amazed at how long this little machine's batteries last.

"LOVE" ART PRINT

society 6

Got this one after my husband popped the question. It's how I feel when I'm with him!

FAUX FUR BLANKET

anthropologie

The coziest blanket you'll ever find. So good I gifted them in different colors to my beloved wedding guests!

FLAUNT PHONE CASE

FLAUNT.COM

Currently using this--it's the perfect shade of radiant orchid pink, and I love the square corners!

Fiberclay PLANTER SET

michaels

Scatter a cute planter set from Michael's around your home--it will make your decor feel cohesive.

SHEEPSKIN rug

etsy

I throw these everywhere... the floor, my work chair, the couch. They are 100% worth every penny.

IMITATION Pothos

michaels

Shhh... When I want my plants to cascade more, I add in an extension like this while they grow.

Bisley FILE CABINET

container store

I used two of these sleek Bisley cabinets under this delicious slab of wood to DIY my dream desk.

HANDMADE CERAMICS

calLahan ceramics

Sign up for alerts, it's almost impossible to purchase these beauties before they sell out!

MICRON black PENS

amazon

These are the only pens that let me write neatly. There's something magical about them! #01 is my fave size.

SOLID PERFUME STICKS

PERFUMIES.COM

Change the way you wear and carry perfume with these perfume sticks that fit in your pocket!

Fanny Pack // BELT BAG

shopbop

The fanny pack has officially changed my life for the better. No more big bag shoulder and back pain!

SCARF NECKLACE

mignonne gavigan

The most beautiful handmade accessories around. (I wore MG "Burst" earrings for my wedding!)

THRIFTED DESIGNER SCARF

thred up

Make money on clothes you no longer wear, and find designer goods (with tags still on!)

Storm Cloud Wall Art

anthropologie

Living in LA's perpetual sunny and 72 degree weather has made me LOVE clouds because I so rarely see them!

TILLANDSIA AIRPLANT

AMAZON

The most low maintenance plant on the market. Find a cool planter and plop it in. Mist every 2-3 weeks.

FLORAL Macbook case

etsy

I've cracked too many screens in my lifetime to not protect my devices. Love this feminine floral hard case.

Distressed Mirror

anthropologie

A mirror that looks like a moon? Make it a full moon everyday in your house!

GLUE GUN

amazon

Everyone (and I mean everyone) should go through life with a trusty glue gun by their side.

uline hair detangler

amazon

The best detangler I've found. I throw the travel size bottle in my gym bag, travel bag, and beach bag.

Silicone ALPHABET MOLD

amazon

These ABC molds allow for ample DIYs. Jello, melt and pour soaps, crayons... the fun really will never end!

fave white tee

amazon

My favorite white tee. Best cut v-neck, long in the body, high quality. (Why not get a few.)

THERMAL LABEL PRINTER

amazon

Print a lot of labels? Get this thermal printer and never buy an ink cartridge again.

e6000 GLUE

amazon

This is the glue that holds my life together. No really... I use it for everything.

Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens

amazon

100% my most favorite portrait lens. Do yourself a favor and add it to your cart immediately.

Caudalie BEAUTY elixir

amazon

This face mist instantly will make you feel more refreshed and awake after a few spritzes!

Candle Making Pitcher

amazon

Never buy a candle again! Use this to DIY your own (they smell better, burn longer, and save money).

singer sewing machine

amazon

This is the sewing machine I used to DIY my wedding dress! Easy to use, I recommend it to any level sewist.

photography backdrops

replica surfaces

I use these surfaces to shoot styled stock, product, and brand photos that need clean, realistic backgrounds.