My name is Sarah and I'm so glad you're here!
This blog is where you'll find all my best tips and tricks to organize, simplify, and streamline your business and life.
The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve felt a desire for simplicity and stillness in my life.
Living in a metro area, it’s easy for life to get complicated fast. When you add in our culture’s propensity for consumption and materialism, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the things we see, hear, have, and do.
I felt that near the end of 2019 — the weight of excess. Which is why I knew my word for 2020 needed to be simplify.
You may not know that I’ve been a minimalist for five years.
I began my minimalism journey in 2015 when I shrank my closet from over 300 items to about 50. Over the next couple of years, I made a lot of progress in decluttering and simplifying many areas of my life, but in 2017 and 2018, things stalled a bit.
Most of my stuff was put in storage, and a lot of things were rapidly changing, which meant I didn’t have the time or brain space to focus on simplifying. In 2019, I began making progress again, but life rapidly changed when I went from single to engaged in a mere 12 weeks.
Even with all the changes marriage would bring, I knew the excess in my life was weighing me down in ways I didn’t want and 2020 would be the year I dedicated to bringing simplicity and stillness into my life again.
To ensure I could look back on the year and see tangible results, I decided to take an intentional, methodical approach to simplifying my life.
To do that, I created what I call my simplification plan. The idea is to look at everything in my life and business, determine if it should stay or if it should go, and, if it stays, answer the question: what would it look like if it were simple?
I created a spreadsheet (surprise, surprise) and brain dumped every possible thing I could think of that I needed to assess throughout the year — all the rooms in my home, routines, every single aspect of my business, beauty products, meal planning/prep, commitments, hobbies, internet/digital space, all of it.
For each thing, I did a quick brain dump on what it currently looks like, whether or not that’s working, and why.
Because it’s a lot of things and some areas involve a lot more change than others, I’m taking the rest of the plan piece by piece. At the end of each week, I go through a few areas of the simplification plan and start mapping out the next steps to making simplicity a reality.
For each area, the first step before making plans or changing anything is to answer the all important question: what would it look like if it were simple?
The reason this question is so important is because simple can mean a lot of different things and look different for different people.
Take food, for example. For one person, “simple” might mean simple ingredients (i.e. whole foods), while for another person, “simple” might mean something super quick and easy, like a microwave meal.
Because we all have different situations, preferences, and proclivities, what’s simple for me might not be simple for you!
Once I’ve established what simple looks like in a particular area, I move forward by brainstorming ideas and steps to get from where I’m at now to the simple I’ve just defined.
Finally, once I’ve actually simplified a new area of life, I record what the new normal looks like, because I like to document pretty much everything.
Now that I’ve explained a bit more about my process of simplifying, let’s talk about the progress I made in the first quarter of 2020!
My general philosophy when it comes to things in a home comes from the British textile designer, William Morris: “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Because I’ve been a minimalist for as long as I have, my own stuff was well on its way to only being items I know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. I had a small collection of things I was hoping to sell before the wedding, but the busyness of the season prevented that from happening.
My husband is actually a relatively minimal person by nature, but there were still some things for him to sort through and toss, sell, or donate.
With Morris’ words in mind, we’ve been taking the approach I recommend to everyone — take it one room at a time and don’t stress yourself out by trying to do it all at once. So far, we’ve gone through our bathroom, living room, and kitchen, with our bedroom, my office, and a few other miscellaneous spaces still left to go.
If you’re looking for some resources to get started decluttering your own home, check out Joshua Becker’s course Uncluttered, which opens for registration on April 24th. This is what I used when I first began decluttering my home in 2016.
When it comes to skincare, simple meant clean, toxic-free products, and a routine that was complete without being complicated. I didn’t want to have to think about what combination of products I should be using and how often. I just wanted someone to tell me how to take care of my skin.
Apoterra is a plant-based, clean beauty company I discovered in 2017. I’d used some of their individual products in the past, but never a full ritual.
Fortunately, they make it super easy with a skincare quiz, followed by a recommended ritual. I took their quiz, and they recommended the Restore ritual for me, and it was exactly what I was looking for!
All the products are made with clean ingredients, and the full ritual includes six products total. There are three steps in the morning, three in the evening, plus an added step once a week and once a month.
This means once a week, my evening routine has four steps and once a month it has five, but other than that, it’s three simple steps in the morning and evening. It’s the perfect balance of simplicity in the day-to-day, while also knowing I’m giving my skin that extra care it needs on a weekly and monthly basis.
Like many people, I have a love-hate relationship with exercise. I’ve been consistent with it at various points in my life, but for one reason or another, it was easy to fall out of a rhythm.
When it came to exercise, simple meant I didn’t have to think about it at all and it was easy to keep up with no matter how busy I was in a particular season.
The solution for me? The Balanced Life Sisterhood.
I first learned about Robin from The Balanced Life in 2016, and the Sisterhood is her monthly membership. I knew from experience that Robin’s workouts were challenging, but also gentle on your body, which I definitely wanted as part of my exercise routine.
As a member of the Sisterhood, Robin does all the thinking and planning for you when it comes to exercise! She creates a monthly workout calendar that includes 15-minute workouts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 30-minute workouts Tuesday and Thursday.
You always have the option to choose something else from the workout library, but I love that the workouts are short enough that I can keep up with them even when life is busy, and I literally don’t have to think about what to do each morning. I just get up and press play!
Plus, there’s an app for the Sisterhood that you can download to your phone or tablet, which means I don’t even have to pull up my laptop and login to a website. I can grab my iPad, open the Sisterhood app, and the daily workout is right there waiting for me!
If you’ve been around for any length of time, you know I love my systems. They make everything easier, in life and in business, which is why I knew a big priority after marriage would be to establish simple routines for my husband and I within our home.
Cleaning can be a huge pain and also a contention point in any home, especially when you’re someone like me who likes everything neat and tidy. My husband is totally fine living with mess, so I knew we needed to establish a system for keeping our house clean and clutter free fast.
My friend Holly told me about her a few weeks before we got married. I did a little bit of reading on her blog and I was hooked!
Like with exercise, I didn’t want to have to do much thinking about how to clean things or how often, and like with skincare, I wanted the products to be non-toxic. Clean Mama takes care of all of that for you with her simple, easy-to-follow routine and her DIY cleaning recipes!
There are five daily tasks — make beds, do a load of laundry, clear clutter, sweep floors, wipe off counters — combined with a larger individual task for each day of the week. Mondays are for bathrooms, Tuesdays are for dusting, Wednesdays are for vacuuming, Thursdays are for washing floors, Fridays are catch-all days, and Saturdays are for sheets and towels.
We’ve divided up the weekly tasks and work together to make sure the daily tasks get done. It makes it so simple and Caleb has even said he loves that he knows he needs to clean the bathrooms on Monday and doesn’t have to think about it at all!
I like simplicity and am completely fine eating the same thing days in a row. Caleb gets bored fast, loves experimenting, and loves a ton of variety with his food.
When it came to meal planning, we had to come up with a system that would satisfy his desire for variety and my desire for simplicity. I didn’t want to have to decide or think about what we were going to eat every week or two. I wanted to decide it once, and that’s it.
Our solution? We created a monthly seasonal meal plan.
This means for the three months of spring, we have the same meals every month. For the three months of summer, we have the same meals every month. And so on and so forth. The month-long interval gives enough variety that Caleb doesn’t get bored, but incorporates the simplicity and routine that makes it easy for us to grocery shop and cook each week.
In addition to our planned out meals, we have space each week for leftovers, date night, and experimentation night, which gives us the chance to try new things and for Caleb to stretch his cooking muscles and just have fun in the kitchen.
During my weekly planning, I pull up our meal planning spreadsheet and write down that week’s meals on a whiteboard on our fridge so we can easily see what the plan is for the following week and jot down our pre-written shopping list to take to the grocery store.
We keep a list of all the recipes we’ve tried and liked, and at the start of each season, we’ll review our plan and add in any new things we’d like to have in the regular rotation.
If there was one routine I knew would definitely need to change once I got married it was my evening routine. Caleb is an electrician, so he gets up for work stupid early, which means my morning routine didn’t have to change all that much.
But evenings? You bet they did.
When it came to morning and evening routines for me, simple meant they could easily be scaled up or down, depending on the season, but each routine included the steps necessary to start or finish my day well.
That included things like time in prayer and reflection, reading, and taking care of my body, in different ways depending on if it was morning or evening.
As soon as we got married, I had to reevaluate when and how each of those things would happen and how to bring Caleb into those routines. What I realized is our evening routine needed to be a joint effort, while my morning routine could still be whatever I wanted it to be.
In the end, the routine didn’t change a whole lot, it just required some adjustment.
In the morning, I wake up, spend time with the Lord, journaling, and in prayer, followed by my Sisterhood workout. After that, I shower, get dressed, then eat breakfast. This is a routine that I can make happen in an hour or expand out to two, depending on the season of life I’m in, which I love.
In the evening, we take care of our bodies (brush teeth, watch face, etc.), spend time reading together or separately, do our couple’s devotional, pray, then go to sleep. Even though we don’t get to start our days off together, I love this routine of connection before we end our days. It’s something I’m sure we will find especially helpful in later seasons of life when children and other commitments make our alone time less frequent.
There you have it, friend! All the simplifying I’ve done throughout the first quarter of the year!
I hope the resources I’ve shared and the changes we’ve made are helpful for you in your own simplification journey!