This week, Kathi concludes her conversation with Tonya Kubo, founder and fearless leader of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group, about three key ingredients to forming lasting clutter free habits. Previously, they talked about the importance of routine and realistic expectations in becoming clutter free. In this episode, you’ll hear about how accountability will help you live the clutter free life you’ve always wanted.

Maybe accountability seems like a scary or negative thing. Kathi and Tonya tell us this week that accountability is far from the harsh scolding you may anticipate. Instead, it means having friends who lovingly remind us of the commitment we made to ourselves. You’ll also hear how accountability:

  • Brings us out of isolation
  • Offers a different perspective
  • Gives us people to cheer us on every step of the way

If you’re looking for practical ideas and encouragement with managing day-to-day clutter, check out the Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group, the kindest corner of the internet.

If you’re looking for something a little deeper, Clutter Free for Life is for you!

Clutter Free For Life

Hey Friends, are you excited about tackling clutter in 2020? Maybe you’ve thought about a routine that works for you and set realistic expectations, but do you have a team cheering you on? That’s where Clutter Free for Life can change your life!

Clutter Free for Life is full of personalized, hand-on help and accountability! As a member, you’ll receive tons of valuable exclusive content: monthly action plans, coaching twice a month from Kathi herself, access to a private, VIP Facebook group, and tons of gentle encouragement and guidance on how to move forward on your clutter free journey.

If you sign up for Clutter Free for Life today, you’ll save 60% off of the monthly price. You’ll get a full year of support on your clutter free journey for the unbelievable price of $118.

Don’t wait! This offer expires TONIGHT and will disappear. Make the commitment to yourself today and make 2020 the year you become Clutter Free for Life!


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Clutter Free Academy Podcast #389

Clutter Free for Life: Accountability

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. We are back with one of my favorites, Tonya Kubo. Hey Tonya!

Tonya – Hey Kathi!

Kathi – She is the leader of Clutter Free Academy on Facebook. Eighty five hundred members. That’s kind of amazing.

Tonya – Yes! I thought you said 85-100 members and I was like, “Wait. What happened?”

Kathi – No no no. We are within shooting distance of ten thousand people.

Tonya – We are.

Kathi – That’s a little crazy to me. That’s a lot of people who are dealing with clutter.

Tonya – Remember when you were going to be really excited when we had a hundred people?

Kathi – I was really excited when we had a hundred people. Now, it’s amazing to me. Here’s what I’ve learned about clutter. Clutter makes you feel all alone.

Tonya – Well yeah! ‘Cause you don’t want anybody to come over to your house

Kathi – Right. We’re going to talk today about the secret sauce. So, we’ve already talked about the barbeque sauce and the honey mustard. Today is the ranch. The ranch is the good stuff. I’m sorry. It would be a tossup between barbeque sauce and ranch, for me. I think a good ranch, made with buttermilk. Lunch is very soon and I’m dying, apparently. So here’s my question. How has accountability made a difference? ‘Cause this is one of the secret sauces. We talked about having a realistic outlook about your clutter and then we also want to make people understand that you need a routine to finally, once and for all, deal with your clutter. Accountability is a huge part of all of this. Can you talk about how accountability has made a difference for you?

Tonya – Well, anybody who listens, who has gone over to Clutter Free Academy, you see a boat load of accountability over there. If you’ve been listening for a while, you know that I can get Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs. My schedules goes crazy. I lose my mind, but what I love is that, on a Monday, I know that a member of my team has posted Meal Plan Monday. So, if I have not got stuff together on my meal plan, that little reminder reminds me that I have a promise to myself that I am going to plan out our meals every week. When we do Wash Wednesday, it reminds me, “Hey! Did I unload the dryer? Is my washer empty, or is there something getting smelly in there?”  So, that sort of accountability. So often we think of accountability as a negative, like people are going to scold us, but really, it’s very loving and it’s very kind to be reminded of the commitment I’ve made to myself.

Kathi – Yes! I feel like accountability is, in so many ways, the most important thing we do in Clutter Free Academy. You know, it’s a big group. You can do a lot of things in there and it can feel like the Wild, Wild West. I still encourage people to get over there, because you get to see what other people are doing. The accountability isn’t just for you. It’s also for you to help other people and cheer them on. Accountability gives us a few different things. The first thing is: I feel like clutter is the most isolating thing. Unless you have the bubonic plague, clutter is so isolating, for a myriad of different reasons. One of the things is, you don’t want to have people at your house because it’s cluttered. You don’t want to talk about your clutter because it’s shameful. To a world that feels like you should have everything together, clutter is that shameful secret that many of us don’t talk about. It’s interesting. We’ve had people join, then unjoin, because people they knew were in the group.

Tonya – Oh my, gosh. Kathi, that happens all the time. I do appreciate that a lot of times, I’ll get a private message, or someone will say, “I saw Kathi speech, she told me to join, but then I saw a post from this lady who goes to my church.”  Because I’ve been there, I know it’s not appropriate to say, “Well, if the lady who goes to your church is in the group, then she has the same problem you have.” Because I remember being gripped in the same fear. Even thinking that somebody is at the same Clutter Free event is me? “They were just there because they think they have clutter. They don’t know what real clutter is!”

Kathi – But we don’t know what’s behind someone else’s closet.

Tonya – And you don’t know what’s in somebody else’s head.

Kathi – Or their heart.

Tonya – Exactly. And I think that’s the big thing, when you talk about isolation. I remember, for years, getting all worked up in my head, how my house was the worst house that ever did exist in all of the houses of the entire world.

Kathi – It’s so interesting that you say that, because you actually had been in one of the worst houses in the world. You grew up in one.

Tonya – Right? Yes! My mom was a hoarder, and as a married adult, my mom would come over and tell me I should be so grateful that my husband didn’t divorce me, because my house was a pigsty. And my house never looked anything like my mother’s house, but it’s that isolation.

Kathi – It’s that isolation and shame.

Tonya – So much shame. The other thing I have found, when we started, going way back to the beginnings of Clutter Free Academy, people would post pictures of their home, and people would be so brave, right? They’d be “I’m working on it.” And they’d be so defensive, and I’d look at their house and in the back of my mind, I’d think “That doesn’t look too bad!” I’d be like, “Wow! I can tell you worked really hard. There is clean surface on table.” They’d posted the picture because they didn’t know where to begin, so you can say, “You know, there’s some clean surface on that table. Why don’t you just finish that table?”  They’d be shocked. “Oh, you’re not going to say bad things about me? You’re not going to call me names?” No, because I don’t want to be called names.

Kathi – Because, what we’ve done is, we have said is that picture from Pinterest, in the magazine, on HGTV is the median, and it’s just not.

Tonya – No!

Kathi – That’s just not how real people live.

Tonya – I hope people listening already know that. I hope this is just validation and reinforcement.

Kathi – They know it in their heads, but it hasn’t translated to their hearts or their actions. So, I love that it’s less isolating, but also gives you a perspective.  The worst person in the world could join Clutter Free Academy, but here’s the thing: We know there’s hope for them. We know there’s hope for the person who hasn’t got rid of a newspaper. Now, it’s different if you’re a hoarder. A hoarding mentality is different than a decluttering mentality. Hoarders need different help than what we can give them. People will say, “I’m a hoarder.” No no. If you’re a hoarder, you’re not telling people you’re a hoarder.

Tonya – We do have a few people who are in recovery, but most hoarders are unaware. My mother had no idea.

Kathi – She would look at other people’s homes on TV, if Hoarders was a thing and say, “How could they live like that?”

Tonya – My mom was just oblivious. Now, I know not every hoarder is my mother, either, right? But for those of us who have clutter, we are the ones who are hyper aware, and we’re the ones that blame ourselves.

Kathi – Don’t you think that a lot of clutter, it’s the fear, guilt and shame, but it’s also processing issues. For me, it’s a processing issue. What do I do with this? I don’t have good routines. That’s what I’ve had to build into my life.

Tonya – It’s managing that natural ebb and flow of stuff in our lives.

Kathi – Right. Exactly. Okay, so accountability gives you less isolation. It gives you perspective. Finally, and this is the thing I don’t see in other programs, it gives you people to cheer you on.

Tonya – Well, definitely. We are the kindest corner of the internet. I think because we all are in different parts of our journey, there’s always at least 20 people who have been where you’re at, and are still close enough to that to remember what a big accomplishment it was to see a flat surface in a kitchen that just didn’t have anything. Or a sink free of dishes. That is huge.

Kathi – It is huge. And to have that and feel that peace that goes along with it is kind of an amazing thing. Today is the last day. Today is the day. We’ve been talking about this for two weeks now. Today is the last day, because we have Clutter Free for Life. Now, if you’re just trying to get on top of a little day-to-day clutter, Clutter Free Academy is totally the place for you. But if you need a change in your life, and you want to see a change between January 1st and December 31st of 2020, I’m going to really encourage you to get over to Clutter Free for Life. Clutter Free for Life is our twelve month program. Can you tell them what they get over in that program?

Tonya – Well, you talk about accountability, but also, I would say, some hand holding, over in Clutter Free for Life. So, in Clutter Free for Life we understand that you can’t just read a blog post, or listen to a podcast and that’s all you need for the rest of your life. You’re just magically cured. We really do understand the daily process. But we also understand the need to see progress over time. Because Clutter Free for Life is such a smaller program, you get your digital download, and we talk about that a lot. We talk about the digital download, the deeper dive into practically living clutter free, the encouragement for reflection. There’s even a spot in your download where you can put before and after pictures to remind you how far you’ve come. In my opinion, the tangibles are nice to have, but if you never downloaded a single one of them, you would still experience life altering change, because it’s the accountability; it’s the loving encouragement from the group. Being cheered on because you culled twenty stuffed animals from your kids’ room, and there were no tears involved. Right? Or, you had a water heater leak. We had three people get a water leak. One person was just new in their journey, and they talked about, “Well, this wasn’t my focus room, but it is now. My water heater blew.” But there were two people who were on the other side of their Clutter Free journey.

Kathi – It was beautiful to see.

Tonya – They were like, “My heart didn’t even beat faster for me to call a repair guy, because that spot had already been decluttered. Yes, some stuff was damaged. The carpet’s got to be dried out. This and that. But I’m not, in the back of my head, going ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to go spend two hours down there, fixing things so that the repair guy doesn’t judge me.’” That’s huge!

Kathi – Right! It’s such freedom to live in that way.

Tonya – And, I keep forgetting to mention this, but they get two live coaching sessions with you. I learn more in those session than I learn in all the times I’ve sat in the audience and heard you speak. Not because you say something totally different in the group than you say publically, but because you do such a great job of helping me understand how to apply those principles to every different aspect of life; every little situation. You do a really good job of that. I take notes! People think, “Tonya, you know it all.” No! I’m learning all the time.

Kathi – We are all constantly learning how to do this. Our life changes and we have to be agile and we have to be able to flex and function with changing things. The more tools you have in your tool belt – not duplicate tools, ‘cause we don’t want you to be clutter-y with them – but the more you can address all that.  Clutter Free for Life, you can enroll anytime in the year and it’s $299. But wait!

Tonya – There’s more!

Kathi – Today is the last day. We’ve been running this special since December 17th. If you purchase it by midnight tonight, instead of being $299 for the year, it’s less than half. It’s $118. It’s way less than half. That’s less than $10/month, which is amazing to me. Plus, you get our video course Kickstart to Clutter free, which is how to get rid of five hundred things like this. Normally $49, you get it for free when you sign up. It’s an amazing deal. You get over $350 worth of tools and accountability and downloads and live coaching for $118, less than $10/month. It can be life changing. We’ve seen it change lives in the group. It’s been really exciting. Today is December 31st.  My hope for you, in this clutter free journey, is that you see hope on January 1st, and you see results on December 31st of 2020. That’s what my hope is for each person who’s in this clutter free journey. I would love for you to join us there. Tonya, thank for being on with me today.

Tonya – Thanks for having me.

Kathi – Always! And friend, thank you for joining us. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life, this year, you were always intended to live


*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items



Meet Our Guest

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious, fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at or

Clutter Free Academy Team
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