Join in the excitement as Kathi and Tonya Kubo, leader of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group, teach us how to get unstuck from a clutter rut in the brand new How Do I? Series. Let’s learn how to do these things together, friends! We want to give you some tools to use right now, teach you how to be kind to yourself and just start where you are. So many times we get stuck in a rut because we are living in the past or the future. But we can discover together:

  • Why are we stuck in a clutter rut?
  • How do we actually get unstuck?
  • What is our freedom reason?


Learn more about Clutter Free for Life.

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Meet Our Guest

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious and fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group and the Clutter Free for Life membership program. 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


Read along with the Podcast!


Clutter Free Academy Podcast # 406


How Do I Get Unstuck?




<<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 but more life. I am here today with Tonya Kubo, leader at Clutter Free Academy. Hey, Tonya. How you doing today?


Tonya – Hey, Kathi. I’m doing great. How about you?


Kathi – I am excited.


Tonya – Oooh. Tell me more.


Kathi – Well, because I love this series that we’re doing. I love this series, talking about “How do I…?” We get these questions all the time. “How do I do this?” “How do we do that?”  So, the question for today is, and I love this question. “How do I get unstuck from my clutter rut?”


Tonya – Oooh.


Kathi – Yeah, right? We get a lot of people who ask that. Here’s what I want to do. I want to talk about, “How do we actually get unstuck?”, but first I want to talk about, “Why are we in a clutter rut?” Tonya, you and I have both been in a clutter rut.


Tonya – Oh yes.


Kathi – What would you say was your biggest clutter rut? Do you remember?


Tonya – Are we talking circumstances?


Kathi – Yeah.


Tonya – Well, I’d say my biggest clutter rut has typically been when I’ve been sick. Something has happened and my routines have fallen by the wayside and I just can’t see my way back to start.


Kathi – Yeah. That makes total sense. I think for me, it’s been during really hard periods of my life. As you know, tough first marriage. When I was getting to the end of that, the clutter was just huge. I was having to make so many personal decisions that one more clutter decision was just too much. It was just too much. I think that was really tough for me. So, I want to talk about three ways where I feel like it’s very easy for us to become overwhelmed; why we get into these clutter ruts. The first thing is, overwhelmed personally. So what I mean by that is, maybe the clutter has built up for a long time and you’re just in a place where you can’t make more decisions. Decision fatigue is a real thing.


Tonya – It is.


Kathi – I don’t think people give that the weight that it deserves. Especially, if you’ve been making decisions for little people all day? Or maybe you’ve been making decisions at work all day and now I’m telling you to come home and declutter, which is more decisions? It feels completely overwhelming. So, maybe those personal circumstances are just, it’s every room in your house, or it’s not just yours, it’s your parents, or your kids, or something like that. That can be one of the reasons where you just feel like, “Yep. I am overwhelmed.” Another one is overwhelmed by life’s circumstances. This is where I remember, I just shut down. When I was going through my divorce, and we were also selling our house. I had this long list of things I had to declutter in order to sell the house. I just ended up wearing black yoga pants and watching Friends all day. I just couldn’t do it. I could not do one more thing. So, maybe you’re going through some life circumstances. The third thing I want to talk about is, potentially, you’re depressed. When I talk about those life circumstances, I really do think that’s what was going on with me, a case of situational depression. If you are suffering from depression, whether it’s situational, clinical, whatever it is, decluttering is going to be very hard, if you’re not also getting treatment for your depression.


Tonya – Definitely.


Kathi – I know that we get this question all the time, and we had one person come on recently, who said, “For six days, I haven’t done any decluttering.” I can understand that can be stuck. So, that’s probably more, “I’m overwhelmed personally.” Overwhelmed by life circumstances? Just look at what’s going on in your life. If that is really tough for you, maybe now is not the time to declutter. Or, if you have to declutter, ‘cause there are other pressures coming on, we’re going to give you some tools that you can do right now. Tonya, what would be the first thing you’d say to somebody if they’re overwhelmed personally, or by life decisions? What would you say is the first step they should take?


Tonya – Well, this is going to sound counterintuitive, but the number one step is, you have to be kind. You’ve got to be kind to yourself. I think we do ourselves no favors when we start spinning out of control in our heads about how lazy we are. We go into judgement and it just feeds that cycle. I used to tell people, “Just start. Open a drawer and just start with your drawer. Just get into action, ‘cause the sooner you’re into action, the better it is to maintain that momentum.” That is still true, but I think you have to start off with kindness. Don’t expect to finish the whole kitchen in a day. You have to set out with that loving expectation that that drawer is enough.


Kathi – It’s very punishing to say, “I made this mess over the past several years, but now I have to clean it all up today.”


Tonya – Right! Talking about situational depression and circumstances. As you know, due to some health concerns with one of my girls, we had to completely redo our pantry situation. We had to get all the food out of the house and we had to bring in totally new food. I remember, it took me a couple of weeks to think about planning to do it. I’d look at the pantry, and initially, this made me feel like a heartless mom, but I’d look and all I would see would be the money that had been spent to stock the pantry to where it was. Then I felt bad. “I’m a terrible mom. I care about money more than I care about my child’s health, blah blah blah.” Then, I’d be so exhausted over that mental exercise that I’d want to go take a nap.


Kathi – Right! I, one hundred percent, get that. I do.


Tonya – So, I had to emotionally overcome all of that guilt and go, “You know what? This isn’t about the past. This isn’t about the future.” ‘cause that’s the other place I went. “What if things change in a month and she can eat this food again?” Well, you know what? I’ve got right now. Then I started to get into action. I remember, I said, “I’m just going to tackle the top shelf.” I set a timer and in fifteen minutes, Kathi, because I’ve been living a clutter free life, I got through three shelves.


Kathi – Oh my, goodness. That’s amazing.


Tonya – My pantry is only four shelves and a drawer, so in fifteen minutes, I got the three shelves. I may as well finish it.


Kathi – Absolutely.


Tonya – Then I was so excited. Food is kept in about three places in my kitchen, so I’m like, “Well, let me just tackle the other two cabinets.” It was done in under an hour, and I felt so good.


Kathi – I love that. Don’t you feel that, when we get stuck in a rut, so often, we’re living in the past or the future?


Tonya – Yes.


Kathi – “I spent so much money on it.” Or “What if I could use this someday?” So there’s past thinking, there’s future thinking, and we’re completely ignoring the present. That’s why we keep things like the weird Japanese crackers that nobody is going to eat, but we spent money on them and it’s like, “Well, maybe, someday I’ll have a Japanese themed dinner.” Right? We do these mental aerobics to try to get to a place where we could say, “I could use this.” I don’t think many of us were raised by depression era parents, but we are living their lives over again. So, I love your first step. Be kind. Second of all, I’m going to be very self-serving here. Go join Clutter Free Academy on Facebook.


Tonya – Yes!


Kathi – One, you will start to get brainwashed, in the very best way.


Tonya – You know why else, Kathi, I will say to join Clutter Free Academy? If you can’t be kind to yourself, we’ll be kind to you, for you.


Kathi – It’s true. We will teach you to be kind to yourself. Lots of people don’t have any practice in that. It’s just so true. Here’s the other question I have. We’ve got Be Kind, Clutter Free Academy, Accountability. How has accountability been what you needed in your life, when it comes to getting unstuck?


Tonya – So, you know this, I’m a stunt person. That’s why I love your books. They’re short term challenges. They tell me what to do. They boss me around. I need that in my life. So, for me, there’s just something to be said for being able to, and I do this in our group, I love that our members do it, but take a picture. I took a picture of our kitchen table the other day. I work from my kitchen table now, and I’ve noticed that over the course of the day, I tend to pile up stuff to the right hand side. I’m a lefty.


Kathi – Oh, interesting.


Tonya – It looks horrible by the end of the day. What’ll happen is, I’ll tell myself, right, that I can do it later. By Friday, it’s a scary sight. But, I can post a picture and can say, “This is my mission for today.” Even if I get side tracked, in our community of ten thousand people, somebody over the course of the day is going to be, “Hey Tonya. How’s that going?


Kathi – Yes!


Tonya – And I go, “Oh, yeah! I was really passionate about that at four o’clock this morning. It’s 2pm. I forgot.” Then, what am I supposed to say? Am I supposed to pretend I’m not there? No. I’m like, “Oh, let me tidy this up really quick.” Snap another picture. “Hey, look what I did!”


Kathi – I love it so much. Yeah, accountability. There are two ways to use accountability. Motivation or shame. So, I don’t want you using it for shame. “If you see me on Facebook, throw tomatoes at me.” No! I don’t want that. Only have accountability with people who celebrate with you. Those are the people you want holding you accountable.


Tonya – Exactly.


Kathi – Yes. By the way, when you’re going through this and you realize, “I cannot declutter because I see the signs of depression.” And we’re going to put a link in the notes. “These are the signs of depression.” We want you to get help. I feel like so many people, the first time they realize that maybe they’re suffering from depression is when they look around their house and they see so much stuff piling up. If depression is the reason you are not able to take care of your clutter, one, know that you’re not alone. This is very common and it’s a very common telltale sign. Two, there are people who want to help and there are places that want to help, so we’ll link to some of those resources in there. If it’s because you’re just overwhelmed. I shouldn’t say ‘just’ because overwhelmed is overwhelmed, but there are steps. So, we want you to be kind to yourself. If you don’t know how to be kind to yourself, come join Clutter Free Academy. We’ll teach you how to be kind to yourself. Accountability. The last thing is, I want you to give yourself a reason to declutter. Do you want to have a peaceful home? Do you want to have a place where you can dance in your kitchen? Somebody was talking about that today. I love that. Do you want to be able to have friends over and be in community without having to overhaul your entire house? Give yourself a reason. Put a Post-it note up there. Keep yourself focused. Not a shaming reason, but a freedom reason. I love this, Tonya.


Tonya – Really quickly, do you know what I love about what you just said?


Kathi – What’s that?


Tonya – Well, you talk about giving yourself a reason. What it really comes down to is, you need to remind yourself, if you’ve forgotten, or inform yourself, if you don’t truly know, but: You deserve a clutter free life! I think when we get in that rut, we start to feel like we don’t deserve nice things. We don’t deserve a nice space. We don’t deserve peace in our home. That’s not true.


Kathi – That’s not true. Everybody deserves a place of peace, where they can lay their head at night. Absolutely. Tonya, thank you for coming on and sharing with me. I’m so excited about the rest of this month.


Tonya – Me too. I love the ‘how to’ series.


Kathi – Friends, thank you for joining us. I think you’re really going to love everything we’re talking about this month.  You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp with Tonya Kubo. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always intended to live.





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





Clutter Free Academy Team

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