607 – Super Practical Strategies for Decluttering

Are decluttering decisions breaking your brain? Are perfectionist tendencies keeping you from making progress? Tune in as Kathi and her guest, Clutter Free Academy cheerleader Tonya Kubo, discuss:

  • Overcoming the overwhelm
  • Making your minutes work for you

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The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

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 Do you shut down when making decluttering decisions? Share your answer in the comments.

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Meet Our Guest 


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 www.tonyakubo.com.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Kathi (00:02.265)
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. And she is the Clutter Free cheerleader. She’s the co-captain of all things decluttering. It is Tonya Kubo. Hey Tonya.

Tonya Kubo (00:29.622)
Hey Kathi!

Kathi (00:31.325)
Okay, we sound really nice right now, but we’re here to boss you around. Okay. That we’re done with it. We, you know, every week we come to you with these loving suggested step. And by the way, we are still loving, but some of you just need to be bossed around sometimes and we’re not saying this. You guys are, you’re the ones who are telling us just tell me what to do. And my thought, I thought that’s what we were doing in the last eight years of podcasting, but that’s okay.

You know what sometimes you just need to To you know, yes It’s good to know the ideas why you should know your mental state and decluttering and you should know some of the emotional reasons, but you know what today we’re just gonna tell you how to declutter. So Tonya are you ever in a space where you’re just like just tell me what to do

Tonya Kubo (01:16.555)

Tonya Kubo (01:23.258)
Oh, frequently. I mean, that’s what decision fatigue does, right? It’s like, I don’t want to make any more choices. Just tell me what to do so I don’t have to decide and I’ll just go do it.

Kathi (01:24.775)

Kathi (01:28.051)

Kathi (01:34.025)
Okay, so Tonya you have been doing a lot of one-on-one Consultation with people in our paid group Clutter Free for Life. Everybody who comes into that group gets a 15 minute consult. It’s amazing what we can get done in 15 minutes, isn’t it? Yeah, it really is mind-blowing but you said that there were a lot of people who were who were just struggling like

Tonya Kubo (01:50.803)
It is true.

Tonya Kubo (01:58.094)

Kathi (01:59.069)
They were struggling with the 15 minutes. They were struggling with the 15 minutes of decluttering I should say. They were struggling with their expectation. Like they felt like I’m a loser. I should be further than I am. Tell me tell me what your sense was from everybody

Tonya Kubo (02:16.814)
Well, in general, I think you’ve said this before, Kathi, right? So cluttery people tend to be perfectionists undercover. There is a 100% right way to do things and anything else is 100% wrong. And so people would say, like, well, I know what to do. I’ve been following Kathi for years. I’ve been listening to the podcast. I’ve been doing this. I bought the books. I just, I just don’t do it. Like, can you make me do it? And of course, the

Kathi (02:30.274)

Tonya Kubo (02:45.23)
The beauty of a coaching call is we can ask some questions, we can dig in, and really when it comes down to it’s when there’s so many things you could do, it’s really, really hard to decide what you should do right now. And for many of us, by the time we’re done with the decision, we’re too tired to actually take any action.

Kathi (03:04.669)
It’s so true. It’s so true. It’s it’s almost like okay i’m gonna start a new job in an area that I don’t have a lot of success in And I’ve been given all these manuals now go. And it’s like yeah, but where do I start? Where do I start? So what, how would you talk to somebody who says my house should be done by now?

Tonya Kubo (03:22.838)

Kathi (03:35.71)
I should be clutter free. I’ve been listening to the podcast. I’ve been a part of the group. The first thing I’m gonna say is with all of these people, they’ve made such progress, but they only see how far they have to go.

Tonya Kubo (03:50.474)
Right. Well, I’ll say that, I’m also gonna tell you, some people live with mean people. Let’s just put it out there, okay? Some people live with mean people, and we’ll get to that, addressing that issue in a moment, because I have a solution for that. It’s not a perfect solution, by the way, but I have a solution for that. But, you know, it’s like, well, I coulda, woulda, shoulda, and it-

Kathi (03:52.658)

Kathi (03:57.547)

Kathi (04:04.)

Ooh. Mm-hmm.

Tonya Kubo (04:13.726)
In some cases, I’m like, yeah, but you haven’t, so let’s move from here. And people would dig in like, no, they wanted me to scold them, Kathi. And I’m like, okay, first of all, that’s just not who I am. But finally, there was one call where I said, okay, it sounds to me like you’re really hard on yourself. And they were like, yeah. And I said, okay, so has that been successful so far? Like, has it gotten your house cleaner? No. So maybe let’s try something different. So I will tell you the first, here is something that I have recognized, and so this is where I boss you around.

Kathi (04:43.946)

Tonya Kubo (04:44.002)
The first mistake that I see people make when they are overwhelmed is they look at the act of decluttering as this one big task. And what they don’t realize is yes, it is a big task, but that task has a lot of little parts to it. Well, Kathi, you’re naturally gifted at what we call microtasking. Like you can take a goal and you can break that down into 15 steps.

Kathi (05:01.334)

Kathi (05:10.59)

Tonya Kubo (05:10.906)
And it used to always break my brain. I was like, I don’t know how she does that. Cause like my brain doesn’t work that way, right? But what I realized is there’s actually two main aspects to decluttering that people don’t realize. There is the decision making around decluttering and then there’s the physical act. And so what I have encouraged our overwhelmed members to do is divide the task and don’t try to do both of them together. Which means the first thing you do is you go in,

Kathi (05:26.133)

Tonya Kubo (05:39.394)
and you look at your space. Okay, like what you use to always say, what place bugs you the most? But you look at your space. Okay, this is the place that bothers me the most. Okay, so this is where I’m gonna get started. Okay, now I decide where should I get started here? And then you start all the things. Well, if I start here, then that causes this and da da, right? But do all of those mental gymnastics and then write yourself a task list. And I always recommend three steps because…

Kathi (05:45.136)

Tonya Kubo (06:07.69)
When you finish step one, you want to automatically know what step two is. You don’t want to have to stop and think about it. But 10 steps is overwhelming.

Kathi (06:13.597)
Right, right, good, yes.

Tonya Kubo (06:18.474)
So do the mental piece first, and then when it’s time to declutter, come back the next day, a week later, I don’t care, then you’re just taking through your steps.

Kathi (06:28.305)
Yeah, yeah, you’ve pre-decided what you’re going to do. Yes, and so the act of making the decision, that takes the most mental energy. And the rest is follow through, which I will tell you is hard for me and a lot of cluttery people. But if you’re trying to make the mental decision and do the follow through, it’s too much for most of us. It just is, it just is. So I think that that’s really, really brilliant.

Tonya Kubo (06:40.942)

Kathi (06:57.845)
Okay, we’re gonna take a quick break and then we’re gonna come back. And I wanna talk to you about how do we talk to ourselves if we feel like the 15 minutes is too much or not enough. So I’m gonna come back and we’ll talk about that in just a moment. Okay, we’re back with Tanya Kubo, leader of Clutterfree Academy. And I wanna talk to you about the 15 minutes a day. Because some people are like,

Tonya Kubo (07:13.76)
Good thing.

Tonya Kubo (07:24.91)

Kathi (07:27.165)
You know, I commit to doing the 15 minutes and when it’s time, I don’t do it or I can’t Kathi if you saw my house you would say you need 15 hours to even make a dent Like don’t try to play with me and say that 15 minutes is going to make a dent in this So what do you say to those people Tonya?

Tonya Kubo (07:49.51)
Well, I say, yes, and… Like yeah, I get it. I’ve lived in a house where 15 minutes isn’t going to do anything, right? But 15 minutes, four days in a row is an hour, right? And that’s what our whole program is based on, is that small doable steps add up to big results over time. The thing is, is when somebody comes to me and says…

Kathi (08:11.736)

Tonya Kubo (08:16.37)
Okay, I get I’m supposed to do the 15 minutes, but I just can’t make it happen. I can’t do it. Whenever I drill down, the actual answer is always it’s because they don’t know what to do in the 15 minutes. That’s where the pre-deciding that we’ve already talked about comes into play. You have to make a decision before your 15-minute slot of what you’re going to do with your 15 minutes. You can’t just sit there and say, okay, so I set aside 10 o’clock this morning.

Kathi (08:28.717)

Kathi (08:33.366)

Tonya Kubo (08:45.31)
And then at 10.01 you’re like looking around going, well, I could do the dresser, I could do the closet. Oh, what about the kitchen cab, the spice cabinet? Because next thing you know, your 15 minute window is gone and you haven’t gotten started.

Kathi (08:50.164)

Kathi (09:00.033)
And so deciding beforehand what you’re going to do is key in all of this. Don’t waste your mental deciding energy on where and what you’re going to do. Know that going in and set that alarm for 15 minutes. And guys, if you’ve been around for any length of time, and we’ll find a link to one of our basics podcasts that says, this is what you do.

And guys, at the end of this, go check out the notes because we’re gonna also give you a link for our newsletter where you can receive our, it’s basically our clutter-free basics kit. This is how you help, this is how you make decisions, this is the process. We’re gonna give you all of that because we want you to be successful at this. So click on that newsletter and go from there. Okay, Tonya.

We just have one minute left. What is the encouragement that somebody who is feeling super, super stuck needs to hear right now?

Tonya Kubo (10:00.947)

Tonya Kubo (10:10.122)
Okay, and this is also gonna come back to what happens when you live with mean people. It’s gonna be the same answer because we only have one minute. You have, well no, you have to lean into community and we have to stop expecting the people we live with to understand our cluttery hearts or our cluttery brains. Okay, maybe they really are jerks, I don’t know. I believe that most people we live with are not mean people, they just don’t get how our brains work.

Kathi (10:14.459)
Oh right, yes.

Kathi (10:19.16)
No, let’s hear about the mean people. That’s even more important.

Kathi (10:32.542)

Kathi (10:38.758)

Tonya Kubo (10:40.146)
And that’s why we have the Clutter Free Academy Free Group, which by the way, if you join that group and you put your email address in, you also get to join the newsletter and get that Clutter Free Kit, just saying killing all the birds with just one single stone. But you’ve got to just find a place where people get you. And in Clutter Free Academy, there’s 15,000 people there who all joined because they thought they were the only person on the planet with a clutter problem.

Kathi (10:51.945)
All the birds with one stone.

Kathi (10:59.21)

Kathi (11:05.697)

Tonya Kubo (11:06.57)
and they found out they had 14,999 friends just like them.

Kathi (11:12.281)
Tonya, I would say one of the things that I said to a lot of people in our 101s is we need to figure out is this a clutter issue or a relationship issue. And oftentimes it was a marriage issue. And

Tonya Kubo (11:26.885)

Tonya Kubo (11:30.539)

Kathi (11:33.673)
A lot of people feel stuck in their clutter because of their relationships. And you know what? We will come back and talk more about that at a later date because I think that is really key for a lot of people. Tonya, thanks for being here today.

Tonya Kubo (11:38.638)

Tonya Kubo (11:47.211)
Thanks for having me.

Kathi (11:49.021)
And friends, thank you for being here. You have been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you’ve always wanted to live.

Clutter Free Academy Team

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