393 How to (Finally) Create Your Clutter Free Home Step #2 Decide How You Want Your Room to Feel

393 How to (Finally) Create Your Clutter Free Home Step #2 Decide How You Want Your Room to Feel

This week, Kathi continues her four-part conversation with Tonya Kubo, founder and fearless leader of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group about how to (finally) create the clutter-free home you’ve always wanted. Last week, we learned about dedicating your space for its purpose. This week, Tonya and Kathi discussed how to decide the way you want the room to feel. Don’t skip this. It is an important step.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to use the question, “How do I want this room to feel and look?” in order to help you cultivate a clutter free home. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • You can use each of your senses to create a space you love
  • Deciding puts you in control of your space, no matter what space you have
  • The link between self-care and clutter-free

Clutter-Free Home

Are you longing for a place of peace from which you can love others well? The Clutter-Free Home: Making Room for Your Life is your room-by-room guide to decluttering, reclaiming, and celebrating every space of your home.

In The Clutter-Free Home, you’ll walk through each room of your house to create organizational zones that are not only functional and practical but create places of peace that reflect your personality.  Kathi will help you tackle the four-step process to reveal the home you’ve always dreamed of, and then transform it into a haven that reflects who you truly are meant to be.

Pre-order your copy of The Clutter-Free Home on Amazon today.


Learn more about Clutter Free for Life.


We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.


Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #393

Clutter Free Home – Decide

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends! Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live everyday with less clutter and more life. My name is Kathi Lipp and I am here with the founder of Clutter Free Academy on Facebook, Tonya Kubo. Hey, Tonya!

Tonya – Hey Kathi!

Kathi – So, you and I are in the midst of a four-part discussion. We’re doing all the things.

Tonya – We’re digging in deep.

Kathi – That’s right. So, what we are talking about is, really, the system described in my new book. So, that’s called The Clutter Free Home: Making Room for Your Life. So, that’s coming out February 11th. Super super excited.

Tonya – SQUEE!!

Kathi – I know! I can’t wait. We’re going to have a group that’s going to go through it together, so we’ll tell you more about that in the comments. But, I want to talk about Step #2. We talked about Step #1, which is to dedicate your space, which sounds a little weird. It’s not like you do a ceremony or anything like that.

Tonya – Right. We’ve had, like, baby dedication for your space.

Kathi – No. There is no sage that needs to be burned.

Tonya – No smudge sticks.

Kathi – No, we’re all good, friends. Dedicating is just saying, “Hey, this space is dedicated for this in my life or my family’s life.” Get realistic. If you use your kitchen as a homework center, let’s just name it. Let’s create the space we need to create for this moment in our lives. In our house, now, we don’t have homework in the kitchen, or anything like that. We do have an office in our bedroom, so let’s get realistic around that. Do we need to have a better filing system up there? To pretend it doesn’t exist doesn’t really work. So, that was Dedicate, Step #1. We talked about, “Is there a verse you can put on the wall? Is there a saying?” What could you do to dedicate that space? Now, we’re going into Step #2. So, Step #2 is all about Deciding. Now that you’ve dedicated the space, I want you to decide how you want that room to feel, to look, all the things. So, this is what I want you to do. I want you to pick a room. Tonya, let’s do your kitchen. I’m going to do my kitchen.

Tonya – Good, ‘cause that’s what I was thinking about doing.

Kathi – Good. Excellent. We’re just like this. We’re of one mind. So, the question is: How do I want this room to feel, to look? Really, you can base this off the five senses. What do I want the sight of that to be? What do I want the sounds to be? Taste? That’s a legit question. Smell? Touch? Those are good questions to ask. Let’s talk about, “In my kitchen, the first thing I want is clean.”

Tonya – Yes!

Kathi – Yes!

Tonya – I was thinking, “Not sticky.”

Kathi – Yes. You’re in a different stage of life.

Tonya – I am in a different stage of life.

Kathi – But, you know, clean is one of the things. I want it to be comfortable. I want it to be creative. I love to get creative in the kitchen. All mine started with Cs. I wasn’t starting out that way, but when I got to three Cs, I just kept going.

Tonya – You just got to own it.

Kathi – Cozy and Connecting. Those are the things I want in my kitchen. How ‘bout you? And yours don’t have to start with Cs.

Tonya – Right. Well, and we talked in Part One about how I want a warm kitchen. I want people to want to hang out in my kitchen with me. Whether it’s my children, or people who visit, I don’t want people all in the living room. The way that our floor plan is, the living room is very removed. So, I want the kitchen to be inviting.

Kathi – Right. That is really important. To make sure your space is very inviting, and that people feel like they can just sit down and hang out. Okay, so do you have any other words that you want it to be? Clean? Inviting?

Tonya – Definitely clean. Inviting and warm and I wouldn’t mind, I like the idea of warmth as coziness, but I like the idea of a room that’s energetic.

Kathi – Yeah. And I think you can achieve that through different things. So, I want to talk about how to get to that place in your space.

Tonya – Oh, yay!

Kathi – I think it’s really about being intentional about the choices you make in there. And I’m not saying, “Go redesign it. Go to HGTV and get a makeover.” Things like that. But if I want a clean, cozy, comfortable, creative room, one of the things is sight. Let’s talk about sight. It’s not so much, for me, about having a perfectly decorated kitchen, although, for the first time in my life, I have a kitchen that’s decorated how I want it to be. We’ve remodeled and I’m loving it. But, even before all this, when I had the hunter green counter tops and things like that. There are things you can do to make it more of the kitchen you want it to be. So, for me, one of the big things is, if we’re going through the five senses, the sight is to have clear counter tops.

Tonya – Yes.

Kathi – Now, you have small counter tops, right?

Tonya – Oh my word, yes.

Kathi – Right. Okay. So, I don’t have exactly giant counter tops, but I have an average amount. So, to think about what you can do to get stuff off the counter tops. One of the thing we’ve done, we have a butcher block where we can store a lot of stuff. Those kinds of things make a big difference for us. How about you? What are the strategies you use to get stuff off your counters?

Tonya – One of the big things is having designated space in the cabinets for things that, in my old house, just lived on the counter all the time, like the toaster. The toaster is easy to take out and put back. The stand mixer is not, so the stand mixer, the coffee pot…

Kathi – I think it’s dangerous to take out and put back.

Tonya – It’s so heavy.

Kathi – It really is.

Tonya – So, those things have to live on the counter top. So, I also don’t have all my appliances in the same spot on the counter. I have three separate counter areas. So, each one gets one thing. My Instant Pot, if I’m going to use that, has to be on my kitchen table. That’s the only space for it. It’s just realizing that, if something is only used (we don’t use the toaster regularly) that totally can be out of sight. The other thing is, not letting dishes collect on the side of the sink. I don’t know about you, when you had family growing up, but for some reason, I’m the only person who hand washes things.

Kathi – Well, I hate to hand wash, so I understand this.

Tonya – As do I, which is why things pile up on the side of the sink. Brian is great about doing the dishes, but if it needs to be hand washed, it just slowly piles.

Kathi – Can I tell you, one of the biggest arguments in our marriage ever? Is this giant cutting board that Roger loves. It’s the size of a small car. It’s so huge. It has a well in it, so juices don’t run off. He loves this cutting board. He loves it, but he uses it to chop a chili pepper and it can’t go into our dishwasher, ergo it’s there for me. I’m like, “No. This is marriage ending. You need to understand. No. No. No. I can’t do this anymore.”

Tonya – We’re Californians. Yeah, no.

Kathi – Yeah, no. Exactly. So, yes. It’s processing those things. It’s having those routines to get them out. That is so important. Having storage space for the things you actually need, and then having a process for what has to be managed elsewhere. Okay, sound. Sound in your kitchen. We have an Alexa unit. When I’m in my kitchen by myself, I do an audiobook. Right now, I’m reading Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate. Listening to, let’s be clear. When it’s me and Roger, it’s usually James Taylor or Eagles, or something like that. But that’s the sound I like. The other thing I like, is having a dishwasher that doesn’t sound like it’s shaking the house down.

Tonya – One day. One day I’ll be there.

Kathi – Yeah, it’s just good to know, “One day, I will save up to get that thing.” Because, trust me, I had the window rattler for a long time.

Tonya – We have The List. Priorities shift, depending on season.

Kathi – Yeah, exactly. Okay, so Taste. Now, this may feel like a strange question, but one of the things for us is water, at The Red House, while pure…

Tonya – It’s so good.

Kathi – It’s so good, but we filter it twice, because, even though it’s pure – It’s well water. It’s very healthy. We’ve had it tested. It’s wonderful.

Tonya – It tastes purely like a well.

Kathi – It tastes like sucking a copper penny. So, we filter it and it tastes much less. I don’t taste anything. Roger does, but I think it’s all in his head. So, anything in Taste in your kitchen?

Tonya – Well, I live in the middle of a city, so my kitchen water tastes a lot like bleach, but for us, we always have a tea kettle on the stove. That’s something my girls like. Hot tea. Our favorite tea is chai. So, that is something that we do on a cold day. We will all be around the table with our hot chai tea, and I love the smell of that in the house.

Kathi – The smell is amazing. So, that goes the next thing we’re talking about is smell. So, for you, it’s chai tea. For me, I love the smell of lemon in the kitchen. So, I know some people cut real lemons and things like that. I don’t tend to do that, but I love Mrs. Meyer’s Lemon Verbena. So, they have the dish washing soap. They have the hand soap. They have the spray cleanser, so I love the smell of that. Also, I use a lot of lemons, so I put those down the garbage disposal. So, you can get that smell all the time. I also have a lemon candle that I burn in there, and that makes me super happy. For me, I like to have a smell for each room. In our bedroom, it’s lavender, ‘cause that promotes sleep. In some of our bathrooms, it’s citrus. I want to have a clean, crisp smell in there.

Tonya – Yes. I actually love citrus in the bathroom. In my kitchen, we love spicy smells. So, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg, chai tea, apple cider. We’re those people.

Kathi – We had apple cider here last night and that just made me so happy with the smell of it.

Tonya – My husband says that I like it to smell like Thanksgiving year round.

Kathi – Nothing wrong with that, my friend. Not a thing. You know, if I could have stove top stuffing every single day of my life? It would be a better world. It just would. Okay, finally Touch. This is huge for me. I’m going to shock a lot of people here.

Tonya – We’re going to talk about towels, aren’t we?

Kathi – Microfiber towels give me the heebie jeebies. That is just the worst feeling/touching thing in the entire world. So, I know, if someone gives me a gift of microfiber towels, I can get rid of them, instantly. I used to try to use them, because I thought it was the nice thing to do, and then I had a bad thought about the person every time I picked up the towel. I’m like, “That’s not the association I want.” How about for you? Touch, in the kitchen?

Tonya – Sponges. Urgh.

Kathi – So you don’t like sponges?

Tonya – No. No.

Kathi – You know what? They’re not good for the environment anyway.

Tonya – Right. Yeah. I just had a childhood of too many slimy sponges.

Kathi – Yeah. So, you don’t use them at all. So, I wash them in the dishwasher, then I microwave them.

Tonya – I used to do that, then I realized that as an adult, I don’t ever have to have them in my house.

Kathi – Apparently, one day, I thought the world sponge supply was going to run out.

Tonya – Oh, and you have fifty?

Kathi – Yes. It’s ridiculous. So, I’m using them up, but I probably won’t restock them. Like, every Airbnb guest gets a new sponge. ‘Cause I just think that’s the right thing to do.

Tonya – ‘Cause you’re a giver.

Kathi – I am a giver. That’s exactly it. So, it’s making intentional decisions about your space. How you want it to feel. How you want it to smell. It’s things like, we have a blanket at The Red House. I think it’s called a Sherpa blanket.

Tonya – I love that blanket.

Kathi – Our friend Kelly gave it to us as a housewarming gift. It’s super-floofy on one side and smooth on the other. It’s not smooth. I don’t really know how to describe it.

Tonya – I feel like I’m hugging a wild animal that’s not going to bite me.

Kathi – That’s not going to bite me. That’s very important here. So, I want to get a couple more of those, because as soon as somebody finds one of those, they just wrap themselves in it, and you’re instantly three times cozier than you were.

Tonya – So, can I say something really quick about Decide? So, what I love about this step is that it puts you in control of your space. The thing that I’ve seen happen, I’ve had it happen to me, especially when I was really overwhelmed by my clutter, is, I think that I’m stuck. I want my house to happen to me. So, it’s like, “Oh, they made this the kitchen, and they put the plugs there, so therefor, I have to do things this way.” This step has really opened my eyes that I’m a grown up. I get to choose, right? I can make any room do anything I want. So, the reason I want to mention this is, I know that some people live in smaller spaces. I grew up in a studio apartment until I went off to college at seventeen. I can imagine that I might go, “Well, you know, I can’t decide, because I only have one room.” But you can. You just have to make the choice, “I’m going to boss my room around. I’m not going to let my room boss me around.”

Kathi – Right. I want my bedroom to be comfortable. If that means I’m saving up for pillows that I wouldn’t normally? I spend a third of my life in bed. Okay, maybe a fourth. I want to be comfortable. It’s being intentional. Here’s the other beautiful thing. In the book, we have you go through the exercise to decide. What it does? It’s a nonsense repellant. You’re not going to Target, and buying the cheap candle, because “Oh, that could be cute in my living room.” Well, no. It doesn’t go in your living room. Stop buying it. Stop going to the dollar bin at Target. Don’t do that. You’re better than that. I understand. Here’s the thing. I have been the single mom who was four syllable broke. I was buh-roke. But here’s what I know. When you take care of yourself, you have less junk. You may not have all the nice things, but you don’t buy the junk. You get it out of your house. So, when I decide I only want citrus candles in this bathroom. That means I can get rid of the ten candles that people gave me as gifts that smell like baby powder. Right? Or like sand and sea? Nothing smells like sand and sea except for the beach, so don’t try.

Tonya – That’s how I feel about evergreen.

Kathi – I like some pine-y things, but evergreen is a no-go for me. It just doesn’t work.

Tonya – It smells like old man aftershave to me.

Kathi – That’s okay. That’s not what you want to smell in your house. I know some of us are keeping it just in case. Like, if I run out money, and can never buy a candle again. Can we just have the faith that you will buy the candle when you need it? That’s all I’m going to ask. We’re going to have the faith that we’re going to buy the candle when you need it. So, guys, this is Decide. So, we’ve gone through Dedicate Your Space. Decide how you want it to feel/look, now we’re going to get to decluttering. Our next episode, we’re doing it for real this time. So, you’re gonna want to come back. We have a whole system, friends. I’m so excited. We’ve been doing it in Clutter Free for Life.

Tonya – We have! So, our Clutter Free for Life members? Got the inside scoop.

Kathi – That’s right. You were basically my guinea pigs. In the nicest way possible.

Tonya – I prefer the term Early Adopters.

Kathi – Early Adopters. But now, we’re sharing it with the whole world. So, you guys will have to come back next week to hear all about our decluttering system. Tonya, thanks so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Tonya – Thanks for having me.

Kathi – Always. And friend, thank you for being here. I know that there are a ton of podcasts to listen to, and I love that you’re listening to this one. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life 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 www.tonyakubo.com or www.GreatMoms.org. Tonya Kubo is the Online Engagement Director at the University of California Merced, as well as the illustrious, fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter-Free Academy Facebook group.
#392: How to (Finally) Create Your Clutter Free Home Step #1: Dedicate Your Room for Its Purpose

#392: How to (Finally) Create Your Clutter Free Home Step #1: Dedicate Your Room for Its Purpose

If you’ve ever decluttered only to have stuff creep back in, this episode is for you! This week, Kathi begins her four-part conversation with Tonya Kubo, founder and fearless leader of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group, about how to create a clutter-free home. Kathi and Tonya chat about the power of dedicating each space in your home because you don’t want to live in a house by accident; you want each room to have and serve its purpose.

In this episode, you’ll learn how a little planning goes a long way to creating a clutter-free home. You’ll also learn how to:

  • Reshape each room into what you actually use it for, not what it “should” be for
  • Use anchoring objects as reminders of a room’s purpose
  • Shift from “just surviving” to living with intention in your home


Clutter Free Home

Are you longing for a place of peace from which you can love others well? The Clutter-Free Home: Making Room for Your Life is your room-by-room guide to decluttering, reclaiming, and celebrating every space of your home.

In The Clutter-Free Home, you’ll walk through each room of your house to create organizational zones that are not only functional and practical but create places of peace that reflect your personality.  Kathi will help you tackle the four-step process to reveal the home you’ve always dreamed of, and then transform it into a haven that reflects who you truly are meant to be.

Pre-order your copy of The Clutter-Free Home on Amazon today.

For the Clutter Free Home Book Club, head over to the Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group and join the conversation!

If you want a great leftover tri-tip recipe, check out these ideas.

"People who love to eat are always the best people." Julia Child

That house was a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or storytelling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness. JRR Tolkien

We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.


Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #392

Clutter Free Home – Dedicate

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends! Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live everyday with less clutter and more life. With me today is the founder of Clutter Free Academy on Facebook, it’s Tonya Kubo. Hey, Tonya!

Tonya – Hey Kathi!

Kathi – I’m so excited!

Tonya – Me too!

Kathi – In twenty days, my new book, The Clutter Free Home will be hitting shelves. I am so excited about this book. If you feel loving, you can pre-order it. We’ll have a link in there. We’re going to be talking, for the next four weeks, about the principles contained in Clutter Free Home. I feel like, and I don’t want to overstate things, but I feel like this book changes everything.

Tonya – You know what, I may or may not have read some of it already, and I would agree with that. I am also excited, because, how long has it been since Clutter Free came out?

Kathi – Five years.

Tonya – Five years, and though the principles are timeless, how much has changed in five years?

Kathi – And that’s the thing. That first book was a lot of principles, which is great. We need that. You need it to build a firm foundation. But every day, first of all, people say, “Would you just come to my house?” and I’m like, “No, I won’t come to your house to declutter.”

Tonya – Then they want you to move in.

Kathi – Yeah, they want me to move in. And I’m like, “That’s awkward.”

Tonya – Roger said “no”.

Kathi – But, also, people would say, “If someone would just tell me what to do.” Okay, you wanted to be bossed around. Here we go!

Tonya – Whoo hoo!

Kathi – Now, I know that people are going to think that I’m just going to tell them to just get in and get rid of all their stuff. It is absolutely not what I’m asking you to do. I’m actually asking you to take a moment before you go on all the crazy decluttering, and I want you to come up with a strategy. I’m so excited about this strategy. We’re going to talk, over the next four weeks. Yes, you need to declutter. Yes, we’re going to talk about how do you declutter each room, and we’re going to talk about each room in your house and what it needs. But I want you to do a little planning first. Now, if you want to declutter while you’re planning? Nobody’s going to stop you.

Tonya – Nope. We’re good with that.

Kathi – I understand. We wanna get the things done. But, I want you to have a plan, so here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to take you through the four steps. I know you know these four steps, but I want to talk about them with our listeners, so they can get on this journey. Yeah, you can get rid of everything, but if you don’t have a plan going forward, the clutter is just going to creep back in. So, the first thing we’re going to talk about is this idea of dedicating each room in your house. This is a room by room guide. The actual name is, “The Clutter Free Home: Making Room for Your Life” It’s a room by room guide for making sure that everything in your house has a purpose and a plan. Whether that purpose is just to make you joyful? That’s enough of a reason to keep things in your house, but also, so you can move forward in what you’re doing. So, the first thing we’re going to talk about is Dedicate. What I want to talk to you about Dedicate is, your room is dying for a purpose. Your room wants a purpose. It wants to be able to serve you. I know I’m sounding very airy-fairy and all that kind of stuff, but here’s the thing, it wants to have a purpose. It was designed to have a purpose. Remember, when they were making these houses, my house was built in the 70s. Do you know when your house was built?

Tonya – 1952.

Kathi – Okay. So, in 1952, people ate dinner in the dining room, or the kitchen, whatever that is. They watched TV in the living room. They slept in the bedroom, and whatever they do in the bathroom, they continued to do. But that’s not how we live anymore. The kitchen is also the homework area. The bedroom is also the office. All of that kind of stuff. So, we have to get realistic. In the magazines, on Pinterest, online, you see a kitchen, and it’s set up like you’re a professional cook in there.

Tonya – Right.

Kathi – Yeah, but when my kids were growing up, that was also the homework center. So, was our living room. By the way, everything was the homework center. In my kitchen, I was running my business out of the kitchen. I think it is really important that we actually understand what each room is used for. So, I want us to think through our kitchens, right now.

Tonya – Okay.

Kathi – I want you to think about the top five things that room is used for. Now, for me, I’m just going to tell you this is my little list. I want you to be thinking of your list, Tonya. Okay, so we cook in there. We eat in there, sometimes. Connecting. So, when we have people over, we like to sit around the table and connect. Working. I do a lot of my work in there. That kitchen table is oftentimes my office when I’m there. And storing food. Those are the five things that we do in the kitchen. How about you? What are the things that your kitchen, you actually use it for?

Tonya – Yeah, we do that stuff. But yeah, because we live in a two bedroom, one bath.

Kathi – With four people.

Tonya – So that kitchen table is homework center. It’s where we pay our bills. It’s where I work my business. It’s where my husband plans his IEPs for his students. We store food. We do our meal planning. That kitchen table does everything.

Kathi – It’s everything in your house. I think that’s where we have to get realistic. We say we want our kitchen to just be a kitchen, but then, we have no place to put the bills that we’re paying. We have no place to put our work. So, I think it’s really important to say, “This is what we actually use this room for.” Now, when my kids were growing up, that was homework center, that was all the things. It’s not anymore. So, your room gets to change as your life changes, which is really good. Almost every room in your house, it’s going to be a multi-purpose room. Especially our kitchen, it’s the heart of our home. It’s for cooking and creating and connecting and your words don’t need to be in alliteration, but, you know, you get bonus points. You start to reshape the room into what you want it to be, not what you feel like other people say it should be.

Tonya – Oooh, that’s good.

Kathi – Yeah. So, one of the things I do, I put a list of what we’ve said that room is for. So, if I’m starting to do art projects in that room on a regular basis, I’m like, “That’s not what this room is for. I have other spaces in my house I can do that kind of stuff.” To say, “I need this room to function for what I’ve said.” It’s all about reshaping that. I also want to shape the heart of that room. What I mean by that is, to have things in the room to remind me who’s there, and who I am serving. So, one of the signs I’m getting made, and I’ll put a picture up on the podcast, is for our kitchen. It’s a quote by Julia Child. “People who love to eat are always the best people.” If you’re one of these people that’s like, “I’d love to come over for dinner, but I’m going to bring my own food.” I understand. I respect that. I love to connect over food. I love to connect over Roger’s barbecue, or us making artichoke dip.

Tonya – In case you’re wondering, I like to connect over Roger’s barbecue, too.  FYI.

Kathi – Yes! We had it last night. We did street tacos with tri-tip.

Tonya – Yes, for people outside of California, just “beef”. It’s delicious.

Kathi – It was so good. Then, this morning, you turned that into eggs and vegetables.

Tonya – A little scramble. You have not lived until you’ve had tri-tip and eggs.

Kathi – It was one of my favorite breakfasts ever.

Tonya – We connected over Roger’s barbecue.

Kathi – We did. We love Roger’s barbecue. You know, I’ve done this for other rooms in my house, as well. Like, in my living room, here at The Red House, we have a sign. It’s a quote by JRR Tolkien that he used in one of his books about the hobbits. It says, “That house was a perfect house. Whether you like food, or sleep, or storytelling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.” If I could ever say what I want our house to be. We love food. We love sleep. You will never have a better night’s sleep than you will at The Red House. Storytelling. We’re all writers here, who are writing our books. Singing. We sit around the campfire. Roger plays his guitar and we sing John Denver and it’s just magical. Or just sitting and thinking best. It’s a place of quiet contemplation. That’s the word I was looking for.

Tonya – Quiet contemplation?

Kathi – Yes. That was my five dollar word for the day. To say, “These words set the mood for my room. That’s what I want.” So, do you have any anchoring things in your house?

Tonya – In my kitchen, and it’s not just a floor plan thing, because a lot of times the kitchen is the heart of your home ‘cause of the floor plan. I want my kitchen to be warm. I want my children to want to hang out in the kitchen, while I do all the things you have to do in kitchens. So, I really want warmth in my kitchen because I want my children to want to hang out there. This is so important to me. I have to wash dishes. I have to plan meals and I have to cook. You know? I don’t want them in another room, I want that kitchen to be inviting to them. I could put a desk in the living room. I could put a desk in their bedrooms, but I want to do homework there.

Kathi – I love that. So, whatever the purpose for that room, you have to know the purpose. If you don’t know the purpose, think about it and write it down somewhere. Even if you put it on a little Post It Note on the inside of a cabinet. It’s going to set the mood for it. I’ve got a sign in our house in San Jose that says “Sit long. Talk much.” That’s what I want for my kitchen. I want people to gather and be comfortable there. So, this is the first of four sets that I ask you to go through. Really setting the intention for your house, because it makes all the difference. Instead of, “We’re just surviving.”

Tonya – Right! And so many times, in Clutter Free Academy, people come in and they talk about that there’s not any place for their stuff, and it’s because there’s not any intention behind each room.

Kathi – Right. So, it sounds very high-falutin, but it’s kind of fun to go through your house and set the intention for each room. Ask your kids, “What do you want this room to represent?” So, Abby may not. She may be a little young for this, but Lily could definitely set a plan for her room. Say, “I want to feel energized here.” Or “I want to feel cozy here.” So, here’s what I want, eventually. As you start to clear out the clutter, you start to reshape the heart of that room. So, if cozy is a code word for Lily, are the right blankets in there? What’s the texture she wants? We’re going to talk about that more next time, but to say, “You don’t want to live in a house by accident.”

Tonya – Exactly.

Kathi – You want the rooms to be on purpose. Well guys, this is just the first step. The next four weeks, we’re going to be talking about how you create a clutter free home, and setting the intention. In the show notes, you’ll have a link, so you can pre-order Clutter Free Home: Making Room for Your Life. Guys, we’ll be going through this book together, and we’ll be giving you more details about that. So, go look in our show notes and see how you can sign up for our book club, that we will be doing all together. I cannot wait.

Tonya – Oh my gosh. It’s going to be fun!

Kathi – Your house is going to see a difference. I promise you. Tonya, thanks so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Tonya – Thanks for having me.

Kathi – And, friends, thank you for joining us. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life 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 www.tonyakubo.com or  www.GreatMoms.org

#391: Redesign Your Life

#391: Redesign Your Life

We are all living a life we didn’t design. In this episode, Kathi chats with Tracy Steel, author of A Redesigned Life: Uncovering God’s Purpose When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned, about how to apply a designer’s eye to see the work God is doing in your life, when things don’t go according to plan.

This week, Tracy shares some of the things she learned as an interior designer that help her understand God’s work in her life. You’ll also learn:

  • What to do when you wonder whether God is working
  • How to notice and understand patterns in your life
  • Practical ways to weave truth into your physical space and interior thoughts

If you’d like to hear more, you can order your copy of Tracy’s book, A Redesigned Life from Amazon today!


Learn more about the shows Kathi and Tracy talked about today: Grand Designs and Designing Women.

If you missed Kathi’s episode with Ron Deal, listen here.

Check out The Blue Letter Bible and Bible Gateway to search the Bible and other encouraging tools.

Kathi’s newest book, Clutter Free Home, is available for preorder on Amazon now!


As a bonus for two lucky listeners, we are giving away two copies of Tracy’s book, A Redesigned Life: Uncovering God’s Purpose When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned! Enter below by commenting and letting us know:

Share about a time when your life didn’t go according to plan and yet you could still see a glimpse of God’s plan.



We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.


Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #391

Redesign Your Life

<<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. Today, I have a new friend on the podcast. When I started reading about her book, I’m like, “Me and my friends at Clutter Free Academy, we need this.” You guys, the book is, A Redesigned Life: Uncovering God’s Purpose When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned. Can I hear an Amen? It’s with Tracy Steel. Tracy, welcome to Clutter Free Academy.

Tracy – Well, thank you for having me, Kathi. It’s a joy to be here.

Kathi – I just love that old quote, “We plan and God laughs.” Because it’s so true, right? One of the statements you make, and I love this: “All of us are living a life we did not design.” Can I tell you? That rang so true for me. I stopped and I read it out loud to my husband. Have you ever heard of the show, it’s a British show, called Grand Design? Have you heard of this?

Tracy – I’ve heard of it, but I’ve not watched it. So, let me know. What’s it about?

Kathi – My husband and I are obsessed. Obsessed. I cannot nail two boards together, but it’s about building unusual homes in England and Scotland and Ireland and all over. The host was asking this couple, “Why is it taking so long?” and she said, “We’ve been waiting to live our life while we’ve been waiting to live our life.” So, one: Go watch this show. It’s got the British sense of humor that just makes me so happy I can’t even stand it. Also, when you are in design, there are so many life lessons. It’s so funny. The thing I’m always saying to Roger while we’re watching this is, “If they’d just clean up their worksite, their lives would just be so much easier. They would be so much less overwhelmed.” That’s kind of what your book is about. It’s design principles, but also talking about your life. So, what made you think that these two needed to come together? In retrospect, it makes all the sense in the world, but I don’t know that I would sit down and say, “I’m going to apply design principles to life.” How did you come up with that idea?

Tracy – Well, when I was a little girl, I first dreamt about becoming a ballerina. Then that didn’t work out. That’s in the first couple of chapters. Then, the next dream I had, Kathi, was to be this big time interior designer. I used to watch the TV show Designing Women. Have you ever watched that?

Kathi – Can I just say, Sugarbaker’s is where I need to be. I needed to be at Sugarbaker’s.

Tracy – Exactly. They were so beautiful and they just sat on couches all day and talked. I thought, “Sign me up. I want to be an interior designer.” But, I quickly found out, in school, Interior Designers do not sit on couches all day. They work very hard doing what they do. I graduated with a degree in Interior Design. Then the next dream was to move to New York City, own my own design firm, make millions of dollars, wasn’t going to get married, wasn’t going to become a mom. Then I met Jesus, and guess what? He changed everything. So, then He called me into a different kind of interior design. It looked a whole lot like youth and women’s ministry. So, I’ve been doing that for the last decade. One of the things I see when I’m out speaking to different women’s groups, is that women are saying over and over to me, “Tracy, life is not going the way that I had thought it was going to go. And if I’m honest, even though I come to church, even though I pray and I listen, where is God? Does He see me? I don’t understand the patterns that I’m seeing. How can you help me find contentment while living a life I didn’t design?” So, I started to think back, and I thought, “My life hasn’t gone the way I thought, either.” And as a human designer, there were a set of principles that I would use when I came into a space just like this, to help me create something beautiful and functional for my clients. So, as I started to think about how God is our master designer, our master architect, I started to wonder, “Does He use the same set of principles as He is redesigning us through the shocks and surprises in our lives?” Guess what? He sure does. He uses movement. He uses patterns. He uses emphasis just the same way I do and that is how this book came to be.

Kathi – Okay, so a couple of things on this. One, will you judge me that I still want to be Annie Potts in Designing Women?

Tracy – No, ‘cause I do, too.

Kathi – Okay! There were the speeches. I loved these beautiful, strong women and yes, just amazing. I want to talk more about the patterns that you noticed. Here’s what I feel like, for my Clutter Free people. We want to have routine. We want to have patterns. We want to be able to establish patterns and see patterns, but it’s really hard for us. I want you to talk more about that and how can we notice and build on those patterns?

Tracy – Again, in the book, I bring up the point that God is an effective and efficient communicator. He is actually very present in our lives, but sometimes things like business, or clutter, or jealousy. Let’s call jealousy clutter for today’s purposes. Envy. Those kinds of things start drowning out His voice. He’s over here saying, “Hey, daughter! There are things about me, that if you’d only remember this, or know this about me, you’re going to make it. You’re going to be just fine.” He’s given us patterns or repeated words throughout the pages of Scripture to not only tell us about who He is, but about how we are to live and find contentment again, when things don’t go as planned. Yes, I talk about paisley, and I talk about polka dots. Those are things we’ll see around us, but my hope is that, when we see actual physical patterns in our homes or in our workplaces, that would remind us, “Oh! God has something to say.” And if we quiet ourselves. If we clean out the clutter in our minds and in our hearts, and we go to His Word, we can see certain things repeated over and over again. That will help us understand who He is, and a little bit more about this life that we’re living.

Kathi – Okay, this is so interesting that we’re having this conversation today, because earlier today, I had a great conversation with Ron Deal who is in charge of step families at Family Life. We were talking about this very thing – a pattern he noticed in the Bible. He has a new book about Money Matters for Step Families. He said, “Have you ever noticed that when God talks about money, he always says, “And I will be with you.”?” I was like, “No, I have never noticed that.” If money is one of the most stressful things in your life, God’s not surprised by that. That’s not a new revelation and God gives us reassurance each and every time that He will be with us through that fear; through that struggle. I love that so much. So, I would love to know, what are some of the patterns that you’ve found that were the most impactful to you?

Tracy – That God is a forever God. So, I talk about the pattern of God’s Forever-ness. I think I made up that word.

Kathi – I love that word. Forever-ness.

Tracy – Don’t you love that? Forever-ness. And that’s important to us, especially as women. One of the things that’s going to trip us up, is when our relationships don’t go the way that we thought they were going to go. If we are not careful, when we face betrayal; when we face deceit, those kinds of things, with our human relationships, we can start to project that onto God, thinking that “He is going to leave me. He is going to forsake me. He is going to betray me.” So, this pattern of God’s forever-ness, looking for words like ‘everlasting’, reigning ‘forever more’, I AM. You will see these patterns of God’s forever-ness all throughout Scripture and what a comfort that should be to us as women and men, to remember our God is not going anywhere. Even when our plans fall apart. Even when friends or even spouses betray us, our God is different because He is forever.

Kathi – Okay, I love the pattern of forever-ness. I love that. One of the things that I really believe is that clutter is just the physical manifestation of overwhelm. When we are overwhelmed, clutter is that physical manifestation. So, a lot of things lead to that overwhelm. Loneliness, feeling like it’s all up to me. So, I love the forever-ness of God, because it is not. You are not forsaken. You are not abandoned. When we are overwhelmed, whether it is physically, in our space, or maybe it’s emotionally, what are some of those patterns we should be looking for in God’s Word that can be a truth when we are feeling like, “Nope. I feel overwhelmed in every area of my life.”

Tracy – The Scripture says a lot of things about God. He is our peace. He is our rock. I think a great place to look for patterns is in the Psalms. One of the very first things that I ever did, and I’m a big mentorship/discipleship fan. I really think, especially since my mom is home in Heaven, now. I use my mentors a lot to encourage me. So, one of the very first things a mentor told me to do, open up the Psalms and start underlining or circling any word that you can find that describes who God is, because you’re going to start seeing patterns. They’re going to help you when you’re lonely. They’re going to help you when you feel depressed. Remembering that God is our rock. God is our refuge. God is our protector. He’s our defender. Finding those words, even Google on BlueLetter.org you can find all the different passages that have those words in them. I encourage women to keep a pattern journal just full of different patterns. You can Google any topic and find all the different passages, and start to memorize those. The more that we’re memorizing, the more we can recall those patterns. We’re not always going to have our Bible apps. Right? We need to be memorizing the Word. Have you seen that memorizing helps you?

Kathi – Oh my goodness. One of the best things that ever happened to me. I went on a mission trip when I was seventeen. Now, it’s questionable how much my work did for people. Let’s be super-clear, but we had to memorize forty verses of Scripture and those have stuck with me for these thirty-odd years. It’s made such a difference. I would say, wherever you are in life, today is the easiest day you will ever have for memorizing scripture. It does get harder as you get older, but those truths, the longer it dwells inside of you, the more good it does. Here’s what I love about that. In clutter, it’s about removing stuff, but I also know there are essential things that we need. Let’s say, you’re not a minimalist. You’re a maximalist. You like a lot of stuff around you, but you need that stuff to make sense and make order. So, that’s why you’re not just saying, “Banish bad thoughts!” You’re saying, “Replace them with God’s truth. Fill yourself up with the things to dwell on, so that it is eternal.” You can say, “I’m having this bad thought, and we know from Scripture that we need to take every thought captive. So, what truth are you replacing that with?” And to fill yourself up with that. This is why I love, in decorating, one of the things I’m talking about in my next book, The Clutter Free Home, is to put truth up on your walls. To find, it doesn’t even have to be Scripture, although I love Scripture up on my walls. I also love truth that replaces. I actually fight against things like, “Namaste in bed.” Things like that. It’s funny, but if we adopted this as our truth? No! I am a new creation in God and I want to fill myself up with that. So, we buy these things that are cute, that have sayings, but make sure it’s pointing you in a right direction.

Tracy – ‘Cause it becomes noise.

Kathi – Right?!

Tracy – Right. And your brain, we can only focus on one thing. In fact, we were created to worship one thing. It will either be ourselves, or it will be God. Whether it’s the music, or the decorations. All of these principles in the book go back to, “You’ve got to have a focal point.”

Kathi – I was just going to say, “Every room needs a focal point!”

Tracy – And so do we!

Kathi – Yes! That’s why I love the idea of walking into a room and saying, “What is your purpose here?” My purpose needs to be, “Honoring God.” Or “Connecting with Others”. There are purposes for every space in our life, and to embrace that and celebrate it is such a beautiful thing. For somebody who is new to Scripture, I love the idea of going to Psalms and looking for that. You said BlueLetter.org?

Tracy – Yes. BlueLetter.org, or BibleGateway.com. Those are two great websites that have little search boxes right at the top, that you can type in a word or a passage, and it will take you right there. It will explain what those words mean.

Kathi – I love that. Guys, if you are into design? Here’s what I know about cluttery people. We all long for design, but we all struggle with it. If that, pairing with wanting to understand the design that God has for your life, if those are two desires you have, you couldn’t ask for a better book. A Redesigned Life: Uncovering God’s Purpose When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan. Here’s the beautiful thing: we have a couple of copies to give away, which I’m super excited about. Here’s the thing, guys. You know we don’t just do giveaways. I’m going to make you work for it. Here’s what I want in the podcast notes. I would love for you to share a time when you could see a little of God’s plan, a glimpse, when your life did not going according to plan. Just give us a little something. Maybe you were sick. Maybe there was a disappointment in your life. Maybe you didn’t get the job, you didn’t get the house, whatever it was, and you got to glimpse God’s plan. I’d love for you to share about that in the notes. Tracy, thank you so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Tracy – Thank you. It’s been so much fun.

Kathi – And, guys, thank you for being here. You are the best part of what we do here at Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were designed to live.


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


Meet Our Guest

Tracy Steel

Tracy Steel

Tracy Steel graduated from Kansas State University with a BS in interior design and has a master’s degree in biblical and theological studies from Phoenix Seminary. This military wife and mother of two enjoys speaking at women’s ministries events and is the author of A Redesigned Life: Uncovering God’s Purpose When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned.

Learn more at www.tracymsteel.com/A-Redesigned-Life

#390: Getting Organized with Mother of Mayhem, author Kristi Clover

#390: Getting Organized with Mother of Mayhem, author Kristi Clover

Are you putting off getting organized until the mayhem dies down in your home? What if you could make changes that make a big difference right now, in the midst of chaos? In this episode, Kathi talks with Kristi Clover, author of M.O.M.—Master Organizer of Mayhem, about ways to get organized, no matter what life season you are in.

This week, you’ll hear how decluttering is something you’ll have to continually come back to, even when things are going smoothly. The more you have the foundational basics in place, the more you’ll be able to manage chaos no matter what happens. You’ll also learn how to:

  • Control the things you can to adjust for chaos you can’t control
  • Create systems to keep you on track
  • Save yourself chaos down the road by planning ahead

To learn more, order your own copy of Kristi’s book, M.O.M.—Master Organizer of Mayhem on Amazon today.

If you’d like Kristi’s free eBook Sanity Savers for Moms, full of fun hacks that bring you more sanity, click here to sign up for her newsletter.


As a bonus for two lucky listeners, we are giving away two copies of Kristi’s book, M.O.M.—Master Organizer of Mayhem! Enter below by commenting and letting us know:

What is your best organizing, planning, or decluttering trick that works to help manage the mayhem in your family?




We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.


Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #390

Getting Organized with Mother of Mayhem

<<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. My son was a Lego builder growing up. If there is anything in the world that’s harder to organize than Lego, I don’t know what it is. So, this is what caught my eye about today’s book. First of all, go to the podcast page, ‘cause you have to see how pretty this book is, but it is a thousand Lego bricks in a rainbow pattern. It’s just gorgeous. There are two things that come up instantly for me. One, oh my goodness, trying to organize all the things, and two, stepping on them in the middle of the night. Even though the cover is beautiful, it does produce some anxiety, but we have someone here to help. Today, we have Kristi Clover and she is the author of M.O.M – Master Organizer of Mayhem: Simple Solutions to Organize Chaos and Bring More Joy into Your Home. Kristi, welcome to Clutter Free Academy.

Kristi – Oh, thanks so much, Kathi. What a joy to be here.

Kathi – Well, and we got to meet just a little while ago at MOMCon, which was super fun. It had to be drive-by, because we’re both so busy, but I was so glad to connect with you. I am loving this book. It’s kind of funny, because people say, “Being clutter free is easy for you because you don’t have kids.” I’m like, “Okay, can we all collectively remember?” I raised four children. This happened. It definitely is easier to be organized now, than it was with all those kids, but if you don’t have the basics down when you have kids in the house, it’s not automatically going to become free and easy when the kids are out of the house. I love that you’re saying, “Let’s get organized, no matter what stage you’re in. Let’s keep some basics going.”

Kristi – That’s exactly it. I feel like, if I had come into my marriage being clutter free and being organized, it’d have been great. If I had started my parenting journey with the same? That would have been awesome. But, nope. In the midst of it all, I decided something has got to give and it really was me. I had to learn how to get organized, and I struggled. So, I kind of giggle. I go through ten rules that I’ve had for the last thirteen years that I have been using for a long time and I don’t do them all, in fact, I openly admit which ones are the hardest ones for me, but when they’re all working together, it’s awesome. But I struggle.

Kathi – Yeah, and the same thing with clutter free. There are things that I advocate for that I don’t actually do, because they don’t pertain to my life or, they’re really hard. I know that they are easier for other people, but yeah. It’s interesting. Somebody just said, “Kathi, I need all your advice about how to organize a paper calendar.” And I’m like, “I can give you none, because that is my own personal war.”

Kristi – Oh my word.  When I first started doing live streaming, I giggled, because, “Oh! You do organization? Oh! Can we talk about…?” And they were showing me these homemade bullet journals. I use a bullet journal thing, but they were putting all the stickers and the artsy stuff, and I was like, “Oh, no. I get those journal Bibles, so I can take notes on the side, not do pretty pictures.” I can’t.

Kathi – Can I just tell you? All those journaling Bibles, where people do these elaborate things on the pages? That causes me so much anxiety.

Kristi – Okay, I love you. I really do.

Kathi – I can’t. I can barely read God’s word on the regular and you want me to now draw about it? I am so glad that works for some of my friends, but…

Kristi – I know. It’s great.

Kathi – I cannot draw a straight line. Here’s the even bigger shame, and then we actually get to the book, my grandmother was the first woman art director, ever, for Hallmark Cards.

Kristi – Oh my word!

Kathi – Right? So, her Bible would have been legendary. Her Bible would have been off the hook. I am the shame of the family. My mom is this beautiful quilter and can quilt Bible verses and things like that. My grandmother would do these amazing cards. I write words. That’s what I do.

Kristi – That’s beautiful.

Kathi – Thank you!  So, you wrote some words, too.

Kristi – I did. I wrote a few words.

Kathi – You talk, in Chapter Two, about a really dark time in your life where you said, “Okay, I have to get organized.”  Tell us a little. You know what? My goal on these podcasts is to expose everybody’s secret shame and it’s not so secret, ‘cause you wrote about it, but I want us to all feel like, “Oh, okay, so she gets me. I see it”.

Kristi – I get it. Yes. No, I do get it. So, as I’ve mentioned when we stared chatting, I had that moment where everything that could go wrong. When they say “everything that could have gone wrong went wrong” people are like, “She doesn’t really know what she’s talking about.” Oh, no. Name an area in your life where there could have been chaos, disruption and sheer anxiety? That was my life at the time. We had to move because of my husband’s job, to a different area. We had thrown down roots, really deep, in our community. So, we moved to a new area, which was San Diego, so everyone is like, “Awe, poor thing.”

Kathi – Yeah, it’s like saying you moved to Hawai’i. The sympathy level. But it’s hard. Like, if somebody told me I had to move to San Diego today, I would be weeping and gnashing.

Kristi – Yeah! It’s so hard. The hardest part was that, I had a toddler, and I had a brand new baby. Brand new. I was having difficulties from the birth, so I had to have another procedure to help me. This is me keeping it ‘G’ for any possible men who are listening. Women would be like, “Yes, sister. I get it.”

Kathi – You know what? If we have one man, he’s already heard it all, so.

Kristi – Right, so I was having bleeding issues, post-partum. I had to have surgery. My husband was in an accident six days before we moved, and so he had to have emergency surgery, and all this crazy stuff. As soon as he had recovered from that, he took on a new territory, so he was, not only travelling for business, now he was travelling all the time. When we moved, we moved into a new house, where everything was wrong. It wasn’t ready to be inhabitable, and we had no choice. The moving truck was coming, escrow had closed, we had moved out of our apartment.

Kathi – Did you just cry all the time?

Kristi – All the time. That’s what I opened with. I was crying so hard my girlfriend was like, “You need to pull over!” So, I did. I pulled over, curbside, crying hysterically and my girlfriend could not find out what was happening. She’s like, “Do I need to call the police? What’s happening?” I was like, “No!” and I just cried. She’s like, “Do I get in the car? What do I do?” But we had marriage issues, obviously. My husband was gone, we were travelling. We had no support system. Oh! And as soon as we got off the plane and came into our new home, we were looking at it for the first time, and my son apparently had the stomach flu, so he vomited everywhere. I had no paper towels. You name it. Our car got hit while it was parked. Everything. Everything was chaos. So, I remember, I was so emptied, and I prayed a ton, but it was like, “I can’t control some of these things that are happening in my life.” So, what I learned was that, I had to figure out what I did have control over. So, that’s what I started with. Okay, I can’t control if a construction team is going to show up today or tomorrow. I can’t control whether my husband is suddenly going to go to Timbuktu for another conference. I can’t control some of those things. I can’t control if my child’s going to have a blowout diaper, but I can start taking control over things that were happening with our home and within our calendar, to the degree to which I had some control.

Kathi – Right. You can’t determine when your kid’s going to have a blowout diaper, but you can say, “Hey, I’ve packed an extra pair of pants. I’ve got diapers and I’ve got enough wipes that I could clean up the entire car.” Those are the things that you can control. Right now, we are splitting our time between two houses, and it’s so funny. Never in my life have I had a garage I could park in. Now I do. The change in my life and my attitude? I’m like, “How did I go decades without being able to do this? This is a gift.” So, yes. There are certain things you cannot control, so you just have to be as prepared as you possibly can be, both in your home and in your heart. Then, you can say, “I know I’m doing the best I can.”

Kristi – There are going to be bad days, and that’s when people are like, “I’m a failure!” It’s like, “No. You just had a bad day.” Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off.

Kathi – You had a really bad day, and this would have been a bad day for anybody.

Kristi – Oh, yeah. I had a bad year, I think. A really hard year.

Kathi – Oh my goodness. It really sounds like it.

Kristi – It was so crazy. You said you have a puppy, but we had a dog who was still somewhat in puppydom and forgot how to go to the bathroom. She was an 80 lbs. dog. So, it wasn’t little poop.

Kathi – Ours are like Tootsie Rolls. Yours were like loaves of bread. That’s a totally different thing.

Kristi – The middle of the night stepping on things is not good.

Kathi – Oh my gosh.  I would actually rather take a Lego. I’ll be honest with you. Yeah. Oh my goodness. We know that chaos can happen. So, what you said is, you think that setting a good foundation is most important to creating a chaos free home. What do you mean that? What does that foundation look like?

Kristi – I’ll back up just a smidge. When I was first asked to speak about home organization, I kinda laughed at first. I was like, “Really?” but people saw in me something that I didn’t see in myself. I had been studying and researching and learning how to get more organized, so when I was asked to speak on this, it was thirteen years ago. I just had my two boys at the time. Now we have five kids, but I came up with these ten rules. I was asking myself, “What is it that, when everything is working together, what works great?” So, that’s the foundation, these ten rules that I came up with. You can call them rules. You can call them principles. You can call them whatever you want to call them if you’re scared by the rule thing. My thought is this: You can declutter all you want, but you’re going to come back to it again. So then, how do you create habits? We talk about habits. You have to stick with it, so there’s got to be some determination in your heart. You can’t be lazy. You’ve got to figure out what’s broken in your system. You need to have priorities. If you don’t time to do some stuff in your house, then it’s not going to happen. So, that’s what the foundation is all about.

Kathi – Okay, so when you talk about the foundation, how does your day look different than another mom’s who hasn’t had a chance to think this through yet?

Kristi – Well, right now, we’re in the middle of a house renovation, so my day looks different than a lot of people’s.

Kathi – Bless your heart. We just got through that.

Kristi – Yeah. It’s beautiful. Everybody is laughing. “It’s the book title, isn’t it? Master Organizer of Mayhem.” I’m like, “Right! I just brought it on myself.”

Kathi – I said, when I wrote the book Clutter Free Home, of course, let’s just destroy every surface. The only thing we didn’t renovate was our downstairs half bathroom. That was the only thing. That is a whole different book, at some point.

Kristi – On a normal day, one of the biggest things that I do that not every mom thinks through, is I have systems in place. Some of those systems are planning ahead. Some of them are just little rules that I have figured out for myself that really help. So, everybody is always blown away. I do all of my husband and my laundry in one day. Even if that’s four loads.

Kathi – Okay, that was my third question. Your laundry system is legendary.

Kristi – Well, thank you. Well, that’s it. I was actually giggling as I was pulling things out of the dryer last night. I was like, “I really can get all this laundry done in one day.” It surprises me, but you know, that’s really the difference is, I figured myself out. I learned how to tweak other systems to work for me and my home. That’s what I encourage readers to do. But I also plan ahead in weird ways. I pack the diaper bag, but I’ll make a list and this is what has to get done because I can’t trust my brain, when I’m in mommy frazzled mode. So, I know I can quick glance and know “Yes, I have all those things.” Like, Ziploc bags in my diaper bag? I used to always carry Ziplocs, because you do have those blowouts, or those really, “who knows what you fed your child” moments and you’ve got to stuff that diaper somewhere afterwards. Or their clothes. Or YOUR clothes. It happens, but finding those little nuances. I’m always tweaking. We’re getting ready to go to Hawai’i and I have a list for Hawai’i. I not only have a list for what we pack, I have a meal plan for every single time we go on vacation, so I don’t have to think about what I have to grab at the store. We try to be very frugal when we travel. So, I know exactly what we’re doing. I don’t have to think about it. It’s one less thing I have to do. When we’re on vacation, I literally plan for the easiest possible meals that we can have, to save money, but also to stream line everything. Who wants to truly cook when they’re on vacation? Not me.

Kathi – You know, I call it ‘taking care of your future self’. If I do a little bit of planning now, boy, it’s going to save me so much chaos. And by the way, if I have a plan? Then the rest of the family doesn’t question the plan. They’re like, “Oh! There’s a plan!” Instead of trying to figure it out in the middle of the chaos. What we did for Disney World, we did one big trip to Disney World for my husband’s 50th birthday, where all the kids saved up and we did it. I flew out, ‘cause it was Southwest, so it was a free bag, I flew out a suitcase of food and preordered milk and things like that from a local grocery store. It was delivered to our hotel room. So, we didn’t pay for any breakfast the whole time we were there. Yes, you want to have the nice dinner at the safari park, and all the kind of stuff, but who wants to pay for a bunch of kids to get a donut or something like that? I don’t want to pay for that.

Kristi – $5.50 per donut.

Kathi – Right. Exactly. We’re not doing that. So, now I need to know why do you do all of your and your husband’s laundry in one day? What is the advantage to you on that?

Kristi – First, we have to keep in mind that there are seven of us in the home. So, the laundry system that works best for us is that we are all assigned a day to get our laundry done. So, that’s natural accountability to get your laundry in and out of the washroom. So, that works for us. It’s going to be a different dynamic for other people. So, for my laundry day, for this week, ‘cause I put it off, because I didn’t do it every week, I had two weeks’ worth of laundry. I had to do four loads yesterday. My key to any one doing laundry is, “Keep your loads small.” What I found, is that everybody stuffs their washing machine because they only want to do it in one load. Who wants to fold a mega? I keep my loads small. It makes my clothes cleaner. Then, when I transfer, I set timers for myself, so I remember to switch them over. Unless, since we’re working in this much house, I hear the timer on the actual washer and dryer, but as soon as it’s done, I pull it out and I fold it right away. I fold it strategically. That sounds really silly, but I’m literally pulling things out of the dryer. I’m pulling all the jeans out for my husband. All my jeans out, so that’s taking up 50% of what’s in the load, then I’m folding everything else and I’m creating piles. So, I  had a girlfriend come over and help me with my laundry after a baby, and she literally just stacked all the clothes in one big pile, and it was great that it was done and that she helped, and I loved that, but it just made putting it away that much longer. It’s that extra touch, right? I had to put it here, then I had to touch it again and organize it here. So, it’s too much organization that I have to continue to do, so I just do strategic piles and, before I know it. It’s just, when they’re I don’t let myself start my next cycle, like, I can’t move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, which we have a front load washer and if you don’t open that baby you’re going to have mildew, so maybe that’s my own weird trick. Get a washing machine that’s going to ruin your clothes.

Kathi – But it’s so true, right? I have the front loader as well, and it’s like, “I may not do that again.”  I don’t know. It’s a challenge.

Kristi – That’s a whole talk on mildew, right there.

Kathi – Exactly. Okay, so you guys, especially if you have kids, creating these systems that are not questions. Often times, when we’re clutter-y thinking, we’re trying to decide again and again. You just don’t need to do that. Just make one decision and stick with it, then tweak it if it’s not working for you. Now, we have a couple of fun things here. Kristi is going to give us a link to this freebie. Can you tell us about it? Sanity Savers for Moms. Tell me about that.

Kristi – Yes. So, Sanity Savers for Moms is a fun little quick read ebook that I created. It’s just fun. It’s encouraging for moms in the throes of things. So, I have everything. I talk about how to say ‘no’, which is important. I talk about how to make your crockpot your very best friend. Just fun little hacks that bring you more sanity. Like you were just saying, the fewer decisions we are forcing ourselves to make every day, the better.

Kathi – Amen.

Kristi – That’s just my heart for moms, right there. It’s just a fun, quick little ebook.

Kathi – So, I want you to go to the podcast page and download that. Then, there will also be a link to purchase M.O.M. – Master Organizer of Mayhem. We’re also going to give away two copies of this amazing book. Here’s what I want you to do. When you go to the podcast page. I want you to tell me what is your best trick? It doesn’t have to work for everybody, it just has to work for your family. I love what Kristi is saying. Doing all of her laundry on one day works for her family. That’s not my system, but you know what? God bless you! You found something that works for you. Go with it. So, I want to hear what works for you and your family. We’re going to pick two people randomly to receive a copy of M.O.M. – Master Organizer of Mayhem. Kristi, thanks so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Kristi – Oh, thank you for having me. This was so fun.

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


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

Meet Our Guest

Kristi Clover

Kristi Clover

Kristi Clover is a home organization expert. She’s an author, speaker, and podcast host. Her passion is to encourage families to find simple ways to bring more joy into their homes and lives.

Learn more at KristiClover.com

#389: Clutter Free for Life: Accountability

#389: Clutter Free for Life: Accountability

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!


We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.


Read along with the podcast!

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 www.tonyakubo.com or  www.GreatMoms.org

#388: Clutter Free for Life: Realistic Expectations

#388: Clutter Free for Life: Realistic Expectations

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

In this episode, you’ll hear three realistic expectations that are critical for your clutter-free journey. You’ll learn how:

  • Clutter is never one and done.
  • We live with humans.
  • It takes time and resources to make a lasting difference.

Clutter Free For Life

If you’re ready to invest the time and resources into making 2020 a turning point in your clutter free journey, now is the time to check out Clutter Free for Life.

Clutter Free for Life is full of personalized, hand-on help to have realistic expectations! 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 on December 31, 2019. Sign up today and make 2020 the year you become Clutter Free for Life!

We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.


Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #388

Clutter Free for Life: Realistic Expectations

<<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. I am super excited, because here we are with part two of How to Create a Clutter Free Life. This is the secret sauce. So, last week, all about creating routines, that was the honey mustard of the secret sauce. Today it’s the barbeque. It’s like the good chipotle barbeque sauce.

Tonya – So it’s spicy.

Kathi – That’s right. Not too spicy, though, you know. ‘Cause I can’t do too spicy. You just heard Tonya Kubo. She’s the founder of Clutter Free Academy on Facebook. We’re talking about ‘what is the secret sauce to being clutter free?’ So, today, what we’re talking about, is the second ingredient to creating a clutter free life. Everybody says they have them, but I don’t see them in action very often. It’s Realistic Expectations.

Tonya – Oooh.

Kathi – Okay, so can we talk about what we’ve seen in Clutter Free Academy and the discussions online and stuff like that? You know, it’s really interesting when somebody new comes into the group. I’ve never seen them post before and they’re showing before and after pictures. Especially of their garage. When they show me a before and after picture of their garage, I’m like, “Where did you shove all the stuff?” I don’t even understand? So what have you seen with people coming in with unrealistic expectations?

Tonya – First of all, if I can be totally blunt?

Kathi – Please.

Tonya – People come in and they think we’re going to scold them.

Kathi – That’s true.

Tonya – So they come in with this expectation that we are the decluttering militants or they’re already planning for us to tell them that they’re lazy and stuff. So they come in, and very defensively, state their intensions of “I’ve set tomorrow. The husband and the kids are going out of the house and I’m not going to go to the bathroom or eat until I have dug my way out of my garage!”

Kathi – Oh, that sounds terrible.

Tonya – Well, it does! I’m always like, “Whoa! Do me a favor. Get a timer. Just set the timer for 15 minutes.”

Kathi – They can’t do it for fifteen minutes, ‘cause in their brain it has to be two hours.

Tonya – It has to be a million hours and it has to be until you can eat off the floor. What is the truth? The truth is: Your house did not get to the condition it is in overnight.

Kathi – Right. And let’s talk about why saying, “I’m going to declutter my entire kitchen/garage/house today!” is such a bad idea. One, I really believe that clutter is the physical manifestation of decision fatigue. It’s having to make one more decision. When you start off in the morning, you are chucking things left and right. Things are going to the garbage. They’re going to the dump. They’re going to Good Will. You’re making all these decisions. But the later in the day you get, you get serious decision fatigue. So, what starts to happen is, you start to put it in a pile for later. What you’ve just done is created another clutter pile. You don’t think you’re going to do it, but it happens to absolutely everybody.

Tonya – And the reality is, not only do you do that, but you’ve exhausted yourself so much that going back to it? You don’t go back to it tomorrow. You don’t go back to it next week. You need three weeks to recover and by the time you’ve recovered, that pile of clutter invited all its friends over to play.

Kathi – Right! And your kids have gone through that pile of clutter to say, “Oh my, gosh! I haven’t seen that in twelve years but now it’s my favorite thing!” Here’s the thing I hate the most about it. It’s so punishing. “I’ve been such a bad person. I need to be punished, so I’m not allowed to leave/eat/drink/pee until all this clutter is gone. Your clutter didn’t come because you were a bad person. Your clutter came because, maybe you didn’t have any routines in place. Maybe there was a life event that changed everything. I don’t know what it is, but your clutter didn’t happen in a day. Rarely do I find people who are clutter-y who are lazy. What I find are people who are clutter-y who are serving everybody in the world and they just get scraps from the table.

Tonya – Yup.

Kathi – It breaks my heart that people are so punishing. So instead, we want you to set realistic expectations. So, one of the most common phrases in Clutter Free Academy and Clutter Free for Life is “It’s not one and done.” What does that mean, Tonya?

Tonya – Well, it means that you don’t clear off your table and then never have to revisit your table again. It is normal to have your hands full and to set something on the table. It’s normal to say, “I just came in from outside. I’m carrying my mail. I’m carrying my laptop bag. Oh my, gosh. I’m going to put this on the table so I can go to the restroom.” Then, get distracted when you come out of the restroom. Right? At the end of the day, to be like, “Wow. How come that stuff is still on the table?” That’s normal!

Kathi – That’s just every day.

Tonya – You just have to have a practice so that that table gets cleared off and stays cleared off, daily. Only if you’re focusing on it. If you expect to be able to enshrine it in Plexiglas then that’s a different life than I live.

Kathi – Right. So clutter is not ‘One and Done’. What it means is, “This is a process you have to live every single day.” By the way, clutter is a natural part of life. Your kids are going to bring stuff home. You’re going to bring stuff home. We got a Yellow Pages delivery on our front step. I’m like, “How is this still happening?”

Tonya – What year is it?

Kathi – Exactly. People are bringing stuff into your house that you have to deal with. And you’re bringing stuff into your house that you’re going to have to deal with. Every time you have to buy a new dish towel, you have to decide to get the old dishtowel out. Or, whatever decision you’re going to make, but it’s a process every single time.

Tonya – That is exactly the point that I think every listener needs to really internalize. It’s a process every time. Just because you did it once, even if it took you fifteen hours, doesn’t mean you’re never going to have to do it again. It is a process every time.

Kathi – Yes. Okay, so clutter is not ‘one and done’ and here’s the other thing that butts up against our realistic expectations. We live with humans. Here’s the other problem: We are humans.

Tonya – I don’t know why you have to such low blows like that.

Kathi – I know. It’s ‘cause I’m a mean girl. What can I say? I love to tell the story about our boy’s tennis shoes. They’d just kick them off all over the house. I bought a cubby at Ikea, and I said, “Okay! Mandate for everybody in the house. We are all going to put our shoes in the cubby when we come home. So, we’re going to come home and you’re going to go behind the couch and you’re going to put your shoes in the cubby.” Only one person in our house did it. You know who that was?

Tonya – You?

Kathi – No. It was Roger. ‘Cause Roger has the investment of keeping his wife happy. I couldn’t even do it. I could not be bothered to do that every single time. So, realize that we need to create paths in our home that work for real human beings. Now, when I put a basket by the front door, 50% of the shoes made it into the basket. The other 50% I could just throw in there and it didn’t make me hate everybody I lived with all the time. We have to understand that real humans live there and we have to be kind to the humans and be kind to ourselves. That doesn’t mean we don’t institute programs, that we don’t say, “Here’s what we’re going to do.” You’re allowed to have boundaries in your own home. How do you get to the place where you can accept living with two little ones and a husband who is amazing, but may not always be living the clutter free life that you want to live?

Tonya – So anybody who has been listening to this podcast for more than a minute knows that I’m the person who leaves the laundry all over the place. I just get undressed wherever I’m at, and that’s where the close live. Now, I don’t do that if I have laundry baskets. Now, my husband grew up in a home where clean laundry goes in the laundry basket and dirty laundry goes in a pile. So, we’ve spent years in this push/pull where I’m putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket and he’s frustrated because he goes to put that laundry away and it’s not clean and la la la. So, finally, we’ve had to come to terms. So, we have tall laundry baskets that are for clean clothes and then we have short, horizontal ones that are for my dirty clothes.

Kathi – Interesting. Okay.

Tonya – And, you know what? It works for us. I will tell you, honestly. I took a year fighting this. “I shouldn’t have to buy extra laundry baskets. You should just do things my way.”

Kathi – Any time you think “I shouldn’t have to” really examine that statement.

Tonya – Here’s the thing. I bought two extra laundry baskets. I don’t think I even did it on the same pay period, ‘cause I’m crazy like that. We have so much more peace. We don’t fight about this anymore. Then, I can’t help be embarrassed that this was worth arguing about to me, a year ago.

Kathi – Trust me. People have got divorced over stupider things, I promise you that. Okay, so: Clutter is not one and done. Clutter happens ‘cause we live with real people. Finally, because of clutter, it took years to get this way, give yourself a year to make a lasting difference. Right? We want instant results. We love to watch HGTV, where they go in, the house is a mess, and in 30 minute it’s all done. What we don’t know is that there were twenty seven people working on that house, 24/7 over the course of a month. We just saw the before and after.

Tonya – They tidy up in 45 minutes, if you fast forward through the commercials.

Kathi – Right. Exactly. So, we want to give you a way to make a huge difference in your house, in the space of twelve months. This is a program we run all year long. It’s called Clutter Free for Life. It’s an investment, but the investment is because we want you to see results. You never get results unless you make an investment. So, why don’t you explain a little bit about what they get in Clutter Free for Life, when they join our program?

Tonya – So, when you join, and the reason that I love that we focus on the twelve months, you can become a month-to-month member, but what I find is, I shouldn’t say this, but I know for myself, when I do something month-to-month, in the back of my mind is, “I can always exit.”

Kathi – I can leave whenever I want. Whenever it gets hard.

Tonya – Yeah. I’m not as invested. But our annual members really do stick with it. Some people are members for four months and they’re just observing, right? They’re planning to plan. Then they go for the gusto and it’s the crazy HGTV transformations in a month. It’s funny. You get a monthly digital download that has everything from a deep dive into how do you practically live, day to day, clutter free? How do you make those milestones while you’re juggling life and school and kids and spouses and roommates or families? People who come to your house, out of the blue, and stay way longer than you expected them to. So, we have this monthly deep dive. We have some reflection. We encourage you to look ahead. What do you want to feel and how do you want life to be 30 days from now? Then we encourage you to look back. I find that we clutter-y folks do not give ourselves enough credit for the progress we’ve made, which is why I’m so happy that you have fully invested in the suggestion that we take a year. We really take a year. We go into it knowing that we’re going to take a year. It’s going to get better every single day. Honestly? My house, because I moved to my housed a little bit before we launched our program, it does not look like the same place. I will admit, I have redone my bathroom four times, because I try to live with what I do, then I’m like, “Oh, that sounded really good in theory. Not so much in practice.” So, you get that, you get a community. You know, I’m not awake 24 hours a day, but I’m awake a fair amount of hours a day.

Kathi – You are! You need less sleep than most human beings I know.

Tonya – So, we’re in there. We support each other. We talk about real issues. We talk about real things. “I need my nightstand to have nothing more than my phone and a cup of water, but my spouse doesn’t mind a whole lot of other things on theirs. How do I handle that? What makes the most sense in our house?”  Not what makes the most sense in your house, ‘cause those are two different places.

Kathi – Right. So, understanding that and saying, “Yeah, you’re going to see a difference in a month, but you’re going to see a different house in a year.” That’s going to affect you in a different way. We’ve seen this happen over and over again. Give us a year and you can get your house back.

Tonya – And, if I may, your relationships change.

Kathi – Yes! It’s so true. ‘Cause clutter is an agitator.

Tonya – It is.

Kathi – Yeah, so being able to live with less clutter means less agitation in your life, day to day. It really does. It’s so interesting. You can either start with your house and it’ll change your mind, or you can start with your mind and it will change your house. So, that’s what we love to see here. We’re going to help you with those routines. We’re going to help you with those realistic expectations. This program is $25/month. Now, that’s normally. However, we have an open enrollment with a huge discount. From the 17th of December to the 31st of December of this year, 2019, you can get the entire year of Clutter Free for Life for less than $10/month. It’s just amazing to me that we can do this. What we want to do is, we want to get everybody up and running at the same time each year. When you go together, you grow together.

Tonya – Right. I find that we clutter-y folks, we assume everyone has it more together than we do, so when you’re one of ten people who comes in to an established group, that can be intimidating, but when you’re one of fifty, you go, “Oh! I’ve got my own people here! We’re all starting.” We know that everybody’s mileage varies. If you’re trying to declutter a studio apartment, life’s going to look a lot different for you, than if you’re trying to declutter a six bedroom home.

Kathi – Yes. It’s so true.

Tonya – But you know what? You’re at the same level of overwhelm when you get started.

Kathi – Right. Everybody is at their own challenge. So, we’re really going to encourage you to sign up when it’s $118. It’s still an investment, but we want you to invest, because investment brings return, and that’s what we want for you. As a little added bonus, which I’m really excited about, we will also give you our program, Kickstart to Clutter Free, which is normally $49. You get it for free when you join. This is, so that, in the space of just a little bit of time, you’re going to get rid of 500 things in your home. Super quickly, just to help you feel like you’re making a difference. It’s surface clutter, but that’s okay. It feels really really good. So, sign up. Go to our show notes. Go to our link below, and you will get to join our posse. You get the downloads, you get time and attention from Tonya, you get two free trainings with me each month. Twice a month is great and we have a lot of fun. It’ll change your life. It has changed so many lives. It’s been so great to see the transformation, the before and after pictures, the changes in people’s attitudes. It’s my favorite place to be. It’s been super fun guys. Okay, you guys, thanks so much for being with us. I hope you’ll join us over in Clutter Free for Life. It’s such a special thing. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life 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 www.tonyakubo.com or  www.GreatMoms.org

#387: Clutter Free for Life: Creating Your Routine

#387: Clutter Free for Life: Creating Your Routine

This week, Kathi chats with founder and fearless leader of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group, Tonya Kubo, about some of the key ingredients to forming lasting clutter free habits. Once upon a time, Kathi was in a perpetual panic, just surviving and trying (but not succeeding) at managing her clutter.  Years into her clutter free journey, she knows the importance of a routine in staying clutter free.

In this episode, you’ll learn three secret ingredients to help you create a routine to lose the clutter. You’ll hear:

  • How to put your house on a schedule and keep moving forward in spite of setbacks
  • The one key to any lasting clutter free system
  • What you need to get started today (hint: you already have it!)

Clutter Free For Life

If you want more personalized, hands-on help Clutter Free For Life is for you! As a member, you’ll receive tons of valuable exclusive content: monthly action plans, coaching 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 on December 31, 2019. Sign up today and make 2020 the year you become Clutter Free For Life!

To learn more about a decluttering routine, check out Kathi’s upcoming book, The Clutter-Free Home: Making Room for Your Life, available for pre-order on Amazon today.

If you’re looking for a magic sauce recipe similar to the ranch/honey mustard/barbecue one Kathi described, click here.

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?Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #387 

Clutter Free for Life: Creating Your Routine

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends! Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, do-able steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. Here with me today is founder of Clutter Free Academy, the Facebook group online is Tonya Kubo. Hey, Tonya!

Tonya – Hey, Kathi!

Kathi – Okay, so I’m very excited. We’re here at The Red House; the almost clutter free Red House. You know, everything is in transition and stuff.

Tonya – You’re so cute. As if anybody else sees the clutter.

Kathi – You know what? I know. I know.

Tonya – ‘Cause it’s 60% clutter free.

Kathi – I think it’s probably more than 60% clutter free.

Tonya – 85%?

Kathi – I’m thinking, yeah. Yesterday, when we were in the kitchen, and we were just talking, and I got to just clean out a cupboard? It made so happy. I don’t have a lot of ‘clean out cupboard’ time. I feel like, “I can do that while I’m chatting with a friend.”

Tonya – Doesn’t chatting with a friend make it so much easier?

Kathi – Oh my goodness, yes. I don’t get stuck in my head with certain decisions and things like that. I just make it happen. I think about where I was fifteen years ago and where I am today when it comes to clutter free. It’s really interesting because, my house has changed, but really what has changed is my day to day life.

Tonya – Right.

Kathi – It’s like, how I get up and operate. I used to be in a panic all the time. The only time my house got “clean”, and I’m using heavy quote marks here, was when people were coming over. It wasn’t clean, it was Stash and Dash.

Tonya – Do you feel like you have more structure to your day, now?

Kathi – Oh, 100%! I was just surviving back then. There wasn’t a plan. There wasn’t intention. So, that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. Creating routines. If you’re looking for the magic sauce? We’re going to give you the three ingredients to the magic sauce. I was watching a show the other day, and they had bbq sauce, honey mustard and ranch, and they said, “Combine them all together.” It’s like, “That’s weird!” and somebody dipped a French fry in that, and it changed their lives. I feel like we have the honey mustard/bbq sauce/ranch combo.

Tonya – Can we get that one the show notes?

Kathi – We’ll have to try it. I’m trying to think. Do we have that stuff here? We could make this happen.

Tonya – Do people know we’re in the same place at the same time?

Kathi – I know. This rarely happens, but we’re all at The Red House right now. We’re up in our bedroom. Roger’s in bed. He’s on top of the bed. He’s working in bed. We’ve got little Moo at our feet and we’ve got Ashley, the cat, sitting on the desk. It’s very Kumbaya happy family moment. We want to talk about the three secret ingredients to staying clutter free. So, the first thing we want to talk about is routines. Now, how have your routines changed since you started being clutter free?

Tonya – Oh my gosh! The thing is, my LIFE has changed. I’ve been on my clutter free journey now for going on five years. In just a few months it’ll be my fifth anniversary. I’ve lived in three different houses ranging from a thousand square feet and two bedrooms all the way to twenty four hundred square feet and four bedrooms. I had a baby. I’ve worked full time. I’ve worked multiple jobs. I did grad school.

Kathi – Hey! I had a baby too!

Tonya – You did. Your baby is a lot different than my baby.

Kathi – Yes. She’s teething, so when she goes outside and runs around, she comes back and you get chewed on. My baby is a puggle. She came to us sleeping through the night. That’s not what happens with most human babies.

Tonya – Yeah, mine still isn’t sleeping through the night and it’s been five years. So, for me at least, and I always say this is a ‘we, the people of the clutter situation’. The slightest hiccup. I watch people and they just weather storms. No big deal. They don’t miss a beat. The slightest hiccup and I’m upside down. I forget on little aspect, and I know I’ve talked about this before, like dishes. I have to run the dishwasher before I go to bed at night. So that when I wake up in the morning, I can unload the dishwasher and it’s empty and then I can go about my day. That affects how my after work life is, right? If that dishwasher doesn’t get run, it is three days before I can course correct.

Kathi – Right! It’s so true. That doesn’t mean that when problems come along you can’t fix them. We can fix them. We have the capacity. Here’s the thing: You know how valuable that routine is. You know how much better it makes your life. I’m the same way. After dinner, Roger does dishes, I clean up the rest of the kitchen and the dishwasher is going. So, first thing in the morning, I get up and I can unload the dishwasher, so as the day continues, I can be putting things in there. We’re not dealing with piles of dishes all day long.

Tonya – Right. And I think the other thing that I’ve learned is the non-negotiable aspects of my routine and then there are the ‘nice to haves’. So, I love to organize my girls’ clothes for the week every Sunday night to make mornings easier, but you know what? If it’s between that and getting those dishes done? Getting the dishes done has a way bigger impact on my day to day life, than whether I have an outfit picked out for both girls in the morning.

Kathi – Yes. It makes all the sense in the world. So, let’s talk about the ways to create a routine that can help us live clutter free every single day. One of the things we will be talking about in my new book that’s coming out, The Clutter Free Home, is a schedule for your house. Putting your house on a schedule. It’s not just about you being on a schedule, it’s your house being on a schedule. So, each room has a different day where you’re going to be touching it and getting it clutter free. Now, I know you live by this principle, too. How has that helped? Or has it helped? I guess I should ask that.

Tonya – Well, I think that it does help. So, we’ve talked about this before. I’ve never been interested in cleaning my baseboards unless I have a deadline. Right? I’m not interested. So, it’s very easy for me to just spin myself in a circle in my house. “I need to do this in the bathroom! Oh wait! I need to do this in the bedroom!” So, now, if something bothers me in the bathroom, I just wait until the bathroom day. If something bothers me in the bedroom, I can put it on a Post-It note, tack it to the back of my bedroom door, and now I have a task to focus on when that comes up in rotation.

Kathi – Yes! Because otherwise, you have twenty five competing first priorities.

Tonya – All the time!

Kathi – Yeah! Because every room you’re in, there’s a mess in that room and you want to go and dig it out and you want to take care of it. But you know you can’t do that, so instead, you just let everything lie.  When you have 25 first priorities, what it means is you have 25 last priorities.

Tonya – Exactly.

Kathi – This gives us a way to say, “I’m only going to do fifteen minutes. I’m going to do it in my bedroom today. I’m going to make a small dent somewhere.” Then, as you’re going the rest of the week, you can clean up and tidy and do all the things you want to do, but the next day, you’re in your living room and that’s where you’re going to focus. Now, once a week, I want you to dig into a room for an hour and really clean it out. Get some momentum going in that room, but it’s not every day. That’s overwhelming and you can’t live your real life.

Tonya – So true.

Kathi – Okay, so everyday a different room and every day 15 minutes. It’s actually 20, but 15 minutes sounds so much kinder to ourselves. It’s 15 minutes of decluttering and five minutes of putting stuff away. We do this little routine every single day. Now, how does that manifest itself in your house?

Tonya – First of all, I think that fifteen minutes to declutter and five minutes to put stuff away is still so much less time than I would think certain things need to take. One thing I’ve discovered: I can make a huge amount of progress in my bathroom in 15 minutes. I can do a lot in my bedroom in 15 minutes, if I focus on an area like my closet. There was a day, not too long ago, seasons were changing. I was able to sack up four trash bags of clothes to donate, between me and my husband, just in fifteen minutes. Then, I didn’t need 5 minutes to put stuff away. I just needed 3.5 minutes to get stuff to the trunk of the car.

Kathi – Right. Exactly. That makes all the difference in the world! Knowing that I have this allotted time and I can get something done. It doesn’t seem like it would be magical, but it kind of is.

Tonya – So, if I may, what’s really magical, just using my clothing example, right, is that I take everything out, and when I walk in, there’s a big dent. My closet is noticeably lighter. That feels good.

Kathi – That makes you want to keep it lighter.

Tonya – Exactly. Then, to know, “Oh wow. All I have to do is come back here in a week.” And now, I can color code my clothes (not that I’m that person, let’s just be honest) but if I wanted to, I could set that as my priority for the following week.

Kathi – Yes, absolutely. Okay, so everyday a different room. Every day, fifteen minutes. You and I were talking. People are often looking for the perfect system. This is why we have people who want to take a little Clutter Free and combine it with a little Marie Kondo.

Tonya – Kondo and a little bit of minimalism and a little bit of this. Let’s just be very honest with each other. I was that person. I had the two book shelves of different organizing and decluttering and whatever because I was looking for the book that would somehow make my house do it all by itself. I’m not going to lie. It’s true.

Kathi – So, I think all of these systems can work, and do work, for certain people. There are a lot of Marie Kondos out there that are just crushing it. That’s amazing. There are a lot of minimalists out there who are just crushing it. I feel like, what our program is, is really centered for the person who has kind of gotten out of control. Whether other people have noticed or not, you know that you feel out of control.

Tonya – And I feel like, for me at least, this is the first time I’ve been able to unbury myself from overwhelm. We talk a lot about decision fatigue. We talk a lot about just feeling suffocated. I think that is what this system does.

Kathi – The perfect system, and you said this: The perfect system is, what?

Tonya – The perfect system is consistency. It’s doing a little bit every single day. Rinse and repeat, time and again.

Kathi – What I see a lot of people do is, “I’m going to tear up my house. I’m going to rent the dumpster. I’m going to do all the things.” Their house looks great for a while, but here’s the problem. A vacuum cannot stay void. We’re going to fill up those spaces unless we’ve created a plan for what we’re doing.

Tonya – We see that all the time in the online group. People talk about, “I work so hard to get this space clutter free, and I don’t understand why it’s like this again.” It’s because they didn’t follow that up. They didn’t close up that loop to keep stuff from invading the space.

Kathi – I am not saying you shouldn’t get a dumpster.

Tonya – I get one every year, you know that.

Kathi – I do! I’m not saying you shouldn’t do that. I’m saying that a dumpster is not the answer. It may be one of the steps in your solution. For me, I’ve never had a dumpster. That’s never been where I needed to be. For me, it’s so much better to consistently, every single week, get stuff out of my house, and to limit what I bring into my house. That’s the secret sauce for me in all of this. Then, the other thing hear about is, “I’m just waiting for the right time. I’m waiting for the right time when my family will be on board. When I have the energy.” To me, waiting for the right time means you’re waiting for something that you don’t already have. I believe you have everything you need, right now, to start decluttering. Now, you may not have everything you need to declutter your entire house, but you have everything you need to declutter your sock drawer.

Tonya – I think where that feeling comes from, really, is this perception that we have more time in the future. You have said this. The future version of you never has more time; never has more energy, but we’re so good at telling ourselves, “When the kids go back to school.”

Kathi – When it gets easier.

Tonya – It will get easier.

Kathi – So, here are our things: The right time is right now, is what it is. Every day is a different room. Every day is fifteen minutes. The perfect system, for anybody, is consistency. The right time is right now. So many of you tell us that you listen to the podcast while you’re decluttering.

Tonya – I love that.

Kathi – It makes me super happy, it really does. Once you have your decluttering routine, those routines can spread out into other things. We have out decluttering routine, then we create our morning routine and our evening routine, and it starts to do all of this. Now, one of the things that I absolutely love, one of my favorite things we do as a business and as a ministry is something we started last year. It’s called Clutter Free for Life. It’s taking this every day routine and speaking it into your life. It’s helping it become part of your language; part of your routine. We help you live out this routine. Tonya, tell them a little bit about what they get each month, because it’s just incredible.

Tonya – Well, every month, you get a digital download that has a deep dive into the practical application of living clutter free. It takes into consideration that you have challenges and obstacles in the month of May that aren’t present, or that look differently in the month of August. Really diving deep and really having just, step-by-step, how do you apply this into your life? Also, a calendar to help you stay on top of this consistent practice. I think there is more in the download, we do a “Look ahead. This is what I want to accomplish in the month. This is how I want to feel at the end of the month.” Then we do a look back. We have a Facebook group that’s there for you 24/7.

Kathi – The Facebook group is amazing. It helps you get brainwashed.

Tonya – I love my people.

Kathi – Yes!

Tonya – I know they’re our people, but I love them.

Kathi – The brainwashing is super-important, and I mean this in the most wonderful way. But to start to think about your life as a clutter free life, and start to get things out; start to change your thinking around stuff. It’s hugely valuable.

Tonya – You have a member, and what she does is, she takes those reflection questions and the last day of the month, she answers them in the group. Nobody else has to join her, but more and more people every month have started to join her in that look back. She shares it in the group for accountability, because she needs to be reminded how far she’s come. It has helped me so much. I’m not always thinking, “Oh! How has my thought process changed in the last three months?” But she’ll post them and I’m like, “I used to think that, too!” Then, I’m trying to think about when I stopped thinking that way. What I do know is that once I embrace the daily practice, and once I embrace the fact that it’s not one-and-done. I’m going to have to go into my bathroom and declutter something all the time, because I live with people.

Kathi – And those people will just kill you.

Tonya – They’re just people.

Kathi – They’re just people. So, you get the Facebook group, which is amazing, you get the downloads. You also get two trainings each month. I love doing these. These are about a half hour. It’s just answering questions in the group. If you’re struggling with something that has to do with clutter? I mean, I’ve been there, done that. I have too many t-shirts. I declutter them, though, so it’s okay. I know the answer to that clutter issue. We have a Facebook Live twice a month, where we go in and answer all those questions.

Tonya – Let’s be clear. That’s with you.

Kathi – That’s with me!

Tonya – Our listeners who are with Clutter Free Academy are used to seeing me on Facebook Lives, but in Clutter Free for Life, that’s you. They get their time with you.

Kathi – Right. So, this is a paid program. Normally, it’s $25/month, so $24.99, but here’s the beautiful thing: Because we want to on-load everybody at the same time and we want to get you in there, we are running a special between now and December 31st. If you sign up, and we’ve got the link right here in the show notes, if you sign up, it’s $24.99/month. It’s normally $299/year. However, if you sign up with the link today, you’re going to get the entire year for $118. It’s so much easier to on-load everybody at the same time. That’s what we want to do. We want to get your all at the start. We want you to see a difference in 2020. We want you to see a difference in your life. How does your year start and how does your year end? So, we want you in there to experience the freedom that everybody has. So, not only do you get the entire program for less than half. $118. That’s less than $10/month.

Tonya – I will believe you, because we all know that math is not my strong suit.

Kathi – Yes! The only reason I know that is because it would be $120/year for $10/month and this is $118.

Tonya – Oh yes! ‘Cause you add a zero. Gotcha.

Kathi – Yes, exactly. So, not only do you get the $118/month price.

Tonya – Not a month!

Kathi – Oh, I’m sorry! A year! It’s worth $118/month! No.

Tonya – It’s worth it to me.

Kathi – You know what, it is worth it, if you clean out a storage shed that you’re paying for. We have one member, it’s cool, every month she posts a picture of $70.

Tonya – Yep! In cash!

Kathi – In cash! That’s going to her vacation fund, instead of going to her storage unit. It’s beautiful. But, in addition to the $118/year for the entire year, all the downloads, getting to be in the group, you also get our online course Kickstart to Clutter Free. This is seven days of getting you down and dirty; getting you up and running to get stuff out of your house. I want you to get 500 things out of your house in one week. I know you can do it! I know you can do it with Kickstart to Clutter Free. So that is normally $49, but you’ll get it free, and you’ll get lifetime access to that for free when you buy the year at $118. So, December 17, starting today, through the 31st, sign up and you’ll get all of this. We will really help you with creating routines. That’s a huge part of what we do in this group.

Tonya – I’m in there every day and part of what I’m doing is helping. How do you apply this to your life? Some people have small children. Some people have teenagers. Some people have kids who have a million and one activities every night. Right? The routines look different, so we’re able to help you figure out what works for you. All you have to do is show up and consistently work that routine in your home.

Kathi – It’s a beautiful thing. Tonya, thanks so much for being on with me today.

Tonya – Thanks for having me.

Kathi – Friends, thank you for joining us. I hope you’ll join us over on Clutter Free for Life. It’s my favorite place to hang out. Thanks for listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life 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 www.tonyakubo.com or  www.GreatMoms.org

#386: Dealing with Clutter in the Hardest Time of Your Life

#386: Dealing with Clutter in the Hardest Time of Your Life

Have you ever made progress on your decluttering journey only to stop when something unexpected and unwelcome happens? Maybe you have a loved one going through hard times and you want to help, but don’t know where to begin. This week, Kathi chats with Niki Hardy, author of Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart, about what to do in difficult seasons.

In this episode, you’ll learn tons of practical wisdom about what you can do in hard times, whether you or someone you love is directly affected. You’ll hear about how to:

  • Ask for and accept help from others when you need it.
  • Offer help in a way that blesses those in hard times.
  • How taking care of your future self is crucial in tough seasons.

If you’re curious about the Enneagram after hearing Niki mention it, click here.

You can order your own copy of Niki’s book Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart on Amazon today.


As a bonus for two lucky listeners, we are giving away two copies of Niki’s book, Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart! Enter below by commenting and letting us know:

When you have been in a situation where you needed help, what is something that someone has done for you that offered practical, timely help in that situation?


We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.


Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #386

Dealing with Clutter at in the Hardest Time of your Life

<<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.  You know, one of the things I hear so much in Clutter Free Academy, our Facebook group, and from you, individually, or when I go speak is, “Decluttering was going so well until…” and whatever that ‘until’ is. Whether it was a physical illness, it was the death of somebody you cared deeply about, a change in your life that was unwelcome and unexpected. Things were going well until. Today on the podcast I want to talk about the ‘until’. Today, doing that, we have Nicki Hardy. She is the author of this beautiful book Breath Again: How to Live Well when Life Falls Apart. Niki, thank you so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Niki – Thank you for having me. It’s a joy to be here.

Kathi – I love that, even in just our brief time talking before we got onto the podcast, “Okay, this could be really heavy.” You are light and wonderful, so you are the perfect person to talk about this with. I know your book isn’t overtly about clutter, but can you tell us a little bit about what happened in your life? Then I’ve got some questions about the stuff in your life and some of the processes you had to reevaluate in your story.

Niki – Yes, of course. I love the way you say, “Everything was going right until…” I think for some of us, it’s one big moment and for others it’s a slow unravelling. I think I had three big ‘until’ moments. I lost my mom to cancer, and hers was aggressive; lung cancer. Then just six years later my sister had the same thing and unfortunately she passed away at just 43 after just 14 months. Then six weeks after losing Jo, I was diagnosed. It was three consecutive side-swipes by life. Mine wasn’t lung cancer like there’s. Mine was rectal cancer. I can only just say that out loud and on-air, ‘cause it’s not the sexiest of cancers. It doesn’t come with a pretty pink bow or a cuddly teddy bear.

Kathi – How many walks are there for rectal cancer?

Niki – There are more than you’d think. It’s the number 2 cancer killer in the country.

Kathi – It is? Okay, Niki, I had no idea. Zero idea. People don’t talk about it.

Niki – Yeah, people say you’re never too young. I don’t think people do. It’s silent because, if you’re like me, you have absolutely no symptoms. It comes out of the blue, and often when you do find out about it, it’s too late. So, I would say to anyone, “You’re never too young to love your bum.” Go and get that lovely colonoscopy.

Kathi – Most famously, at least that I know, Farrah Fawcett Majors was the one that had rectal cancer and sadly, passed away from it. So, you’re never too young to love your bum. You know what? There needs to be a bumper sticker. Okay, so, can I tell you, I’m one of those people who have put it off? After my last podcast today, I’ll be calling to make the appointment. Thank you for that.

Niki – I’m so glad.

Kathi – Thank you for that nudge. Thank you for that kick in the rear that I so desperately needed. Sorry, that’ll be the last rear joke of the podcast. How does one function? Okay, first of all, losing your mom. I’ve lost my dad and it was expected. It was known. It still took my breath away, and can I just say grief is the sneakiest emotion of them all? There’s that. You lost your mom. Then, not in the natural order of things, you lose your sister. So, two deaths of women who were too young to be gone. Then a diagnosis for you. What was the biggest impact of that diagnosis? How did that change your life that people would have noticed?

Niki – Well, noticeably, I’m a Brit with a stiff and perfectly waxed upper lip and I can keep calm and carry on with the best of them. So, on the one hand, I just kept going. I was determined to survive. My faith, my grit, and my stiff upper lip were going to get me through this. At the same time, I was falling apart. So, my friends who have read my book have said, “I had no idea you were feeling like this.” And I replied, “Nor did I until I wrote it down afterwards.” It had a huge impact on my faith. It had huge impact on our kids, who, as far as they were concerned, cancer meant you were going to die and die quickly.

Kathi – Yes.

Niki – How we told those; how we interacted with our church and how honest we were. All those kinds of things. On Clutter Free Academy, we talk about clutter, but it was as if my life had shattered, and I was surrounded by rubble, not clutter. I had medical paraphernalia everywhere, but I also had emotional/spiritual/physical rubble.

Kathi – There’s a dimension that is added to your life. It’s not just you don’t feel well. Like you said, the medical paperwork is another full time job. I have, fortunately, been very healthy throughout most of my life, but the couple of times we’ve encountered surgeries or something like that, it’s another job to be able to stay on top of that. Then, like you said, the medical paraphernalia; having to incorporate that into and already busy home? I can’t even imagine. So, I know you’re going to be on a lot of podcasts and a lot of places talking the deep, spiritual stuff about this, but here are my questions for you, as they relate to clutter. I think clutter is a physical manifestation of our overwhelm. When you see somebody’s house is out of control, or you see that their kids are showing up to school and they don’t look like they’re out of a Macy’s ad. When those things happen, I want to know what do you do as the person who is in the midst of it? I’d love a couple of practical steps. Then, I would also love to know, if you are my friend and you’ve got that stiff upper lip, how do I engage in order to help? Let’s start with you. I’m sure you did things wrong, but if you could go back and teach your sick self what to do, what would you tell her?

Niki – I think the first thing would be to accept help. That is so hard because it means accepting we need help. We’re in a culture that’s a ‘make it happen captain’ culture. We celebrate people who have made it on their own. So saying, “Help!” sounds like we’re uttering this four letter word. So, admitting we need help is, not only an emotional step, but it also requires us to allow people into our mess. Emotionally and practically as well. To allow somebody to come and fold your laundry requires they are going to handle your undies and see that your laundry room is a bomb site.  Even if they want to do the washing up or take the dog for a walk, they’re going to see that all that stuff is in a mess. So, it requires a level of letting people in, which requires letting our boundaries or our walls down a little bit. I kept mine up for far too long to keep it all together.

Kathi – Letting people in requires a certain amount of letting go of control. That’s very scary when you’re already in a situation where you’re not in control.

Niki – Exactly. I talk about, in the book, about choosing ‘brave’. I think, asking for help, asking for somebody to come and drive you somewhere, or take your kids to practice is a really brave choice. We think bravery is something that’s huge and comes with the genes we’re born with, or not born with, but it’s actually a choice. It doesn’t need to be big, but it does need to be intentional. It can mean getting out of bed when depression hits hard. That’s the kind of brave choice, and I think allowing people in is a brave choice.

Kathi – So, what kind of people do you let in? Because there are safe people and there are not so safe people. I have never been in the position you have, of being so physically compromised, so I want to know: What are the hallmarks of the people that you should let in, and the others who you say, “You know what? A gift card would be great.”?

Niki – I think that’s so true. There are safe people and there’s safe things you can tell more people. Like, I was quite happy sharing, for the most part, prayer requests. People would share when we needed meals or rides for kids. Those are very safe things to talk about. Letting people into the feeling that ‘when I got cancer, the whole world got cancer’ and every argument with my husband meant that our marriage was one the rocks, and every time my teenagers were snarky, it meant that they weren’t handling my cancer and they were doing drugs. Those require a certain closeness of people. I found that the people who were safest in that, were the people that were willing to not try and fix it. Who were willing to say, “Yes, this sucks. I am so sorry.”

Kathi – “This is so hard. I’m so sorry.” I love that. Okay, here’s what I would love. I would love for you to be able to tell me. Say, my friend has just been diagnosed and I’m scared. One, I don’t need her to fix my scared. I need to deal with that on my own, but what are the tangible things that I can do? The offers I can make? And how do I go about making those offers in a way that will be supportive to her? All I want to do is help, but I don’t want to overstep my bounds. I don’t want to be a downer. What are some physical, tangible things that I can do for her to help her out?

Niki – It’s a great question. I think it’s so important to talk about these, because being on the receiving end of it, I’ve had people do wonderful things and people say terrible things. I think that acknowledging that it’s really hard and you’re really sorry that they’re going through this. I think, asking, specifically, what you can do to help, but also acknowledging that they might not know.

Kathi – That’s my concern.

Niki – I think saying something like, “I really want to help. What specific things can I do? I’m thinking I could…x, y, or zed. Let me know if that would help.” Then saying something freeing, like, “No need to text me back today.” Or “How are you doing today?” Because it might be different to yesterday or five minutes ago. Then, I think one of the best things we can do is, when somebody is struggling, sit with them in the pain. When they’re doing well, do well with them. Not necessarily talk about the last surgery or the last chemo or whatever. When they’re doing well, celebrate with them.

Kathi – I love this. I love the offer of, okay, I’m just going to be British here for a second, “x, y, and zed”. That makes me so happy I can’t even stand it. It signals the level of your willingness to help. “Can I bring you a meal?” “Can I take your kids to soccer practice?” Or, “Can I go sit with you while you’re in chemotherapy?” “I have friends who have a vacation home, so when you’re past this, let me know when you have a weekend and we’ll get that settled.” Whatever it is, it signals. I know when I’ve been in hard situations, I haven’t wanted to ask for too big a favor. That says, “Hey! We are willing! My husband is willing to come and do the yard.” Or whatever your gifts are. Whatever your talents are, to be able to go in. I love that what you’re doing is signaling people. You said that your journey through all these griefs has changed how you viewed clutter and staying organized. Can you tell me a little bit about it? It doesn’t have to be radical, but I’d love to know how that changed for you.

Niki – I think that one of the key things is that when my surroundings are in a mess, it adds to the overwhelm. It adds to the emotional turmoil if there’s external turmoil. So, I’m very fortunate that I have a very organized, and a very tidy husband.

Kathi – God bless him.

Niki – God bless him. So, that was a huge help, but we had to do things like, I moved into a room we had downstairs so that he wouldn’t be disturbed. So, trying to keep medical paraphernalia out of the way so that it wasn’t top of mind the whole time. The way I view clutter now, is that it is an additional stress in my life that I don’t actually need. I’m a big fan of Greg McCowan who wrote Essentialism.

Kathi – Yes!

Niki – I’m a seven on the enneagram and I’m just go go go, fun fun fun. So, I often don’t finish tasks and put things away at the time. That has changed, because I think I will want that away. The future me will need that to be away. So, that has really helped.

Kathi – I love that. We have a concept around here about taking care of your future self. We always assume our future self is going to have more energy, more time, more desire. When you have gone through something like you have Niki, that fantasy is dispelled. There isn’t, necessarily, a block of time where you’re just going to say, “You know what? I really feel like organizing all my office supplies today.” There isn’t going to be extra money, necessarily. There’s not going to be, necessarily, extra energy. So, if I can do it now. I’m not doing it because I want to be the Martha Stewart of homes. I’m doing this because I want to take care of my future self who has a cold; who has a friend who needs me to watch their kids. I want to take care of that future self so she can do what God has called her to do.

Niki – Exactly. I’ve learned that if I do it now, it takes half the time it would if I did it in the future. It’s a way of loving myself. One thing I’m terrible at is resting and sitting and reading a book when it’s not five minutes before I turn the light out. Those are the things I’m trying to incorporate so that I can live well when life falls apart, and when it’s good.

Kathi – When you say it’s half the effort to do it now as it is to do it later, it’s so true. We add the shame to it of “Why did I leave this out?” There’s an emotional component. When you put something down, your whole family says, “Oh, good. This is where we put things down now.” We don’t need any of that.  Niki, I know your book is filled with wisdom and emotional health, but thank you for getting practical with us. I really appreciate the tactical ways to support yourself through a crisis and to support others. Thank you so much for that.

Niki – Oh, you’re welcome. One of the reasons I wrote the book was because there were so many books out there that were motivating and inspiring and encouraging, but I would read them and go, “But how do I do this? How do I just trust God when life has fallen apart? What do I do with my anger? How do I practice gratitude? What does that look like when you’re just angry?” So, the book is deeply practical because we need to be able to touch it and feel it and see it in action.

Kathi – And make it happen. This is so good. Guys, we have a couple copies of this to give away, so here’s what I’d love in the podcast notes. I would love to comment for me and tell me, when you have been in a situation where you’ve needed help, what is something that someone has done for you that has offered practical, timely help in that situation? Niki, I so appreciate your time and your willingness to come on Clutter Free Academy. Thanks for being here.

Niki – It’s been a joy. Thank you for having me.

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





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

Meet Our Guest

Niki Hardy

Niki Hardy

Niki Hardy is a Brit in the USA, a rectal (yes, rectal) cancer survivor, pastor’s wife, tea drinker and teller of terrible jokes. As a speaker and the author of Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart, she’s all about meeting you when life’s not fair and helping you embrace the reality that with God, life doesn’t have to be pain-free to be full, then go live it.

Learn more at nikihardy.com

#385: How to Love Being Home

#385: How to Love Being Home

Do you long for a cozy home that feels like your happy place? This week, Kathi chats with Liz Marie Galvan, designer and author of the best-selling book, Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home. Kathi and Liz discuss how to begin creating the cozy, beautiful home you’ve always wanted.

In this episode, you’ll learn the connection between decluttering and creating a home you love. You’ll also hear how:

  • Decluttering allows the “cute” and “cozy” to shine in your home
  • You can appreciate decor ideas, yet leave them at the store
  • To get a better sense of your personal style

If you want to learn more about cultivating a home you love, you can order a copy of Liz’s book Cozy White Cottage on Amazon.


Two lucky listeners will have the chance to win a copy of Liz’s book, Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home!

Let us know in the comments what is one thing in your home that you love, use, and would buy again because it is totally “you”? Bonus points for including a picture!

Kathi’s purple chair

We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.


Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #385

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Hey, friends! Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is help you take small, doable steps to help you live every day with less clutter and more life. Today we are landing squarely in the More Life category. I know you. You want to have a beautiful house. Clutter can get in the way, but you know what? Even when you’re in the midst of decluttering, you can start leaning in to the house you want to have. Today we have got the guest who is going to help you do this. This is Liz Marie Galvan and she is a brand new friend. She is the author of a number one bestseller in interior design. Congratulations Liz! This is awesome. Cozy White Cottage: 100 ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home. Liz, welcome to Clutter Free Academy. I should ask, is it Liz? Or Liz Marie?

Liz – It’s either one. I always know if someone knows me from the blog, they call me Liz Marie, but we’re friends now, so you can call me Liz.

Kathi – Liz! I love it. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy. I’m so excited for this interview with you, because I look at the cover of your book, and I think, “I could be friends with her.” It has everything I love. It’s amazing.

Liz – Thank you!

Kathi – So, you and I talked a little bit before we got on, and I know my audience. They want to have that cozy feeling. They long for that in their heart. So, they’ll buy the things, they’ll do the things, but often times people who deal with clutter don’t love the feeling of being at home.  I love that that is what your goal is in this book: The feeling of being home. Why is that so important to you?

Liz – Honestly, we have been through a lot, my husband and I. We have gone through deployments. He was in the military. We’ve gone through a really long infertility journey. We’ve lost nine babies. 

Kathi – Oh, Liz!

Liz – Yeah, we’ve been through a lot of things, and through that, I realized that having a cozy home, somewhere to come at the end of the day, or when we’re going through something hard, or something good, is so important to your mental health.  Just to have that security around you. Going through all that I learned that, and that’s why I wanted to write the book and share that. 

Kathi – One key thing you said there, you’ve been through a lot of tough things, but you also said, “And when life is going well.” This summer, I had so many good things happen in my life. So, it was time to finally take a break and I didn’t want to leave my house. I’m like, “Why am I so strung out?” There were so many good things that happened in a row, I didn’t take any time to rest. I had to double down at home. 

Liz – Yes. I think for us, too. We have a son now, Copeland, and just knowing we have a home that, hopefully, he longs to come to at the end of the day, and that he’s comfortable in, wants to come home and share about his day. It’s just really important, even in the good times.

Kathi – I would love a couple of inside tips right now. I want to know a couple of easy ways. I know, with being from a past of clutter, it was so easy to get overwhelmed so quickly, so I want to know what are your easiest and favorite ways to improve your home and the feelings you have when you come in there. I need simple. Just boss me around. Go for it, Liz.

Liz – I love that. A big chapter in our book is about decluttering. I love being on this podcast and I love your passion for that as well. Honestly, the first step to making any space cozy is the decluttering, which in the book we talk about reusing items, but a major part of it is reducing items. Getting rid of things that we don’t love or find useful. I talk about, maybe we don’t have a huge budget to redo our homes right now, but reducing some of our items can add to our budget. By selling on Facebook Marketplace and getting rid of them to family and friends and things like that.  When we’re starting with a blank slate, it’s so much easier to make your space cozy, rather than try to make it cozy around all the clutter. So we hit on that a lot in the book.

Kathi – The word ‘cute’ is contained in the word ‘clutter’. You can find all those letters and it’s so true. I think what happens is, we’re at the store, we find something we love, we bring it home, but instead of showcasing it, it just adds to the pile. So the ‘cute’ gets absorbed into the ‘clutter’. One of the things I’ve discovered is, when I scale back, I often don’t want to put a lot back into the room. I love the blank walls. I love the space that it has. I love that you hit on two of our principles. If you love it, and you use it, it gets to stay. The third one is, would you buy it again? I love that you hit on two out of three there. Here’s my question: How do you use the things you already have? How do you develop and eye to know what to keep and what to get rid of? 

Liz – In our home, it took me a long time to develop that. I feel like I was keeping things around because I thought they were cute. I really had to assess. If I was shoving it in a cupboard or a closet, or if I wasn’t getting joy from it or actually using it in a room, or if I found myself moving the items from room to room, but it never felt right? I was just, “It’s time to get rid of this.” That’s become a really good habit for me now. I find myself going into stores where I used to think I needed to get all the cute things, because if I left it there, I wouldn’t have the cute thing.Now it’s like, “Where am I going to put that?”, “How am I going to use that?” and really just fine tuning those skills over time. It takes time but it does come natural once you start doing that.

Kathi – I think there’s something really interesting that I’ve never thought about until you were just talking about it. You used to go into store and want to buy all the things. People don’t know, we’re on video right now, and you have corn husks behind you in this cute galvanized bucket. It’s adorable. Here’s the thing. I love that, but I also know that doesn’t fit with my life. So, can I just appreciate it in Liz’s house and not have to bring all the things home?

Liz – Yes. You fine tune that skill as well. I think, in this world of social media, where we’re scrolling and people are saying, “Swipe up! Swipe up to buy these items.” I think we need to fine tune these skills even more. Things are more in our face now. I completely agree with you on that.

Kathi – The thing that makes me crazy are these surprise boxes. They just send you a bunch of random stuff. They have them for homes now, and it’s like, “Now you have to incorporate this rando stuff.” No no no! That’s letting somebody else decide what your tastes should be. You should be able to walk into a house and say, “Oh, I know this is Liz’s house.” Or “I know this is Tonya’s house.” I love that. Okay, how do we start to develop and understand our own style? I think that’s a big question for a lot of people. Because we love all the things, but we have to understand what our style is.

Liz – Yes. I think it’s because I’m in this world of home décor every day, so I appreciate all different styles. I think, really digging deep into yourself and asking yourself what you love in your home. I love color in people’s homes. I love that. But in our own home, I just found myself, shoving those items away that were brightly colored. I like my eyes and my mind to be at ease with neutrals when we’re home. Both my husband and I enjoy that, so I really had to dig deep and realize what was bringing me joy. It wasn’t the bright green pillow, though I loved it in Tonya’s house, I didn’t need to enjoy it in our home. I think that just really being honest with yourself. I think that’s something that’s really hard to do sometimes. We love it, but why do we love that? Asking yourself these, not hard questions, but being honest with yourself can be hard. 

Kathi – I think they can be hard questions for a lot of us, especially for those of us who tend towards clutter, because we look for our identity in items sometimes. I think that’s a good and a bad thing. A home is an expression of who we are and when we know ourselves better, we can say, “No, I appreciate that in Liz’s home, and I can look at it there.” I’m guessing you wouldn’t have my fabulous purple chair in your home.

Liz – I wouldn’t, but I love it in your home. I was just thinking that.

Kathi – I’m looking at your grey pumpkin and I’m like, “That is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” That is so much of it, is to not want it, but still be able to appreciate it. It’s a curated sense of style. We talk about curation all the time here.  Liz, I love this. I’m in love with your book. What’s your dog’s name? The cover model? 

<<dog barks>>

Liz – Well, she actually just said her name. That is hilarious. That’s so funny. That’s Miss Winnifred, aka Winnie. 

Kathi – She was born to be a star, wasn’t she?

Liz – She really was, yes. Born for it.

Kathi – You guys, the book is Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home. Liz, we are giving away two copies of this book on the podcast, and two copies on Facebook. Here is the question I want our listeners to answer. Here’s the thing, I’m going to give you two ways to enter. If you put a picture of this: What is the thing in your home that most defines you; that you love; that you use; that you would buy again, because it’s totally you? I’m going to put up a picture of my purple chair with the turquoise pillow, because that is about as Kathi as a piece of furniture could get. I’m going to ask you this, Liz. What is the thing in your home that makes you feel like the most you? If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love for you to send us a picture of it. 

Liz – Yes, totally. When you said your chairs, I’m thinking of the most ‘me’ thing in our home, is that all our furniture is slip covered in drop-cloths, which is so funny. I think a big, cozy, slip-covered chair with a big, over-sized pillow on it is probably the most me.

Kathi – That’s what screams, “Liz!”  I love it. I love it even more, because as you have your son and he grows up and does the things that sons do, you can just take that puppy off, bleach it and put it back on. It’s a beautiful thing. 

Liz – Yes, I was just in our front living room, sitting on our slip-covered sofa with a friend, and it’s just kind of gross today. It’s muddy here. There are puppy prints all over it, but it doesn’t stress me out because I can clean it.  That’s why I love it.

Kathi – It doesn’t just fit your style, it fits your life. Which is a beautiful thing.

Liz – Yes. We live on a very muddy farm, so it definitely fits our life.

Kathi – I love it. Liz, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home. Thank you so much for being on Clutter Free Academy. 

Liz – Of course. Thank you for having me.

Kathi – And friends, thank you for listening. You’re the most important part of this podcast, and I’m so grateful you joined us today. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always intended to live. 


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

Meet Our Guest

Liz Marie Galvan

Liz Marie Galvan

Liz Marie Galvan is a blogger, interior designer, former military wife, and co-owner of the vintage home décor boutique The Found Cottage. She is passionate about sharing her life, interests, and interior design ideas on her blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest pages daily. Liz and her veteran husband, Jose, live on an 1800s farmhouse in Michigan with their son, Copeland Beau, as well as dogs, cats, sheep, and rams. 

Find design inspiration and DIY ideas at LizMarieBlog.com.

#384: Can Less Clutter Lead to Less Family Grumbling?

#384: Can Less Clutter Lead to Less Family Grumbling?

This week, Kathi chats with special guest and prolific author Tricia Goyer about Tricia’s new book, The Grumble-Free Year. We’ll learn how her family’s year-long experiment giving up grumbling had an impact on the whole family and the way they interacted with one another.

In this episode, you’ll also discover how our physical space can have an impact on our emotions. Clutter free really can work, even for a family of 11! You’ll find tips to help you:

  • reduce your tendency to grumble, even when times are hard
  • set a grumble-free tone for your whole family and get your kids on board with less grumbling
  • cultivate a greater sense of peace in your home

Click here to download Chapter One of Tricia’s book The Grumble-Free Year. If you like what you read, you can order your copy of The Grumble-Free Year on Amazon.

If you’re inspired to write a book of your own, check out Tricia’s Write That Book group for tips and coaching to make your dream a reality.


As a bonus for two lucky listeners, we are giving away two copies of Tricia’s book, The Grumble-Free Year! Enter below by commenting and letting us know:

What area causes you to grumble the most? What is one tip you’re going to use to try and combat that?




We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.


Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #384

Can Less Clutter Lead to Less Family Grumbling?

Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small do-able steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. Today we are really not on the ‘less’ part of it. We’re on the ‘super-sized’ part of life. I am here with my friend Tricia Goyer. How many books, Tricia?

Tricia: Seventy five? I think seventy five.

Kathi – People always are like, “I can’t believe how many books you’ve written, Kathi.” And I’m like, “Have you met my friend Tricia?” I am still in pre-school when it comes to that. You’re unusual in that you have succeeded in fiction, non-fiction. You’ve been all over the place. You’re one of the few people who have done it and done it well. I have been especially excited about your latest book, “The Grumble Free Year”. Tricia, welcome to Clutter Free Academy.

Tricia – Thank you so much. I always love chatting with you.

Kathi – We have so much fun. I get to be a part of what you’re doing in Write That Book. Give us two sentences about what Write That Book is. I’ll put that link in there, ‘cause we have lots of people who love to write who listen to this podcast.

Tricia – I get asked all the time by people, to mentor them on how to write a book; how to get started; how to talk to agents and I love helping people, but I cannot help people individually, so I started this subscription group and I have 3-5 experts a week come in for an hour and teach on a subject. How to Write a Book Proposal, How to Prepare for a Conference. It’s $29/month and I just feel like I want to give them a ton of help. They can ask question that we will answer in there. So, it’s great.

Kathi – It is! It’s so much fun to be in there. I love seeing everybody growing and doing. Today, ‘though, I want to talk about The Grumble Free Year. As we are approaching the holidays and we’re in the thick of it, it’s the time that we always talk about being the most grateful, but also I feel like it’s also the time where it’s the easiest to become dissatisfied. This was an experiment, not just for you, it was for your entire family. Can you just give us a snapshot of your family?

Tricia – Yeah! So, I’ve been married to John for twenty nine years. Before I met and married him, I was a teen mom. So, I had my son Cory, and I met and married John and we had two more kids, so that brings it up to three. Then we adopted seven kids, and my grandma, who’s 90, lives with us, too.


Kathi – Holy cow.


Tricia – So, some of the kids are out of the house. We have three out of the house. We have seven kids, and grandma and me and my husband and two dogs and a rabbit and hermit crabs still at our house.

Kathi – It’s so funny. People are like, “Well, the Clutter Free stuff won’t work for me because, Kathi, you don’t understand, I have three kids.” And I’m like, “Okay, first of all, let’s be clear, I had four kids, so I’m not a stranger to a large family.” But eleven people! I know they’re not all in house right now.

Tricia – When we wrote the book, there was eleven people in the house. My son actually has his own apartment, so there are only ten people in the house.

Kathi – Only ten.

Tricia – Only ten. But eleven of us decided to do the challenge without grumbling for a year.

Kathi – Okay, so here’s what I want to know. Tell me, how do you get eleven people to not grumble for a year? You said you’ve made some real changes in your life because of decluttering and stuff, so I want to hear about that, but how do you approach not grumbling for a year?

Tricia – Well, John and I knew that grumbling was a problem. Every time we’d tell someone to do their chores, to clean their room, anything. It was just grumbling, grumbling. With eleven people, that’s a lot of grumbling. So, we knew it would take a while, ‘cause it’s hard issues, it’s habits, it’s stuff we can’t just do in a week. And we knew there would have to be some kind of reward. So we told the kids, “We’ll go on a family trip. We’ll go on a cruise, or something fun, but everyone has to work on it.” So, that got them to buy in that we were going to do this. I started with a list of things to do; scripture verses to read; different activities to do to learn your grumbling styles; talk about heart issues. We read about the Israelites and the wilderness. We did a lot of stuff, but really, God brought surprising stuff, too. My grandma broke her back during that year and just seeing her praise God and not grumble in the middle of having a back brace and can’t get out of bed without help. We’re like, “Okay, this is so much more. This is not just memorizing verses.” God was like, “This is evidence, right here, of someone who was praising God in the middle of a very hard thing.” So, through the year, I recorded every month what we were doing. Some months it was, “Nothing is working.” Then the next month, I’m like, “Wow! I really see changes.” After the year, I can completely see changes in my family; how we talk to each other; how we communicate. Not that we never grumble, but I would say it’s about 80% less than it was before we started.

Kathi – Yes! There will always be grumbling, but there is also catching yourself and saying, “Okay.” And let’s just be clear. It was not just a year of you guys sitting around and singing Kumbaya to each other. I didn’t know about your grandmother. I just started the book, but what I did know, is that the ultimate test was thrown at you towards the end of this. The ultimate Build-a-Bear test. Tricia, tell us what happened with Build-a-Bear. I have to tell you, I was watching on social media, and I basically stopped my day to watch this unfold. Tell my listeners what was going on.

Tricia – Well, I thought it would be a really great idea to take eight kids to get a Build-a-Bear, because it was “Pay Your Age” day.

Kathi – You just didn’t take them on any day. You took them on the craziest day of the year.

Tricia – Yeah. I had no idea that many people would show up. $30 bears, my 6 year old could get it for $6. Everyone was there wanting a bear. So, at first, the line’s long, but I’m like, “This won’t take but a couple hours.” But we kept waiting and waiting and we’d move up kind of quickly, because I think a lot of people were leaving, but after five or six hours, I’m telling the kids, like, “I will go and buy you any bear you want at Wal-Mart. Let’s just leave.” No! They were in it. They wanted the Build-a-Bear. So, finally, nine hours later, we have bought all the mall food, they have eaten junk food all day. They’re filthy from sitting on the floor of the mall. We finally get to the threshold of being let in. They were only letting in fifteen people at a time. People are so excited. I see everyone talking to each other on walkie talkies, like the security guards, and I was like, “Oh no.”

Kathi – It’s like the president is there and all the security is like, “We’ve got an issue.”

Tricia – I could just tell. I was like, “Are we going to be able to get a bear?” The manager comes out and says, “Ma’am, there are still tons of people in line and the mall has to close. We have to close it.” I’m like, “Oh no. Oh no.”  We were the next ones in. He said, “Everyone is going to be able to come in. They can purchase a bear, but we can’t stuff them. You’re going to have to come back another time to get your bear stuffed.” And immediately, my kids are like, “What? Just let us in!” The next people are trying to compromise and the little one is like, “We’re not going to get a bear?!?” And at that moment, it popped in my mind, The Grumble Free Year. Of course! I said, “Guys! This is what we’ve been preparing for. We are tired. Things are not going as we expected. We are not getting our way. Remember not grumbling? How can we have gratitude?” So, I’m like, “We’re the first ones to get flat bears! We’ll show everyone our flat bears!” They pulled it together. They were like, “This is the best day ever!” I was like, “We got junk food. We got to spend the whole day together. We got to do Facebook Live.” Then I told them we’d go get a hamburger at MacDonald’s, ‘cause by this time, we’d already eaten two meals, but they’re starving. “We’re going to get to go to MacDonald’s!” So, by the time they go their bears, we did a video in the car, and they were like, “Best day ever!” They were showing off their bears, and it was like, “Wow. If we hadn’t been talking about it, and preparing all year long, it would have been a total meltdown.”

Kathi – A total meltdown! So, I’m going to extrapolate a couple things from this. First of all, the fact that your kids could be so excited over bear carcasses just makes me so happy I can’t stand it. Two things: One, I’ve always told Roger, I told him before we got married, “Don’t let me get too tired, too hot, or too hungry, and if all three happen at the same time, may God have mercy on your soul.” So, part of it, to keep from grumbling, is to taking good care of yourself, but also, it was your leadership that reframed it for your kids. That is huge. You kept them fed. I’m sure those $6 bears cost you $45 each, by the time you were done.

Tricia – I think I added up that I spent $150 in food that day.

Kathi – I have no problem believing that. Our family is looking to us to say, “How do I react to this?” and you were able to stand up and say, “Let me show you how we’re going to react to this.” You were able to reframe it, which I love. Let me ask you this: Because, you’ve said that, in your home, (and with eleven people, holy cow) decluttering has made a big impact on you and your family; even in connection to not grumbling. I want to hear about that. We have so many moms who are listening and desperate for peace in their home, through the stuff and through the attitude. I want to hear more about that.

Tricia – Absolutely. Well one thing that I realized with grumbling, is that the same negative thoughts keep going over and over. So, you have you have the same trouble spots. Like, “I really need to clean this out.” Or “This is really piling up.” Or “I hate all the schoolbooks.” My schoolbooks are in the hallway, so there are just piles of books, they don’t even fit on the shelf. I was actually talking to you, Kathi, and you were all “You don’t need to keep everything. If you’ve used it, get rid of it now.” I have a lot of author friends, and you said, “You can still love your friend and not keep their book.” And I was, like, “Oh my goodness, she’s so right!”

Kathi – Right? I’m sure you get more books than I do, and I probably get five books a week. I would have to build a wing to my house to store all the books from friends and random people I’ve never met. I think the best gift you can do is to get that book into the hands of somebody that will appreciate it.

Tricia – Yes. That helped me, too. It’s just sitting on my shelf, but someone could be out there. So, I took a ton to my teen moms support group, there are some girls who loved to read. Homeschool books? I had friends, and I’m like, “Do you need a whole year’s curriculum that I’ve used but don’t have that age anymore? Here is, for free, a whole year.” They were like, “Oh my goodness, thank you so much!” But I had thought, “Well, I spent money, and we might need it later.” I don’t know. You keep those things, but it was so freeing. I got rid of eleven boxes of books, just from my bedroom. Just from my bedroom. My husband was loving it, too.

Kathi – That’s the most important room to do it in. Whether you’re single or married, to have a clean space where your brain can go and relax at night. We won’t even talk about the intimacy part. Just a safe space for your brain to go and relax. You have people talking at you all day long. Even if you’re not the matriarch in the house of eleven, we’ve got voices coming at us all the time that we need to be able to manage. To be able to have a safe space in your house is amazing. I love that. Okay, so, I’ve got a mom at home. She’s got three kids and they are just killing her right now, Tricia. They are killing her. The whining? She doesn’t drink, but she may take it up as a hobby. So, what do you say? I would say, get all the mayhem out of your life. Get the clutter out of your life. I really do believe that. I know, the science says it raises your stress level. What, as a family, would you encourage that mom to do, right away?

Tricia – One thing that really made a huge difference, first of all, memorizing scripture verses. “Do everything without grumbling and complaining.” That really helps, but instead of just picking on them about grumbling, because that doesn’t work, start praising them when they make a good choice. So, if I say, “Go do this.” And they don’t grumble. Even if they don’t say anything, say, “Great job for not grumbling. I really appreciate your maturity.” All of a sudden, they were, like, “Wow!”

Kathi – “I’m mature!” Is there anything better that you can call one of your kids, than ‘mature’? They love it.

Tricia – I know. They love it. So, I would always get on my kids, because their chores were never like I wanted them to do. First of all, who wants to do chores, then your mom is going to just grumble at you the whole time, saying you’re not doing a good job? So, I’m like, “I really need to start praising them!” So, one of my daughters, the one that grumbled the most about doing her chores, was wiping up the counter. I was like, “You are doing a great job on that counter.” The rest of the kitchen is a total mess still, but I was like, “It is amazing how clean you’re getting the counter.” Then, all of a sudden, she was cleaning the other part of the counter and wiping down the stove. I kept saying, “I am so proud of you. You are really showing that you are maturing and you’re doing a good job cleaning.” She probably spent an hour cleaning the kitchen, and it just started with me praising her on the counter, instead of grumbling, saying “You left stuff over here. You didn’t do this.” Because they don’t want to hear my grumbles. Now, that child is the best at her kitchen chore. The kids rotate. I think, so many times, we’re grumbling at their grumbling and no one is happy. If we start catching and praising them, it makes a huge difference. Kids want that. We want that. We love when people say, “Great job!”

Kathi – What you’re describing now is the training program we’re going through with our puppy. You basically ignore all the bad behaving, because they’re puppies! They’re kids! Their brains are mush for the most part. But when you catch them doing something good? They really do have a desire, most kids and all puppies, to please the person they’re looking up to. For me, what I noticed when my kids got older, I would say things like, “You know what? When you live on your own, you are going to be so capable of taking care of yourself, because look at this kitchen. This is something that a lot of adults can’t do. I’m seeing into your future and it’s going to be great, because you’re learning skills now.” The pride that they have. I’ve seen you do this on Facebook Lives. I’ve seen you do this with your words to your kids. I love it, Tricia. This has been amazing. So, where did your family go on their trip?

Tricia – We went to Mexico on a little five day cruise. They had a blast. We did some water stuff, going through caves and this water thing. It was so fun. Really, we were crammed in. There were five people to our room. We had no space. We got the cheapest cruise ever, but it was so worth it. Everyone worked really hard that year and we saw a difference and I think we need to be rewarded when we’re doing things and really making a difference in our lives.

Kathi – Stretching to grow into great human beings? It’s worth going on a cheap Mexican cruise. Here’s the other thing, friends. You could just have that family trip planned and just say, “Here’s what we’re working for.” I love that. I’ll say this as well; I’ve mentioned this here on the podcast. When we had our best grumble free vacation is when we had the kids contribute to the vacation. We said, “Hey! You’ve invested a lot in this. Let’s all make it great together.” So, I see your kids are investing in each other and investing in what you’re doing. Tricia, it’s just so great. You guys, we have so much. First of all, we have a free download of the first chapter of The Grumble Free Year, so if you want to get started off in the right direction while you’re waiting for the book to come to your house (and of course, we’ll have a link so you can purchase the book) but if you want to start reading it right away, go get that first chapter. Then, we also are giving away a couple of copies of The Grumble Free Year. This is what I’d love for you guys to do on the podcast notes. I’d love for you to go in there and just tell me what area causes you to grumble the most. I would love to hear that. Bonus points if you can give us one little tip about how you’re going to combat that. Tricia, thank you so much or writing this book and thank you for sharing it here on Clutter Free Academy.

Tricia – Thank you, Kathi. Thank you for inspiring me. My husband thanks you, too, for me cleaning out the house.

Kathi – If I could have any small impact, if the Clutter Free community could have any small impact on a mom with eleven humans in her house? My work here is done. I feel that’s amazing. Tricia, thank you so much. Friends, thank you for being here. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always intended to live.


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

Meet Our Guest

Tricia Goyer

Tricia Goyer

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of ten, doting grandma, and wife to John. A USA Today bestselling author, Tricia has published seventy books and is a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Finalist. She won the Retailer Best Award in 2015 and has received starred reviews from Romantic Times and Publishers Weekly. She is also on the blogging team at TheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites. Tricia is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries and currently leads a teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, Arkansas.