#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

#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.