#397: How to Stay Focused (When Everything is Trying to Distract You)

#397: How to Stay Focused (When Everything is Trying to Distract You)

Kathi is chatting with her co-author and partner in crime Cheri Gregory about an amazing new find that has helped her stay focused when she’s tempted to get distracted. If you need a tool to keep you on task, friend, you are in luck!  Focus Mate is an online system that pairs you up with an online work buddy.

Does this sound like something you’d love? Kathi and Cheri are going to tell you all about it.

Plus, if you love the idea of Focus Mate, Kathi has come up with a very special idea.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The magic of collaboration to get stuff done.
  • How to access your own online collaborator to help you declutter.
  • The perfect amount of time to stay focused on a project.

Clutter-Free Home

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

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

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

Links

Learn more about Focus Mate.

Are you a writer? Would you love to take your writing to the next level? Check out the week-long retreats offered with Kathi and other experts at Writing at the Red House this year.

We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

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Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Meet Our Guest

Cheri Gregory

Cheri Gregory

Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.”

Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and Overwhelmed.

Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities.

Cheri blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.

Transcript

Read along with the podcast!

 

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #397

 

How to Stay Focused

 

 

<<intro music>>

 

 

Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live everyday with less clutter and more life. Many of you know my coauthor, my partner in crime, Cheri Gregory. Cheri is here with us today. We’re recording from The Red House. Welcome back, Cheri.

 

Cheri – Thanks for having me.

 

Kathi – You started to talk about something, and I’m finding this fascinating. Of course, because I’m a writer, I was thinking, “Oh, I have to use this for writing.” And then I thought, when you said you used it for decluttering? I thought, “Okay. Game changer.” So, this is going to sound like an advertisement. By the way, we’re getting nothing for this.

 

Cheri – They have no idea we’re doing this.

 

Kathi – They have no idea we’re doing this. What is Focusmate?

 

Cheri – So, it is an online accountability collaborative venture. When I log on to the dashboard, I see different times of day. They’re listed by 50 minute increments. I can put myself down and say, “I want to have a Focusmate session, say, starting at 9 o’clock this morning. It’ll be a fifty minute session.” Now, if there’s already somebody’s little icon there, when I click on it, I can book with that person and we’re matched. If there’s nothing there, I put myself in, and the next person who wants to partner with somebody at 9 o’clock would be matched with me. This is worldwide, so at any point in time, there are multiple people. And it’s the computer doing the matching. I don’t know who these people are, most of the time. They don’t know who I am. It’s very organically and randomly done by the computer. The purpose is to get partnered with somebody who wants to have this work session. When the work session starts, I click on a little button. It takes me to a video room, kind of like Skype or Zoom. They come on screen. I come on screen. This is what I love about it. It’s very curated. There are very firm boundaries about what happens and doesn’t happen. We each say what we’re going to work on; what we’re going to focus on during that 50 minutes. We agree if we want microphone on, or if we want it on mute. Then we work and there’s a little chime at the end of 50 minutes. Then we check in with each other, and say how things went. Then we say, “Thank you so much for the working session.” And we say goodbye.

 

Kathi – Okay, I have so many questions. How did you get over feeling like, “I should be able to do this without another human being in Madagascar checking in on me.”?

 

Cheri – All the evidence suggesting I wasn’t getting things done.

 

Kathi – Okay, so tell me about that.

 

Cheri – The problem with my Google Calendar is, I can drag and drop a task anytime and anywhere I want. I can schedule it at any time and tell myself, “I’m going to do this from here.” And then I didn’t do it, so I dragged and dropped it somewhere else. One of the problems with being a reformed perfectionist is, I’ve swung so much to the other end. I give myself so much grace, it’s called license. So, instead of being so rigid with my schedule, I’m too loosey goosey and things weren’t getting done. Then, I read this book called Atomic Habits, and he talks about the importance of actually developing a plan and sticking to the plan. Of course, he also talks about accountability. I know myself to be a social learner. I know myself to be social. I’m a collaborative person. This isn’t collaborating. We’re not brainstorming together. We’re not talking to each other, which is very important. I get lonely. Who knew that knowing that there is one other person who’s kind of witnessing, they’re not staring at you or anything, but they know that you said you were going to do this thing, and then 50 minutes later, you check in, and you’re doing the same thing for them.

 

Kathi – Right. ‘Cause you’re both busy on your own task. Okay, I want to know, what are some of the people doing on Focusmate?

 

Cheri – Oh my goodness. This has been such a fun, unexpected part of it. One of the first people I worked with was a young guy over in, either England or Scotland. He was working on his doctoral dissertation. So, every day he was knocking out certain parts of it. I just happened to get matched with him every day for at least one session per day, and then, I knew he was going to revise it on a particular day, and I didn’t get matched with him. I was like, “Oh! I wonder how he’s doing.” So, I just messaged him and said, “Hey! I’m thinking about you today, while you’re revising your dissertation.” He sent me a little message back that said, “Thanks so much. It’s going well.” There was another gentleman who was looking for a job. He was going to spend the entire work session. That’s when I went, “Oh!” To me, that’s such a vulnerable thing to tell somebody else. That’s got to be a hard situation to be in. He was an older gentleman. It wasn’t like he was a kid who’s looking for his first job. I don’t know the circumstances. So, I’m still thinking about him. I’m praying for him, that he got a job. How cool, that he did what it took for him to have the discipline and the belief in himself to take the steps he needed to do that.

 

Kathi – I want you to talk about the mom.

 

Cheri – Oh, this was my favorite. It taught me something about myself. She started the session by saying her kids were there with her. She needed to do some reading for a class, then she was literally going to take the laptop, and she did, into the kitchen and cook dinner. At first, I was like, “Oh, that’s a little more noise than I’m comfortable with in the background.” Because she likes to keep the microphone on to hear my keys typing. I’m like, “You know, Cheri, you can turn the volume down on your side.” So, I didn’t hear so much. But, I thought, when I was a mom with small kids, what would I have given to have one other human being on the planet witnessing. Here she is. She’s in school. She’s being disciplined in front of her children. They’re learning by watching her do this. At one point, when she was in the kitchen, I typed, “Oh, it smells fabulous. What are we having?” You know? I wouldn’t want to partner with somebody like that eight hours a day, every day, but I’m committed to seeing where she is on the calendar, and making sure I work with her once a week, because I want to support what she’d doing. I feel like I’m becoming invested in the regulars that I see on the calendar.

 

Kathi – It’s a service. You’re serving people.

 

Cheri – They’re all around the world.

 

Kathi – You’re serving people without out actually taking time out of your day and actually getting more done. I love this concept.

 

Cheri – And, people around this world are doing amazing things. It has given me so much faith in humanity. They are buckling down and doing hard things. Some of the kids, and they are college kids, so to me they’re a kid. Sometimes they tell me, “I thought I’d get further. I was really frustrated with myself. Then I remembered.” So, they’re processing, in a very short, 15 second appropriate way. It’s kind of cool to be able to say, “Well good for you!” I’ve actually built a repertoire of things to say if it went well. Then I can cheer, “Good for you!” And if they struggled a little bit more, I can say, “At least you stuck it out. At least you did it. Your brain is going to keep processing it over the next few hours.”

 

Kathi – So tell me about when you used it to declutter.

 

Cheri – I was so surprised at the positive response I got from people.

 

Kathi – Really?

 

Cheri – Yes. Because, I’m still very new to Focusmate. I’ve only been using it for a month/month and half. It started out as just these piles I was going to go through, which I thought, “Well, certainly, that will be fine.” But then it became, “Well, I have to do the whole office.” So, I made sure my partner was okay with me doing that. They all said, “Yes.” Then, I moved the laptop so they could see. I tried not to be overly distracting. What ended up happening is, I was able to report back at the end. I would say, “This is the section of the office I’m hoping to do.” Or, “This is the set of binders I’m hoping to do.” The number of them who said I inspired them.

 

Kathi – Oh, my.

 

Cheri – Seeing my progress. And what was really funny is, there was one gentleman who, he and I worked together when I was starting to go through these piles. He was with me when I made that decision. I said, “This isn’t just piles, I have to do the whole office.” I won’t tell you how long it took me, but as I finished my office, he ended up being my partner, and I was able to take my computer and show him. He cheered for me and I was, like, “Yay!”

 

Kathi – It sounds like there are amazing people on there.

 

Cheri – They really are.

 

Kathi – It’s so interesting. Just yesterday, I was in one of my Facebook groups for clutter, one of the ones that I run, and this is the first time somebody’s done this. They set up their camera for fifteen minutes, to record them decluttering. Not live. She just did a video of it. She fast forwarded it, so fifteen minutes became a minute.

 

Cheri – How fun!

 

Kathi – It was so much fun. She has the two naughtiest cats in the world, who kept getting back on to the table.

 

Cheri – That would be hysterical.

 

Kathi – It was the best video I’ve seen in a long time. But, you know what? I would have to imagine somebody’s there with you. When you’re recording that, you’re going to be so vulnerable to put it up. You put it up and people are cheering for you. I’ve done clutter for a long time. That was the first time I’d ever seen it, and I was cheering for her. I was like, “Look at how fast you’re getting things done! That’s amazing. I love this concept. I think you know, when I was a young mom, what we would do is, I had three friends and we would switch off houses. Sometimes declutter, but mostly cleaning house. It was just good to have somebody else there to keep you on track, to keep you focused. There’s this social contract that if we say we’re going to do this for 15 minutes, and we’ve got cameras on? I love that it’s fifteen minutes. I mean, fifty minutes. Fifty. Because, you know, when I do coaching sessions, I do them for fifty minutes. I believe in humanitarian breaks. It doesn’t just have to be to go to the bathroom, it’s to get a glass of water. It’s to stretch. So, you have that ten minutes to kind of rest and recover. Then you can dive in to the next thing.

 

Cheri – Yeah. This is based on several scientific studies. They’ve done a really interesting combination of about five or six that have to do with accountability, that have to do with collaboration. There’s one woman, after her first one hundred session with Focusmate, she wrote an article titled, “I never have to work alone again.” For some diehard introverts, that would be the worst news ever, so this is not for them at all. I used to feel guilty, or needy. “Why do I need people?” ‘Cause that’s how God wired me.

 

Kathi – Right. And you know? It’s always great to go to a coffee shop and meet up with a friend and do the thing, but sometimes it’s very easy to meet up with a friend at a coffee shop and not get anything done.

 

Cheri – Yep.

 

Kathi – It can also, depending on where you live, and your situation in life, it can be expensive with little kids and things like that. Also? Just getting out of the house takes fifteen minutes, then another fifteen minutes. So, I love that this has no extra cost to it. Well, it does have a cost.

 

Cheri – Five dollars a month. Unlimited sessions.

 

Kathi – Five dollars a month.

 

Cheri – Now, you came up with a great idea the other day that I think you should share. I really think your Clutter Free people could this. They could do this inside the Clutter Free Facebook group. If they’re part of your Clutter Free for Life, your membership community, they could certainly do find partners for that there as well.

 

Kathi – I want to do Focusmates. That’s something I’m going to do. Because sometimes I don’t want to be connected to the person. I just want to get in, get out, do my thing. Please excuse the idea, but I just want it to be a one night stand.

 

Cheri – There you go. No strings attached.

 

Kathi – No strings attached. Exactly. Sorry, that’s a terrible metaphor, but it explains what I need to say. But here’s the other thing: Sometimes I do want to do it with a friend. I want to be cheered on. I want somebody who’s in my community to declutter with me. So, I’m just coming up with a new idea as we’re talking right now. The first idea is to get on with somebody else. Cheri and I are going to do this for writing, or whatever we need to accomplish, twice a week. We’re going to get on Zoom together and do this. What I think I’m going to do in Clutter Free Academy is, once a week, for fifteen minutes, just set up my camera and declutter, and say, “Hey guys! We’re all going to declutter for fifteen minutes. If you’re available, we would love you to declutter with us.”

 

Cheri – By Facebook Live?

 

Kathi – By Facebook Live.

 

Cheri – That’s brilliant.

 

Kathi – I think that would be super-fun.

 

Cheri – But you have to add it the idea that you came up with for us, ‘cause we’re going to do it for 45 minutes.

 

Kathi – We’re going to do it for 45 minutes, then we’re going to have 5 minutes of friend time. We’re going to earn that five minutes of friend time, because that’s our little reward. But it has to be five minutes and we have to hold to that. Otherwise, it doesn’t work. If we do 45 minutes of work, and an hour and 45 minutes of friend time, it kind of defeats the purpose. So, focusmate.com. Five dollars a month, which, I know for some people, they don’t have an extra penny, but for where I am in life right now, to have accountability for 50 minutes, several times a month? That works for me.

 

Cheri – I do it for finances. You know me. I do finances once a week. The other thing it’s really good for is realizing how long certain things take you.

 

Kathi – Oh, yeah.

 

Cheri – Because now that I’ve done it? I do finances on Thursday and I realized that one session isn’t enough. I book two. It’s making me more realistic about how much I can get done in any given day. It’s helping me gather data.

 

Kathi – Okay, so this is my last question for you. Have you ever got on and there have been a couple on the other side? ‘Cause I’m thinking that Roger and I need this for finances.

 

Cheri – No.

 

Kathi – Okay.

 

Cheri – No, I haven’t, but that’s something that you could do with other people.

 

Kathi – Yeah, I think that could be really interesting. Roger and I need high accountability in the whole finances thing. This has been amazing. Focusmate.com or we can get on Facebook, and we can say, “Hey! We’ve got two people. One is in California, one is in Florida. They need to do their fifteen minutes and they do it at 11:45 PST. Go.” To be able to do that, and say, “Hey. We’re going to be in each other’s space, but we’re cheering each other one.” I love it. Cheri, thanks so much.

 

Cheri – Oh, thanks for having me.

 

Kathi – And friends, thank you for being on Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always intended to live.

 

 

<<music>>

 

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

 

 

 

Kids, their Stuff, and How to Handle all of that Clutter

Kids, their Stuff, and How to Handle all of that Clutter

One of the most frequent questions we get at Clutter Free Academy is “What about my kids’ clutter?”

Conflict over clutter can damage any relationship over time, but it’s especially crucial to navigate this issue carefully with your kids, because what you teach them right now will impact their lifestyles as adults.

As parents, we want to empower our children to have the life skills they need to succeed. Here are four ways we can help our children learn how to live a clutter-free life.

Schedule short decluttering times.

Time-boxing makes decluttering bearable for anyone, young or old. As adults, we’re more likely to focus better if we only have to do it for 15 minutes. Depending on your kids’ age, set a timer and make a game of it. For example, challenge your 5-year-old to clean out one drawer in 5 minutes.

Here at Clutter Free Academy, we don’t expect anyone to spend hours at a time decluttering, much less a child. Decluttering works best in small, manageable sessions.

By the way, we need to differentiate between cleaning and decluttering. Cleaning means putting things away, mopping, vacuuming, and dusting. Decluttering means getting rid of stuff you don’t use, love, or would buy again. Both are important, but in this post, we’re focusing on decluttering.

Teach by example.

It’s been said that in raising kids, more is caught than taught. They tend to learn more from what we do than what we say.

They aren’t born knowing how to declutter. The best way to teach them is to work side-by-side with them to show them the same decluttering systems we’ve learned as adults. Make sure they have the tools they need—3 boxes, 2 bags—so that they have a system in place to declutter. Go through the steps one by one: what to give away, what to throw away, and what to put away. Any trash or recycle goes into the bags.

Have a fun celebration when you empty the contents of the boxes and bags into their rightful places. (It doesn’t have to be a big deal—a sticker, a high five, or a “Yay! You did it!” works great.

Focus on one tiny space at a time.

Trying to declutter a large space is even more overwhelming for kids than it is for adults. Choose the smallest area possible and set the timer. Even better, let them choose which area is the most problematic for them. If they already see the value of decluttering, then you’ve won half the battle.

Divide up the closet into small sections, sort one drawer at a time, go through one toy box at a time. Decluttering is a gradual process. Their space didn’t get cluttery in a day, but a consistent habit of setting a timer to declutter a small space will result in big changes.

Help them maintain their space.

To help keep things organized and tidy, teach your child routines; set times during the day when they put away toys, backpacks, clothes, and anything else out of place. Even five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening will work wonders.

To help with motivation, make a timed game out of it, for fun. They’ll be motivated even more by getting consistent rewards each week for working through their routines. Before they know it, picking up their things becomes a habit.

Lifelong Connections

When it comes to clutter, our relationship with our kids is so important. When we come alongside them and give them the tools and skills they need to create a clutter-free home, we free them up to be who God made them to be.

Parent-child dynamics are already challenging enough, especially between mothers and daughters. Reducing clutter conflict can go a long way to improve the relationship.

In their book, Mended, Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh talk about how to rebuild, restore, and reconcile the connections between mothers and daughters. One of their chapters deals with generational patterns and how hard they are to break. It takes intentionality and determination to change long-term habits and break learned clutter cycles.

                    

Giveaway!

The generous people over at Harvest House want to give some of our readers Daniel’s and McIntosh’s Mended. 5 people will win a copy and 1 grand prize winner will receive:

-1 Copy of Mended

-Assorted Note Cards

-Distressed Wood Frame

-Fruit Infuser Water Bottle

Enter to win by commenting below. What sorts of rewards motivate your kids the most? Which of these tips do you plan on implementing first?

How to Avoid Distractions and Live Out Your God-Given Purpose

How to Avoid Distractions and Live Out Your God-Given Purpose

How to Avoid Distractions and Live Out Your God-Given Purpose

When it comes down to it, clutter is a distraction.

As I walk around my house, trying to get ready to host a group of five of my favorite women for three days, I can feel annoyance with myself starting to rise.

Here are some thoughts that come to mind:

“Why do I have all these half-done projects lying around?”

“Why didn’t I finish unloading the dishwasher? Now I have to unload it before I load it.” (Because the dryer buzzer had gone off.)

“Why did I leave the pile of bills on the table instead of paying them?” (I wasn’t sure where the money was going to come from for an unexpected auto repair.)

“I wish I could finish half of what I start. Why is my normally mostly-put-together home suddenly way more out of control than normal?”

And then I think about my past week:

  • One of our grown children is in a career crisis.
  • Our contractor is two months behind on completing our renovation.
  • I’m stuck on a part of the book I’m writing and can’t seem to focus.
  • My husband is going through some significant health issues.

Clutter was only a symptom of a distracted mind.

When my heart is heavy, sad, or frustrated, my go-to move is to either let distractions take over my life, or to create distraction so I don’t have to pay attention to painful things.

In their new book, Shiny Things, Amanda Bacon and Anne-Renee Gumley talk about the areas of distraction—not when it comes to our homes, but to our families.

Moms have particular challenges regarding distractions when raising their children. When my kids were small, I remember being pulled in so many different directions. I didn’t always know what my priorities should be.

So as a mom, how do you focus on the important things?

Stop being a slave to your schedule.

Just because someone asks you do to something, doesn’t mean it has earned the right to be on your calendar. Learn to value your time like never before. When I was single, my only obligation was to myself. But when I became a mom, for some reason, I thought I should be able to do everything I had done before and still be able to raise tiny humans.

Understand your limitations.

I know when I’m over-tired, I self-distract with food and stupid TV. There is nothing wrong with watching the “Holiday Armadillo” episode of Friends (again), but when I know I’m using it as distraction because I’ve stayed up too late (again), it’s time to realize I can’t run with the same energy that I could if I didn’t have kids.

Find meaning in what matters.

When I’m neck deep in distraction, oftentimes it’s because I’m looking for “hits”—something that gets me approval from outside sources. When that happens, I realize I’m at a stage in marriage or parenting that’s hard, where the rewards are few. I feel not only unappreciated, but downright unlovable.

In those situations, it’s important to remind myself:

  • This is a season.
  • I’m doing hard work that does not have immediate rewards.
  • God sees my efforts, even when no one else does.

We’re all prone to chase shiny things, whatever that looks like in each stage of life.

Recognizing the reasons we are drawn to distractions helps us to focus on the purpose God created us for, especially as parents. Then we can give the best of ourselves to what matters most — loving God and our families.

Giveaway!

The generous people over at Harvest House want to give our readers Amanda Bacon and Anne-Renee Gumley’s book, Shiny Things. Five people will win a copy and 1 grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy ofShiny Things
  • Rustic Felt Letter Board 10×10
  • A Notebook Journal
  • 18 Colored Felt Pens

 Enter to win by commenting below. Are distractions keeping you from your highest priority? What shiny things are distracting you right now?

 

The Most Wonderful, Clutter Free, Gift-Giving Ideas for this Christmas

The Most Wonderful, Clutter Free, Gift-Giving Ideas for this Christmas

Tell me if this sounds familiar, friends. Your family members make the lists of all the things they simply MUST have for Christmas. Each list alone might actually be pretty do-able, but as you shop for those must-have items you also pick up a few dozen “Oh, they’d like this” type of things.

Or, their list is all big-ticket items and they’ll only end up with one or two things under the tree. That doesn’t feel very Christmas-y, so you pick up a few more items – just some little things, really.

Or you get the under-the-tree stuff done and then are left with stockings to fill with…what? Hmm. Maybe I’ll just head to the dollar store and find a cute trinket or two or eight…

Any of that sound familiar?

I’ve had years when each of those have felt true. In my desire to make the holidays special I bought items for those I love to round out the Christmas gifts or to fill the stockings. Then, after Christmas I realized that what I had done was stuck a bow on clutter and brought it into my home. The aftermath of Christmas can be an avalanche of clutter on top of what you are already trying to purge. Enough of that nonsense. I’d like to avoid that this year. No clutter with bows, thank-you-very-much. Who’s with me?

Here’s my plan to prep my home for Christmas and to bring home less clutter, and more joy.

First Declutter

Mildred, a member of our Clutter Free Academy Facebook group, posted a picture of an empty laundry basket in front of a Christmas tree. Above it was their Elf on a Shelf and a sign that said, “You’ve got to Give to Get! Please fill up the basket with toys you no longer play with and I will take them to the North Pole for other kids.” What a brilliant idea!

There are so many things our children no longer love or play with. So many things our teens no longer use or wear. So many things that are taking up space in our closets and desks. What if we took an evening as a family to get the ball rolling to purge and donate before the gifts start flowing in? Let’s put our items in the laundry basket first and show the kids how it’s done!

Buy Stuff You’ll Use – Literally

When we polled the Clutter Free group for some clutter free gift ideas the number one answer to come in wasn’t the same thing, but the same kinds of things—consumables. These are things we can enjoy, while using up.

  • Bath fun: fizzies, crayons, bubbles, shower gel in favorite scents
  • Cologne or body spray (especially for those “fragrant” teens)
  • Make-up and nail polish
  • Favorite candy and treats that you don’t purchase often
  • Spice rubs and entertaining food sets
  • Special flavors of coffee, tea, or cocoa

What if we filled those stockings with things that wouldn’t be around in a month? Some of the sweetest gifts are those we use up and remember fondly rather than having to dust or trip over all the time. This mindset works well for those we are buying for outside our home as well. Give the blessing of clutter free gifts!

Let’s Do Something Fun

Experiences were the second most popular recommendation for clutter free gifts. When grandmas and grandpas ask for family gift ideas, we can share places we’d love to go and things we’d love to do instead of stuff we’d like to have. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Memberships for the zoo or a museum
  • Season passes to the amusement park, local pool, or state park
  • Trip to a local attraction, escape room, or some fun thing you’ve wanted to try
  • Gift card for dinner out together, coffee dates with mom or dad, or other special treats
  • Pampering gift cards for mani/pedis, massages

There are all kinds of things we could do together that would be more meaningful than another video game or a piece of clothing that will wear out. Asking for experiences can be a brilliant idea. One year a friend of mine asked her mom to give her family an evening at a local escape room from a Groupon deal. She got a money-saving deal and they had so much fun together. It was a clutter free win-win.

Think Outside Boxes

When it comes to Christmas giving, we love to give gifts that are meaningful. I think we need to reframe what a meaningful gift is – sometimes it doesn’t need to be something our loved one keeps forever. Simple and small can be special. Pampering is something we can enjoy to recharge and when the massage is over we aren’t burdened with clutter. Family experiences provide memories we can treasure in our hearts and require no dusting or storage.

This Christmas, just say no to more clutter and yes to gifts that we can consume to bring joy. Merry Christmas, indeed. (Kids, in case you are reading this – I will take a massage.)

 

Kathi Lipp is the author of 16 books including Overwhelmed, Clutter Free, The Get Yourself Organized Project, The Husband Project, and Happy Habits for Every Couple. She is the host of Clutter Free Academy the Podcast! with Kathi Lipp and speaks at conferences across the US. Kathi is also the creator of Communicator Academy and Leverage: The Speaker Conference, both designed to help writers and speakers become the communicator God has created them to be.

 

#320: How to Be Kind to Your Future Self and Overcome Procrastination Today

#320: How to Be Kind to Your Future Self and Overcome Procrastination Today

Have you ever had a big project that you just kept putting off? Or something in your life that just felt too big to tackle right now so you put it off and put it off for another time? Kathi sits down with friend and coauthor of “You Don’t Have to Try So Hard,” Cheri Gregory, to talk about emotional clutter and procrastination.

In this Episode You Will Know:

  • Why procrastination is actually considered a form of perfectionism.
  • How to know if you’re a procrastinator.
  • Why celebrating those small things is such a big deal.
  • The 3 most important things to know if you’re a procrastinator.

Join us for the You Don’t Have to Try so Hard Book Club!

If you’re committed to really ditching those crazy expectations you’ve put on your life, this book club is for you. We’ll be diving into the concepts of identifying and destroying those bullies that keep us in try-harder living rather than living our best life.

We’ll be holding the club on Facebook in our Private Clutter Free Academy group. It is the kindest corner of the internet, where there is no shame to our game. We’ll be exploring You Don’t Have to Try So Hard as a group from September 10 through October 22 and would love to have you join us. Click here to join today!

WIN A COPY OF YOU DON’T HAVE TO TRY SO HARD!

Comment below and be entered to win the You Don’t Have to Try So Hard gift pack from Harvest House which includes:

Gracelaced Planner
Simple Organizing
Holy Hustle
Unblinded Faith
You Don’t Have to Try So Hard

What is the one thing you are procrastinating on this week and the step you are going to take to get past it?

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

• Leave a note in the comment section below.
• Share this show on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

To Help Out the Show:

• Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
• Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe now.

Thank you to Cheri for joining me in today’s podcast! Join us next week as we talk about perfectionism.

 

Transcript

Kathi Lipp:
Welcome to Clutter Free Academy where our heart is to help you take small do-able steps to live every day with less Clutter and more life. These four weeks are all about the emotional clutter. But I’ll just say, of all the cluttering topics that we’re talking about, this is the one that’s going to lead you to the most physical clutter. Today we’re talking about the “p word”—procrastination—the hardest one of all. Here with me today is Cheri Gregory, co-author of “You Don’t Have to Try so Hard”. Welcome back to Clutter Free Academy, Cheri.

So Cheri, how has procrastination shown up in your life?

Cheri Gregory:
Thanks for having me. Of course I’m more of the classic perfectionist where I will kill myself to get things done, but the procrastination shows up when I feel like something is so overwhelming. The performance the part of me is all or nothing. I either have to do it amazingly or not at all, and so this procrastination is, “Well, right now I don’t have time to do it all and do it perfectly, thus I won’t do anything at all,” so I won’t even start unless I can keep it going. I know some of your people in Clutter Free Academy feel like they can’t start doing the physical decluttering if they can’t do it all at once, and so I know that that’s where some of your guidance with the blue tape and the fifteen minute time-boxing makes such a big difference for them.

Kathi:
I think that’s because they’ve started before and they haven’t finished. Then it’s been more of a mess than when they started, so that’s why we say in twenty minutes–fifteen minutes of de-cluttering and five minutes of putting away–it’s only going to look better. There’s another de-cluttering system out there that just makes me crazy because you’re supposed to de-clutter by putting everything in the middle of a room. Oh my goodness, that’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life! I hope it works for people but it does not work for me. I need to do short, small, doable bits, and the funny thing is, well the not so funny thing, is that you and I have both talked about this type of procrastination being the most socially acceptable. Perfectionistic people don’t see this as perfectionism. So it’s mental.

Cheri:
Right! I’ve actually spoken on this, and had women walk by later and say, “I’ve never thought of procrastination before as perfectionism!” But I think it’s the mindset of, “If I can’t do it right, I’m not going to do it at all. I’m not even going to get started!” So people are constantly putting off tasks until there’s a better time, or a better time they can do it right or they can do it perfectly. The problem with that is that the fear builds up. At least for me, if I put it off for three days, there must be a good reason. If I put it off for three weeks, it must be the biggest baddest monster that I can possibly imagine! Whereas, when we just get started, we shrink can it down to size.
You’ve probably told a few of those stories! You know, when a person tells a grand procrastination story and then says they pulled it off at the last possible moment—and the crowd goes wild! We love these stories! We think they’re just marvelous! The stories are funny and crowd-pleasing. But nobody ever says, “That’s so irresponsible! Why would you tell that story at a party?”

Kathi:
I grew up with a mom whose motto was, “I work better under pressure.” It took me a long time to figure out that no, she didn’t work better under pressure, she just worked. My mom was always busy, but when there was a deadline, and we’re all better with a deadline, she worked harder. That’s not a bad thing you know. I’m noticing as I’m doing more de-cluttering around my house, when I’m doing it with the mission of having people spend the night or something like that, of course I’m going to work harder. It’s more about understanding those little rewards those little goals that help us so much.

So, how do you know if you’re a procrastinator? Perhaps you are if you put off listening to this podcast for three weeks because you didn’t have time! But we all know if this is something we do.

But there are pain points. The number one for me for a long time was that I was always apologizing but nobody cared. People would think, “Yep, we know Kathi, we know you said you were going to do it and you didn’t do it on time.” My mom loves to tell the tale of the library fines I had, because it was always easier to find the library books later on. I was the worst! She says, “I can’t believe they didn’t have a ‘Most Wanted’ poster up there for you.”

I have many people who work for me. I’ve got some who are always on time, and I have some who are sometimes on time and not sometimes on time because things have come up, and then I have people who are always late. The people in the always-late category don’t stick around for very long because we can’t we can’t roll like that.

Cheri:
The second pain point is that you work on things that aren’t important to avoid the pain of difficult tasks. For example, when those of us who work at home on a book deadline find ourselves scrubbing the grout! It is amazing the things that suddenly look so appealing when we want to avoid the one thing that is terrifying us—the thing that we’re afraid of. I think it’s hard sometimes because I don’t recognize it as fear. Instead I’m telling myself that I don’t want to do that, I’m not in the mood today. Or I believe it’s icky. No, it’s fear. I’m afraid of some aspect of the work I’m avoiding, and it is easier for me to go do some other disgusting horrible task that I really don’t like and don’t want to do. That ought to be a sign, when we’re willing to do something we hate doing in order to avoid the other thing.

Kathi:
I see that all the time in myself sadly.
The third pain point is that either people think you’re unreliable, or you kill yourself on a regular basis at the last minute. I’d say I went from being unreliable to thinking, “I’m going to do this whether it kills me,” and let’s be clear, and it kills my husband, it kills my kids, it kills the people I care about because I have a high sense of responsibility now.

Cheri:
The problem is that when you’ve killed yourself and you’ve pulled it off, now you’re behind on the next things that need to be done, and it ends up being this endless cycle of being behind, which looks like procrastination. I think we are all willing to listen to people who have a crisis or an emergency, and at that point that’s a reason to be late or miss a deadline. People can be understanding of that. But when it becomes a pattern then it becomes just excuses.

Kathi:
Yes, and there have been times when all of us have gone through a really tough times in our lives, so please don’t think that we’re short on mercy. It’s the people who keep finding those tough times and using them for the reasons or excuses, and it’s gone on for months or years, that’s when we know.

Cheri:
I have created crises. I have almost knowingly gone without sleep eating too much sugar to get sick so that I could then suddenly cancel out of things or extend deadlines. I’m not above doing such things. I didn’t really intentionally do it in the moment, but in looking back I now see that I pulled a fast one on myself and thus everybody else there.

Kathi:
It’s a way of self-protection really.

What are the three most important things you need to know if you are a procrastinator?

Cheri:
Number one: You’ve got to learn to take care of your future self.

I love how you talk about this future self as being somebody that we need to be loyal to, rather than the immediate gratification. Because avoiding what feels scary in the moment feels fabulous now.

Kathi:
I will say this, my ankle has been hurting quite a bit recently and I’ve been talking about taking care of my future self. I’ve been going to the gym, I’ve been doing long walks, and my ankle has been in pain. At first I thought it was a spider bite because there were two little pinpricks in there. Then I thought it was gout and that I just needed to hustle. I need to do more. It turns out that I have a fractured ankle. So be smart about your future self. Your future self also doesn’t want to be crippled. It’s always a balance of what we need to do today to prepare for the future, but also I need to take care of myself today. So live in that balance and constantly ask yourselves if you’re doing the right thing for today’s self, and for future self. Sometimes you get to just have a break, and it’s okay. You can eat a granola bar and watch an episode of “Gilmore Girls.” That’s OK because that’s restorative and soul filling. But most of the time what we need to be doing is taking care of the things that would be so much easier to put off because they’re hard or scary we don’t want to do them.

Cheri:
Number two: Take the next micro step.

One of the things we’ve been learning over the last few years together is that we would put things on our list and they would just be too big and that was part of what made it so scary. I’m doing better with procrastination these days because all I have to do is look at it and read it and think about it. I don’t have to do it, I don’t have to fix that, I don’t have to do research. I just need to start wrapping my brain around it, and start giving myself permission to just take that first little micro step. What’s astonishing is that when I’d pushed something off until the very last minute, usually I ended up doing a very poor job. I’m not one of those who pulls it off at the last minute very well because generally the projects are more complicated than I thought, they need more research, or there are people I need to talk to who aren’t accessible at two thirty in the morning. But now, if I can at least get started. If I can at least begin by attempting to understand what the project is about, or who I might need to involve, and what questions I might have it helps. Another really good thing about taking those first micro steps is just knowing what questions I might have, and even jotting those down. That’s not a particularly scary thing to do. I don’t have to have a perfect end result. But oh my goodness, it gets the ball rolling and gets some momentum happening. For so many of us who deal with procrastination, once that obstacle of starting is out of the way, then we can keep it going. It’s the big bad beginning that can just be so overwhelming. Micro steps are the answer to that.

Kathi:
And if you are working on a team, procrastination is about the worst thing that you can do. What you’re doing is that you’re asking everybody to constantly be a hero for you, and people are tired of rescuing over and over and over. There are some people who get off on it, but then you end up owing them all the time and nobody wants to live like that. So the earlier I can do something, the less scary it can be, and the more imaginary obstacles I can remove. When we’re looking at a project we either are the total optimists, thinking this is just going to be so easy, and that we think that way. We’re almost scared to start it because we don’t know what the obstacles are going to be. Then we start imagining all the crazy stuff that could happen, so whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist the reward is procrastination. But it’s only a temporary reward. Don’t you feel terrible while you’re procrastinating? Thinking all the while you know you should be doing this.

Cheri:
My conscience goes crazy!
One of the things I have learned over the last years is to start asking myself what my procrastination is trying to protect me from. In my case, it’s often trying to protect me from devoting too much time. My old perfectionistic self would say,” I’m just going to work. I’m going to work and work and work as hard as I can for long as it takes.” I’ve started to recognize when procrastination is actually kind of being friendly towards me, it’s trying to help me cut things down to size. The problem with using procrastination to do that is that I just waste time. I fritter my time away and then there’s only three hours left, so now the task takes three hours. What I’m trying to learn to do is when I feel like procrastinating, which means I was probably about to devote ten hours to a two hour task, is to give myself permission to only take two or maybe three hours maximum, and I’m going to call that good enough. Then I can do whatever I want with that time. I can relax. I can rest. I can go take a walk and spend time with my family. I can watch “Gilmore Girls.” That’s actually been a really interesting little experiment for me to sometimes look at the procrastination as a potentially friendly force that I need to listen to. What is it trying to do for me? In my case it’s trying to curate.

Kathi:
So you can view procrastination as protection.

Cheri:
Yes. Protection from my crazed performance-istic and perfectionist self.

Kathi:
I love that.

Finally, number three: Accountability.

You and I do this big time. It’s good to be able to say when I can feel myself procrastinating and to be able to say what I want to do and when I need to get it done. Michele Cushatt and I text each other every single morning. We tell each other what we’re writing that day because it would be so easy without that accountability to just think that since nobody is going to know I’m not writing, then the only person I’m hurting is myself. That is the worst sentence in the world by the way—that the only person I’m hurting is myself. Why would that be OK?
How do you use accountability in your life Cheri?

Cheri:
You know from working with me all these years that I am a social learner, so collaboration and cooperation are so important to me. Knowing that I’m stewarding not just my time, which should be important to me, but knowing that I’m responsible for these collaborative projects where what I do or don’t do affects somebody else’s ability to be who God created them to be gives me an extra sense of responsibility. It’s not an oppressive sense of responsibility, it’s exciting. It’s OK. Part of what I’ve realized is that I do need constant feedback, and then I’m less likely to procrastinate. For example, for my writing I have writing coach. The moment I have a draft, no matter how bad it is, I send it off to her. Knowing I’m going to hear back from her in a few days—not months or weeks—keeps me writing. I need the instant gratification of accountability.
It keeps me from feeling like nobody cares or it doesn’t matter to anybody in the world whether or not I meet my deadline. It does matter.

Kathi:
It really does. One of the things that has helped me with accountability are the opportunities that I want. I have to be good about going after them and it’s scary and to say, “ Hey, I’m doing a brave thing and I need you to pray for me, I need you to encourage me, I need you to be ridiculously cheering for me, because this is hard for me.” That helps me to not put things off. I’ve got one of those opportunities right now. I need to apply to be a speaker at something and I’m scared. I’m scared of rejection and so to be able to put my best foot forward and be okay with this I need somebody to cheer me on, and it’s been huge for me to ask for this kind of help and accountability.
Now I want to know, what is the thing that you are procrastinating on this week? We all do it. And what’s the step you’re going to take? Is it micro steps? Is it needing to understand that you’re taking care of your future self? Do you need to ask a friend for some help? Tell us the thing you’re scared of and the step you’re going to take so you won’t procrastinate, and we will enter you in to win the “You Don’t Have to Try So Hard” gift basket. There are amazing books that will help you get on the path to doing what you want to do. Go comment over on the podcast page. Cheri, thanks so much for being with me again today!

Cheri:
Thanks for having me!

Kathi:
Next time we’re talking about the mother of all perfectionistic traits. We’re talking about perfectionism itself. I know it’s so scary, but that’s OK, we’ll hold each other’s hands and we’ll be accountable. 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.

Meet Our Guest

Cheri Gregory

Cheri Gregory

Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.” Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and Overwhelmed.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities.
Cheri blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.

Episode #311: Plan Ahead for Your Next Instant Party – How to be Ready to Celebrate at a Moment’s Notice

Episode #311: Plan Ahead for Your Next Instant Party – How to be Ready to Celebrate at a Moment’s Notice

Who doesn’t love a good get-together with friends or family? How do you make an instant party when you don’t have time to run to the store and you haven’t done a deep clean in awhile?

Kathi and her clutter free expert, Tonya Kubo, join in on this fun episode full of tips that make your next party stress free. They share their favorite party recipes, cleaning ideas and ways to let your guests help out so they feel like they are part of the fun. No one wants a stressed out hostess and with these tips you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your guests instead of worrying about tiny details (you know, the ones that probably don’t really matter!).

Recipes mentioned in the show:

Kathi’s Macaroni Salad recipe for Instant Pot
Tammy’s Maltby Cake Recipe
Kathi’s recipe for “really quick chili”
Tonya’s Icebox Cakes (2 recipes):
https://averiecooks.com/boston-cream-icebox-cake/
https://thekitchn.com/how-to-make-a-no-bake-icebox-cake-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-202104

Tonya’ Cowboy Caviar

Ingredients:
2 15-oz. cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 16-oz bag frozen sweet corn, thawed
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, minced (taste first to check heat)
1 cucumber, peeled and diced (optional)
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped

Dressing:
1 Tbsp olive oil
Juice from 2 fresh limes, about 4 tablespoons (lemon works too)
Dash of red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix together dressing ingredients and set aside. Mix salad ingredients in a bowl stir in dressing to blend. You can serve immediately but it’s even better after 2 hours in the fridge.
Notes: This can be made the night before. You can sub the black beans for any type of firm canned bean. Black-eyed peas and pinto beans are great substitutions.

Share your favorite tips! Win Kathi’s What’s for Dinner Solution!

To win:
Leave a note in the comment section below. Tell us what your favorite cleaning tip or recipe is for your parties. Winner will be chosen on July 10, 2018.

*Giveaway is for US residents only.

 

 


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Meet Our Guest

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious, fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter-Free Academy Facebook group. She and her husband, Brian, are raising two spirited girls in the agricultural heart of California. She writes about fighting the demons of comparison, clutter and compulsion on www.tonyakubo.com.