4 Ways to be Prepared for any Crisis, Big or Smalll

4 Ways to be Prepared for any Crisis, Big or Smalll

My friend, Susy, told me an interesting fact about astronauts. “They don’t prepare for disaster. They prepare for multiple disasters all happening at the same time.”

I bet for many of you, that is how the last few months have felt.

It wasn’t just fear of a pandemic. It was that fear, on top of taking care of kids or aging parents, sometimes remotely. Plus, possibly taking over your kids’ education. And, to top it off, trying to find basic necessities like eggs and toilet paper.

Read the entire article over at Girlfriends in God


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#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.


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:

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.

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.


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.





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




#396: Clutter Free Kids – Secrets from a Preschool Director on How to Keep Kids Clutter Free and Organized

#396: Clutter Free Kids – Secrets from a Preschool Director on How to Keep Kids Clutter Free and Organized

Kathi is joined by early childhood educator (and bonus-daughter) Amanda Thivierge. How can you teach kids to be clutter-free? Well, Amanda shares her top three tips to fight clutter and get your kids in on it.

  • Clutter-free is a journey, and we don’t all come by it naturally.
  • Modeling for kids is key. (AND how to do that well.)
  • Get brutal and say goodbye to the stuff you will not use. (BYE-BYE DOILIES!)
  • and more…

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.

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

Also, if you want to get entered to win a copy of Clutter Free Home, give us your best clutter-free tips for kids in the comments below and someone will win Kathi’s new (HOT OFF THE PRESSES) book.


Learn more about Clutter Free for Life.

We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

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

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.



Meet Our Guest

Amanda Thivierge

Amanda Thivierge

Preschool Director

Amanda is an early childhood educator and Preschool Director. Her expertise shines in this interview with her friend and step-mother, Kathi Lipp. 


Read along with the podcast!


Clutter Free Academy Podcast #396


Clutter Free Kids – Part 1



<<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 is a very special episode. It’s like an after school special, but in a much better way. I think I have actually known this guest longer than anybody else that has been on my podcast, and that includes Roger. I think we’ve been friends for over twenty five years, but I think we’ve been related for fifteen. So, this is my step-daughter, Amanda Thivierge. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy!


Amanda – Thank you so much for having me.


Kathi – And I’m not just having you because we’re related. I know you are doing this under a little bit of duress. Actually, she’s been very kind and said she would do anything, but you don’t spend a lot of time going on podcasts, right?


Amanda – No, this is my first.


Kathi – Yay! I’m so glad. Okay, so that will be super fun. Why I wanted to have Amanda on, and I’ve actually referred to Amanda in books about clutter free and getting organized. Amanda, tell everyone what your day job is.


Amanda – My day job is a pre-school director, so I’ve got lots of little kiddos, and I’ve got about thirty staff underneath me.


Kathi – I was just going to say. It’s not just the kiddos you have to organize. It’s the staff as well. It’s interesting because, I know that things don’t directly transfer from home to work to school, but there are some principles that work with most kids and most other adults you’re managing. So, that’s why I wanted to come on and bring you on here. We’re going to do this as a two part series. First, we’re going to talk about “How do you keep clutter out of the classroom?” I think some of these really apply to what you do at home. The next thing is “How to be organized.” Because they’re two entirely different things. Clutter is all the nonsense that gets in the way, and there’s clutter that just like, “Hey, when you’re cutting out construction paper, you create clutter.” You encourage that kind of clutter, right?


Amanda – Absolutely.


Kathi – Yes, ‘cause you love to see a lot of creativity. You love to see a lot of activity. You want your teachers doing projects with your kids.


Amanda – I want them having fun.


Kathi – Right! So, fun often means mess.


Amanda – Most times, yes.


Kathi – But the clutter we’re talking about, is the clutter that gets in the way of the fun. Like, when you can’t find the glue.


Amanda – When you can’t function in your own classroom, ‘cause there’s too much stuff in the way? That’s when you have a problem.


Kathi – Have you seen that, as a director? Or did you see it, as a teacher, with other teachers?


Amanda – I lived it as a teacher.


Kathi – Okay, good. I love the honesty. So this has been a journey for you.


Amanda – Absolutely.


Kathi – Okay. And by the way, full disclosure, as soon as Roger and I got married, and I moved in, Amanda moved out. So, I can’t really talk to the state of her room. I can’t tell you how messy she was as a teenager. I have heard some stories.


Amanda – Oh, there are plenty. Too many.


Kathi – Yes. So, to say that this has been a journey? That gives me a lot of hope and it gives my listeners a lot of hope. You were not born organized. You were not born color coding. You didn’t have to color code anything, ‘cause everything you owned was purple for a while.


Amanda – It still is. Let’s just be real.


Kathi – Yeah, that’s true. Okay, so I want to talk about some principles here that I think are going to be very helpful to all of the parents out there. Or, even if you are in an organization, and you’re managing people? I think a lot of these will actually transfer. So, you and I had a discussion about multipurpose rooms. So, I found this fascinating, because I think that modern home, there’s so many purposes to a living room, or even a dining room, a study, even bedrooms. You’re sitting here, in our bedroom at The Red House. It’s not just a bedroom, it’s also an office. It’s also a cat storage facility. We do a lot of things. We have storage in here for our business and stuff like that. You are specifically talking about when you go into a facility, like a school or a church or something, and there’s a multipurpose room. So, talk about some of the situations you’ve been in, and talk about how you’ve handled keeping those spaces clutter free.


Amanda – That was probably the most eye opening, in terms of being clutter free. I walked into these facilities, and they are set-up and tear-down for every session that they do. So, in the morning, the kids come in. You’re setting up, you’re putting out the cards, you’re putting out the carpets.


Kathi – Wow. You’re building a room.


Amanda – You’re building a room every single time, and you have to tear it down every single time. Drama class prepared me for this.


Kathi – Yes. You did a lot of set design, set building and stuff like that.


Amanda – Yeah, but it just amazed me that there was no clutter, because, where are you going to put it?


Kathi – Because other teachers are coming in and using that. Other programs, that kind of thing. So, how did you handle the storage of all your stuff?


Amanda – Well, you have to find things that work for you. So, in this situations, it was finding carts that can roll and hold all your stuff. Having organization, so labeling all your bins, and making sure that nothing goes in those bins that doesn’t belong in those bins. Then, just having things that really work in the space that you have.


Kathi – I love this, because I think about when we had three at home, when Roger and I got married, and our kitchen table was where we ate dinner, it was the homework center, and by the way, I worked there, too. Let me just tell you, when we were first married, that clutter free mentality had not really set in, so, it meant that every time we wanted to do something, it was like we had to renovate the entire house. I remember one time, oh, bless, bless, bless, I was working on a project that accidentally got swept up into Jeremy’s homework, and I did not know it. Let’s just say that Jeremy and I did not have the best relationship at this time. I thought he threw it away. Glad to know he was not that devious. No, no, he’s a sweet kid. By the way, we’re great, now, but at the time? Now, I was not putting my stuff away. This is something you talk about when you’re talking about your kids, is the very first step is, “If you’re taking something out, put it away.” As moms, we more naturally do this. As teachers we do it. But you have a couple of extra steps you do with kids. So, explain these steps.


Amanda – Yeah, so when you’re in a daycare facility, or a childcare facility, or anything, really, everything you do is modelling, right? So, as a teacher, I’m going to walk in and I’m going to model the behavior that I want the children to see and to follow. So, I’m going to tell them what I’m doing.


Kathi – Can I tell you, this was not my elementary school experience? I think the teachers thought we were 28 slaves that could do all the things. Now, I didn’t understand at the time, how hard they were working. I think that’s so interesting. So, how do you model that behavior? Just saying, “When you take something out, you put it away.”?


Amanda – Well, yeah, I definitely say that to the children, but I also show it to them. So, when I’m taking out a project, I say, “Okay, I’m going to take out the scissors. I’m going to take out the pencils, the glue.” Then, as the project is wrapping up, I say, “Okay, where does this stuff go? Oh, it goes back in the cabinet.” And I demonstrate it, and vocalize is to the children, so they’re hearing the positivity for cleaning up. Then, I recognize it, in terms of the space. I say, “Oh look! The table is now clean! Fantastic! We are now ready to eat a snack!”


Kathi – Well, I just did some work on this with a presentation I was doing for a group. We were talking about overwhelm. It was at a school in El Paso. UCLA did a giant research study about clutter in homes, and the correlation to moms being stressed, and kids being distracted. So, you know, I would think that in a classroom, you would see, the higher the mess level, the more distracted the kids are.


Amanda – Yes, and that goes for everything in the room. We often refer to the classroom as the third teacher in the classroom.


Kathi – Oh, I’ve never heard that before. That’s really cool. So, explain that.


Amanda – The third teacher is just another way of saying that the classroom is another environment where the children learn. So, what’s on the wall? They’re going to be learning from that. What’s on the floor? They’re going to be learning from that. What’s on the shelves? They’re going to be learning from that. So, you really have to make sure that everything is purposeful. You’re not just throwing up projects on the wall, just to have them there, because that’s when it gets cluttered. You’re not just putting toys on the shelves, just to have them there, because, again, that’s when it gets cluttered. Having that third teacher in the classroom can support the children’s growth and development.


Kathi – So, everything in the room is there intentionally.


Amanda – Well, it should be.


Kathi – It should be, yes. In the ideal classroom, everything is there intentionally, and nothing is there that will distract from their learning experience, or them being able to pay attention.  I’ll never forget. I don’t know if you’ll remember this. I know you knew my kids. You actually babysat my kids when they were really little. I don’t know if you remember how into trains Justin was?


Amanda – No, I don’t remember.


Kathi – That’s okay. He was in a preschool classroom where they had to take the train out of the classroom, because he was so obsessed with it.


Amanda – That’s where I’m like, “Okay if he’s obsessed with the train, let’s incorporate it in a different way.”


Kathi – Oh! Interesting.


Amanda – Yeah, so taking it out of the classroom doesn’t lessen the obsession, it actually creates more of a hype.


Kathi – Oh! Interesting.


Amanda – So, you have to incorporate it in different ways. So, if he’s obsessed with trains, then I would actually put train books in multiple areas. I would pull him into these other areas by putting trains in them.


Kathi – See? Why weren’t you his teacher? He got kicked out of that school. Can I just tell you that? He was out of there. Okay, so ONE – If you take something out, put it away, and model and vocalize when you’re doing that. Number two: talking about getting purposeful in the room. You said, if something no longer has a use, get it out. So, explain what you mean by that. Many of the teachers I know, they just want as many resources as they can possibly have.


Amanda – Well, yes. ‘Cause nobody has any funding, right? So, you just tend to take everything into the classroom, and you’re like, “I’ll use it at some point, and you’re never going to give me money again, so, I’m just going to keep it forever.”


Kathi – So, it’s kind of a hording mentality.


Amanda – It really is.


Kathi – Okay, we talked about this. The teachers and crafters and homeschoolers are the worst.


Amanda – I’m two out of three.


Kathi – I know you are. But you’ve got it under control, for the most part, that I can see.


Amanda – Yeah, either I hide it really well, or I’ve got some systems to keep me in check.


Kathi – I think you’ve got some systems, ‘cause I’ve been in your room as an adult. I’ve seen the things. So, how do you use criteria to say, “Okay, this is no longer being used.”? What do you feel like you should save? Is there anything you should save, or does it all have to go, and you go for the minimalist look?


Amanda – If it has multiple uses, I tend to save it. Even if it’s not being used at this particular moment. For instance, the Lincoln Logs. Half the time, those are never used in the classroom, right? Hardly ever. But, at the same time, if we can reintroduce them later in a special way, and the kids get the interest built up again, then that’s one thing. However, if you’ve got doilies in the classroom that the kids just never use, you don’t have a way of reinventing or repurposing it, (except for Valentine’s Day) get rid of it.


Kathi – Okay, so I heard you say something interesting with those Lincoln Logs. Somebody just asked me, “What toys do I get rid of?” Even though they’re about the have grandkids. I’m like, “Well, keep the classic toys. The toys that have been popular for over 50 years. Keep those. There’s a reason.” I think something is interesting that you said. To pull back using them and then reintroduce them. So, explain a little more about that.


Amanda – So, when you have a toy…we’ll just go with the Lincoln Logs, right? They are sitting on the shelf. The kids never interact with them, ever. You pull them out. They don’t even notice that they’re gone. All of a sudden, you put them back on the shelf, and you actually pull them out, and, as a teacher, you engage with the Lincoln Logs. You get the kids to come around and you make it a fun game, or some sort of adventure. That’s when the interest gets sparked again.


Kathi – Isn’t it interesting. There are so many YouTube videos. I’m sure there’s a whole channel about Lincoln Logs out there.


Amanda – I’m sure there is.


Kathi – Of ways we’ve never even thought of using them. I think that’s so interesting. Because, yeah, they become background noise. That’s what happens with our clutter. That may be your favorite doll, but you haven’t used it in six months, you haven’t played with it, because it’s just become part of the background. But to take it away, and put it back. Take it away at night, when no kids are there.


Amanda – Or you could take it away while they’re there and see if they even notice.


Kathi – That’s true. I think your third points may be my favorite. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about this. Okay, you’re laughing now. Don’t buy possible future projects. Explain.


Amanda – When I purchase items for the classroom, everything has a purpose. I’m not purchasing a…let’s use a doily, a packet of doilies that I can find at an artsy craftsy store.


Kathi – But what if it’s ten cents? What if it’s on clearance?


Amanda – I don’t care.


Kathi – That’s my girl! We’re not related by blood, but that’s my girl.


Amanda – I just don’t care, because what project am I going to use it for? If I had a specific idea in mind, that is so different. If I know I’m going to be using these doilies, we’re actually going to make a table runner out of them. The kids are going to paint them. It’s going to be so great. They’re going to have so much fun. That’s fine. If I don’t have a project in mind, and I say, “Oh! They’re on sale for ten cents!” I’m not actually saving myself money, I’m wasting ten cents, and I’m wasting that storage space that they’re going to sit in the back of my closet for the next two years.


Kathi – And you’ve actually wasted that ten cents, because you’re never going to use them. You’ll end up recycling them, or giving them away. There’s a package of doilies that, I promise you, have been passed through seven pairs of hands.


Amanda – I have no doubt about that. Every time I see doilies, I think, “Throw them away.”


Kathi – Here’s what I love. Sometimes I have stuff and I think, “Well, maybe Amanda could use this for her room.” Recently, I had spray paint, something else, I can’t remember, and ribbon. You were like, “I’ll take the spray paint and the other thing, but I don’t need the ribbon.”


Amanda – Cookies!


Kathi – Oh! Cookies! Everybody can always use cookies. I know. I was giving away cookies. Miracles abound. But, to have those three and say, “I already have an idea for this. I have an idea for this. I don’t need this.” I love it. So, I think it’s so important, when you’re talking to teachers, to not guilt them into taking stuff. Do people do that? I know, I’ve seen it with other parents, but…


Amanda – So, in a daycare setting, parents gifting items to us happens quite frequently, which is fantastic. Sometimes it’s great stuff. Other times it’s broken toys that they no longer want. I’m like, “This is not a dumping ground.”


Kathi – You’ve just given me a chore to go to the dump. And by the way, it costs money in California. So, let me just ask: As a teacher, what do you want? If they want to give you something. I already know one thing you want. You want Michael’s gift cards.


Amanda – Well, yes.


Kathi – Always.


Amanda – I would say, things that get used often. Markers never go to waste. I mean, they go to waste, but we can always use more markers. Paper. You can always use more paper. Stuff like that.


Kathi – Tissue boxes?


Amanda – Yeah. Honestly, the best thing to do with teachers, is to ask them for a list. You never know what they’re going to want in a classroom. Maybe they already have seven packs of markers that some director bought for them.


Kathi – Well, it was so interesting. We had two teachers teaching here at The Red House. They said that they had, pretty much, unlimited paper. They could use as much paper as they wanted. What they didn’t have was pencils. So, your dad was in San Jose. I’m like, “Go buy all the pencils! I can’t believe these schools are not giving these teachers pencils.” So, he brought home, like, 350 pencils. That probably is only going to last them for a month.


Amanda – I was going to say, “That sounds like it would be great…for a month.”


Kathi – Exactly. But, you know, for one month, two classrooms got the pencils they needed.


Amanda – They got all the pencils.


Kathi – So, this has been great. This is about keeping clutter out. So, we’re going to go over these one more time. If you take something out, put it away. Model that, and vocalize. Explain what you’re doing. Two: If it no longer has a use, get it out. This is toys, random things you bring in to the room, decorations. Don’t keep it just because you’ll need it someday.


Amanda – Oh, the decorations.


Kathi – The decorations. And you’re a big decorator, when it comes to rooms.


Amanda – I am. I am a huge decorator. However, I have learned to contain my decorations in to specific boxes. If it doesn’t fit, I don’t keep it.


Kathi – I think that works for home holidays, too. I want to get my Christmas decorations for the inside the house, down to two boxes.


Amanda – Oh, good luck.


Kathi – I think I can do it. I’m not responsible for your dad and the outside decorations. Your dad is the problem in this whole plan. Let’s be super clear.


Amanda – I have far too many boxes for outside decorations as well.


Kathi – Okay, she comes by it honestly. Number Three: Don’t buy possible future projects. Don’t keep stuff because you just might use it someday. This has been so good, Amanda. I so appreciate this. Okay, here’s what I’m going to do, guys. With my new book, The Clutter Free Home, a lot of these principles cross over, so I want you to give me your best clutter free tips for kids. We’re going to post them here on the podcast page. Two of you are going to win that book. So, we’re going to have Amanda come back next week. Today she talked about how to be clutter free in the classroom. We’re going to talk, next week, about how to be organized in the classroom. I’m super excited.


Amanda – And all my teachers will listen to that one.


Kathi – Oh, awesome. Okay. They get early childhood education credit for listening to that.


Amanda – Hooray!


Kathi – Hooray! I make no promises. That’s not legally binding. Amanda, thanks so much for being with me today.


Amanda – Absolutely! Thanks!


Kathi – I just have to say: You’re really good! This is awesome.


Amanda – Oh, great!


Kathi – You know, it’s always a gamble, bringing your kid on here, but you’ve done a great job. This is amazing.


Amanda – Glad I could help.


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




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

#395: How to (Finally) Create Your Clutter Free Home Step #4 Do your Thing to Create the Room of Your Dreams

#395: How to (Finally) Create Your Clutter Free Home Step #4 Do your Thing to Create the Room of Your Dreams

Kathi concludes her four-part conversation about creating your Clutter-free home with style-expert KariAnne Wood. A few weeks ago, we learned about dedicating your space for its purpose. Then we focused on how to decide the way you want the room to feel. Last week we learned about the easy-to-do actionable steps it takes to cut the clutter.

In this episode, you’ll learn more about creating style in a room.

  • How to put zazz into any room.
  • Can your style change?
  • The role your home plays in interior design style.

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.

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


Learn more about Clutter Free for Life.

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Meet Our Guest

KariAnne Wood

KariAnne Wood

DIY Style Expert

KariAnne Wood writes the blog, Thistlewood Farms, featuring hundreds of home decor projects and decorating tips. The blog was awarded the Country Living Decorating Blog of the Year, was named one of the Top 10 Decorating Blogs by Better Homes and Gardens, and was voted one of the best DIY blogs online. In addition to writing for Romantic Homes, KariAnne has authored five books, including her most recent release, But Where Do I Put the Couch. Find her website at https://thistlewoodfarms.com 

How to Tackle That Summer Decluttering Job

How to Tackle That Summer Decluttering Job

Pool Toys and Sunglasses

Every year when that big yellow bus pulls away for the last time, school children everywhere fly home with that exhilarated feeling of freedom. It’s time to toss away the backpacks and drag out the pool floaties and other hot-weather essentials.

Summer stuff, as I call it. Outdoor grilling, beach trips, and epic water gun wars make for a huge pile in the garage (on top of last year’s cornhole game, sports equipment, and the treadmill you plan to sell).

Or the looming family reunion that sends you up into the attic, digging through boxes to find photos for the slide show you’re in charge of.

And what about all the bins of clothing you stored last year, in hopes that your growing kids (or their younger siblings) could get some wear out of shorts sets and swimsuits.

Any of these projects can make you forget just how far you’ve come, even if your living room is 90% clutter free and you’re tackling that kitchen counter daily as part of your evening routine. But before you get discouraged, we’ve got five tips to help you keep your momentum going on your decluttering journey.

Be okay where you are.

There are a lot of shame-inducing circumstances we find ourselves in surrounding our clutter. Even if we’ve been decluttering for a long time, we can discover an area that’s overrun by stuff we no longer need, or stuff that goes someplace else, like all those boxes in the attic we stuffed there “for now” (years ago).

Or, perhaps during a busy season, we let our routines go and now we’re faced with having to re-conquer areas we had worked so hard to declutter. That one dresser that you let pile up, or the bin of toys in the playroom.

Whatever the reason for your dismay, the worst thing you can do is to allow shame to pile up like clutter. Be gentle with yourself as you assess your situation and accept it. Wasting time and energy beating yourself up takes away from your ability to remedy the situation.

Remember, all you have to do is set a timer for 15 minutes. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done in that short time. Set a timer on your phone, and then rinse and repeat the next day, and the next.

Before you know it, that area will be decluttered and feeling like new again.

Set small goals.

Instead of dreading that big job in the garage, tackle one shelf or one corner.  If we wait for a whole day to magically open up on our calendar for garage cleaning, we might see a couple different presidential administrations before it happens.

You want to choose an area that’s small enough to complete in 15 minutes. In some cases, that may be only one box, one drawer, or half of a shelf. If you have more than 15 minutes to work on it, great! Keep setting the timer until you’ve either finished that area or run out of time.

Accomplishing small goals adds up to big goals achieved. Task by task, decluttering a bit at a time will eventually lead to an entire closet or garage completely decluttered.

Remember your “why.”

Why did you want to declutter in the first place? Often there’s an event that makes a cluttery person finally decide to get rid of all their unnecessary stuff. It could be the death of a parent (and the clean-out process of that parent’s house), or it might be an embarrassing visit when someone appraised the dresser with raised eyebrows. (Ahem…Not that any of us here at Clutter Free Academy have experienced any of those things personally, mind you.)

We may have had a unique catalyst for our clutter-free journey, but one big reason for us all to keep at it is this: God created each of us for a unique purpose and getting rid of the clutter frees you up to do what He made you to do.

Celebrate your wins.

Who doesn’t love a good celebration? Looking forward to a fun moment (or three) when you accomplish a decluttering project will help you across the finish line.

If you’ve finished clearing off the game shelf and gotten rid of those Hi-Ho Cherrio and Chutes and Ladders (and your kids are in middle school), play a game your family still enjoys, maybe one you rediscover after reclaiming that space.

Or reward the kids with a trip to the pool for helping you bag up winter clothes that are too small. It doesn’t have to be a big deal—just something to mark the accomplishment.

Keep your 15-minute decluttering routines.

In the summertime, it’s easy to lose our school year routines. But the future you—the one packing next year’s school lunches and buying backpacks filled with #2 pencils will thank you for the 15 minutes you spend each day decluttering.

It may not seem like much, but your efforts add up to a big payoff.

Like Jen Babakhan says in her new book, Detoured, “All the little things you do over and over every day are seen by God. If you could watch your life like a movie on fast-forward, you would see that the dishes, laundry, books, snuggles, tantrums (by you or the children), and even the socks you pull out of the corners of the couch on a much-too-regular basis add up to a life of authenticity and love.”

Giveaway Time!

Thanks to our fabulous friends over at Harvest House, we are able to give a few of you a free copy of Detoured! 5 people will win a copy of Detoured!

And one Grand Prize winner will receive:

      • Detoured
      • Lunch Tote Bag
      • Reusable Ice Packs
      • Outdoor Blanket

Leave a comment below to be entered to win. What is the summer decluttering job on your list?

* Giveaway for US residents only.