#399 Gutting Your Office with Cheri Gregory Part 1

#399 Gutting Your Office with Cheri Gregory Part 1

Kathi chats with her friend and co-author for Overwhelmed and You Don’t Have to Try So Hard, Cheri Gregory. Today they venture into the office where the hidden shrines reside and keep us from progressing in our work.

Today you will learn:

  • About the items we keep that become the shrines that define us.
  • How to overcome the shame that traps those items in our office.
  • How to release the fear of letting go and claim the woman you are today.

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.

Links and Resources

Learn more about Clutter Free for Life.

Writing At The Red House


You Don’t Have to Try So Hard

Cure for the Perfect Life


Sensitive & Strong

Michele Cushatt

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

Speaker, Author

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 You Don’t Have to Try So Hard 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 #399


Gutting Your Office



<<intro music>>


Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. I am excited today, because we’re going to talk about something I normally don’t recommend, but there are certain circumstances, where people need to be given a pass. One of those people who got a pass is Cheri Gregory, my co-author for Overwhelmed, I was going to say Cure for the Perfect Life, which it was, but now it’s You Don’t Have to Try So Hard. My future coauthor for our Overwhelmed devotional, Cheri, welcome back to Clutter Free Academy.


Cheri – Thank you so much for having me.


Kathi – My original partner in crime when it came to all things business, writing, everything like that. You have been used as an example many times in Clutter Free.


Cheri – Example of what not to do.


Kathi – No!  I would love for you to tell our listeners a little bit about your clutter free journey. Even though you don’t come on here and talk about Clutter Free. Tonya is my main clutter person and all that, but you’ve had your own clutter free journey.


Cheri – Yeah. It’s so interesting, because I was raised by a perfectionistic mother, for whom everything looked perfect on the outside. If you walked into the house, it was pristine. The perfect table setting. Even at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we had little name cards to tell us where to sit. It was that formal. But, especially after she died a few years ago, and we started going through the house, everything behind closed doors was a disaster.


Kathi – I didn’t know that!


Cheri – Oh, yay! I don’t know if you have a name for this, but she was a hoarder.


Kathi – It’s Closet Clutterer.


Cheri – She was a closet clutterer, but the clothing situation was totally out of control.


Kathi – I did know about the clothing situation. Still tags on a lot of stuff.


Cheri – Oh my, goodness. More than you can possibly imagine. More than any human could have worn in lifetimes, but that’s not today’s topic.


Kathi – It is interesting. It really does go to prove that when we go into somebody else’s house, and we think it’s perfect. Here’s the thing: I’m the clutter free person, but there are a couple of closets right now. The thing is, those are working closets and I know why they look the way they do. I feel like every time, somebody’s going to come here and find out about my closet of shame. It’s a working closet. Closets aren’t meant to be beautiful, but it’s good to know that almost everybody, unless they are really, really clutter free (or obsessive compulsive), clutter is an issue for everybody.


Cheri – Well, and I wanted to be so different from my mother, and one of the ways that I told myself I would be different from her, was, “Okay, she’s super neat. I’ll just be super sloppy.” That’s easy!


Kathi – Can we just say ‘relaxed’? ‘Cause relaxed is such a nicer word than ‘sloppy’.


Cheri – It’s a nicer word, but I actually decided I’d be sloppy.


Kathi – Did you really?


Cheri – Oh, yeah. That guaranteed it to me. She was so neat and miserable, I thought that if I was sloppy, I’d be happy, but it turns out, it doesn’t work that way.


Kathi – It doesn’t work that way.


Cheri – Just because I was not just ‘not neat’, I was actually sloppy, it also didn’t mean I got what I wanted out of life. It also didn’t mean I wasn’t like her. I was just as compulsive, just in other areas. I was just as trapped. It wasn’t freedom to just be the opposite of her.


Kathi – Extremes are always a sign of bondage.


Cheri – Have you said that before?


Kathi – I have not said that before.


Cheri – Say it again.


Kathi – Extremes are almost always a sign of bondage.


Cheri – Oh my, word.


Kathi – Because we are trying to get away from an ideal. Cheri always picks up on the things I say.


Cheri – I’m over hear hyperventilating.  Do you have to have so much truth so early in the episode?


Kathi – I know how it is for me.


Cheri – It’s so true.


Kathi – It’s the same for food, clutter. When I’m becoming obsessive about labeling every little thing in a drawer, I’m like, “Okay, Kathi, what’s really going on here?” So, to understand that. Or, when something is completely out of control? Those extremes in our lives, we have to pay attention to.


Cheri – So, my office had got extremely unusable.


Kathi – That’s what we’re talking about today. As anybody who has read my books, or listened to my podcast, or been in Clutter Free Academy, you know I am the 15+5 girl. Fifteen minutes of decluttering. Five minutes to take care of it. I believe in doing that every single day. I do believe, in rare instances…. Okay, here’s my huge caveat. I think  most people think when they declutter, it’s time to rent the U-Haul, take days off of work, do it all over, go to Pottery Barn, buy all the new furniture, you need a total room makeover in order to be able to function in it. I believe that is a lie, straight from the pit of Hell. However, there are times that our lives get so out of control, or we’ve gone through something, maybe a death, maybe a huge project, maybe a divorce. I don’t know what it is, but there are times when we just need to gut it. I’ll be honest, Tonya leans more towards the ‘gut it’, than I do. She’s someone who rents a dumpster on a regular basis. Her community makes it very easy for her to do that. That is not my situation at all. We pay dearly for everything we throw away. So, you gutted an area of your house. So, explain where it was and why it was.


Cheri – Well, it didn’t start as a gutting. I have a project that I’m supposed to be working on that I’ve not been working on. It’s a book. I had boxes of notes and articles and ideas. You know, the little scraps of paper, the napkins, that kind of stuff. I was like, “I’ve got to go through those in order to start making more progress on this book I’m working on.” Which may or may not have been true, but I believed it at the time. I think there was a lot of truth to it. There’s always the question of, “Am I playing office, or am I actually making a difference that I need?”


Kathi – I’ve never heard this term, Playing Office before, but I identify so deeply with that. When I am creating containers for my Post It notes? That’s when you know I’m playing office.


Cheri – When I’m color coordinating my Post It notes in order, because I can’t work until they look like a rainbow? I’m playing office.


Kathi – And then you have to buy the colors that you’re missing?


Cheri – Let’s go to Staples! Oh, wait. Back on topic.


Kathi – Praise God my closest office store is an hour away.


Cheri – So, I started going through them. I’m not visual. That means, I don’t see how bad things have got until something shakes me up. So, I’m going through these boxes, and I look around me, and I realize that I had not done anything but throw things into my office for probably two or three years. Actually, probably, now that you mentioned death, it probably goes back to when my mom died.


Kathi – Right. Which was what year?


Cheri – Four years ago, now. So, I still had all the leftovers from writing Overwhelmed together. I had all the leftovers from writing Exhale with Amy. I had all the leftovers from writing Sensitive and Strong with Denise. I had legitimate leftover things, where I was like, “Oh! These could be blog posts.” Then there were things that didn’t go in those books that might be used for future books. You don’t want to throw all those good things out. Then I had binders from speaking engagements. I had a lot of things that were finished, but I hadn’t completed them. So all of those were waiting for me to just bring them to an end. When I looked around, I had literally set up multiple tables, because I’m a piler, not a filer. If I put something in a drawer, or a file folder, it doesn’t exist anymore, so I have to have things out in the open. I’m also a spreader outer. I have to see them for me to know they’re there. I literally had no free surfaces I could work on. I would have to move them off of one table in order to have a small amount of free space to work. Then, and this is the weird thing I discovered, I realized one of the reasons I wasn’t working in my office, and I didn’t see it as work space, is I have this five foot table. It’s plenty of workspace for me, but it’s one of these pop up tables from Staples. It has a textured surface to it, so if I’m using pencil and paper, or pen and paper, my writing goes all wiggly squiggly and it feels weird. We all know, you want a pen that feels good when you’re working with it. I was like, “Oh! I didn’t even know that was an obstacle to me.”


Kathi – For some of us, we can say, “Oh, well, I can’t write my book because the table goes wiggly squiggly.” But that’s not it. That’s not what was going on for you.  It was saying, “I don’t know why I don’t want to work in here.” And you start to discover. You know, it’s interesting. You talk about piles of research and things like that. Why not just throw them all out?


Cheri – Gasp! Where’s a paper bag?


Kathi – Right. So, why wouldn’t you just throw those all away?


Cheri – Well, let’s see if I can do this from memory. The big three from Clutter Free. Fear, guilt and shame. So, fear is…remind me?

Kathi – What if I need it some day?


Cheri – What if I need it some day?

Kathi – I was going to say, that’s probably the one that trips you up the most.


Cheri – That’s the biggest one. You know, on the strengths finder, my number one strength is input. So, I love gathering information. I love gathering stuff. This is why I did do the deep gutting this time. I don’t think I’ll have to do it again, because at this stage of my life, I realize I really don’t need it. I really won’t use it again, but these are things I’ve been accumulating for four, five, six years, thinking I would use them. When I was putting them in the bins, which is the easy thing to do. Should I keep it or not? It’s decision fatigue, right? So rather than throw it, I kept it, because that was the easier thing that I thought meant no regret. It was no regret in the moment, but when I was facing an office full of things that hadn’t been thrown away? I wasn’t kind to my future self when I did that.


Kathi – It’s so interesting. We’re here at Writing at The Red House. We’re at a writer’s retreat that Cheri’s teaching, and Michele Cushatt was teaching at. It was so interesting, we were having a discussion. Michele was talking about how she has her office set up. She has her dictionary right here, and her thesaurus right here. I started to have shame. I don’t keep a dictionary on my desk. I don’t keep a thesaurus on my desk. Ergo, I must not be a real writer. I must run out and get a dictionary and thesaurus. Then I realized, “Kathi, you have and use a dictionary and thesaurus. They’re on your computer.”


Cheri – You also have one of the most advanced vocabularies of anybody I know.


Kathi – You’re very, very sweet.


Cheri – It’s true.


Kathi – So, we keep these things around. If I was a real crafter, I would have this. If I was a real writer, I would have this. If I’m a good mom, I would have this. So we keep little shrines around to our better selves.


Cheri – Shrines! That’s what my entire office was. It was a shrine to the conferences I had attended. It was a shrine to the memorabilia from this era of my life, and surely some of it would it into a book. Really, listening to you, my belief was, “I have to keep this.” But I didn’t question why? When I finally had enough of it, I think this is one of the possible benefits of a deep gutting like this. What happened was, I started going through those bins, thinking I was just going to go through a few piles, and I got sick and tired of it all so fast. I was like, “This is dumb. I can’t.” Part of it was realizing, these are notes and research from several years ago. I’m not that woman anymore. I can either try to go back, try to remember why I took those notes, try to become the person I used to be, but really, I have enough time to go back or move forward. I can’t do both. So, the reason it became a wholesale gutting, I realized, “I have to move forward. I have to get rid of all of this.” It’s all got to go. I will never have time to go through it.


Kathi – Okay, so what did you do about the guilt, though? The guilt that says, “I spent so much money on this book, (these supplies, those conferences, the tape series or cd series, or whatever it is). I spent so much money on it, I need to keep it forever.”?


Cheri –I think the antidote for that kind of guilt is gratitude. Gratitude for what I learned. Gratitude for what I did get from it. If you go to a conference, the binder’s a shrine, right? How many times have I opened those binders? Probably never. But I’ve always said this with my mouth, “If I got one good idea. If I got one insight.” I’ve always said this as a teacher. I’ve said this as I’ve gone to writer’s conferences, when I would go to parenting conferences, sermons. One useable idea is worth the cost of admission. So, the gratitude that says, “Okay. I was there. It changed me in some way.” And part of that is trust. Trust that God used that and I don’t have to remember what it was. I don’t have to know what it was. I just have to trust and be grateful that the Holy Spirit is at work in my life.


Kathi – When we have shrines, we put our trust in the shrine instead of God.


Cheri – I don’t want you to say that again. No. Go ahead.



Kathi – That’s who I am. I’m putting my trust in, “I went to this conference, so now I can call myself a real writer.” instead of understanding “No, God has called me to be a writer.”


Cheri – So if you had a dictionary and a thesaurus, it would be a shrine.


Kathi – It would be a shrine. It would be. I would be looking for external validation that I am what I want to be. Okay, so, this whole shrines thing is opening up big things for me, guys. This may be a book. I don’t even know. My brain is going.


Cheri – And we were in the room where it happened.


Kathi – Wow. Okay, so let’s talk about shame.  Guilt is usually ‘so and so gave it to me’. “I’m a bad daughter if I give that mug that my mom gave me, away.” “I am a bad writer if I don’t read every book that somebody sends to me.”

Cheri – I’m a terrible friend if I don’t keep every book that Kathi Lipp has written on my bookshelves. Or, are we going there?


Kathi – By the way, guys. If I ever give you a book, or sell you a book, I always say, “No book report required.” I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me.


Cheri – I’m joking. I have all your books. If I give them away, it’s as a gift.


Kathi – I have all your books, too. It’s good. How do you deal with that guilt and shame of “If I don’t keep this, I don’t value the relationship.”?


Cheri – These days, I think the fact that we can digitize things is really helpful. As I was gutting my office, I found some beautiful things. I found a letter. The first thing I ever had published was a story I wrote about a horse. It was published in a little local newspaper. One of my dad’s friends, who was an executive at the local medical center, he hand wrote me this beautiful letter on University Medical Center stationery. He said that God gifts to sensitive, perceptive people. He used the word sensitive.


Kathi – Oh my, goodness!


Cheri – He said he was putting it in his Soli Deo Gloria file. To God Be the Glory file. He wrote me this when I was thirteen.


Kathi – Chills.


Cheri – I took a picture of it, and if people want to write you and tell me I’m horrible, they can, but I then recycled it. I don’t need the piece of paper to know that it happened and to receive it. I’m going to remember those words for the rest of my life. In the past, I would have been, “Oh no! I’m a horrible person.” But I found a whole stack of these kinds of things. It’s like, “No. I don’t need to keep the thing to be grateful or to have the relationship.” Now, if there are people in our lives who, when they visit us, they expect to see the thing on display like in Gilmore Girls? That’s what councilors are for.


Kathi – I think about that. It’s serving a shrine, again. It really is. When we put food at a shrine.


Cheri – It wasn’t a gift in that case.


Kathi – It’s an obligation.


Cheri – Yep.


Kathi – Yeah, so, if you receive something and it turns from gift into obligation, you need to reexamine that, and you probably need to have an honest conversation, at some point, with that person. Unless they’re your parent. Then, just drag it out, ‘cause that’s what you have to do. Okay, so I want to come back next week and talk about the nitty gritty. How you actually go rid of the stuff.


Cheri – We can go there.


Kathi – Okay friends. This has been great. Cheri, thank you so much. 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


#398 Simple Meal Prep from Hope’s Table by Hope Helmuth

#398 Simple Meal Prep from Hope’s Table by Hope Helmuth

Do you love to cook, but getting dinner on the table every night can be overwhelming? Today Kathi dishes with Hope Helmuth, author of Hope’s Table: Everyday Recipes from a Mennonite Kitchen. Hope’s cookbook is filled with beautiful, simple and delicious recipes for everyday meals. Kathi and Hope scoop up their best kitchen tricks to keep you and your family happy at mealtime.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Tips and tricks for staying organized in the kitchen.
  • How to keep your kitchen clean and ready to cook anytime.
  • PLUS: How to clean your cast iron skillet quickly and easily.

Book Giveaway

For a chance to win Hope Helmuth’s book Hope’s Table: Everyday Recipes from a Mennonite Kitchen, answer the question, “what is your biggest challenge in the kitchen?” in the comments below.



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.

Two of Hope’s Favorite Recipes

Serves 4
An easy one-dish meal that is full of flavor and color. The chicken melts in your mouth.

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 sweet potato, cut into chunks
3 red potatoes, cut into chunks

¼ cup butter
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/8–¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Lay chicken and vegetables in a greased large skillet or a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Make sauce: In a small saucepan, melt butter and add garlic, brown sugar, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, cayenne pepper, and parsley. Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables. Toss well with hands to make sure sauce is coated evenly. Bake at 350°F for 1½ hours.

Makes 20 bars
This recipe from my grandma Shank is great for fall parties. Mom used to make these for our youth group parties, and she would top each square with a candy pumpkin.

1 cup oil
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese,
¼ cup butter, softened
2½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash salt

In a medium bowl and using an electric mixer, mix together batter
ingredients in order listed. Pour batter into a greased and floured
10 x 15-inch baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 20–25 minutes.
Make icing: In a small bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together
cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, vanilla,
and salt. Beat until fluffy and smooth. Spread on cooled bars.

Meet Our Guest

Hope Helmuth

Hope Helmuth

Mennonite Cook, Mother, and Blogger

Hope Helmuth is a Mennonite cook, mother, and blogger who enjoys creating recipes, entertaining guests, gardening, graphic design, and photography. She, her husband, and two daughters live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where they own a toy store, Timeless Toys, and several other businesses. Connect with her at Homefulthings.com, on Instagram, and Facebook.


#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




Fun Ways to Pep Up Your Marriage with Focus on the Family

Fun Ways to Pep Up Your Marriage with Focus on the Family

We love buying farm fresh produce, but let’s be real, Roger and I are both busy, and another thing… we don’t live on a farm. So, we decided to grow a few things in our own garden, well, actually it is a planter on the back patio, but for us, we felt like urban farmers.

Every day we went out to check on our little garden. As the leaves grew and little buds formed we enjoyed the daily routine of caring for our thriving plants and looked forward to the day when we could enjoy the fruit of our labor, literally.

It was a wonderful day in the Lipp Household when we plucked our first tomato off the vine.

How funny that we can get so intent on growing a vegetable, and yet how easy it is to get distracted from growing something much more valuable, our marriage.


It is so easy to focus on the mountain of little things that feel urgent on a day to day basis, but make it a priority to balance them out with what is truly important.


Busy happens, we need to recapture some of the fun things that drew us to our spouse. Whether it is a date-night, a simple gesture of kindness, or spending time with other couples, shake up the routine.


Just like our tomato took time and patience, we need to nurture a healthy relationship with our spouse. We didn’t flood our little “garden” once and walk away, hoping it would fend for itself. We made it a daily routine to make sure it was thriving.

There are seasons in life, but whether you have been married for a few years or a few decades, we can all benefit from savoring simple moments with the one we vowed to love, honor, and cherish.

How about you? Maybe you could use some fun and fresh ideas to nurture your relationship?

Join me as I visit with Focus on the Family on how to add some pep into your marriage.


Podcast Episode #282 – The Lifegiving Table

Podcast Episode #282 – The Lifegiving Table

Don’t overlook the impact that mealtime can have on the people in your life. Listen in as Kathi Lipp interviews Author Sally Clarkson, who shares about the importance of being intentional with meal times so you strategically leave an imprint that is a legacy for your children and will bless them the rest of their lives. Create anchors and habits in your day and at family mealtimes that nurture and prioritize relationships in your life. Feast and celebrate. Be a joyful heart and celebrate every day you have been given.

For your chance to win 1 of 3 copies of The Lifegiving Table, comment below:
If you could have people over more regularly, who would love to have over for dinner?

Meet Our Guest

Sally Clarkson

Sally Clarkson

Sally Clarkson is the beloved author of multiple bestselling books, including The LifeGiving Table, Own Your Life, The Life Giving Home, Desperate and most recently, Different, with her son Nathan. As a mother of four, she has inspired thousands of woman through conferences, resources and books through Whole Heart Ministries (www.wholeheart.org), Since then, she has advocated relentlessly for the power of motherhood and the influence of home through her Mom Heart conferences (www.momheart.org), speaking to audiences on several continents.

Make your table a place where your family and friends long to be—where they will find rest, renewal, and a welcome full of love. In The Lifegiving Table, Sally shares her own family stories, favorite recipes, and practical ideas to help you get closer to the people you love . . . and grow in faith together.

Meet Your Host