• Cecilia Macaulay

Subtract to Standard: Declutter step 2


There are families that never say 'lets tidy up'. Instead they say 'Lets pack up the day', and zoom around together, getting their home back to 'standard'. They have a photo of what 'standard kitchen' looks like. Its on the wall, so there are no arguments, no wondering. They subtract and put away eveything to its pre-decided place, and know exactly when they can say 'done!' Some families even have little cut-out stickers of where each saucepan goes in the saucepan cupboard, so it feels like a reunion, when things go back to the place that was waiting for them. How do I know this? I designed it for them! I know the distress of living in an always-messy home, because I don't naturally want to put things away. Thanks to my time in Japan, and the wonderful volunteers who stayed in my house and made order, I now also know the thrill of a house with refined systems that just work, almost invisibly, and I want to share this.


Having a good vision and clear path to making it happen is a bit like clicking all the notifications on Facebook, till the little red bubble dissappears. Theres a sense of satisfaction thats almost irresistible.


How to set up 'Subtract to Standard'.


Pick one 'production' area. It could be dishwasher, make up bag, cutlery drawer.


1. Seperate. Make a pile called 'Things that are perfectly satisfactory' and 'thing I don't love or even like.' a good question to help you decide is ',Would I pay money to buy it back again?'


2 Subtract the low-performing things. Donate or throw away, and don't buy again. The awkward-shaped, heavy, mismatched, low quality thing that somehow made their way into your life. This is your life, you get to choose everything thats in it. Maybe now you have a set of matching items all from one maker, the ones that won your heart. Maybe not yet, but you have a new mission to seek out that perfectly satisfying thing, and stick to it for the next 10 years.


3. Find one home for each item or 'family' of items. Make sure every cup has its saucer, every pot has its lid. Thats romantic, and its practical. You do have the space, because normal people have 10 times more stuff than you, and they only use 10 percent anyway. You use and love each thing you own, from now on. And you know exactly where it lives, with your eyes closed. To help your family get used to it, you can use stickers with outlines of where everything will go, the same way blokes would make shadowgboards, showing where the hammer or spanner hangs in their toolshead. Labels work too. Words are good, symbol pictures are even better. Make sure they are removable, as you will refine your system with time and use, and find more user-friendly homes for things.


The most important part of this process is...take before and after photos, and send them to Cecilia : ) Your brave choices then get to inspire other people, and the light, smiling culture of a beautiful, resistance-free life starts to spread.











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Cecilia Macaulay All Rights Reserved