Many people out there are endlessly fascinated with organizing things into shelves, boxes, and shelves within boxes. Some of them write blog posts about the joy of organizing their living spaces.
I am not one of those people. This post suggests a couple ideas for people who think folding laundry is a waste of time, and who like to “clean” by picking up everything on the table and dropping it in a pile somewhere else.
I’m sure we’ve all wondered, at some point in our lives, why people fold laundry. You’re just going to unfold it again as soon as you use it! What’s the point?
To be fair, folded clothes are more convenient for storage - they fit better, and are easier to sift through. On the other hand, I only use a fraction of my clothes on a regular basis. I’m perfectly willing to accept somewhat less efficient storage for those clothes, in exchange for not having to fold them.
I present: the two-hamper technique. Clean clothes go in one hamper. Dirty clothes go in the other hamper. On laundry day, the dirty hamper is dumped into the washer, wash, dry, and dryer is emptied into the clean hamper. No folding required.
I keep less often-used clothes folded or hanging in the closet. They don’t take up hamper space, and since they’re rarely used, the overhead to fold them is minimal.
I’ve also tried a few ways to generalize the two-hamper technique to other areas, but they haven’t worked out. Dishes are a good example - keeping dirty dishes in the sink and clean dishes in the dishwasher failed for multiple reasons. First, when I use dishes, I use too broad a variety of dishes to fit all of them in the dishwasher - whereas all the clothes I regularly wear do fit easily in one hamper. Second, I usually don’t use dishes at all - I mostly go out to eat. When I put dirty dishes in the sink, they end up sitting there growing unpleasant. I eventually just switched to disposables, which suit my infrequent use much better.
Recency Cache and Cleaning
From time to time I used to wish I had room to work at my desk, rather than covering literally all of it with stacks of paper, folders, and random objects.
One day it dawned on me: this is a caching problem.
I gave various surfaces in my apartment different cache levels:
- L0 is table and desk
- L1 is bookshelf and counter
- L2 covers cabinets (lower shelves are L2a, upper are L2b)
- L3 is the black hole, a.k.a closet.
When I want to clean something, I simply empty all of its contents into the next higher cache. For instance, to clean my desk, I literally pick up all the shit on my desk and move it to the counter. That’s it. Done.
Then, time passes. As I use things, I put them down wherever is convenient, which usually means L0 or L1. Pretty soon, the things which I use most often have migrated back to convenient low-numbered cache locations. Things I never use gradually move to higher and higher numbered locations, until they get buried in the closet, leaving behind space for more oft-used items.
This has worked pretty well so far.
The main hiccup was that I realized a second use case for high-priority cache locations. It isn’t just about making things easy to retrieve. I also leave things on my desk as a reminder to look at them later or to check them regularly. In retrospect, this never worked very well. After noticing this use-case, I’ve started looking for more effective (but still non-intrusive) ways to handle such reminders.