Today is in Ornellember time format.

shot from the Fantasia short where brooms are holding buckets and descending into a flooded basement

Scheme D: “Multi-threaded Tidying”

Published (gregorian) (ornellember)

Tags: scheme organization series

Hello and welcome to the end of D!

So, I’m going to be honest, this is a point in the series where we’re veering into micro strategy/life hacks instead of proper schemes, but this is my blog and nobody’s going to stop me. So let’s talk about the way I keep my apartment tidy: multi-threading!


You pick up objects and put them down in the right place, and sometimes you do that with several objects at a time.

The story

I, like many messy people, used to say “My place is messy but it’s clean!”

It was usually an attempt to recoup my dignity after people saw my apartment, but it was pretty accurate. I used to deep clean most Sundays for hours, tidying the entire the place, scrubbing the bathroom, mopping, etc. It was satisfying, but time-consuming, and I existed in a mess from Tuesday to Sunday morning.

One day, I read somewhere that it’s a good idea to clean for 20 minutes every morning — I think the person even suggested to set a timer. That sounded pretty antithetical to what I (and my parents) had done forever, and kind of reminded me of a lot of self-help that’s all about consistency — which, as an ADHD haver, is not my strong suit and usually makes me feel like a failure.

However, it was intriguing, and it did get me thinking about breaking down cleaning into tasks. You can’t possibly clean a bathroom in twenty minutes, but you can clean a toilet bowl in five. And, even more interesting, you can pretty easily tidy a bathroom in five minutes! And even maybe a living room too. As a matter of fact, depending on the level of mess, you can probably tidy a whole apartment in 20-30 minutes.

Here, my pithy excuses turned into an actual principle: Cleaning and tidying should be treated as separate tasks.

This made space for tidying to be broken down even further. While it makes a lot of sense to clean rooms one at a time, I’ve found that tidying is most effective in multi-threaded form.

What that usually looks like is:

You get the picture. The great thing about this is it’s completely mindless. It’s based on the well-known cleaning principle of “don’t put it down, put it away” — I still haven’t managed to use that to fully prevent mess, but the basic takeaway holds that if you are holding something in your hand, and you tell yourself you can only put it down in its rightful place, you’re going to do that. And if you are holding many random things, and constantly picking up and putting down new ones, eventually you end up tidying your whole apartment.

It’s basically performing one simple task (picking up an object, putting it away), and turning it into a multi-thread thing where the load limit is the amount of space in your hands.

If you’re reading this and thinking — uhhh yeah this is obvious, that’s how everyone does it Ornella — I’m happy for you, but don’t tell me, because it took me two decades to figure it out and you’re going to hurt my feelings.

My plan

There isn’t a grand plan as much as in actual schemes I’ve written about, but existing in a tidy space is great for my mental health, so that’s really the desired outcome. I’ve also started to think about cleaning and tidying as an act of service to myself (and according to an internet quiz i took years ago, that’s my top love language) — so when I am tidying, I think about how much I am going to enjoy walking into this room in 15 minutes and seeing it so spacious and neat. In sum, by decoupling cleaning and tidying, I am able to constantly live in a fairly tidy space while also making my actual cleaning much more efficient.


The next one is going to be an actual career-related scheme.