College Advice Blog

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Feb 22, 2014

How to Stay Clutter Free in College

MessDo you feel overwhelmed by the clutter in your apartment? Do you find yourself wasting too much time scouring for your textbook, assignment, or cell phone minutes before class starts? Do you avoid inviting friends out of embarrassment? If this sounds like you, read on—we’re about to make your college life a whole lot easier. 

Being a “little messy” and living in a cluttered home may be causing your more harm than you think. Think of all of the time and energy you expend just to get out the door, searching for your belongings at the last minute – and often forgetting essentials because you were rushed or just didn’t see them in the mess. If important documents are overlooked, you run the risk failing classes or being late for an important presentation; if you’re losing certain bills (credit cards, electric, cable, etc.) you’re in danger of developing bad credit, which is the last thing you need to go along with your student debt.

The clutter in our apartments or dorms creates a vibe that has greater affect on our mental states than you may be aware of. When all of our belongings are just thrown about randomly, it can raise our levels of stress, causing us to feel bogged down and overwhelmed. Not only is the mess an inconvenience, but it also gives off negative feelings of disorderliness and laziness – especially if we are surrounded by unfinished projects. A clutter-filled apartment could also put a damper on your social life. After all, no one wants to have a party in a house filled with junk or eat in a messy kitchen. And if you were thinking of inviting that new buddy from Philosophy 101 over for a study session, a clean and organized room would leave a much better impression than one with piles of dirty clothes. 

So how can you reduce stress, increase productivity, and improve your overall sense of well-being? You may be amazed at how making little changes around your apartment or dorm will help you feel more on top of things and in control of your life. We’ve done the legwork for you—all you have to do is follow these easy steps. 

Focus on One Area at a Time
Instead of taking a shotgun approach, take the time to focus one area of your room/apartment at a time. Performing a one-time “deep clean” of the area will make it infinitely easier to upkeep. Taking one space at a time will also lessen the likelihood of becoming frustrated or overwhelmed. 

Organize and Stay Organized
This may seem like a simple rule, but it’s easier said than done. For instance, start with your desk. Dispose of papers from last semester and things that you do not need—if you’ve been in school long enough and have been using the same desk, you’ll be amazed at the stuff you’ve accumulated. Divide the rest of your paperwork according to category and significance; old tests, papers, or homework in one category and financial records in another. Keep these papers in designated folders and in a specific place where you know you will be able to locate them easily, like the area underneath your bed. It will keep them out of sight and out of the way, but you’ll always know where they are just in case you need them in a pinch. Container Store has a container in every size imaginable—you’re sure to find something handy there. 

Plan Ahead
While this tip may not help you right at this moment, it will definitely when you move into a different housing situation. Planning your space to be organized and clean is much easier than playing catchup after the clutter has already piled up.

This can be extra difficult if you’re living in small spaces, such as dorms. Even though getting rid of half of your things would clear up clutter, that isn’t an option for many students. With the right room layout, cleaning schedule, and space saving furniture/accessories, you’ll be on your way to keeping your room clutter-free. If you need some dorm room ideas, sites like OCM have products specifically designed for student living arrangements. Installing fixtures in your dorm or apartment such as towel racks and hooks can make a big difference in helping to reduce the clutter by keeping things off of the floor. Keys are the one of most commonly lost items, so hang a small hook right by your front door where you can place your keys immediately after opening the door and keep them there for safekeeping. 

Just stick with the old phrase, “A place for everything, and everything in its place” and you’ll be on your way to a clean living space. Of course, you may not be clutter-free all of the time, but you will be amazed at how even the simplest changes can make a big difference in your home and help to improve your overall quality of life.
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