I, for one, am really bad about keeping a messy room. I learned the hard way that in college this is not going to fly, especially if you have a small amount of space and a roommate. I also learned that having a messy space at school can add unnecessary stress.
Freshman year, I had to learn how to keep my room clean and what I needed and didn’t need in my dorm room. This made my sophomore year move-in and move-out much smoother. Here are some tips to help you declutter your space for a stress-free environment this year.
Closet and Clothes
Ok, so dorm closets are extremely small. You don't need to bring as many clothes as you think you do. Yes, you should bring nice clothes for those few occasions you will need them but don't bring everything in your closet. You can always pick stuff up and drop stuff off when you visit home during the school year. But you also don't need to bring the entire contents of your t-shirt drawer—because let’s be honest, there is no telling how long it's been since you’ve cleaned that out.
Practice getting rid of and donating clothes. This is honestly one of my favorite things to do. Sifting through my clothes and sorting them into piles is so satisfying to me. Also, I like doing this because I am usually able to sell a lot of my clothes and make some money. I like to take clothes to Plato's closet—or something of that nature—and then whatever ones they don't take, I immediately take to the thrift store to donate them. This is my favorite and most effective way to declutter my space.
Desk and School Supplies
Keep it simple when it comes to school and desk supplies. Your desk will probably end up serving many different purposes, so having a lot of desk supplies is just going to make it look cluttered. You don’t need a different notebook for each individual class. I learned that getting a bunch of notebooks is unnecessary and wasteful because I always only ended up using about half of the paper and then throwing the notebook away at the end of the semester. It’s also more convenient because you never have to worry about picking up the wrong one when you’re trying to get out of the door in a hurry.
When I said that your desk will end up serving many purposes throughout the year, I was referring to my desk becoming my personal dumping ground for anything that didn’t have a designated place to go in my room. Don't be like me and leave stuff sitting on your desk for days. I tend to pile up clean laundry or random knick-knacks on my desk because it's an easy place to set things down. I know we all have that one spot in our rooms where things accumulate into a very intimidating pile. Don't let your desk, or desk chair, become that place.
Kitchen and Cleaning Supplies
The number one rule I stick to when living with a roommate is always clean your dishes when you are done using them. If you leave them out for long enough, they are never going to get washed, and it's best to stick to a strict washing schedule so you can keep your space cleaner. Also, when it comes to dishes, only bring what you are going to use. If you are living in a freshman dorm, chances are you will only have access to a communal kitchen (if that). So, you are really only going to need to bring one of everything.
When it comes to cleaning supplies, you need to be strategic. Yes, cleaning your dorm occasionally is really important but don’t bring everything your mom has under the kitchen sink. Bring an all-purpose cleaner or wipes, a small vacuum cleaner, and maybe some duster cloths or window cleaner. These bare necessities will be able to get you pretty far. Even if your mom insists you need separate cleaners for every little thing, you really don’t, that’s just going to create even more clutter.
For some reason, colleges love to give out little cheap knick-knacks like random pop-sockets, whistles, and sunglasses. Don’t let these random things pile up on you (because trust me, they will). By the end of my freshman year, I had accumulated an entire box of these things from different events I’d attended on campus. These will create a lot of unnecessary clutter.
Only keep and bring the stuff that you have room and storage for in your room. If you end up bringing too much stuff on move-in-day or things start to build up, then don’t be afraid to throw things away or take them home. The best declutter-er will declutter on the regular.
If you are into decorating your room, then bring decorations. This is the good kind of clutter, in my opinion. Don’t sacrifice your creativity to save a little bit of wall space. It's really important for you to feel comfortable and at home in your new space—so don’t skip out on the decorations! It may feel like clutter when you are moving in and out, but I promise you that this is the kind of clutter that is worth having!
As long as you are aware of the clutter that could build up, you should be able to keep it at bay pretty easily. Hopefully, these tips will help you have a smoother and less stressful transition into a college dorm room and you will be a bit better at managing it than I was my freshman year!