By Madison Gillespie
Being organized is an extremely valuable life skill, one that becomes relevant during college. Living in a pint-sized dorm is a reality all UIUC students must face freshman year, and even those who move into apartments later on stil must acclimate to a smaller-than-average space. Adopting organization techniques now will help you maximize use of your limited space and equip you with some best practices for later in life. The following tricks should help you free up unnecessary clutter, as well as make your living space more enjoyable.
1. Invest in drawer organizers whenever possible.
Between your bedroom furniture and – depending on your living arrangements – kitchen and bathroom storage, you will have plenty of drawers to fill. And while it may be easy to shove everything into your drawers without a second thought, you will save time by arranging them in a more purposeful way. Drawer organizers are available from many stores, with plenty of different sizes, shapes, and compartments to suit any purpose. Tuck your extra school supplies into an organizer instead of having them slide around in your desk drawer. Or, neatly arrange your clothes so they don’t overflow when you open your dresser. You could even use the dividers to categorize items by color, style, or purpose, such as separating out different types of makeup. Once you have a system in place, it will be that much easier to keep your space clean and clear.
2. Use elastics to keep your cords from getting tangled.
Between phones, laptops, smart watches and other devices, we have lots of cords to keep track of — and keep from getting bunched or knotted. This is a smaller trick that saves a surprising amount of space by keeping all those pesky cords contained. When not in use, use a silicone wrap (such as the kind shown above) to separate and streamline your chargers. You could also use extra hair elastics – such as this affordable fabric kind, sold in a multipack at most stores – which easily stretch around the cords without damaging them. You could even color-code your elastics to distinguish between different types of chargers.
3. Choose fuzzy or “huggable” hangers for your closet.
College closets are barely large enough for a person to fit inside, let alone all of our wardrobe necessities! That’s why streamlining your closet is essential to making your overall routine easier. A simple but highly effective way to maximize closet space is by reducing the size of your clothes hangers. Switch out wood or plastic hangers for thin, fuzzy hangers, which you can easily find online or in stores. These hangers are much flatter, allowing for more clothes to fit on a rack at one time. Because they are super soft, they are also more friendly on delicate or fragile clothing.
4. Try out hanging storage.
Another great way to maximize your space is to utilize your walls. Purchase (or even DIY) some wall shelves or storage compartments to strike a balance between your essentials and decorative items. For instance, you could free up more room on your desk for your laptop or books while your decorations go on the walls – or vice versa. Mix, match, and customize to best suit your needs!
5. Color-code and organize school items by subject.
Keeping track of your notebooks, papers, and textbooks in a more efficient way is another avenue by which to maximize your space. Buy colored book holders, such as the ones shown above, and store everything for a particular class in its own holder. Do the same for any handouts or worksheets from each class by putting them in matching colored folders. You could then associate each color with each of your subjects and make finding what you need much easier.
6. Put things away the moment you’re done using them.
Even with drawer organizers or color-coded storage to streamline your space, it is still very easy to become cluttered. Letting stuff pile up is a difficult habit to shake, and it makes using your space harder over time. So the moment you’re finished with something, put it back where you found it. Toss that dirty laundry in the hamper and return your books to the shelf. It may be hard to incorporate into your routine at first, but will definitely be worth it.
7. Always look for more ways to declutter.
And, of course, one of the fastest ways to free up space is to say goodbye to any items that you no longer want or need. In the wise and highly relevant words of Marie Kondo, you should only hold onto the items that spark joy in your life. So if there are some clothes you never really wear, donate them. If you have a pile of old books you’ve already read or will no longer read, donate those too. You will not only free up room in your own living space, but will allow the items you once enjoyed to bring happiness into someone else’s home.
With these tips, hopefully you can envision a fresh new life for your space and come to appreciate everything in it more. Now, get to reorganizing – there’s no better time to start than today!