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College is full of small rooms, dull walls and limited cabinet space. Whether you live on the bottom bunk in your dorm, the second floor of your sorority house, or the third bedroom of your off-campus apartment, there are many ways to keep the tight quarters from getting the best of you.

Most college students aren’t the next Marie Kondo. College is chaotic with almost too many activities and not enough hours in the day, so keeping your space clean can fall down to the bottom of the to-do list. The result? A spectrum, ranging from an unkempt, lived-in look to total disaster-zone, but all degrees are understandable when considering how busy college is. However, finding a way to declutter your space might be the key to organizing your life.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Scott, “Just sitting in a cluttered room can create stress.”

We are all familiar with this vicious cycle: The room is dirty and you’re too tired to clean it up. Every time you notice the clutter, that queasy anxious feeling grows more intense, yet, never strong enough to translate fully into motivation.

So, how do you motivate yourself to clean? How do you make organizing appealing?

First, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Organizing and perfecting are not interchangeable terms. Accomplishing one task a day is better than making the situation all-or-nothing. Staggering your chores can make the whole process less overwhelming than trying to clean all at once every two weeks. Need to put away the laundry or wash the dishes? Just pick one. At least you have clean socks, even if you end up eating cereal out of a cup.

Focusing on one task at a time can help people who are easily distracted or chronic procrastinators. These tendencies make keeping an organized space challenging and may require some extra structure to the cleaning routine. One way to keep yourself on track is to create a timeline. For example, inviting friends over for dinner on a Friday and, as a result, setting a task deadline. 

Second, make it feel like less of a chore. Play upbeat music or put on a movie. Do the brunt of your organization on the slowest day of the week so you can take your time. Think of cleaning as a side quest. Sure, the living room needs vacuuming, but that’s just happening around the dulcet sounds of Harry Styles. 

Just the act of organizing and cleaning can improve your mental health. According to Verywellmind.com, taking control of your environment can help if you’re feeling out of control in your life. Maybe school, work and your social life feel unmanageable, but doing the dishes and making the bed is something highly controllable.

Medical studies have found that cleaning can alleviate some symptoms of anxiety and depression. Just the physical activity involved and the focus required to complete a task can combat that fatigue and mental fog that tends to accompany nervousness and sadness.

Nothing feels better than getting home from a long day to clean pajamas and an empty kitchen, and I would argue that just that feeling is like exhaling a breath you didn’t know you were holding. Chores can become the most effective stress reliever of your day if you give them a chance.

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Ellie Taube

Alabama '24

Hi! My name is Ellie Taube and I am an English Major studying at The University of Alabama. In addition to writing and journalism as major passions of mine, I also love cooking and going walks or runs. I love dogs, in fact, most of my phone's camera roll is just pictures of my three year old goldendoodle, Ruby!
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