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Decluttering tips for college students

I have recently been loving Get Organized with the Home Edit and Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, and I have gotten inspired to declutter my space slowly but steadily. 

If you keep everything you come across for fear of needing it later, you might be skeptical about decluttering. I was too! I have done all the research, from reading articles to watching reality shows and listening to podcasts. Here are my favorite tips that will make organizing and simplifying your life manageable and realistic for your life. 

1. Remind yourself of all the benefits 

Getting rid of your items may become difficult as you get to things you have kept for years. So I have found that reminding myself of all the good helps me keep going. The obvious benefit is that a less cluttered space is easier to clean and keep organized, but there are hidden advantages. Donating lightly used clothing, books, and other items will give them a new home, and someone else may get more use out of them than you ever did. A more organized space frees up your mind to invest more time in yourself and your hobbies. All the stress about having a messy space goes away when everything has a designated spot.

2. Take out everything from the category that you own

This tactic is not one of my favorites, but a lot of people suggest it, so it could work for you. When I clean out my closet or bookshelf, I go through and take out what I know I don’t want. I leave in what I am going to keep, mostly because taking everything out and then putting it back in is a lot of work. However, if you know you have a lot of stuff spread out all over the place, it will help to have it all piled in one place for a clear view of what you own. Start working off that big pile. That way, when you are left with what you want to keep, you can put it all back neatly and mindfully. 

3. Make piles

Piles can also be designated bags or boxes. The key is categorizing the things you plan to donate, the trash, and of course, what you plan to keep. Putting items into piles will make it easier to reorganize what you do plan on keeping with efficient use of your space. After you are finished sorting your big pile into smaller ones, you can easily move your donation box to your car for drop-off at your local thrift store and dispose of the trash bag. 

4. Take your lifestyle into consideration

Most tips I found online were geared towards people with an entire house to clean, or the ability to buy entire new sets of certain products. As college students, we generally have a smaller space to work with and different needs than other adults, so take those needs into account. If you work from your room, make sure your organization works for you. Designate a clear line between where you work and where you sleep (says the one typing from her bed; no one’s perfect), and prioritize your work area and desk drawers in your organization. If fashion is your thing and you have a huge wardrobe full of items you use, give yourself enough space for it and cut down in an area you useless. 

5. Use the flipped hanger method

This is one that came up a lot in my research. Take five minutes to flip all the hangers in your closet with the open side facing you, and every time you wear a piece of clothing, flip the hanger when you put it away. After a few months or a year, whatever works for you, donate everything on a hanger that still has not been flipped. While I’m on the subject of hangers, consider investing in a few sets of uniform hangers and remove all wire hangers, which can warp your clothes. 

6. Create a system

However, you choose to go about decluttering, establish a system that will make it easy to maintain your newly organized space. If you just get rid of a ton of stuff and call it a day, things will accumulate as you use them day-to-day and put them back randomly. Clea and Joanna from The Home Edit like to create zones to keep things in their place, so create a zone in your closet for pants, one for tops, one for dresses, and one for outerwear. If you want to go a step further, organize by color. Designate a zone for shoes, accessories, books, and all your other items to make sure that it is quick and easy to put everything you use back as soon as you’re finished with it. If you want a pretty system, invest in clear storage bins, a label-maker, and color-code your entire system. Whichever way you do it, make sure it is something you will enjoy looking at and maintaining. 

7. Allow yourself to let things go

I keep tons of things just because they were expensive or because they were a gift from someone I care about. After some time, though, if you never use that item, it just sits there accumulating dust and taking up space. Chances are, that person will not go into your room to check if you kept that shirt they gave you five years ago. Acknowledge that it is not your style and say goodbye to it. With expensive items, think realistically about whether you will use them again. I have a pair of snow boots that I bought for a trip years ago. I live in Florida, so it would have been easy to justify giving them away, but in the case of these boots, they were a good investment, and I used them again recently. For most things, however, you will actually not get around to using them again, so if that is the case, say goodbye. 

Maria Duque is a senior at Florida International University majoring in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communications with a minor in Marketing. She is also a student in the Honors College at FIU. She is interning at rbb Communications as a digital intern, and is the Director of Accounts at BOLD FIU, a student-run strategic communications agency. She loves culture and literature, helping people and making change, so she is determined to find a career that will allow her to integrate these interests. Her favorite project is running a bookstagram account where she reviews and recommends books (linked below).
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