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Living in a dorm can be tough. Most likely, you’re in a much smaller space than you’re used to at home, and you might be sharing a room with someone (or many someones) for the first time. It’s natural for some clutter to build up during the week when you’re extra busy, especially since you might not have a designated spot for all your stuff. However, if you’ve been finding your room to be super messy, it might be a good idea to try to form some better habits and find better ways to use the space available to you. Not only can messiness be annoying to roommates, but it can get in the way of your own peace of mind as well. Here are some tips to keep your dorm room organized:

1. Make use of under-bed space. 

If you sleep in a bunk bed you can’t fit as much underneath, but you can probably slide a suitcase under there, and you can even store stuff you don’t use often but need at school with you inside your luggage. Skinny under-bed bins are also very useful and you can often get good deals on them. While it might not be the most practical location for things you use all the time, I suggest using it for items like bedding, extra towels, shoes, etc. 

If you have a regular bed and have lots of space under there, even better! I keep my mini-fridge under mine to keep it out of the way. If you want, you could buy storage carts, bins, or crates to store other items, but you can also just use cardboard boxes or whatever you use to pack for school. I store cleaning supplies, board games, laundry detergent, and other stuff that I don’t use every single day here because I can still access them easily but don’t need them right out on my shelf. 

2. Invest in a storage ottoman.  

I didn’t invest in one of these until this year, but I’m glad that I have one now that I live in a tiny single. Not only does it provide another seat for when friends come by, but it’s also a good place to store smaller items that you don’t have anywhere else to put. 

3. Designate different drawers for different types of items. 

In order to keep track of everything as well as to know immediately where to put something away, categorize your drawers as much as possible. I do keep my smallest desk drawer for miscellaneous items, but I make myself go through it every once in a while and get rid of anything I don’t need anymore and relocate stuff that should go somewhere else. 

4. Keep your shelves as clear as possible. 

Definitely make use of them, but try to avoid using them for tons of little things that will just make your desk look cluttered. Save your shelves for things you use frequently, like textbooks and moisturizer (if you don’t use moisturizer frequently, how are you surviving this eternal winter?). Don’t forget to place a few decorations, photos, and/or cute mugs to cheer up the room and show off your personality. 

5. Use small baskets and other organizers.

Instead of having all of your toiletries strewn across your dresser, get some cheap organizers. These are also good for keeping your desk clear of pens and other small school supplies. If you want to get fancy, you can find really cute ones online or at places like Target, or you can get super affordable ones at 5 Below. 

6. Keep your closet clean. 

Since the closets in most dorms at Hamilton lack doors, and fire code rules prohibit hanging curtains or fabric, it’s essential to keep your closet from getting messy. Make sure your clothes are arranged nicely on your hangers, and keep your shoes upright and in pairs on the floor. If you have a lot of shoes, it might be worth investing in a shoe organizer. 

7. Use space creatively. 

If there are some things you just can’t find a drawer or bin or shelf for, find a way to “display” it rather than just leaving it lying around somewhere. For instance, stack books artfully on the windowsill, or hang a cute bag on your chair. 

8. Do a quick clean-up every day, and a more thorough one once a week. 

It sounds like a lot, but once you get into the habit, your room will never be messy enough for this to take long. More importantly, you’ll feel better living in a more organized space. Take five minutes at the beginning or end of the day to put stuff away that you didn’t get a chance to before. Clean any dishes that are dirty, pick up clothes off the floor, and make your bed or at least pull up the comforter. On weekends, take a little more time to sweep or vacuum and straighten your desk and dresser. Also, don’t forget to wash your sheets every couple of weeks or so! 

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Allison Donlan

Hamilton '18

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