Keeping it Simple: Managing Your Room and its Cleanliness

If living in a college dormitory for the past three years taught me anything, it is learning to manage space well. I was never one that really cared about how I managed space—mostly because I always had space left over. However, after moving to into my McBride double on my first day at Kenyon 4 years ago, I realized that my space was limited. And it got more limited as I accumulated things over the semester. I never realized it, but I just had so many things. These things were composed of mostly clothes and trinkets that had sentimental value but no practical use. It got worse in the second semester, and I didn’t know what to do with my piles of completed notebooks (filled with my own blood, sweat, and tears—how could I throw those away??) and textbooks that I felt like I had built too strong of a bond with to get rid of. And all those packets of pens that I had bought to take with me to college… but now had clearly overbought. 

I’m definitely not a hoarder, but living in a dorm made me realize that your half of the room (or whole room, if you have a single) is the only bit of space that is truly yours. My room needed to be a safe space, somewhere I could hole up when the stress got too bad or I just didn’t want to see anybody. But how could I feel good and recover in my own space when it mirrored the state of mental clutter I was in? I truly, honestly think that keeping things organized and neat (to an extent) is healthy for the resting state of mind. But to do that meant that I had to get rid of a lot of things I didn’t want to get rid of.

After living in dorms until senior year and having very nomadic summers where I had to move residences every couple of weeks, I think cleaning up boils down to three points:


1. Don’t need it? Don’t get it.

Pretty simple. Next time you think about getting that cute tank top or mug ...even if it’s only $3 dollars, do you really need it? Even if it’s only $3, think about what else that could go to! Like food. Or your retirement. Haha.


2. So what about all of those sentimental things… with little practical value? 

This part is always a little tough on the heartstrings. I personally prefer to donate all things that I do not use anymore that are clothing-related. Your well-loved things will continue to be loved, instead of gathering dust in the bottom of your closet. For non-wearable items, I like to display them. Make them part of your room, essential, somehow. Otherwise, store them somewhere.


3. Take out the **** trash.

When the trash gets full, take it out. When you finish the bottle, throw it away. Maintaining cleanliness is a habit, not a singular event. Invest a little time into maintaining your space, and you’ll never hit the troughs of absolute clutter when you get too busy and stressed to clean. 

College has taught me to really appreciate the small things. It doesn’t take much to live well—and you really don’t need much. Even if you do love having much, keep current in the things you have. Personal opinion: consumerism is bad, but it’s even worse to hoard and let fine things turn into dust from age. Donate. It’s great to buy second-hand, or from off-price retailers, like T.J. Maxx, if you prefer that. Invest in yourself by making a good safe space for you. You’re worth it. 

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