That’s right, kids. Back-to-school is almost upon us, and for many of you, that means it’s time to pack up and move your life into half of a 12’x19′ dorm room. You already know the conventional advice (check what your roommate is bringing, shower caddies!, etc.), but living your life in such a tiny shared space is a little more complicated than that. Let’s talk about how to unfuck your dorm room before it has the chance to get fucked up in the first place.
Now, granted, I was in college before this year’s crop of freshmen were even born (please hold while I have an age-related existential crisis), but listen to the old lady about how to keep your dorm room from totally overwhelming you.
- You won’t need half the shit you bring. Especially clothes. So as you’re packing, ask yourself if you really think that item will be used, or if you’re bringing it “just in case” and it’s going to end up as part of your clutter landscape.
- You and your roommate are just as likely to hate each other as not, so get all of the negotiations out of the way early on. Before you’ve had the chance to get infuriated by her wet bath towels everywhere, and before she learns of your “I don’t wash coffee cups until they’re sentient” habit, hammer out some house rules about what happens and doesn’t happen and when.
- Take 20 minutes a day to tidy up. Don’t pull this “I’m way too busy! I don’t have time for cleaning.” I see Tumblr open on your laptop there; you can throw your dirty clothes in your laundry bag.
- Use every possible inch of storage space. Never underestimate how much shit can fit under a bed. If you have a top shelf in your closet (if you have a closet), use all of that vertical space. The creative use of things like tension rods, (removable) wall hooks, and flat storage can open up all sorts of room for you.
- Wash your damn dishes. Seriously. This is one of the top causes of roommate strife, dirty dishes can attract pests like bugs and mice, and it smells bad. Just wash them after you use them. It’s two minutes now or two weeks of icy silence and passive-aggressive whiteboard notes.
- Take the trash out regularly. Very regularly. Trash is clutter, too, and again with the smelling bad.
- Make your bed. “But…” No. “I don’t…” No. Excuses are boring. Having a made bed immediately makes the room look at least 30% cleaner, you have less chance of crumbs and random socks and textbooks ending up lost in your sheets, and it’s way easier to tell if someone else has had sex in it while you were out. I’m not sure why that always happens, but it does, and it’s gross, so a made bed will encourage people to keep it on their own side of the room.
The good news about a 12’x19′ space is that the mess is pretty contained, and with a little bit of preventive effort, keeping it clean won’t cut into any of your studying and beer pong time. (Just let me go ahead and believe that beer pong is still a thing.)
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