Organization key to living in limited college spaces

By Angela Loiacono

Living arrangements in college are about two things. First, you must learn to live in the small confines of an apartment or residence hall. Second, you must figure out how to get all your necessary possessions to fit into these small spaces while leaving enough room for you to walk to your bed and enough space for your roommate(s). The challenge that accompanies bringing everything that you have owned since you were five with you to college can be difficult. But, after taking a few ideas from below and applying them to the large closet that you call home, you’ll be on your way to an organized and spacious room.

Start by making piles of items that are alike (using your bed for this is a good idea). Taking an inventory of like items will be a big first step in the organizational process. This will also give you a better idea of where everything should go in the end. Once you have gone through your cluttered items and determined what things are similar to others, decide if everything you currently have is needed. That pair of jeans that you haven’t worn since high school can go to Goodwill, and the old notebooks and class handouts from freshman year can get tossed. And it wouldn’t hurt to wipe down all your surfaces and vacuum now that you’ve picked everything up from the floor.

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Next, begin transferring your piles to their logical places in your room. For example, all folders, books and other school supplies should go on your desk; all clothes, jackets and shoes to your closet. Putting items away in such places will help you keep things tidy as time goes on. Miscellaneous things like CDs, photo albums, or anything else that does not have a logical place can stay on the bed for now.

The next step is to determine what type of storage options you have. Is there a shelf in your closet? Do you have a bookcase? Do you have any dresser drawers that aren’t already filled with clothes? Determining where you can place things before you actually do can help you decide what will go where. Now, take one section of your room at a time and begin placing the items that you have already put there in their place (i.e. make a row of shoes on the bottom of your closet, or stack your books neatly on the side of your desk). Keeping your items that are alike together will keep you organized and always remind you where you put your belongings.

If you begin to put away and realize that you don’t have the storage space for them, try some of these tricks. Buy containers that slide under your bed. Hidden from the eye and extremely convenient, these containers can be found at any multi-purpose or home store. To make this work even more for you, get risers to place under your bed. These risers will pick your bed off the floor giving you extra storage space below. Purchasing clear plastic boxes and drawers also can solve your storage problem. For those of you who always have a hard time finding things, the clear sides of the boxes will come in handy. For those of you who want to hide what you store in the clear plastic drawers try this: on a plain piece of computer paper write out your favorite quote or saying. Place the piece of paper inside the plastic drawer facing out. That way, when you close the drawer all you see is some of your favorite writing and not the mish mash of belongings in the drawer.

Take advantage of the vertical space you have by installing free-hanging shelves or box frames. The easy to install items will help you stay organized and give you storage space that will allow you to display items at the same time. This might be a good place to put any stackable items or perhaps a few pictures.

With storage containers to solve your lack of storage space and with the vast majority of your belongings in their logical home, you might be left with an odd collection of things to put away. Things such as candles can be placed sporadically throughout the room for decoration. CDs and magazines can be stacked neatly on a shelf or placed in decorative holders (stylish baskets for the magazines and varying types of stand alone CD/DVD racks can be found relatively cheap at a multi-purpose store). Anything that doesn’t have a logical home or can’t be used to decorate your room with your own personal flair might not be necessary. If it is something you don’t want to discard, think about bringing it home on your next trip to visit the family.

Finally, take a good look around. See what your room really looks like when you can see the carpet and you actually know where your favorite (fill in the blank) is.