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Organizing a dorm room

Organization, or lack thereof, is something that plagues college students. Nowhere is this issue more apparent than in cramped, shared dorm rooms. Disorganization breeds distractibility, tension and even poor grades. Do yourself a favor and get ahead of chaos by setting up your dorm room, and by extension, your college life so that you’re organized and in control from the start.

Dorm-room closets are small. But you can effectively double the size of yours by adding a double hanging rack. This simple device hooks onto the rack that is already in place. You can find them for less than $15 at most home-goods stores or on

Minimize the mess on your desk. Maintain order by minimizing the number of desk accessories you bring to school. In addition, recycle useless advertisements gathered from campus clubs and local businesses along with unusable scrap paper once a day. Pack graded assignments away in an organized portfolio for the whole semester, just in case there is an error on the professor’s part – it happens more than we’d like to think. Finally, keep book clutter to a minimum by organizing yours alphabetically or by the class they are required for.

Set up a laundry station, set a laundry day and stick to it. Keep a lightweight, portable laundry bag in your closet. Before your head hits the pillow each night, toss all dirty laundry from the day in it. Pick the one day you will do laundry – you might want to avoid Sunday afternoons and Sunday evenings as laundry rooms are packed with procrastinators at that time – and fix that into your routine from the beginning of the school year.

Make your bed. When you live in a small space, the slightest visual mess can have an outsized impact on your overall sense of organization. Get in the habit of making your bed every day before you leave your room. Swap sheets weekly or, at the very least, every other week. Buy a short plastic drawer to hold the extra sheets and slide it under your bed for storage.

Think before you pack. Is your room going to be big enough for a guitar?

– Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore,