Monday, April 7, 2008

succeeding in college

Thinking about stuff that would be interesting to read about, I think about the common thread in almost all the blogs and sites I read: I read them in hopes they will make me more successful. Here, I'm hoping to do just that.

Step 1: Clean your room.
While it isn't necessary to have your home as tidy as the Vanderbilt mansion, there's no excuse for it to be a disaster, either. My mom, every time she sees my room, says "messiness sucks energy out of the room." Even though it sounds ridiculous, it's true. In a messy room, even if all the lights are on, it seems kind of dark and lifeless all the time.
Another reason to cleaning up the room is pretty self-evident: you will make your life easier if you know where to find things and don't have to sort through piles of crap to find it. Finally, it just makes a better impression on visitors when you don't need a bulldozer to make a place for them to sit.

In any case, getting the room clean is way easier than you think. If your room is really messy (like mine was a few days ago), pick a milestone that you're headed toward (mine was a Productions exam). Make a commitment to spend a pretty solid block of time on your room after that. It might sound like something you don't want to do after a big test or paper, but you'd be surprised how relaxing cleaning can be. Turn on some good music while you clean, or invite a friend over.
The main thing you need to do when starting out is make clearly defined piles. For most college students, 90% of the crap lying around will fall into two categories: clothing and books/papers.

Once you have everything separated, dive into it. Fold up all the clothes, throw stuff in the hamper, and don't stop until you've found a home for every piece of clothing. It's tempting to leave stuff out, but don't unless you know you're going to wear it within 24 hours (e.g. a polo shirt you're wearing to a party later that night).
Then, tackle the papers. Separate them into personal stuff (magazines, bills, etc), school papers, and junk. You'll be surprised by how much stuff you can get rid of in a short time just by recycling the papers you don't need. Then, depending on how organized you want to be, separate into sub-piles. Right now on my coffee table I have one pile for each class, RA stuff, general school papers, and mail. I'll discuss what to do with some of that stuff at a later date.
Finally, get rid of dust and dirt with a vacuum and/or broom.

Once you've got the room sufficiently organized, all you have to do is maintain it. A good rule is that you don't go to bed unless your room is satisfactorily clean. While that might sound like a pain, once again, you'll find that it isn't. It usually takes no more than 5 minutes and helps you unwind for the night. If you do this almost every night, the clutter that plagued you never has the chance to build up.

Now that my room is clean, it feels a lot bigger, and is just nicer to be in. I feel like I can actually enjoy it instead of worrying about navigating the obstacle course between the door and my bed.

Feel free to leave comments about how to keep it clean in between classes.

Right now, it's 3 a.m. and I've been studying for taxes for well over 12 hours, so if any of this doesn't make sense, blame the IRS.

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