Getting in the headspace to optimize your workspace
By Sophie Isbister, Life & Style Editor
They say your house is a reflection of your state of mind, and if you’re anything like me at this point in the semester, then both of those spaces are probably in a state of overflowing chaos. I frequently find myself storming around my apartment, looking for this paper or that book, only to find the errant item in some obscure place like a Starbucks bag next to my toaster. Regular decluttering is a great way to bring order to the madness, create a harmonious work space, and maybe cling to those few remaining shreds of sanity.
Even if you still live with your parents or have minimal space to declutter, the following tips will get you motivated to carve out an optimal personal space just in time for the oncoming onslaught of exams.
The “one in, one out” rule
This rule helps you avoid collecting too much stuff in the first place. For every item you acquire (tacky mug, tank top, highlighter), get rid of something you already have. It can also be turned into the “one in, two out” rule, which works particularly well with books—at the recent Event magazine book sale, I bought four novels, a purchase I justified by bringing back eight novels to donate the next day. Everybody wins!
The fastest way to get myself to clean my kitchen is to invite someone over for coffee. After extending the invitation, I have a few hours to get the dishes done, counters wiped, and that week-old pot of Kraft Dinner incinerated. Nothing puts a fire under my butt like the potential shaming of my peers. If you’re the same, a good way to get things tidy is to plan a study night, invite all your friends, and clean up the evidence of your slovenliness.
Make no excuses
My mom came up with this particular gem: “Let it go, let it go, let it go,” sung to the tune of “Let It Snow.” Dance around your house singing those few simple words while you cut the excess. Donate things you don’t need, and don’t be slowed down by excuses like, “I need to wait until I have time to sell my DVDs on Craigslist,” or “Aunt Mildred gave me this cardigan three Christmases ago, I have to keep it.” Just focus on getting stuff out the door.
Use the time you would otherwise spend procrastinating
Everyone procrastinates. This is a known part of a student’s creative process. Unless you’re some kind of superhuman school robot, you likely spend a decent chunk of your time staring at the wall or re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix. So instead of doing all that stuff, spend a solid hour in a cleaning frenzy. Start with your desk and work outward; pick a new room each day. The rush of activity will break up the monotony of constant studying, and the somewhat meditative process of sorting and purging could bring on some much-needed academic inspiration.
Capitalize on your mood
Stressed about school? Grumpy because your umbrella flipped inside out and left you drenched? Pissed off at how goddamn loud everyone is in the “Quiet Study Area”? Sometimes a bad mood can be the exact boost you need to spark a healthy purge-a-thon. Harness your rage and take it out on that poor, unsuspecting pile of old winter sweaters that’s gathering dust in the back of your closet.
The only thing more fun than spring decluttering is spring cleaning. Getting rid of excess and organizing what is left behind are great things to do while you’re gearing up for exams. Not only will you create some much-needed clean surfaces, your space will be totally primed for a dust-every-corner deep clean overhaul—once you ace those pesky exams.