The college dorm provides unique organizing challenges. It’s a small space, usually shared by two students, that must function for work, storage, relaxation and play. Also, any organizing structures can’t be too permanent. Here are some recommendations.
1. Know Before You Go
Learn as much as you can about the space before you get there. Here’s some useful information to collect:
• What are the dimensions of the room? What’s the square footage?
• How big is your closet and how many dresser drawers are there?
• Is there overhead lighting or will you need a desk lamp?
• How high is the bed off the ground and is there an option for loft beds?
Many college websites offer information for dorm room specifications.
Finally, check with with your future roommate to avoid duplication of large items like a printer, mini-fridge, or T.V.
2. Store Vertically
Your number one organizing tool is a clear work surface, because it facilitates processing, whether it’s homework or laundry. Keep your surface clear by storing as much as possible vertically. Over-the-door hangers are one solution. Another solution is more conceptual. Separate actions from the actionable. In other words, write “study biology text” on a 1.5” x 2” post it on a vertical clipboard (or in your computer), but keep your biology textbook in the vertical book shelf, until you’re ready to study it. You don’t need your 10 pound book on your horizontal desk to remind you to read it. That’s assuming students are still using books these days, but you get the idea.
3. 3M Command Strips
The 3M Command Strips are ideal for dorm rooms. You can hang everything from a framed picture to a calendar, with this product and it won’t damage the wall. This a great way to solve, not only, a lot of your display needs, but some of your vertical storage needs, mentioned in Tip 2.
4. Rise to the Occasion
There’s a lot of good storage space under the bed. Under bed storage boxes fit under most beds, but if you need more storage, you can raise the height of the bed with bed risers, available at Bed Bath and Beyond or similar stores.
If loft beds are an option, then you can really start to take advantage of the vertical space.
For dorm rooms, I really like the pop-up mesh laundry hampers. In a tight space like a dorm room, a certain amount of flexibility is necessary and for an any organizing system, a certain amount of structure is necessary. The pop up hamper manages to deliver on both. It has handles so you can easily carry it to the laundry room and the mesh material allows air to pass through, so wet gym clothes can dry out. The only downside to these hampers is that there is a limit to how much weight they can stand, but if you can do your laundry at least once a week, you should be OK. If they do burst, they are only $7.99 to replace.
It’s definitely possible to live comfortably in a small dorm room, but it’s important that you have the right things and even more important to leave behind all the wrong things.
Well thank you, Matt Baier, professional organizer, for writing this most excellent blog post!
Matt Baier is the owner and president of the eponymously named, Matt Baier Organizing in Stamford, CT. Check out his blog for twice weekly organizing tips and product reviews. Matt’s also on Facebook and Twitter!