I’m a slob, I admit it. Just a quick glance at my room and you can tell: shirts and underwear explode from my drawers, various books and notebooks cover my desk and coats and jackets litter the floor. Something needs to change: my Grindr dates think I’m a complete pig.
"Something needs to change: my Grindr dates think I'm a complete pig."
- Alex Furuya
But it’s not my fault! Dorm life poses the challenge of a fitting all of your stuff (including what seems like a thousand winter coats) into one small, cramped, shared living space.
Recently, however, I heard about a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. Using her technique, the KonMari method, you can achieve maximum tidiness in your room (and in your life). And the best part? You’ll never revert back to your old messy ways.
So I read Kondo’s book from cover to cover and undertook the Herculean challenge of trying to clean my room. As students living in a shoe boxes called dorm rooms, you can all learn from my experience and try to use the KonMari method for yourselves.
Decluttering can be as simple as two steps, according to Kondo. First, dispose of items that “don’t spark joy,” then put everything away. Kondo suggests that we should be surrounded by things we enjoy, which will improve our environment and make us happier and more productive.
What college student doesn’t want that?
Kondo’s second tip is to tackle the mess by categories, not location. She suggests organizing in this order: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items) and finally sentimental items.
Kondo reiterates throughout her book that we should touch our belongings to see if “it sparks joy” or not. If an object inspires happiness or reminds you of a fond memory, then you should keep it.
Now I love free things, everyone does. However, for some reason, when I touched four Wildcat Welcome shirts that I had never worn before, it sparked…nothing. None of my Grindr dates would want to see me wearing these shirts. So, I threw them into a pile for clothes that I planned to give away. After carrying two bags worth of clothing to Crossroads and the clothes donation box, I felt much lighter on my feet.
Next, it was time to move on to my books. I took all the books out of my drawers and bookshelf and placed them on my floor.
Kondo makes a good point: we very rarely reread any books. Thus, I followed her advice and gave away books I’ve already read, no matter how much I loved them. I went through my old textbooks using the same method before; if it sparked joy in me, I kept it.
Same goes with class notes, handouts and past essays. After going through every single paper in my room, I ended up throwing away a good 10 pounds worth of papers.
Next, Kondo discussed the category of komono. In Japanese, komono refers to miscellaneous items. In my case, my desk drawer was filled to the brim with Wildcat Welcome trinkets, Lego pieces, paperclips, condoms and various pins and badges. I dumped everything out on the floor and tried to find what makes me happy.
I ended up throwing away most of it.
Then, it was time to go through the things that actually had sentimental value. A lot of these things I decided to keep, but I made sure to throw away redundant objects. For example, if I had a ticket stub and a program for a concert I loved, I would throw away the program and just keep the stub.
Through the KonMari method, I was able to greatly reduce the amount of stuff in my room and consolidate all the things that make me happy.
Finally, I had to put everything back in its place.
According to Kondo, your closet should be organized by category. From left to right, it should be jackets, sweaters, shirts, pants and accessories. Your closet should look beautiful, and so should your drawers. One of Kondo’s most important tips was to store folded clothes vertically, so you can see everything you own and you don’t have clothes wrinkled on the bottom of your drawers.
Everything else should go where the room tells you to put it. It might sound weird, but if something “feels like” it should go someplace, then put it there. For instance, my flavored condoms are placed in a cute little bag in my desk drawer because it just feels right.
Now I can finally use my desk for studying and actually put my laptop on it. I can also go through my closet and easily find what I am looking for in an instant. Overall, my cramped dorm room is now actually livable.
According to Kondo, if your room is happy and comfortable, then your life will be too. In her logic, we are connected to our room, and if we keep our room nice and tidy, we will feel more productive with our lives.
Thanks to Kondo, no longer will my late night Grindr hook ups think I live in a trash hole.
Maybe now they’ll actually stay the night.