It’s around this time of year that my room begins to fall into a constant state of disarray. Typically, after the abrupt rise and fall of midterm season, I look up from my textbooks and find myself sitting in the wreckage of what I once knew as my beautiful bedroom — a pile of laundry heaped in the corner in an ambiguous status of cleanliness; half-empty cups of coffee and tea scattered across my desk; my notebooks, papers, and pens littered around the floor. And somehow, no matter how much I try to tidy things up, my room never feels really, truly clean again — at least not until the end of the school year. No matter how many nights I get home and try to put things away, I find myself undoing all of my progress the following day when I fling my shoes across the room after class or leave my bowl of oatmeal on my bedside table in the morning. As one of my good friends once said, each fall I transform into Sisyphus — eternally clearing my floor and making my bed, only for my room to immediately become messy once more. 

I’m not sure what causes my lack of discipline in this regard. Maybe it’s because I keep getting distracted — I’ll start cleaning, and then I notice a letter one of my high school friends mailed me last week wedged under my desk chair, or I’ll find a skirt I haven’t worn in months under my bed and start trying on all my clothes to see what still fits. Sometimes, I start cleaning because I’m anxious, and then quickly realize I am too anxious to do anything but lay in my bed and listen to music. Whatever the reason, about halfway through every semester, I suddenly become completely incapable of keeping my bedroom clean. 

This week, though, I’ve decided to turn things around. This is the week I will finally clean my room and keep it moderately tidy for as long as I can, for once in my life. To help others who may be struggling with this conundrum — my fellow Sisyphuses — I have compiled a list of ways to get started. Please find below, Liv’s Guide to Cleaning Your Room. 

  1. Start with your laundry. This is imperative, I’ve realized, to keeping your room clean. Laundry takes up an exceptional amount of space, especially if you’re living in a tiny dorm on campus, and nobody likes to see a gargantuan pile of clothes when they first walk through the door. Do your laundry when you run out of clean clothes, and — this is crucial! — fold them as soon as they come out of the dryer. Otherwise, they will sit in your hamper until it’s time to wash them again, and you won’t be able to tell what’s clean or what’s dirty. 
  2. Move to your desk. Your desk is where the magic happens. I’ve noticed it’s much easier to focus on your homework when your study space is clean. Keep your books in a compact pile, your pens in your drawer, and coffee cups to a minimum. If you eat in your room often, like I do, try to clean your dishes as soon as you’re finished — or at least put them in the sink, away from your homework. That way, when you’re trying to study, you won’t get overwhelmed as your elbows keep bumping against a half-eaten bowl of lentil soup or cold mug of green tea, which will likely compel you to sit down and study for a little bit longer. 
  3. Try your best to keep things off the floor. Put your shoes in your closet. Hang your sweatshirt over the back of your chair. Put your pajamas back in the drawer. Anywhere is better than the ground. When you can see the floor of your bedroom, things don’t look so bad. It’s not an imminent ocean of disaster when you can actually walk from one end of the room to the other without having to kick something out of your way.
  4. If you struggle with staying focused while cleaning, like I do, find something to distract yourself while you organize. The best remedies I have found are listening to music, putting on an episode of a TV show you’ve already seen, or having a friend or a roommate sit on your bed and talk while you hustle around. When you’re talking or listening to someone or something, eventually you’ll find yourself putting away the last sweater or pair of socks and realizing it wasn’t that bad.

It’s much easier to keep your room tidy after you’ve cleaned it once. I know it’s hard, but we can do this. I believe in us. Once we start, I promise it won’t be that bad.

Tagged: advice

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