It’s that time of year again… spring (er, almost summer) cleaning! At this point, many of us have moved home from our dorms or apartments and are sitting among piles of our stuff in our tiny childhood bedrooms. Okay, so our dorms were tinier… but they held so much stuff! Where did it all come from? How can I declutter my space? Why should I even bother?

Well, Germ reader, these are all excellent questions. I have asked myself these very questions every year I have moved home from college, and I even started to consult Google for some tips for this reoccurring dilemma. Here are some smart and wonderful tips to help keep your space and mind free of clutter.

1. Just get right to your actual stuff.

When you think about cleaning and decluttering, your first instinct might be to go all HGTV and online shop or head to the nearest IKEA and find the latest and greatest in cute storage containers. But wait! Before you treat yourself with cute new stuff for your room, sit down with your actual stuff and go nuts. Get rid of everything that you don’t need, that you have five of, or that you didn’t even remember you had. You’ll save yourself from organizing items that you didn’t even need anyway. Start organizing with piles for donating, trash, recycling, other rooms, etc.

2. Try to stay put.

Instead of immediately putting everything you find into the room it belongs, put it all in a pile and leave it for later. By leaving the room with most of your stuff in it, you can often get distracted by noticing other tasks that could be done. Something that brings you into the kitchen turns into a quick snack, and that turns into noticing you’re out of yogurt, which turns into making a grocery list for every other thing you’re out of… you get my point.

3. Pictures are also memories.

I’m the biggest perpetrator of holding onto obscure sentimental items. I have them stashed in boxes, closets, and under beds all over my parent’s house. Whether it be a tiny seashell from a spring break trip in high school, or a poster size card from my senior year swim meet… I keep it all. Parting with sentimental items is difficult, and you most definitely should keep the really special ones, but for some of the others — take a picture. It can be a great way to keep the memory alive without all the shelf space. Do you really need every freshman plastic cup and laundry bag the student association gave out this year? Probably not. But obviously some things we can never part with, and that’s okay too.

4. Do the small stuff daily.

I am currently writing this while staring at 3 empty water bottles and 2 half-drunken glasses of water on my dresser, clean laundry still sitting in the basket (after two days), and another basket of miscellaneous items I haven’t sorted through yet. Seems like a lot to take care of, right? Well, it wouldn’t have been if I had kept up with it — taking care of my glasses when I was done and folding the laundry right after I took it out of the dryer. It’s really easy for things to accumulate over a week, and the more it accumulates, the less likely you are to do anything about it. You can really declutter your life by taking those few minutes to do things right away. You’ll thank yourself later.

5. Decluttering gives you space in all parts of life.

Not only does staying tidy and decluttered leave your room looking nice, it can also make it feel nice. It is believed that getting rid of physical clutter can clear energy blocks and allow more space for the emotional side of our lives. It can help us clear our space of stress and anxiety, and it can let in happiness and light. I know that every year when I declutter my room, it almost feels brighter in the space. There is just this feeling around me, almost like I can breathe better. Make room for all of the good things to come, and don’t hold on to everything just because you can.


My move after graduating college and resettling in at home and then preparing for my move to graduate school has been and will be a constant cycle of these five tips. It’s important to always leave room in your life for growth — both physically and emotionally — and by keeping a decluttered room, you can have a decluttered mind. You will see and actually feel the difference around you.


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