This post is all about decluttering tips for college students!
As a college student, you may not own a ton of stuff at this point in your life. However, the amount of stuff you bring with you can be a bit too much. These decluttering tips are designed to help students reduce the amount of extra stuff that they don’t need.
That way they can focus on school and their social life without worrying about all of the excess junk that they have with them.
One of the biggest game-changers for me and ultimately one of the main reasons I decided to become more minimalistic was the fact that in college your stay is temporary and thus you have to move multiple times.
Not just move into different apartments, but move every school year (If you stay on campus). I was so tired of all the times that I had to move my stuff and thought to myself: “why do I have all this stuff here!? Most of it I don’t even use and it’s a pain in my but to keep loading into my car!”
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.
- 9 Awesome Benefits of Starting A Minimalist Lifestyle in College
- 5 Effortless Steps to Create a Minimalist Wardrobe in College
- Essential Items to Keep When Decluttering: Minimalist Guide
1. Determine What You Need While At School
When it comes to determining what you need at school, this can be tricky if you are a freshman, but after your first year, you’ll have a better grasp of what you need.
The majority of the time new freshmen completely overpack and I was no exception!
This is because going off to college is something new and you never know how much stuff you’ll need. This can be even more true for those students who attend school out of state or even abroad.
However, if you have already been in college for more than a year, it’s a good idea to assess the things that you’ve used daily and recognize the things that you simply have no use for.
Even if you’re a freshman, you can take the time to outline your daily routines and figure out what things are vital for your success at school. Once you’ve determined your most important items, you can then look at items that you use for pleasure and see if these things bring you value.
If you find that some of these items are unused and collecting dust, it’s a good idea to pack them away and plan to take them home on one of your breaks.
2. Make A List Of Items That You’re Taking With You
Making a list is very important when packing for any type of trip especially when going off to college.
Creating a list of items to take is great for keeping organized and can prevent you from underpacking and in this case overpacking. Even if you’re already at school, making a list of items to bring/ keep and a list of items to take home can be very beneficial to your decluttering process.
I recommend separating work/school items and “play” items when making your lists.
Here’s an example:
Your school items could include:
Your “play” items could include:
- Gaming system
- Sports equipment
The important thing here is to remember the things that you need and then start to add items to your list from there. “Play” items may not be “needed” daily, but if they are something that you will use and enjoy then absolutely add them to your list!
Burnout is real and when it comes to school you need a balance. You can’t be all about work, you need time to rest your mind and unwind. So don’t be afraid to bring items that bring you joy, not just the stuff you need.
3. Purge Your Dorm Or Apartment
Go through your dorm or apartment and try to declutter as best as you can. When getting rid of items and deciding what to take home with you, ask yourself:
“Have I used this item in the last week or even the last month?”
If not consider separating it. Get some boxes or trash bags and place these items in your car. This way these items are out of your way and prepped to take home with you. Now on your next break or even on the next weekend, you can make a trip home to drop off your unnecessary items.
This only works if your school is somewhat close to home, but if you live out of state then this may be a bit more difficult. In that case, prepping to take things home around winter break may be ideal.
4. Downsize Your Wardrobe
Downsizing your wardrobe is one of the best tips I would recommend to any college student!
This is something that is not only helpful but something that will save you time and money in the long run. You’ll save time with laundry and getting dressed every morning. While saving you money from needless impulse buying on clothes you don’t need.
Don’t take this the wrong way, decluttering your wardrobe doesn’t need to be extreme!
Be simple and determine what clothes you haven’t worn and remove them!
There is one technique that I recently came across while learning some wardrobe decluttering methods. It’s called the flipped hanger method (external link). This is a decluttering technique that allows you to see which items you wear and most importantly which items are just hanging there in your closet.
To try this method, simply rehang all of your clothes but flip the hangers to face the opposite direction than usual. Then when using clothes from your closet, place the hangers in the correct direction like usual. This will allow you to see which clothes have not been touched just simply by seeing which hangers are still facing the wrong direction.
This is an excellent method to pinpoint the clutter in your closet!
5. When Feeling Overwhelmed With Decluttering Remember The Benefits
If you’re like me and overpacked your first year in college, don’t worry your just like the majority of kids who go to school and take way too much than they need.
But who can blame us?
It’s better to be overpacked when going off to college than to be under-packed and far from home!
So just don’t sweat it and consider the benefits of having less.
Remembering the benefits will give you that motivation you need to get your decluttering project done.
6. Organize Your Workspace
When you’re grinding your way through college, productivity is key!
Any distractions can put a serious hit on your ability to get work done effectively and efficiently. If this affects any areas of your productivity it can have a serious effect on your grades. This is why it’s important to create a clean and clutter-free workspace that will help you maximize your efforts.
Make sure to clear out any unecessary items on your desk and create a desk setup that can maximize your productivity!
7. Declutter your Binders and folders
To stay organized, you need to do a binder audit. With cluttered binders and old assignments, it’s hard to stay on top of your current assignments and quite frankly hard to go each day without getting a headache.
Go through and trash old papers and assignments.
Note: nowadays most assignments are online, but this can be applied to organizing your laptop folders and the few physical papers you do receive.
The point here is to make everything as digital as possible!
Even though digital is best for most things, it can help to purchase a physical planner to write assignments and to-do lists. This may just be a personal preference but when it came to assignments, I needed a physical planner and didn’t like to make any electronic schedules.
Either way, do what works best for you and if you even use any notebooks in college at this point in 2021, I recommend using a simple notebook for each subject or a few small notebooks for physical notes.
But nowadays I don’t even think this will apply to most students with everything being online and whatnot, but do whatever feels best!
8. Organize Your Dorm or Apartment
Another great decluttering tip would be to organize your dorm or apartment. Now I don’t mean simply organizing things and making them look nice, I’m talking practicality!
Have a special place for everything to go in your living space. This will help prevent you from losing your stuff and establish a routine with your stuff.
For example, the most common item to lose at the wrong time would be your keys…
To combat this, have a key hook or basket where all of your important daily items go. I have a spot near my door where I put my keys, wallet, gum, and anything that goes in my pocket. This allows me to easily know where these important items should be at all times. Every day when I walk through the door, I place those items there and it simplifies my daily life.
Now just apply this type of routine or automation to other aspects of your life and you’ll find that mundane tasks are done automatically without you having to think. This will greatly reduce the number of decisions you need to make in a day which will prevent decision fatigue (external link).
Practically see if you can designate a place for your books, binders, and any personal items that you use throughout the day. Nothing is worse than being late because you’re scrambling to find something like your wallet or book you need for class!
If you follow these tips you’ll be so much more organized and make your college life so much easier.
9. Declutter Your Technology
Now on to the topic of decluttering your technology! This is especially important when it comes to college nowadays because every year everything is becoming more and more digital. Pretty soon there will be no more need for physical textbooks.
With this in mind, it’s important to make sure that your digital space is just as decluttered and organized as your physical space.
Organize Folders For Assignments On Your Laptop
Now that a lot of your notes from class and assignments are digital, it’s important to declutter your folders on your laptop. This way it will be easy to find assignments and resources quickly without digging through multiple folders and giving yourself a headache.
Organize Your Bookmarks Bar
Note: The picture above is my current bookmarks bar on google chrome
Now, this is an underratedly (not a word but I don’t care lol) good way to declutter and organize your digital space! Before I decluttered my bookmarks, I had a ton of extra bookmarks that had accumulated into one giant list that didn’t fit onto my “bookmarks bar” anymore on the top of google chrome. I had no idea you could create folders for your bookmarks.
Tip: Here’s how you create folders for bookmarks on google chrome:
Step 1: Click on the three dots in the top right hand corner…
Step 2: Next, select “bookmarks”, then select “bookmark manager”…
Step 3: Once on this screen, select the three dots in the top right hand corner…
Step 4: Finally, select “Add new folder” on the drop down menu
After you’ve organized those bookmarks into folders it makes finding everything so much easier! You could even create temporary folders for each subject that you take each semester. I kinda wish I knew this stuff back then lol.
Delete apps that waste time off of your phone
This can be a big one! Not only do we want to declutter our digital space on our laptops, but we also want to declutter our phones.
One of the best ways to do this is by going through and checking which apps on your phone are used and which are not. Plus you want to identify the apps that are a distraction and that are wasting your time!
For me, my YouTube app was taking up so much of my time! This was just recently that after seeing my screentime report, that my YouTube time on the app was wayyyy wayyy above everything else and I just needed to make a change to be productive and just stop wasting so much time watching videos.
Note: I wish I still had the screenshot but on the screen time page where it says categories, my YouTube time was around 18hours!!! So I was spending way too much of my days looking on the app to the point where it’s like a subtle addiction when I was just scrolling.
So now I just use the internet version of youtube but deleting the YouTube app has changed my phone habits for the better!
10. Limit The Number Of Personal Items
My advice is to keep it simple! Posters and pictures are nice but you’ll create more work for yourself when moving. Just remember that your stay is temporary. You will have to leave and that’s a fact.
Try your best to bring what you need and each semester and each year take less and less. After a year of college, you’ll have a better idea of what you need and a muuuuch better idea of what you don’t need.
11. Remember To Find A Balance
Just remember to find a balance between needs, practicality, and functionality.
Keep in mind decluttering isn’t meant to make you miserable and living like a monk with no possessions! It’s about finding the right amount of things you need in your life and anything else that makes you happy. It’s just when you have too much stuff, it ends up becoming detrimental to your life because most personal items that aren’t used every day are just collecting dust.