Minimalism Meets College: Minimalist Tips
1. Giant Backpack, No More: Put your large NorthFace or traditional styled backpack to the side, and transition to a lightweight, simple oversized tote or purse-type backpack.
In it, include: a simple wallet that carries importance cards and your school ID; (a repurpose DIY) a glasses case as a pencil case that can hold: 2-3 pens, 2 pencils, a sharpie and a highlighter; your day planner or journal (depending on how you keep track of assignments and things-to-do); your laptop and/or notebooks (if your classes don’t permit electronic note taking); and your room and/or car key(s).
2. Take Control of Your Notes, Structure Over Stress: If you’re a visual or kinesthetic learner, taking your notes by hand is helpful. If you’re an auditory learner, try recording your notes. For ease, designate one notebook for each class to make reviewing and maintenance easier (option: color coordinate too for easy identification). Organize your material by going digital. For each class, create a file for writing assignments/essays on your laptop. This makes sorting through past papers easier and decluttering/removal less tedious.
3. Downgrade Your Dorm: Don’t just leave decluttering for your room at home, take it to college with you. The struggle between your social life and academics is never ending; however, having a clean, organized, simple room (with your own special flare and style) can ease the daily stress of being a college student. Having a space of your own—that embodies your minimalist attitude/outlook—allows you to further embrace and practice a minimalistic lifestyle that is genuine to you. Avoid the bad habit of focusing on and adding décor to your dorm to make it feel personal—it only promotes clutter as you’re not in need of all that décor. Being a college student isn’t easy. Take this as the perfect opportunity for a low-budget, room make-over. In addition, if you’re an out-of-state student who moves out of their dorm every school year, doing more with less in your dorm makes storage and travelling a lot less stressful and easier to manage: you’ll pack fewer clothing items, shoes, health and beauty products; you won’t have to pay so much for storage (especially if you share a unit with other students who might need the space); and you will not leave as many items behind for someone who lives nearby campus to hang onto for you. As a bonus, move-in day will no longer be “move-in week”.
4. That’s Money, Honey: As a given, minimalism allows you to save money. Use this advantage to manage your college budget, you’ll be surprised how much money you might save. Your college budget might not be as small as you once imagined. Rather, your budget will prove to be livable and fitting for your lifestyle. Take this as an opportunity to start practicing financial habits that could carry over into adulthood. In addition, renting your textbooks and/or reselling them is a good way to cut down on buying full price textbooks and not accumulate a library of books you’ll never use again. Try to avoid hanging onto books “just-in-case” someone else might need them. Go ahead and sell, or rent to begin with so you’re not left with that load on your hands. For novels and such, try going digital with your books on a tablet or Kindle—or buy eBooks (if permitted by your professor).
5. Recycle the School Year: Feel free to recycle old notes, exams, and/or papers from courses you’re sure you’ll never revisit. If you feel the need to keep a paper or exam (until graduation or end of the year), digitally save them on your laptop for later use then delete them. If anything, general notes for courses can be found online as well, so try to avoid getting too attached.
6. Apply What You Learn: Reduce mental clutter and apply what you learn after you’ve learned it. This can be done by immediately starting on a homework assignment, assigned reading, or reviewing your class notes after your classes. This improves your cognitive retention about the material, reduces stress when it comes to exam time, and promotes healthier learning habits that can result in long-term academic success.