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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Reflections on staying organized in the last few weeks of term

Every year in high school, I would more or less abandon any semblance of doing my homework or sleeping normal hours when the last few weeks of the school year arrived. I would simply check out early, which I’m sure many other freshmen can relate to. And while that instinct to go enjoy the spring weather and shirk my responsibilities is still absolutely present, things are different at Carleton. One of the greatest flaws I’ve observed so far with the trimester system is this strange period of time where I’m somehow both still stressed about midterms, and already worrying about moving out, which feels like it’s coming up fast. As an East Coaster who is flying home rather than being picked up, packing and storage are constant worries in my mind. 

Today, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I may not have any more control over how my psych exam went, and I may not have a solution to the stress that builds every day that I don’t get my GWSS midterm back, but I can handle how ready I am to move out. And not only that, but as a generally anxious person, I always feel a little bit less stressed when the space around me is neat. 

So I confronted the horror: my desk. On the literal surface level, it’s not so bad – I fix it up every week or so. A quick redistribution of papers and pens, a brisk wipe down and it’s fine. The real terror is within the drawers, which I had not examined until today. Somehow, all year, I have constantly put things in the drawers and never found occasion to remove anything. It was essentially a journey through my year – I think I found hard copies of at least 12 different essays that I didn’t need. In a moment of academic stress, it was nice to be affirmed by realizing that most of these assessments are nothing I haven’t seen before. It was also a wonderful way to revisit some personal effects: lists of “types” made with friends, my health insurance information and the free token margaritaville group photo were among the many random bits of paper floating around. 

I know myself well enough to know that if I’d waited for the next three weeks, every folded up bit of looseleaf would’ve been hurriedly and unjustly recycled. If you’re a bit of a hoarder, like me, and you want to actually keep some of your sentimental (or medically necessary) stuff, now is the time to start. 

Another unexpected aspect of organizing my dorm was in fact related to my hoarding: examining my more functional collections. Which books will I realistically open in the next four weeks? Which will I actually read this summer? How many tote bags could I possibly need to rotate in the next month? It has to be more than five. Based on my knowledge of my friends, and a number of previous viewpoints I’ve read, I know I’m not the only person on this campus who simply likes stuff. It can be hard to take items that externally reaffirm and project your identity and put them in a box for the fall. I may only wear my silly pink boots once more this term, but to me that’s worth the hassle of struggling to pack them later. And even if I don’t open it between now and September, my favorite poetry book is coming home with me – just to have it around. On the other hand, I can make the practical sacrifice of leaving a large volume of short stories in the Musser basement for a few weeks. A lot of my things bring me comfort, but when I don’t even know if my roommate and I will have our own closets next year, it’s important to find a balance. 

And having clarity in space in one area of my life is hugely impactful in how I process and prepare for other things, especially academics. With my desk cleared, I can quickly process and respond to an email bearing mediocre news about my psych exam, instead of looking at it on my phone in bed and just lying back down. When a reading is boring me, if I want to take a break to crochet or read personally, I don’t have to jump through the hoops of the disorder and tangled nature of my room. It doesn’t hurt to get a head start on packing, either –at the very least, it’s a good reminder to buy a bus ticket. 

While college can be busy at times, removing the physical clutter around you can really help clear your mind, and if you’re anxious like me and get overwhelmed easily, it’s a great distracting but productive task that will improve at least the next week. Do yourself a favor and open your desk drawers, remove the dead bugs sooner rather than later and maybe you’ll find something sentimental in the process.

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