Roommates, roommates, roommates… a seemingly inevitable part of young adulthood. From living with friends to moving in with your significant other, sharing a living space can get messy, and being the roommate that’s trying to create a sense of order can be difficult. As an organized person (and Sorted by Anna team member), I’m usually the roommate that wants to create systems that keep my home flowing and efficient, but it can be a challenge when I’m up against the habits and preferences of others that aren’t as meticulous. Ultimately, the focus of the roommate group-text should be for making future brunch plans and not figuring out who left the kitchen a total mess….here are a few tips I’ve gathered over the years to keep my shared space an organized one:
It seems like an obvious idea…but perhaps it’s the most important one! Whether you had to leave the house in a rush and left a mess or you found the perfect dividers for your kitchen drawers and you don’t want to come across as taking over a shared space – communicate! I had a lot of fun hunting for the perfect products to hack my classic (very small) NYC apartment kitchen but made sure to run each idea by my roommates to avoid commandeering a space that we all equally share. A quick text can go a long way and sometimes over-communicating can work in everyone’s benefit.
Take the time to chat about what you want the flow and feel of your home to be and set some guidelines that can maintain them. (I hesitate to call them “house rules” because they can seem a little too authoritative…but you get the idea) Asking questions upfront and being open about what your pet peeves are can save you from the awkwardness of confrontation later on. Can’t stand dirty dishes left in the sink overnight? Prefer to use common areas as a workspace? Like to have your space deep-cleaned on a regular basis? Let your roommates know! Once you bring it up, you can develop a system that keeps everyone happy, whether it’s an expectation that dishes are cleaned by the end of the day, finding a place to store work materials out of the way in common areas, dividing up cleaning responsibilities or splitting the cost of a cleaning service on a regular basis.
Create systems that work with existing habits…
Perhaps you have a roommate that can’t help but leave their shoes by the door or toss their jacket on the closest piece of furniture and it drives you crazy. Instead of getting caught up in an ongoing cycle of reminder texts and hoping they will change their habits, decide on a solution together that works with their existing instinct. Maybe you split the cost of a shoe rack or a set of coat hooks that you both love! My previous roommate had a habit of leaving shoes by the front door and before I knew it half of her footwear was piled in the entryway, so we agreed on a shoe rack that fit perfectly in the space. No more tripping over shoes for me and no need to drastically change habits for her!