get a good, clean looking hutch and keep it organized.
when helping orientees this september, my number one tip for room decorating was getting a high quality hutch and making sure you used it as much as you could. Now, what's a hutch? Well, it goes by a bunch of different names but it's essentially a desk organizer that stacks over your workspace and gives you a few cubbies, drawers, and hopefully one long shelf so you can keep everything off of where you're trying to focus. I like to have a lot of cutesy and distracting things around me, but as soon as they're within sight of where I'm working on a paper, I get completely sidetracked. After I got my hutch, they were tucked in the nooks and crannies. My books also took up way too much room, so they fit right in on the upper part of the shelf. Basically, it's just a great organizer and makes your space a lot clearer. Which makes you work better. So, yeah, awesome.
somewhere to post notes and get stuff done.
Every finals week, my infamous "Get Shit Done Wall" emerges. Simplicity at its finest: any flat space gets divided into two pieces. One side is filled with every bit of work I need to have finished by the end of the semester. (Ex: "write psych paper," "study for evolution," "meet up with partners for marketing project," etc etc), while the other side has a bunch of possible rewards (Ex: "watch an episode of 30 Rock," "go get a snack with some friend," "read ten blog posts," etc etc). For every post-it I finish on side one, I get to pluck it off and choose a reward from side two. Sounds more like kindergarten than college, but it works for me. Find something similar so you can keep all of your big-and-small things in one place.
something inspirational and/or anti-inspirational.
I had a quote wall for a lot of freshman year, and it was nice to gaze at every once and a while to keep me motivated. However, sometimes the touchy-feely stuff doesn't work as well. I'll briefly explain that I had a not-so-great professor my first semester. I've had not-so-great professors/teachers before, but this one was a piece of work. I knew I had to get my way through the semester and there was really no way out except to endure. So I made a little countdown for them, listing all the days I had to sit in their class until the final exam. As negative as it sounds, it worked, and I made it out alive. So, make sure you take whatever route you can to stay sane - inspirational or not.
give yourself a "random bin."
I felt loads of pressure freshman year to try and keep my room clean all the time. (And failed. Like, mega-ultra failed. You can ask basically anyone.) Most of it was I didn't have a place to "throw stuff" - like when you're late for class and you know you SHOULD put your makeup bag away, but you can't. Or when you fall into bed and SHOULD arrange your slippers neatly in their little cubby but you can't. Or...etc etc. It's nice to have a random bin where stuff can just "end up" when necessary. That way, during a weekly clean, it's less actually "cleaning" and more...rearranging. Putting stuff where it needs to be. Plus, your room just always looks cleaner.
regardless, make it your home.
No matter how weird it ends up looking, the most important thing is that it makes you feel comfy and gives you a sense of "my place." By the end of last year, my dorm corner was almost on the level of my room at home, which is impressive. I had 18 years to build that nest and what, eight months(?!) to assemble the second. Props to me. But anyway, don't let Pinterest or your mom or even your best friend overload you with what a dorm room "should" look like. Toss out the twinkle lights or the see-through tulle overhang - if it's not you, it's not you. But I mean, don't ditch the stuffed animals. They should be there to stay.