Organized Charm: March 2015

Sunday, March 29, 2015

5 Anti-Procrastination Tips to Improve Your Finals Week

I recently received a reader request for a post on how to beat procrastination. As soon as I read it, I thought "you and me both, sister!". Even my Kindergarteners are prone to procrastination every time they hear the phrase "clean up time"! 

Why We Procrastinate and How to Stop

So, how can we beat it? First of all, it is important for us to realize that our procrastination usually comes straight out of fear. Fear of failing, or of being below standard, in some cases, even fear of finishing

What have I been procrastinating about lately? Um, that would be job searching. It is truly the most discouraging, am I right?

I mean, I like positive results right away! Don’t you? And job searching means a LOT of hoping and a lot trying and a lot of waiting. BORRR-IIING

So, instead of job searching every day, I settle for pinning a bunch of articles on how to job search every day (I like to think that at least I'm helping others who may not have been able to find these articles through their own Google searching). Basically the same thing, right? I love how Pinterest makes me feel productive while actually doing nothing. 

8 Anti-Procrastination Strategies

But with teacher hiring season just around the corner for me (and Finals Week just around the corner for you) we can’t afford to sit around pinning articles on how to interview and how to study

It’s time to actually get out there and do it!

The good news is, research shows that starting is usually the hardest part! So just do that! Jump straight in on that project that looks so daunting! 

Once you get past that initial fear of how big and impossible-looking it seems, you’ll gain a clearer perspective! Who knows? Maybe you'll even get into the flow of working and you'll enjoy it! 

Maybe I can send 1 email to a potential school today. Maybe you could read 5 pages in that textbook you hate. When we look at it as just a teeny, harmless little task, it’s a lot less intimidating to take a step in the right direction!

Set aside an amount of time for your studying time. Like, 15-20 minutes. That seems like a manageable time to set your phone aside and delve into that Landforms textbook (no matter how boring a chapter on the Humus layer of soil may be).

Cross out that task on your to-do list! Then write it in your planner: read pages 245-255 (sent resume to...). 

Aside from leaving a trail of productivity in yourplanner, this helps you for a couple of other reasons, too! It shows you how you used your time and that you actually DID get something accomplished! It also creates an immediate jumping off point for the next time you sit down to study! 

(which will be tomorrow, riiiiight?)

Tomorrow, try to come back to the same place at the same time (if possible). Call it your study space and your study time. This way, there is no confusion about what you should be doing! 

4 Rules for Effective Studying

Aim for studying this way for the next 4 weeks! Try to turn it into a habit! Do you know how much studying you can accomplish through a month of 20-minute sessions? 10 hours!

And That sounds WAY better than wasting an entire Saturday cramming, no? :) 

What finals (or other life events) are you procrastinating right now? How can you use this baby-step method to overcome them? Do you have any productivity tips or tricks to add?!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Daily To-Do Pages

I was recently asked about how I organize my daily to-do pages. This was a great question because I have probably been trying for years to figure out an effective way to organize an efficient day! Last semester, I finally came up with a system that totally and completely works for me! Maybe it will work for you, too! I use a daily to-do page! Remember in a post a few weeks ago when I said that we should only be doing about 5 big things with our lives?

The very first one I ever made for myself!
Well, this to-do page works perfectly for that because it has 5 "categories" out to the side for jotting down quick task lists or recording notes. Last semester, I used my categories like this: work, school, blog, workouts, cleaning. Sometimes I switched out cleaning for errands or social for workouts. (Different seasons of life call for different categories!) This was the most helpful because it allowed me to list a MANAGEABLE number of tasks per category! 

This is the version available in the Etsy shop!
Out to the left side, I just wrote my schedule for the day! If you color code the events in your life like I do, you could even use those colors to identify the time of day you'll work on those projects! This was also super helpful to me because it really allowed me to create a concrete time management plan for myself. I have an easy time starting projects, but I have a reeeallly difficult time making myself STOP working on them! (or remembering to eat, drink...) 

The 2.0 version

So, I use those time slots to force myself to say "hey, this is good enough" and move on to the next task! It has been a really helpful system for me! And so, of course, it's available in Organized Charm's Etsy shop for you to use, too! I would suggest printing out several days at a time and putting them into a notebook. Take a piece of notebook paper and write down every single thing weighing on your mind, then disperse those tasks throughout the days!

If you have long term tentative plans, you can use Post-It's to show when you'll be out for certain events (like meetings, appointments, etc) until they become "confirmed" plans! I also really love to use Washi tape on the edge of mine to add some color, and give me a space to write motivational quotes or decorate! For a while, I was even using the blank space at the bottom of the page to write down good things that happened each day! 

(I should probably start doing that again)

Do you have a system for getting through your task list each day? What kind of planner/ notebook/ list do you use? How do you organize your planner/list to show the different "categories" of your life? 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How To Prep Your Planner for Finals (NOW)!

Regardless of whether you spent $50 on an EC planner or $5 on a Target planner, when Finals week rolls around, you are going to depend on that thing like oxygen. Study guides, groups, vocabulary terms, formulas, research papers... finals week is full of expectations and pressure. Sometimes it can be a little tough to deal with (haha. just kidding. it's always a little tough to deal with... unless you don't like sleep). So what can you do now to prep for it? Plan for it! Year after year, my planner has been my saving grace during finals! Here's how!

1. Set Up Your planner so that it motivates you daily. If you follow me on Instagram or Pinterest or Twitter or Tumblr, you may have noticed that I post a few (thousand) motivational quotes. They are just my favorite! My favorite to read, my favorite to recite to others, and my absolute favorite way to start my day! Go through and write one for each week. On those weeks where you need a little extra boost of encouragement (AKA FINALS WEEK), the right mantra/quote/verse can really make a difference in your attitude!

2. Write down every tiny detail. A couple of weeks ago, I posted about using a notebook to supplement your planner during particularly stressful weeks. Finals season is the perfect time to implement that strategy! Get a random piece of notebook paper, buy a small notebook to tote around with your planner, or start a new page in your bullet journal... then just write down every little thing that's weighing on your mind! Once you've got it all on paper, write deadlines/due dates next to the things that have them. (they take top priority!)

3. Prepare your daily schedule. By now, you should be in a "semester routine". You should be pretty aware of when/where you do your best studying. When you need to leave to get to class/work on time. How much time it takes you to complete writing assignments, etc. Since you're already pretty in tune with your daily routine, go ahead and schedule out the time of day that you will set aside for studying. If you know you'll need to add extra study time before finals, get your low priority tasks done now so that you'll have less to do then

4. Work high priority to low priority. I read SO many articles on productivity! And in nearly every single one, one of the top tips is to "eat the frog". Which is a term I'm not crazy about (for obvious reasons). However, I do love that advice! It means to pick the biggest, hardest, scariest task on your list (the one that's causing your procrastination- or will if you put it off long enough) and just attack it! If it's super huge (like studying for a certification exam), just spend 1-2 hours on it at the beginning of your day! If nothing else, you'll feel accomplished! 

5. Keep a "Done" list. Something that's super helpful for me when I'm beyond stressed is to record the time that I finished each task. This is good for a few reasons: it makes me feel happy to see what all I have done (for those discouraging days when it seems like the "to-do" list is eternal), it also helps me to reference those things in the future (email Emily email sent Monday @ 8:04), and it helps me know where to start next time (Read Ch. 5 pick up @ pg. 322). Best of all, this keeps me moving from task to task throughout the day! 

(here's a free printable to help YOU create a "done" list, too!)

6. Give yourself credit. This is definitely something that I got into the habit of doing in grad school. In reality, the to-do list is never going to end. It's like a carousel of things that just keeps on coming at you. And that's fine because it also means you're accomplishing a lot! Try to give yourself a "shut down" time where you shut down all of your electronics and just go unwind. If you're feeling really discouraged, use a little notebook to write down some praise for yourself! (I am proud of myself for...) It feels silly but I promise it helps!

Finals week is tough (like, really tough). But you'll get through it! Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. -Arthur Ashe

(I can't stop myself with the quotes). 

Do you have any tips for finals week? How do you unwind after studying (if you do)? Do you have any strategies to add to the list? 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

CHARMING GIVEAWAY: Samsill Duo Binder + OC Printable! (March 9-16)

I LOVE giveaways! Like, a lot. And I really, really love giving away awesome, amazing, and just all around incredible organization products! 

And guess what? This week, I am partnering with Samsill Corporation to give away an awesome, amazing, and just all around incredible organization product! The Duo Binder

You can check out some cool photos of the Duo (valued at $10.79) in use here! Also, you can check out Samsill's Pinterest page to see how others have used it here! 

The Duo is perfect for organizing whatever season of life you're in right now! Whether it's wedding planning (gosh, I wish I had this thing when I was planning my wedding!), job searching, a full college semester, or just to use as an ultimate household organizer! 

The giveaway will start at midnight Sunday March 8th and run for one week (ending next Monday, March 15th at midnight)! I will contact the winner via e-mail the next day! ALSO, I'll throw in any printable from Organized Charm's Etsy shop for the winner, as well! 

Enter the giveaway below (you know what to do)! Then comment below and tell me how you'd use the prizes if you won! :) 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

5 Ways to Use the Duo 2-in-One Binder

Have you heard of the Duo Binder by Samsill? It's nothing short of organization perfection. Seriously. It is (are you ready for this?) a 3-ring binder and a filing system. Yes, you read that correctly. And I have to say that it really is the coolest invention for organizing that I've seen in a really, really long time! Traditional 3-ring binders are awesome... but this is even better because it allows you to file away papers you may not need frequently. Best of all? It comes in a super wide variety of colors AND there is even a trio with a hanging file option!


The greatest thing I've discovered about this binder is how super easy it is to transition it between different categories in your life! So, maybe you're using it for school this semester but next year you're coaching a soccer team and will need a place to store all of your rosters, schedules, etc? It works perfectly for both! Or you're working on a HUGE project at work right now, but in 6 months you'll be planning a wedding? Yep, it would be absolutely essential to both things! As life shifts and changes, you can use a Duo to keep it organized! 

Here are 5 ways I'm currently using Duo binders: 

1. Career Portfolio
Job searching is no fun. And job searching in a different city is even less fun. Job searching as a teacher also includes keeping up with a ridiculous amount of paperwork to prove that you are actually capable of doing your job. To keep track of it all, I created a career portfolio! I used the filing system to hold all of my state documents, Praxis scores, employment evaluations, copies of my resume, references, letters of recommendation, etc. The 3-ring binder holds all of my research, like potential schools and dates I send out documents. 

(Shameless self-promotion: I'm job searching in Nashville, by the way! If you hear of an elementary school that needs an excitable, perfectionistic, elementary teacher who gets really into dressing up for spirit days and organizes for fun, please let me know!)

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2. Lesson Planning Binder
Teaching makes you a hoarder. This is an absolute truth. Even I, the writer of an organization blog (where I constantly preach on the importance of getting rid of clutter) have fallen victim to this hoarder-ism. Why? Ask any teacher you know how much of their own money they spend buying supplies for lessons, decorating their classrooms, or printing papers off of their home computer... and they probably won't even be able to tell you. Because it is THAT much! 

If there is a way for us to save ourselves time/money in the future, believe me, we are absolutely going to try it! 

It is for this reason that we start to collect junk trash things that we "might need one day". Graphic organizers (because they're Common Core), lesson plans (because maybe I'll teach 5th grade and need this lesson plan one day), old magazines (because students could cut those pictures out for an activity on... something). So where to keep it all? I filed all of those handouts, articles, standards, and forms in the filing system and the 3-ring binder section is where I pull all of that information together to create the actual lesson plans! 

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3. Moving Folder
I mean, you can't move to a new city without the move itself having its own folder, right? So I also have a moving folder (similar to the one I wrote about last year). Right now, it is mostly full of pictures I ripped out of the Pottery Barn and West Elm catalogs. However, as we get closer to our move, we will use it to keep comparison charts, flyers, moving/packing notes, and eventually our new lease agreement! Moving is something that I *definitely* enjoy because it offers a chance to clear out and really analyze every single item we own! 

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4. Schoolwork Organizer
I know that this is what y'all are waiting to see! I have received so many requests recently on how to organize school things and I have a couple of posts coming up to delve way more into that topic! BUT for now, here are some reasons that I think the Duo would be the perfect way to organize your high school/college/grad school work:

-The cover is durable, great for sticky notes (or washi tape quotes), and available in many colors
-The filing section is big enough to hold calculators, flash drives, paper, pens, and Post-Its!
-The 3-ring binder section is perfect for notes and Semester Assignment Spreadsheets
-This system would work well for several different classes or for a semester research project


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5. Scrapbook Organizer
Finally, I filed all of our little momentos (photos, tickets, etc.) into another binder. If you are into scrapbooking at all, the Duo was practically made for you! It provides the perfect way to collect all of those tiny little things until you have time to arrange them onto your pages! I divided mine into Journal Pages, Photos, Post Cards, Stickers, Tickets, and Vintage Photos. This turned out the be the perfect home for those meaningful things we gather: silly photo booth pictures, printed Instagrams, game tickets... everything is organized so neatly now! 

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So, those are 5 ways that I've been able to put these binders into use in my life! :)

Now it's your turn! Because, guess what?! We are giving one away! YAY! Starting on Sunday, you'll be able to enter for your very own Duo Organizer in your very own color! 

How could you use this to better organize your life?! What color would you choose? Which of these binders would you be interested in seeing a tour/tutorial of?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

5 Quick Ways to Deal with Stress

Let me first just say that y'all are really killing it with these post requests! Every time a new one that comes in, I'm just like, "Oh, yeah! That's an awesome idea!"

So thank you for being so amazing! 

Secondly, let's get started on some requests, okay?! 

One topic I've noticed that y'all are really interested in is stress! How to manage stress, how to handle stress, how to make stress go away, how to not have a screaming fit in your car when someone cuts you off and you were already on the verge of tears because you literally could not handle one more thing. I get it. We all do a lot. People want us where they want us, when they want us there, looking how they think we should look, acting how they think we should act, and doing what they think we should do. 

Our smartphones make us constantly available to them. And it can get very overwhelming. I am certainly no de-stressing wizard. I freak out Jessie Spano-style from time to time just like everyone else (There's never enough ti-i-i-i-ime!). And this morning, I read on Happify that money and stress are the 2 things that people complain about the most (followed by relationships and health). We don't want to be the kind of people who complain about being stressed out, right?! Let's jump into some quick ways to solve it! 

I know. I know. This is on every list and you skip past it because there is not enough time to exercise. I have literally said this a hundred trillion times. BUT last year, I was having SUCH a hard time dealing with all of the stress in my life that I just had to try something different. I started making time to do some type of physical activity everyday. 

Here's a whole post I wrote on how exercise helps us study better

It doesn't have to be insanely strenuous. Even just a 10-15 minute walk at the park makes a difference. Our bodies are meant to be active. They are not meant to sit stationary in a chair all day long staring at a screen. So, if you're feeling overwhelmed, get rid of some of that nervous energy through exercise! 

Freeze and Name 10 Things You're Thankful For 
This is something that I do pretty frequently and it's also something that I boss invite coworkers/friends etc. to do when they're feeling overwhelmed as well! This is a really helpful idea because it immediately shifts your thought process! When things seem to be going wrong, we love to sink way down into that "bad" feeling and focus on everything that's going wrong. 

We call it a "bad day" at noon and completely give up on the possibility of anything going right (aka, the way that WE think it should go). BUT when you switch your perspective around and start to focus on the good things, you kind of get a better grasp on reality. So maybe you thought something was off of your to-do list, but you just found out there is something else you have to do. (me with every single step pertaining to my teaching certification)

Acknowledge that what you're dealing with is annoying. It's totally fine to be frustrated by something that just can't seem to get done the right way! Next, name 10 things that ARE working out (a job, a compliment, a good grade, a car that works, a coat to wear, a place to live...). Then just move on! And if you're so distraught that you feel like you have nothing to be thankful for, check out these 3 links!

Start saying "no"
You want to make people happy. I want to make people happy. We all want to make people happy. HOWEVER, when you spend too much time doing what others want you to do, you forget to do what YOU want to do. This is a big thing that we all have to learn because it's hard. If you're already feeling overwhelmed by your schoolwork and someone asks you to cover their shift at work, you've got to say no. Don't justify it. Don't explain it. Just say it: "No, thank you.". 

Also, along these lines, don't be afraid to back out of something if you have too many things going on! People would rather have you 100% engaged and focused in their activity than to have your brain in a million different places. If you are trying to do your schoolwork at your internship or trying to secretly write a blog post during a sorority meeting, that may be an indication that you have too many things going on. Trim your life down to about 5 major activities and organize your time so that you can do all 5 very well! 

Write about it
I really got into writing in 2009. I lived by myself in a studio apartment with no TV. As a way to kind of deal with boredom and manage my emotions, I started writing every night when I got home from work. I would write about things that upset me, things that made me angry/sad/happy. What's the biggest thing that I learned from that process? 

I learned that my problems are absolutely nothing. And I mean that. When I went back to read what I wrote, sometimes I would just laugh and thank God that nobody else could read how bratty I sounded. I have too much schoolwork due? At least I live in a country where I have the opportunity to go to school. 

I have something scheduled every minute of this weekend? At least I have friends who want to hang out with me. My closet is too messy? At least I can afford to buy clothes. I have too many bills/expenses? That means I'm living a really privileged life. This past semester, I actually filled an entire page complaining about my professor using "excessive punctuation" when he graded. #diva 

Identify the (real) source of your stress
This is super helpful for me to do. If I'm feeling like an emotional wreck on the surface, there is always, always something going on deeper... like a "heart" problem. Maybe something is going on in your family or relationship that you need to deal with. Maybe you could be more grateful or a nicer human. Maybe you've been taking in a little too much negativity from the news. 

Dealing with stressful life events us unavoidable. Take this science-backed quiz to find out your current stress score. This website also has tons of information on how to help you deal with that stress! Once you've identified the underlying reason or the REAL reason, you'll be able to take steps to calm yourself down and focus on the right parts of your life! 

I'm feeling a little better already! Aren't you? :) 

Further Reading: 

What are some ways that you deal with stress? Do you think any of these links could help you manage your stress levels better? 

...OR stop right now and list 10 things you're grateful for! 
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