Organized Charm: October 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Office Organization Tips

By the middle if the semester, my poor, beautiful, perfectly organized, perfectly categorized office shelves look like this:

...Random clutter is stacked all over once-empty surfaces…

...on top of more random clutter…

…with papers are overflowing into my Charger Bin…

...and all of my other bins…

...and my "helpful" sticky notes and task pads (you know, the ones to help me STAY organized) are sloppily thrown all over the place…

Welcome to life after midterms. 

It makes me a little sick (and annoyed) to have all of this clutter and messiness randomly strewn across my office! And needless to day, I had to fix it before I could get one more assignment finished (which meant I had about a day). 

So I spent Sunday afternoon reorganizing it all. And let me tell you that PHOTOGRAPHING those messy parts of the room that were driving me crazy was great motivation to complete it!

I just put on some music and gave myself about an hour.

I started with taking out everything that didn't belong.

Then I sorted what DID belong so that I could return it to its home or give it a new home (and yes, I consider the recycling bin a "new home").

I emptied and set out all of my bins to see if there was a way to better utilize them for my needs this semester (there was). 

And then I just started to put things back, starting with what was most important. 

A bin for Textbooks, notebooks, and other important school supplies.

A bin for thing to write on (or on which to write…whatever).

A bin for writing utensils and other small office supplies. 

Only chargers and electronic accessories in the Charger Bin again (YAY!).

And a bin for my planners, notebook, and task pads. 
(my 4 planners are on the left, notebooks in the middle, task pads on the right)

And there they are! My newly reorganized (newly dusted) shelves are back to how they should be!

Until Finals Week, that is :) 

How do you retrieve your sanity after a couple of busy weeks? 
Does it involve organizing or some other relaxing activity? 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

6 Steps for More Effective Studying

Over the summer, I took this class that had almost nothing to do with my major. Not only that, everyone in my program went on and on about how difficult the class was. There were tears… lots of tears.

When the time came for me to take the class, I knew I would have to spend a lot of time learning the material on my own.  I had to develop some sort of plan. And finally, it dawned on me that if we use Bloom’s Taxonomy to teach kids… we could probably use it to teach ourselves.

 So I started to try it. And it worked. Perfectly.
(Because I made an A! YAY!)

Here’s the study plan I used:

Study Plan for Summer 2013

1. Read Chapter
2. Read Key Concepts
3. PPT & Activity
4. Graphic Organizer
5. Study guide
6. Quiz 

1. Understand {Knowledge}

describe, find, list, name, relate, tell, write
The first step is just to get the facts. Read the chapter, watch the video, listen to the lecture... whatever. Pull out what’s most important and focus on little bits at a time.

2. Remember {Comprehension}

compare, describe, explain, outline, predict, restate, translate
The second part is to actually remember it! Have you ever finished reading something and realized that you couldn't explain a single thing you read? Go back the next day and review the chapter summary and your notes.

3. Apply {Application}

classify, compare, examine, illustrate, show, solve, use
Just take what you read and compare it to something you already know about, apply it to real life, or think of some examples. Examples really help our brains see WHY this matters and when it’s applicable to real life situations.

4. Analyze {Analysis}
categorize, compare, contrast, examine, explain, identify, investigate
I simply filled in graphic organizers (and yes, I used Kindergarten ones… and markers) and broke the information down into smaller parts. The more you know about the smaller parts of a topic, the better you will understand the topic as a whole.

{Seriously, try printing out some of these graphic organizers and see if it doesn’t make your studying process easier (and cuter)!}

5. Create {Synthesis}

create, compose, construct, design, imagine, invent, plan
For this class, there was a huge research project that was due at the end of the semester. But the truth is that we can synthesize/create things all the time out of our information. We learn best by doing, so try make something out of the information, even if it’s just a hypothetical situation.

6. Evaluate {Evaluation}

assess, choose, decide, justify, prioritize, rate, recommend
When we know something completely, we can evaluate it, explain it, think about different outcomes, and point out mistakes. We actually learn more when we see what’s wrong with something and think about how to improve it.

Thanks to knowing these 6 steps, I made it through this class with minimal tears :)
(and maybe one eensy weensy panic attack)

Any other suggestions on ways to teach ourselves? Or more activities to make the information stick? 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

3 Ways to Enhance Your Focus

This is not the easiest. In fact, it's pretty dang hard to stay focused. Especially at my house. 

And especially at my house during football season. Sunday afternoons and Monday nights involve my husband pacing back and forth in our living room, periodically yelling at the television "because they need to hear it" (actual quote). Plus, we live in the south, so Saturday afternoons aren't any different. 

And now THURSDAY night football? Are you freaking kidding me, NFL? It’s not like I need a quiet night to get stuff done or anything. 

Here are some tricks that I have devised to help drown out a distracting environment of any sort.

1. Privacy
First of all, it helps to have someplace to go. Luckily we have a spare bedroom that’s been converted to an office. Creating some type of barrier/distance between you and the distraction(s) is #1. 

In undergrad, I even went as far as to put those huge gun-range ear-muff things on my ears to block out noisy roommates (okay, they were my parents). 

Hey, whatever it takes. 

2. Environment
So, I’m just really big into creating environments that enhance productivity anyway. But I am 100% convinced that this is IMPERATIVE for a study space! It needs to be lovely and practical. 

If it doesn’t work for you, you won’t be able to accomplish anything there. And if it isn’t appealing to you, you’ll never want to spend any time there. 

So make it pretty and organized! 

3. Time Limit/Challenge
Finally, there is never going to be the perfect “study day” where everyone gets together and says: “Hey, let’s be perfectly quiet today so she can get her schoolwork finished”. I know because I have been waiting for this day since I was 18. And that’s fine because guess what? 

It creates a challenge. Set a time limit and challenge yourself to meet it.

Challenges always force me to focus!

And if all else fails, just go to the campus library! :) 

How do you get (and keep) your focus for projects? 
Anything I should add to the list? 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Motivation

It is up to you to draw the line between character and conformity in your own life. 
People will often make you feel pressured to choose between the two.
Stay true to yourself and always let (make) character win. 


Friday, October 18, 2013

Inspiration: Photo Wall

A few weeks ago, we had to go to Macy's to look for a new vacuum cleaner… which may or may not have been one of the most boring things I’ve ever done in my life (it was). 

I mean, nothing against Macy’s. It’s just that I don’t even like to run the vacuum. My husband even asked me once "you do know the vacuum cleaner isn't password protected, right?". 

(I had a traumatic experience involving my mother and some small toys I refused to pick up at a young age, okay?)

While perusing the vacuum aisle and comparing fascinating things like super ability to pick up pet dander and pollen terminator, I got distracted (shocking) and ran across this…

I was so infatuated with this photo display that I had to take a picture, even though I knew that the salespeople were watching me. 

And let me just say that I am one of those people who hates to be caught taking photos.

This little photo collection highlighted some of the most iconic landmarks of Memphis. 

I love the contrast of the light photos against the dark wall. And I love the different sized frames and the straight line down the center. 

Ahhhh. Perfection. 

I love it! I am DYING to do a wall like this when we move.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Color-Coded Calendar System

My calendar is basically the #1 thing that keeps me going when things get busy. 

I keep everything together by color-coding the different events in my life so I can kind of keep up with the who, what, where that will take place during my week.

Here it is:

Pink —> School
Of course, school is pink and pink is school because pink is the happiest of all the colors. And school is… well, not the happiest of all the things. So, I like to trick myself into being happy. Plus, pink is clearly the most noticeable color for me.

Purple —> Personal
There isn’t really a reason for purple being personal (other than the fact that they both start with P). I never used to schedule personal things in my calendar (like hair and dentist appointments). Anything for myself always took a backseat to school and social events. But you know what? I realized that was causing me to feel stressed, so here it is… my personal time scheduled right into my planner!

Blue —> Friends/Family
Blue is the most calming of the colors. And hanging out with the people you love (and who love you) is calming. I use this to write in things like brunch with my parents, happy hour with my best friend, and even to keep track of my husband’s days off (because they are always changing). This is another one of those things that doesn’t feel as important as work or school… but it definitely is!

Green —> Work
Green is the color of productivity. Therefore, it seems like the perfect color to use for work schedules and events. Since my schedule pretty much stays the same from week to week, I just use this to write in things like after-school meetings, parties, open houses, etc. 

Orange —> Deadlines
Orange is kind of in-your-face, alarming color. And deadlines are kind of in-your-face, alarming dates. I use this for bill due dates, paper due dates, and anything else that I might have to have completed by a specific date in time.

And there it is. My color-coded calendar system.

Oh, by the way, the pens that I use are called Cosmo by The Write Dudes and they come in a 5-pack of assorted colors from Target. :)

Do you have a special way for keeping track of your time? 
What do you use and how do you do it?! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday Motivation

Today is a great day to remember that life is not all about you.
Instead of demanding that everyone else put their needs on hold for you…
Look around and think about what you could do for someone else.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Trending: Memphis Fall Fashion

Last month, my husband (the hot, slightly creepy-looking guy below) and I were invited to do a fall fashion shoot for a local magazine highlighting some of the most awesome boutiques in Memphis. 

The issue came out this week and I have been lusting over a few of these pieces: 

Sheer army-green top by Haute Hippie
Tan lace cami by Haute Hippie
Burnt-red jeans by Legacy

(Honestly, these jeans may change my mind about being strictly a “dress person”.)

Black and gold bead necklace

(I am the biggest fan of giant, chunky necklaces. The bigger, the better.)


Titanium ring 

(I have never felt as tough as I did wearing this ring. Yes, please.) 

Black bag by Vince Camuto

(Something terrible might happen if I do not own this bag soon. It’s perfect.)


Pink button-down blouse by BLVD

Gray-and-black stripe dress with open glove sleeve by R&R Surplus
Faux fur vest by Love Token

(Pale pink and gray is one of my favorite color combos… obviously.)


“Double Shift” flower ring
“Shake Rattle & Roll” fan necklace

(I could not have invented more appropriate jewelry for myself if I tried. Perfectly pretty and girly!)


Photographer: Justin Fox Burks
Hair: Lucy Hadskey & Amy Wood, Secret Services Salon
Makeup: Christopher Padgett, Heather Cosmetic Boutique 


Happy Saturday, y’all! :) 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Closet Cleanout Checklist

Cleaning out closets is, hands down, one of my favorite activities in life. I understand that sounds a little ridiculous BUT I also know I can’t be the only one who loves to do this. I just find it very calming.

And when I see an empty Saturday coming up on my calendar (which happens about twice a year), I just look so forward to it! And yes, I use up an entire day (or at least half of it) to do this. Cleaning out closets is an event and should be treated as such!

I promise that the final result is totally worth it!

Here is the checklist that I follow:

1. Make a Plan
One thing that I’ve found very helpful is to have a plan for each closet ahead of time.
What do I need to put in these closets, anyway? And what’s in them now? Am I storing stuff that could be moved to the attic (or the Goodwill)?

I make a list out of this and put my plan down on paper before I even start moving anything.
 Giving each closet a clearly defined purpose really helps me keep them in order.

2. Get the Trash Bags Ready
1 for things to give away
1 for things to keep
1 for things to toss

3. Turn on the Lights
For whatever reason, light is a big deal when it’s closet-cleaning-out-time. I mean, this stuff is taking up room in my house… I need to be able to get a good look at it and decide whether it deserves to be there or not. When I pull all that stuff out of the dark and look at it in the light, sometimes it’s just like “why do I even have this?” and that is the most productive thing that could happen in this situation!

4. Get to Work
Well, I can’t get anything done if everything around me is not screaming “project day”; so I turn up the music, throw on some yoga pants and tennis shoes, and toss my hair up in a pony. And yes, I count this as my exercise for the day. Two things off my to-do list in one organizational activity? Yes, please!

5. Evaluate & Eliminate 
Here is my process:
-Take every single thing out of the closet
-Evaluate what I need and what can go

-Give 1/3 of it away
-Throw 1/3 of it away
-Keep 1/3 of it
(and put it back in its designated closet neatly)

And that’s it. Every time I do this, there is less and less to do and it takes less and less time. And I just LOVE the feeling I have when my beautiful clean closet stares back at me when I’m finished.

YAY! :)

Do you have an awesome system for organizing closets or any other small spaces? 

{ Linking Up: Goodbye, House. Hello Home! }

Monday, October 7, 2013

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Trending: Mid-Semester Energizers

I cannot get enough of this station on Pandora.
This girl is gorge and she can sing.
Plus, her hair is awesome.

First of all, this name combines two of my favorite things in the world.
It makes me feel like I’m studying in a charming little cafe.
AND, if you stream it online, it’s free!

My Mid-Semester Diet.
This has basically been my lunch (and dinner) on nights when I have class.
Since hummus is oil-based, it can go a while without being refrigerated. 
And Naked drinks are lifesavers when there isn’t really time to eat.

 Strengthening Study Snack. 
(Bagel w/ Cream Cheese & Honey)
 Republic Coffee in Memphis serves this on their menu and it’s incredible. 
Honey is a superfood... bagels have carbs to replenish energy...
And cream cheese is just downright heavenly. 

Yogi Tea.
Mid-Term season always leaves me feeling more than a little run down.
This tea is organic and is the perfect little boost to keep going.
Plus, each tea bag comes with an inspirational message.

(like a steamy fortune cookie)


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Post-It Assignment Book

So, I've talked before about how I write down my study plan in my planner's daily view section.
That’s how I start my work each week. 

Well, here is how I actually finish that work each week 

...And, of course, it involves Post-It's :) 

I have a small notebook that I use specifically for staying on track with assignments. 

In it, I take a page and divide it into 6 tiny Post-It-sized boxes. 
This is my week. 

Then I break down the tiny tasks that I need to complete to finish my assignments.
(Things like: “cite sources”; “print copies”; “research”)

This helps me keep up with all of those small tasks that aren’t quite important enough to make it into a planner. 

This also really helps me with time management. 
Each day, I devote 90 minutes to accomplishing these tasks. 

If I don't get to/finish a specific task, I just add it to the next day's list. 

The Post-It’s are helpful for two reasons:

1. They help me see what needs to be done every day to complete projects.
2. They make it super easy for me to change things around if I need to. 

(Okay, three reasons)

3. They make me happy. 

Don't forget that day "off" to tie up loose ends, finalize projects, and just feel like a normal human being for a day :) 

What ways do you use to keep your small tasks organized?! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

5 Fresh Starts For the First: A Monthly Decluttering Checklist

I love the first of each month! The flipping to the nice, clean, empty page on the calendar... The looking ahead to the new month's upcoming events and holidays... And, this, month, the unofficial changing to one of my favorite seasons- FALL! Even just the date - 1st - motivates me to start fresh :)

Here are my 5 favorite fresh starts to give myself on the first day of every month: 

1. E-Mail Eliminator. 
Confession: I have 5 e-mail addresses. 2 for school, 1 for work, 1 personal account, and 1 for when people ask me for my e-mail when I buy things. I just cannot stand to see ads in my inbox. It drives me nuts! But no matter how hard I try to keep them out, they somehow creep back in. 

Take some time today to UNSUBSCRIBE from anything in the  personal inbox that would never actually get read. I did it yesterday and it felt awesome!   

2. Purse Purge. 
New month; new purse... I do this religiously every. single. month. Switching out my purse forces me to toss any useless junk that I've been carrying around (I mean, I had crayons and scissors in this one, for crying out loud). Honestly, there have been some months where I've been so over it that I just flipped my purse upside down over a trash can (true story). This one makes a huge difference! 

3.  Car Cleanup. 
Well, of course keeping the car cleaned out is important. I try to take out as much as I can each day, but little things like change and lipgloss get left behind sometimes. Take a minute (or 60) to give the inside of the car a fresh start too. I mean, we do spend a LOT of time in these things. 

4. Grocery Upgrade. 
I have a grocery spreadsheet because I'm a crazy person. But I can't be the only one, right? It’s just a list of all of the superfoods that are in season and which meal(s) they can best be used for. To keep from eating the same thing day after day, I switch up my list every month. 

5. Harmonious Home.
Finally, of course, is the house. Living in a "staged" house has completely changed the way I look at decorating. Other people don't want to walk in and see a bunch of personal photos and meaningless clutter covering every square inch of space. They want to see clean surfaces, bright spaces, and the features of the house! 

At the end of the old month, I grab 3 trash bags and label them: "Attic" "Goodwill" and "Toss". I put on some music and try to put a specified (and even) number of things into each one. September had 30 days (of clutter), so I'm filling up each bag with 30 things! 

Welcome, October! I've been waiting :) 

What do you do to ring in the new month?! 
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