Organized Charm: August 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

August Vignettes

Can you believe August is over? What the heck?! I feel like it was literally just July! I really hope that this was a great month for y’all! I know a lot of exciting things happened: moving in, rush week, the first day of school! I can’t wait to hear all about it in the comments! 

Here is what my August looked like…

…on Organized Charm:

August is all about fresh starts and reorganization! 


We reached a checkpoint for those goals we set back in January
How was your goal checkup?!


School supply season is here!


And Organized Charm celebrated it’s first birthday!


And obviously, we couldn’t head back to school without a checklist being involved...


Finally, for every SmartBook that we order, McGraw-Hill is donating a textbook to a child in a developing country! So keep that in mind as you search for your required texts!
{also, you don’t have to wait for a SmartBook to ship AND mine was only $45!}


…in my “real life”:

I made the amazing discovery that I live ONE block away from a local candle shop
{Which is good for me but slightly dangerous for my bank account. Okay, it’s really dangerous.}


I started teaching at my new school and I have to say that I just love it so far! Even better? Our logo is an anchor! Obviously, I’ll now have an excuse to buy need to buy anchor jewelry, anchor pants, anchor shirts, anchor shoes… 


Our new home is really, really coming along. I am now one closet and one cabinet away from having it completely organized! 


My brother graduated Cum Laude from the University of Memphis, so we were all super proud! 
{and yes, this is what he wore TO graduation… after I practically had to force him to go. *sigh*}


And lots and lots of planning happened! 
{it doesn’t count if you don’t photograph it, right?}


 …other places online:

I can never pass up a good personality test, and the Who Am I? quiz from Visual DNA is a really cool one! It measures your levels of “The Big 5” personality traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Neuroticism, and Agreeableness. Best of all? You’re choosing your answers from photos! 


This article from BuzzFeed was whirling around my Facebook Newsfeed last week, so I checked it out. Oh my gosh. I downloaded almost every one of these apps! Definitely worth checking out! 

Have you been to Good.Co and taken their quizzes yet? They recently added even more in-depth personality analyses to determine how you work and which types of jobs are perfect fits for you! 
{I always, always get teacher!}

Pandora has created an entire genre of Back to School music! And I am so happy about it!


And here is some motivation for the new month:




How was your August?! 
How was your first week of class?
If you moved, are you still getting settled in? 

Friday, August 29, 2014

McGraw-Hill’s “Read It Forward”

It’s textbook time! But before you fight the crowd at your local campus bookstore or risk renting one that could get lost in the mail, you may want to check out McGraw-Hill’s SmartBook!

Last semester, I discussed a new kind of textbook that McGraw-Hill has developed called SmartBook. SmartBook is unique because, as you read, it actually assesses your learning of the material (you know, so you aren’t just staring blankly at the words while your mind wanders off and starts planning what you’re going to wear this weekend)!

Well, this semester, McGraw-Hill is doing something amazing! For every SmartBook that we order, they are donating a textbook to a child in a developing country! Kind of like how TOMS helps with shoes (Over 40,844 books had been donated so far)! Pretty cool, huh? 

You can learn more by watching this video!

So, what else makes SmartBook so amazing? Well, it is the first (actually, the only) adaptive reading and learning experience designed to change how we, as students, read and learn!

Not only that but studies have proven that SmartBook improves student performance by at least one letter grade!

Finally, SmartBook continuously adapts to your learning by highlighting content based on what you know and what you don’t!

To order your SmartBook or to find more information on it, click here

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Back to School Shopping List

This post brought to you by Brita. All opinions are 100% mine.



You know that commercial that was on a few years ago with the dad skipping through the school supply aisle, while his reluctant kids trail behind and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" plays in the background? Every year, when it’s time for back to school shopping, I totally feel like that guy! 


And everyone knows that the making of a school supply list is almost as fun as the shopping for the school supplies themselves! SOOO... Here is a list of my essential back to school supplies (alphabetically, of course)!



2014 Fall Semester Essentials:






I know. I know. I’m like the only person in America who didn't have a water filter yet. But let me start by saying that I live in Memphis... which is known for having pretty good water… so, I didn’t think it would make a big difference. However, in an effort to keep myself hydrated and feel more energized this summer, I bought my first Brita® filter water bottle (available at Target)! Oh my gosh, y'all... it makes a huge difference! 


The filter reduces impurities, so the difference between drinking water through the filter and the faucet is incredible. Plus, I’m saving a TON of money by not having to buy bottles of water all the time while I’m running around (and reducing waste)! Not only that, but I can put anything in it, which is awesome. My husband has literally been filling this bottle up with water then pouring it into his glass before dinner… so I guess that’s a subtle hint that we should get the pitcher, too! 






Last fall, I wrote a post on how I color-code my planner. And I was all about these Cosmo pens from the Write Dudes. Well, I still love those but one of my Kindergarteners gave me the Paper Mate Flair pens as an end-of-the-year gift last year and I have become 100% obsessed! It’s like writing with a super thin, super pretty, little Sharpie. I am just all about these pens right now! If you want to check them out, I've seen them at Target, Office Max, and Office Depot!






Over the summer, I mentioned that I left my old flash drive in the USB port at FedEx Office. Saddest day of my life. Luckily, I keep backups of important things in my computer and online, so I didn’t really lose anything too critical. Regardless, I’ll need one for this semester and I typically find the best prices on Amazon! 






Organizing my new class folders is probably one of my favorite parts of the new semester! I just use one 2-pocket folder for each class (here is how I organize them). At the end of the semester, I save the ones that are still in pretty good shape and reuse them for the next semester to save money!






I have literally been using the same brand of highlighters (Foray) forever (probably longer, actually). My most-used colors are yellow and pink. When I begin an assignment, I highlight it in yellow on my Semester Spreadsheet and in my planner. When I complete it, I highlight it in pink. This way, I can see what I’m finished with, what I’m currently working on, and which projects I need to start! 






I used to just use index cards for making an assignment timeline but I have gotten SO into making flashcards lately! I don’t know why I never really made them before. I started over the summer when I made some to learn the menu items of the restaurant where I was working. After that, I used them to help me study for my certification exam. And right now, I’m actually taking a break from making some for my next certification exam. Less than $1 at Target? I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner!






Year after year, these are one of my main staples of the semester. I use them for taking notes. This makes it a lot easier for me to not freak out when my professors give us things out of order, get sidetracked, or leave things out only to add them at the end of the lecture.


Plus, it keeps me focused instead of worrying about whether I should make this heading pink or that bullet point purple (which is exactly what I will do if I try to color-code notes as I write them)! I can do all of that when I REWRITE my notes later. I also use these when I'm on-the-go and writing tentative plans in my planner, because they can just be erased and replaced with more permanent plans later. 






Speaking of "staples", it seriously never fails that every time something is due in class, about 34 people start to ask “Hey... does anyone have a stapler?”. How people show up to class ready to turn in an assignment that isn’t stapled, I have no idea. But it is always awesome to be that person that saves the day! Also, by having your own stapler, you won’t have to worry about ever being that person (or using the germ-y one in the library). Plus, Target has PINK staples (of course they do)! And why use silver when you could use pink?! 






Notebooks are another thing I’ve received some questions about lately. Some of y’all have asked whether I get a different notebook for each class, or use one multi-subject notebook for every class. I've tried both but, for the sake of simplicity, I just get one notebook and use it for every class. 


When I first started college, I kept looseleaf paper in a binder, which was just too bulky. Then, I began to buy a separate notebook for each class. However, some notebooks would get completely used up 8 weeks into the semester while others barely had 8 pages of notes by December! Now I just keep everything in one notebook and fold down pages, write in the corner of the page, or use Post-It tabs to find what I’m looking for. 






And here it is: The Holy Grail of school supplies. Erin Condren? Kate Spade? Lily Pulitzer? MayBooks? You know, you can’t just rush into a big decision like this. It really takes a lot of research, trial and error, and maybe some modifications to make a planner totally work for YOU. 


Here is a list of some of my favorites and here is what I use. Plus, your school bookstore will have some and so does Target (seriously, what don’t they have?). Make sure you check out all of your available sources before committing to one planner for the next year of your life! I mean, choosing a good planner is practically as important as choosing a good husband, right?






I have to admit that I am a little Post-It crazy. I have the 2x2 ones, which I usually write my to-do list on each morning and stick to the back of my phone before I leave for the day. I have the smaller Post-It tabs which I use to mark pages in my notebook/textbooks while I’m reading/researching/studying for school. And I also use these to mark important dates in my planner. 


We could all always use more Post-Its!






I’ve had a few people ask about the weekly task pads that I sometimes get from Target’s Dollar Spot. The tricky thing about that little section of the store is that you just never know what you’re going to find! I might walk through there 10 times and not see any to-do lists at all. Then, I’ll go in there and there are, like, 20 different choices! 


If you're looking for something like that (but a little free-er), then check out this printable that I made last semester! Same concept, plus there is a place to write down what you actually accomplished each day, too! It also prints out 16 sheets (each with a different quote)... 1 for each week of the semester! 






Well, obviously, textbooks are a pretty essential part of back to school shopping! I always, ALWAYS recommend checking out Slugbooks to make sure that you’re getting the best price! If you’re thinking about getting an e-book, you should really check out McGraw-Hill’s SmartBooks, too! It’s an interactive e-book that quizzes you throughout the chapter and assesses your learning of the chapter!




Ahhhh... listmaking AND organizing AND an excuse to buy new school supplies?!

It really is the most wonderful time of the year! Until all of the post-Christmas organization sales, that is. :)




What are some of the essentials from your shopping list this semester?! 

Where are your favorite places to get your school supplies? 


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back to School Checklist

It’s almost that time! And I have gotten quite a few e-mails lately from first year students looking for advice! Well… I am a firm believer that everything is better with a checklist. And going {back} to school is no exception! Whether you are trying to get prepared for your first day ever on campus or for your millionth semester of grad school, here is a list of things that help me stay on track semester after semester! 

Beginning of the Semester Checklist

Visit Rate My Professor
I always like to check out Rate My Professor before choosing classes… just to be sure. I didn’t do this for my first semester of grad school, and I had the absolute WORST professor I’ve ever had. At the end of the semester, I went to write a review on RMP to warn others, and there were like a MILLION reviews saying how terrible he was. 

Ahhh! If only I had gone there first! That B still haunts me to this day. Undergrad professors are the ones that are really frequently reviewed on this site. It basically just lets you get an idea of the professor teaching style, effectiveness, and the assignments. If you are like me and like to know about a situation before jumping into it, this is definitely the place for you! 

Make a Class Schedule
Obviously, this close to the beginning of the new semester, you’ve probably already got this taken care of… but just in case. I like to make a little “mock calendar” and use a pencil to block out the times for all of the potential class times. When I find a schedule finally “fits” then I’m ready to make it official!

Time to make it official! Woohoo! 

Pay Tuition
Make sure to do this right after registration, just so there isn’t any opportunity to forget or miss the deadline. It’s usually due by the first day of class. You don’t want to get charged a late registration fee or (even worse) be dropped from your classes! Go ahead and get it out of the way as soon as possible. 

Buy New School Supplies
Now, to the fun part! The school supplies! Think about what usually helps you stay organized or keeps you motivated. What are you stressed when you don’t have? Where were some places you could have improved your organization/productivity last semester? Make a list and get those things! My school supply shopping list will be up shortly, if you’re in need of any inspiration! 

Designate Times for Everything
What extracurricular things do you have going on this semester? Dance? Sorority? Work? Write in times for those things. Then… and this is very important… write in time for STUDYING! The general rule for weekly “homework” in college (are you ready for this?), 2 hours per every 1 hour spent in class. That means roughly 6 hours of study time per class! Is anyone actually doing this? Probably not. But it is a good rule to use when planning your time! 

Organize Personal Life
Clean out your car. Clean out your closet. Clean out your purse. Get rid of any excess. Replace anything that’s out. Stock up on groceries for the first week. When school starts, time seems to evaporate. Seriously. Even the smallest errands can seem impossible to complete! Go ahead and take care of as much as you can during the week(s) before the first week! The more streamlined your life is going into the semester, the better chance you have of surviving it keeping your sanity succeeding. 

Get a New Planner
I bet you’ve already done this. Literally, the best part of the fall semester is the plethora of academic planners that are available! But… just in case you need to be convinced of how incredibly important this is… it’s an investment in your time, your grades, your entire future (at least, that’s the speech you should give your parents when they stare at you in disbelief over how much you spent on your latest EC life planner)! After all, you can’t put a price on productivity now, can you? 

Choose a Different Folder For Each Class
In high school, I always assigned a different color to each class, so that I could quickly grab what I needed out of my locker as I sprinted to my next class (until Senior year, when I decided that a package of looseleaf notebook paper and a box of Crayola’s Neon Markers were all I needed). That idea of having a way to quickly differentiate between the different folders has always stuck with me, so I still choose really different folders for each class! 

Find Classes on Campus Map
This is one of the most important things that typically gets forgotten until it’s time to leave! Look up your classes on the campus map BEFORE arriving on campus on the first day! First days are chaotic. The heat. The parking. The lost people frantically zooming on on the campus map on their iPhones. I still do this whenever I have a class in a new building… it just makes me feel a little calmer heading into my first day! 

If you complete everything on this checklist, you’ll be about 9 steps ahead of everyone else on the first day! Oh… and (even though it’s tempting), DON’T skip the first day! It gives you a great overview of the syllabus and gives you more of a chance to stand out to your professor. They are super impressed by students who actually attend class (and will be more willing to help you out later)! 

In the words of the perfect Elle Woods, "Now don’t be scared, everyone will love you!” :)

What do you just have to have done before the first day of school? 
Do you have any advice for first-year students? 
Anything to add to this list? 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Organized Charm’s 1st Birthday!

Guess what?! Today is Organized Charm’s 1st birthday! Yep, it’s true! I am constantly overwhelmed by how wonderful and supportive y’all have been to OC throughout the past year! With every comment, e-mail, mention, I become completely convinced that this blog has the most amazing readers in the entire world! I have gotten to know so many of y’all and I have to say that you are just incredibly wonderful people! So, I just want to say an enormously huge THANK YOU to all of you!

When I started this blog last year, I was taking a summer research class which was literally boring me to death. Because the content just wasn’t that interesting to me and I had 0 desire to read the material, I started looking for a blog on how to study.

But I just couldn’t find one that I liked! I knew exactly what I was looking for and I was just like “Why doesn’t it exist?! I would seriously read it all the time!” Then it dawned on me that, if I wanted what I saw in my mind to exist, I would have to create it. And if I wanted to read it, maybe other people would want to read it, too! And so, Organized Charm was born!

I am so excited by how much this blog has grown over the past year and I am SUPER excited to see what the next year holds! Actually, I already know some things that it holds... 

Organized Charm will be hosting its very first giveaways in September! 

One from Chloe Grace Crochet (which is right here in Tennessee)!

And the other from India Circus (which has the most beautiful home decor ever)!

Also, I will be doing another series this October to share on Nesting Place's 31 Days Challenge! SO… if y’all have any suggestions for something you would like to read about for 31 days in a row, I’d love to hear them! I’ve considered everything from home organization to job searching to learning how to clean to life simplifying to study strategies ...but I just haven’t committed to anything yet! Maybe you have some awesome idea that I haven’t even thought of!

{ Is there any series that you would be particularly interested in reading about?! }

Most of all, I just want to say…
 thank you, thank you, thank you for an awesome first year! 
You rock! :) 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mid-Year Goal Checkup

We get checkups for our bodies, our teeth, even our cars. But what about... Our goals?  

You didn't think I'd forgotten about those goals we set back in January, did you?! (Actually, I did. Luckily Kiki was there to remind me). So today, we are going to go back and look at the 6-month checkpoints that we set for ourselves!

Ready?! Okay…

My 6-Month Checkpoints:

1. Post to Organized Charm regularly

2. Be more disciplined in my "priority time”

3. Find a new job

4. Register for my final semester of grad school

5. Live in a loft/studio in the city

6. Set aside a designated amount of money each month

7. Let go of my perfectionism (a little)

8. Work out routinely

Now let's see where I've accomplished/fallen short of my checkpoints. 

1. If we don't count the summer hiatus, then I'm doing pretty good about posting regularly (this will be my 3rd post in the past 2 weeks! Yay!).

2. YES! I can gladly and proudly say that I have surpassed my own expectations in this goal! Not only am I reading my Bible and praying consistently at the beginning of every morning but I am actually *confident*  about the future and *at peace* with myself and my life. This is an awesome goal that I'm glad I set!

3. Here's another one that I've accomplished! After a TON of hard work, I found a new job (3 miles away from our new home!) that I start Wednesday!

4. Failed. There is one class (with 2 sections) standing between me and graduation and both sections were filled up by the time I went to register. I am hoping that something works out in this area, but if not, I'll just graduate in the spring instead.

5. Accomplished!

6. Accomplished. Sort of. I have been doing this but I could be more consistent. Financial responsibility will go on my list of things to focus on.

7. Check. Being more disciplined in my priority time and writing regularly have given me a much better outlook on life!

8. Check. Whereas, health has always taken a backseat to productivity for me... I have finally learned to make it a priority.

So, I'm giving myself credit for the goals I've accomplished and I'm making a list if those that I still need to do! 

Out of the things I still need to do to be where I want to be in life right now, I will choose the most important and spend the next month mainly focusing on that! 

Now, do you have your list? Good! You can see how far you've come and which areas you need to improve (hint: there will *always* be something)!

by the way, if you’re a new reader and you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here! :) }

Keep going! Love yourself and believe that you can make the changes! 

Go, You! :)

In which areas of your life did you meet your checkpoints? What could you still improve?! 

{Shared on A Life in Balance}

Friday, August 1, 2014

8 Things to Organize in August

Happy beginning of the weekend (and new month)! I hope that y’all’s summers have been filled with celebrations and sangria and socializing and sunshine and swimming! Because summer can be such a fun and laid-back season, it’s easy for it to become a little cluttered and disorganized. And I hate to say it but it’s almost time to get back into the “real world” of boring textbooks, morning classes, and full schedules. 

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the forthcoming first day of school, take some time this weekend to get your life in order. When I feel organized, I feel prepared for whatever comes my way! Fall semester? A new job? Bring it on, Fall.

Bring. It. On.

31  Item  Purge

FlyLady always says “You can’t organize clutter” and she’s exactly right! So, before we go on an organizing binge, we just need to get rid of some stuff. Since there were 31 days in July, that meant there were 31 windows of opportunity for useless clutter to find its way into our homes, cars, purses, and phones. 

Spend some time today getting rid of 31 things that you don’t need, want, or use anymore. I did this about an hour ago and I will tell you that my makeup bag probably contributed to half of my 31 items! And so did my bathroom cabinets. Empty shampoo bottles? Seriously? How does that even happen?

And do iPhone apps (and ex-boyfriends' phone numbers) count? Absolutely! 
We are getting rid of a n y t h i n g that is unneeded!

8  Things  to  Organize  in  August

Once you’ve cleared the 31 excess items, look around and see what could be better organized to make your life run more smoothly for the fall! It could be a medicine cabinet, an e-mail account, your closet. Anything. Make a list of 8 (somewhat small) organization projects and commit to having them complete by the end of the month!

2 a week, maybe? 

Here  is  my  list: 

Car (console, floorboard, backseat)
Laundry Closet (home for everything)
Purses (inside + better way to store them)
Fridge (adjust shelves + practical storage system)
Trunk of car (donate, sell, store, or toss everything)
Bathroom Cabinet (holy goodness! it’s a mess in there!)
 “School Supply” Cabinet (file papers, toss unneeded items)
Shoes (get rid of shoes unworn this season + better storage system)

(Please tell me I’m not the only one who has to put “car” on my list every single month!)

What’s  on  your  list  for  August?

Do you feel prepared for the upcoming semester or are you starting to get a little overwhelmed?
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