Organized Charm: April 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

April Vignettes {2015 Edition}

HAPPY LAST DAY OF APRIL! I am so happy and excited and even a little bit sad as we say goodbye to April! We will be moving out of our loft one month from today (*tear*) and we will be moving to Nashville two months from today (*cheer*). 

SO... it's just one of those times that bittersweet in Horton-world. I love these Vignettes posts because they're a great way to catch y'all up on my personal life + an OC review, in case you missed anything! 

(plus they're a great excuse to empty my camera of a bunch of photos!) #winwin

My Post It Calendar System. You can read all about it here

I recently posted this photo of the Post-It Calendar system, which we have been successfully been using for a year this month! I have always wanted an accurate and editable way to keep up with the month ahead, and this has been so perfect! 

My current planner system. You can read all about it here
I share some looks at my current planner setup as well as give you an outline of questions to see if your planner is setup in the best possible way for you! 

The Metter, GA Petting Zoo. Early in April, we took a family road trip to Savannah, GA for a friend's wedding! On the way, we stopped in this precious little Georgia town that had a petting zoo next door to its gas station. 

Please. Just try to keep me away from access to cute animals for $1! 

Savannah Bee Company. My mom is really into bees. Like, really. She keeps bees in her backyard (yes, complete with that silly white suit which makes it really easy for me to make fun of her), writes a blog about bees, runs an Instagram account about bees. So we spent a lot of time in SBC.

Savannah, GA. I love Savannah. LOVE. IT. History is my favorite. And architecture. And charming southern towns. Did you know it was voted the 2nd-friendliest city the US (right behind its neighbor, Charleston)? Plus warm weather, palm trees, spanish moss, and a beach? 

Yes, yes, yes, and yes!  

Paris Market. And speaking of Savannah, no trip to it would be complete without lusting over every single item in Paris Market. Which we did. I even got a new planner (obviously, just what I need)! And a perfectly delicious vegetarian lunch complete with macarons! 

Favorite quote of the month inspired by an Instagram photo: 
"How did you write on the car door like that?"
-My husband

Q: What the heck is going on in this photo? 

A: We were stuck in traffic on the Georgia interstate and found a stash of bubbles left over from the wedding reception, so we started blowing them out the window to try to make people happy about sitting still for 45 minutes.

How to Get Better Grades. Ok, so let's talk April posts! Do you see all of those checkboxes on the "write" page? Those are y'all's requested posts! I am SO happy and SO excited about them! In fact, this post was one of them! 

Other posts from the past month included:

Plus the addition of "Study Tip Sunday", which are just tiny bite-sized posts that you can collect on your Pinterest Study Tips board (you do have one, right?) so you can review them quickly without even have to click through a link! (hey, efficiency is everything.)

Job Searching. I have literally applied to 30+ teaching jobs in Nashville. And I am really learning that job searching takes a lot of organization! So, this month, I've created job search folders, portfolios, spreadsheets, and of course...

a board full of career advice that you're more than welcome to steal everything from! 

Oh, yeah. And our Memphis Grizzlies are in the playoffs! :D

Also, here's a photo of Justin Timberlake's baby in a Grizz gear to brighten your day!

What was your April like? Did you do any traveling? Prep for finals? Are you job searching as well? (bless both of our hearts) 

Share your highlights in the comment section below! 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Top Lessons I Learned About Procrastination During College

This will probably be the dumbest question you'll read all day: Do you struggle with procrastination? Like, literally able to do ANYTHING except for the one thing that you're supposed to be doing? 

Oh, I'm sorry, would it have been easier to ask: "Are you human"? 

If you answered "yes" then welcome, you've found the perfect place where you belong! 

I recently read that we're supposed to "read what we need to learn". And if you've taken a look around this blog for more that 4 seconds, you've probably seen the word "productivity" aaaaabout 42 times. 

Go ahead. Take a look around. Crazy, huh? 

I've obviously been working on learning how to get rid of procrastination for a while now! 

(5 Anti-Procrastination Strategies to Help you Get Through Finals Week)

Here are the biggest lessons I learned about procrastination in college! 

Procrastination is one of those things that is just so difficult to overcome! The worst for me was in undergrad because there were just so many other things to do: parties, friends, work, moving. You name it and it could distract me from schoolwork. Here are some of the things I learned that helped me balance out my social life and school work! 

5 helpful lessons you need to learn to kick procrastination to the curb!

1. Procrastination is a form of fear.

Last year, my super nice professor gave us a take home midterm. "Awesome!" I thought. "She is just the coolest person ever for doing that!" And she was. But did the fact that I had this thing in my house all of spring break make me want to take it? Absolutely not. 

It sat on my desk until the day before. Why? Fear. Fear of failing. Or maybe just fear that I would start it and realize how hard it was and that I hadn't actually learned anything so far. It even prompted me to write this post! So, what' s procrastinating college student to do?! 

2. In order to accomplish things, you have to face that fear. 

Choose an "Anti-Procrastination" Day. Back in the day, I used to try to use the FlyLady system for keeping our house clean. My attempt at those routines ha been long gone for a few years now, but there are a few things of hers that I do still use. 

One of them is "anti-procrastination" day

Choose one day a week to just get those tasks you've been dreading over with! I promise, you will feel so much better once you do! Most of the time, once I start a task, I realize that it's much easier than I expected. Just jump right in!

3. A good plan is worth a million minutes. 

I'm a planner. No doubt about it. But even if you're more of a "free spirit" than I am (in which case this entire blog looks like pure insanity to you) it's still helpful to make a productivity plan! A productivity plan is exactly what it sounds like! Make a list of your stuff! The tough stuff that you've been avoiding or the tediously boring mind-numbing stuff that you hate to do. Then get started on it! Here are some tips to help you get going

4. It's easy to get distracted (especially when you'd literally rather be doing anything else). 

Back to undergrad and midterms (and finals): When I came home from class in the afternoon, I just wanted to relax by doing nothing. Which is fine, as long as "nothing" doesn't turn into all afternoon (like it often does). 

If this is a problem for you, too, try this: Give yourself a "reminder". For example, place your study guide near your computer, so that when you're thinking about heading over to Pinterest, you remember that you've got an exam to study for. 

Or set a reminder on your phone, so that 10 minutes into that Insta-binge, you remember you still have reading to do! 

5. Bribing yourself is definitely okay. 

There are a lot of times in life that bribing is frowned upon. Luckily, college is not one of them! I would use whatever it was that I was just DYING to do against myself. Like, If you finish your rough draft in time, you can go to brunch on Saturday or watch that new Netflix.

Set up a reward plan for yourself and really stick to it! You are the boss of yourself and you are not about to be stopped by some weak little distraction or lack of self-discipline, right? If all else fails, designate a hiding spot for your phone/computer until you get your work done!

Organized Study Time

What lessons have you learned while in college? Are there any specific "anti-procrastination" tips that really help you out? Share them with our readers below! 

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Is Your Planner System Working Best for YOU?

Last weekend, my family and I drove to Savannah for a super amazing wedding. My parents rode with me and my husband in our car, and as soon as my mom and I got in the backseat, we found my 2014 planner. I had forgotten it was back there but LOVED having an opportunity to flip through it and see what I was doing a year ago! My biggest focus was selling our house (CHECK!).

I know that using an electronic planner on gmail or a phone is easier, sleeker, and more portable, but there is just something that I love about flipping through an actual book that I used to use and remembering how I felt when I wrote those seemingly unaccomplishable to-do items! I was so scared and unsure of the future, but now looking back, I can see with that everything works out fine.

I think that’s just why Ilove physical planners so much! I recently had a request to share how I organize mine, so here you go!

Create a system that you’ll follow

-TO-DO: what do you need to do? When you open your planner, is it made evident right away? Is it set up in a way that will keep you on track in a focused manner?

-DOING: What are your current projects? How much progress have you made on them? What’s today’s biggest priority? Where should you start next time?

-DONE: What have you accomplished so far this day/week/year? Are you using your time in the best possible way? Can you see your own productivity patterns?

Make it something you’ll WANT to look at daily

-MOTIVATIONAL: Does your planner motivate you to enjoy your time on this earth? Does it reflect your goals and priorities? Is it helping you get the most out of life?

-DESIGN: Is your planner aesthetically pleasing to you? Is it a color palette that you enjoy seeing daily? Is it streamlined enough to keep you focused?

-ENCOURAGING: Is your planner encouraging to look at? Does it make you proud of what you’ve accomplished? Does it show you that you’re progressing in life?

Find a way to transfer tasks throughout the days

-TENTATIVE: Do you have an efficient method for writing in plans that may or may not happen? Do you have a way to block off certain times of day/weeks?

-RESCHEDULED: Do you have an organized system in place for rescheduling plans that get interrupted by life? Are you happy with the way that looks?

-INCOMPLETE: Do you have a way to show yourself that you didn’t complete a task? Do you highlight, check boxes, cross out, use arrows, etc. to move them?

Tell the story of your life

-WHO: One year from now, will you know who you spent this day with? Will you be able to see who was important to you? Who did you give your priority time to?

-WHAT: One year from now, will you be able to tell what you did on this day? Do you record the details of your important events? Did you balance work and fun?

-WHERE: One year from now, will you know where you went today? Even if it isn’t terribly exciting, will you be able to see how those errands led you to your goals?

What tips do you have for organizing your planner from day to day? Are there areas with planner organization that you find challenging? And of course, what kind of planner do you use?! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How to Get Better Grades In College

It's no secret that there is often a huge disconnect between intelligence and grades. Even the most brilliant people can have a tough time with doing well in school. This is because earning good grades requires focus, hard work, listening, organization, and planning... 

Which are things that professors can't necessarily teach

If you check out my About page, you'll see that over the course of my college career, I improved my GPA from a 2.4 to a 4.0. How? Well, once I realized that sitting in class and hoping the information would automatically sink in wouldn't work, I actually started to develop small systems for everything I did (including making myself pay attention during class)! 

Here are some of my fave tips for staying on track!

1. Go to Class
This should be so easy and obvious. I was always shocked to see the class size double on exam days! Like, "Where the heck did all these people come from?". Just put that time into your planner, set it aside, and go. If you have a small enough class, your professor may even give extra credit for perfect attendance! 

YAY for getting extra points for doing the right thing!

2. Do Your Reading
This is definitely one of those things I had to "teach" myself to do. When I first started college, I NEVER read before class. I just assumed I would learn all I needed from the lectures. And honestly, every teacher has a different style, so sometimes you can get away with only studying from your notes. 

BUT if they tell you to read, just READ (aka skim).

 3. Plan your Time
This is what I preach time and time again when people ask for college advice (or basically anything in life). Plan. Plan. Plan. Plan to study. Plan to read. Plan times to go out. Plan workout time. Plan time for doing laundry. Do fewer things. Plan them out. And stick to your schedule! 

 4. Read the Directions
 You know that saying "the devil is in the details"? As far as I'm concerned, that was invented by a college student who lost points for using the wrong sized font on a paper. I highlight every single direction on the syllabus, then mark it out once I complete it. These are EXACTLY where your points come from so follow them precisely! 

Most of earning good grades is just about following directions and staying organized! So, if you didn't make great grades last year or semester, no worries! Just follow these tips, use your planner, and try your best! Professors notice when you work hard and they'll be more willing to help you out when you need it! 

And even though good grades are certainly a great goal, remember that it's C's that get degrees! 

And that degree is the real goal :) 

What tips do you have for improving grades? How do you keep yourself organized during the semester? 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Study Tip Sunday: How to Let Go of Perfectionism

I don't know about you but I tend to get a little obsessive when it comes to any kind of big school project. I absolutely despise leaving things "undone" (unless leaving my clean clothes in the dryer for 3 days counts... because I really love to do that). 

(If you're really struggling, check out this post, too: Project Get Your Time Back)

Today's goal is this: Let the perfectionism go. Let it goooooo.
And even though I know that finishing big projects will always take multiple steps, that I-literally-have-to-walk-out-the-door-right-now-or-I'm-going-to-be-late-AND-look-like-a-hot-mess feeling still sneaks up on me from time to time! 

Because this was such a huge problem for me in undergrad, I needed to develop a way to protect myself from my own obsessive working habits! After some research and trial and error and crying, here are the 3 strategies that have proven to work the best for me: 

Set working times 
Classes, meetings, practices, and study groups have a starting time and a stopping time. So why wouldn't you utilize this for schoolwork at home, too? Lately, I've been using 2 hour increments to work on different tasks and it's been pretty beneficial to my productivity! 

But maybe you don't have 2 hours (finishing grad school left me a LOT of extra time)! Maybe you just have 30 minutes here and there. So use that! Tell yourself "from 7:00-7:30, I'm going to work on ___".  Starting and STOPPING times are definitely your friends!

Give yourself permission to stop
This is the whole reason that the stopping time exists! Perfectionism can run free when you let go of your awareness of time. If you're reading over that paper for the 14th time or spending 20+ minutes rearranging a coffee table, it may be time to move on!

If you haven't yet, check out this post on Clear to Neutral! This has been one of the best ways for me to increase productivity and clear my mind after working on things! Plus, it makes it easier for you to pick up where you left off the next time you work on this project!

Use a timer
Using a timer keeps me from getting stuck on and obsessing over one single assignment. Usually, if I have a lot to do, I break it into very small tasks. Then I set a timer for 10-30 minutes (depending on the task). When the timer goes off, I switch to a different small task. 

This allows me to schedule and focus consistent and equal amounts of time and energy on each subject! It's probably natural for us to get a little perfectionistic (especially if there is a presentation involved). But in order to feel balanced, we need to equally balance our time!

I'm even using a timer RIGHT. NOW. because (surprise, surprise) I obsess over these posts, too. In fact, if you ever see a typo or a your/you're mixup on this blog, know that it was a small victory for me to say "this post is good enough, time to move on to something else"! 

Need an anti-perfectionism affirmation? Here it is:

I am going to concentrate on this for a designated amount of time. I will set a timer to keep myself moving through smaller tasks. At my stopping time, I will wrap up my work, clean up, and move on. Because I am awesome and I do not give into my obsessive tendencies. Go. Me. 

ALSO, it is important to follow throughBecause you can say you're not crazy all you want. But in the end, you really have to act like you aren't either :) 

What is the biggest thing that you obsess over? How do you make yourself calm down and move on? Do you have any strategies to add? 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Guest Post: Jumpstart Your Day in 15 Minutes!

Mornings are tough. Can I get an Amen? But they're also a completely undeniable part of adult life (and college life. Sorry.) so ANYTIME that I hear some good advice on how to get going in the mornings, I listen intently! Recently, Kiki (aka my mom) shared her routine.

( Learn more about her and her crazy ways here: 10 Things I Learned from My Mom )

As she rambled through this routine while we sipped mimosas on Beale before a Memphis Tiger game, I was so impressed with just how much of a habit this was for her. She didn't once have to stop to think about what came next. 

This was so much a part of her daily life that she almost seemed bored as she explained it to me. So, now she's here to share it with you! Take what you can from it, adapt it to work for you and your morning and start trying to build your own morning habit!  

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By Michelle, Pen & Hive

You know how your morning gets away from you and by the time you get to school or work or the kids wake up it's just on for the rest of the day? Well, a few years ago I created a solution for that. It's a 15 minute morning routine that helps me feel that no matter what else happens I've done some really good stuff for myself before I even sit down for coffee. 

The reason for this little routine is that just as bad things like smoking or drinking diet soda are bad for you over time (the key word is cumulative) good things in small doses over a long period are also going to pay off.

Here's the 15 minute breakdown:

- I have dogs so the minute my feet hit the floor I go into the kitchen and feed them.

- While they eat I brush my teeth, wash my face, and moisturize. Use a moisturizer with a sunscreen. 30 years from now you'll be so glad you did!

- Back to the kitchen to let them out, then I drink 16 oz.of filtered water and take my daily vitamins.

- I start the coffee maker (doing it before now or having it ready when I get up means I might skip the next step).

- While the coffee is brewing (notice I set myself up to be hanging around waiting for the coffee) I do a 7 minute yoga/stretch routine that I've developed over the years. The point of it is to stretch out all the big muscle groups and flood my body with oxygen which helps me wake up.

- While stretching and breathing I do not think about my day. I take deep breaths and think how grateful I am that I can move. 

- Now the coffee is done. I let the dogs in, pour my coffee and head to a cozy chair to work a quick crossword puzzle to wake up my brain and read something spiritual to get centered for the day. 

- I don't finish the puzzle or the reading within the 15 minutes but the point is to get there. Once you are there with your coffee or tea and a few quiet minutes to yourself you can spend as much or as little time as you need. 

(You can also use this time to pray, meditate, say your affirmations or whatever makes you feel centered.)

By the time you finish your coffee or tea you are hydrated, oxygenated, energized, and ready to face your day! 

I do this every single day.  A couple of years ago I got a chance to test it during a difficult time. Because it was a habit I did this routine on autopilot once I got up. Some days hold exciting and fun things you look forward to. You'll be in a better frame of mind to enjoy them if you jump-start your day. Make your routine a habit and all you have to do is put your feet on the floor. Then you find yourself doing the next thing and the next thing and so on.

You may not be able to face your whole day but you can face the first 15 minutes. It's much easier if you have a plan in place. After this you are ready to go about your morning by having breakfast, checking your calendar, and getting ready. And just preparing to be fabulous and amazing for the rest of the day!

Do you have a morning routine? Have you developed a way to feel focused (instead of flustered) in the mornings? If you’re having trouble getting started in the mornings, do you think that any of these tips could help YOU?
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