Organized Charm: January 2015

Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Vignettes



I have to admit that January is typically my least favorite month. I'm not sure why... but it's just usually all cold and dreary and rainy and makes me want to jump on an airplane and never return to Memphis. HOWEVER, in my decades of experiencing Januaries, this one has actually been exceptionally pleasant. The sun has been out more than normal. Plus it's been warm enough to keep our windows open (which is my absolute favorite!). I truly hope that y'all have been as fortunate. 

And if it has been tough for you, find an awesome Australian blog or Instagram account to live vicariously through! It always works for me! (#SUMMERFOREVER!) 

Here's what January looked like...


...on Organized Charm

I have continued to work on new OC printables for Organized Charm's Etsy shop! Below is a sneak peek of the "mini" version of the weekly grid view. This printable is a smaller, more colorful version of the planner in my How I Organize My Planner post and it will be released Wednesday, February 4! :) 




Most of the January posts on Organized Charm focused on goal setting and goal accomplishing! Two of my personal favorite things! :) 

Start Your Own Blog in 4 Easy Steps

Room-by-Room Home Organization/Staging 

15 Quick Ways to Improve Your Morning Routine

How to Create Long-Term Goals

How to Actually Accomplish Your 2015 Goals





...in my "real life"

Saying goodbye to 2014 wasn't terribly difficult for me. While a lot of great things happened (like moving, celebrating 3 years as a married couple, and GRADUATING from grad school), there were also a lot of tough things that went on, too (like moving, being a married couple, and grad school). Life is full of ups and downs and it's all about attitude, perspective, and teamwork, don't you agree? 




This is my little brother. He's been volunteering at national parks all over the southwest with AmericaCore since September. BUT he came home for Christmas and it was just so, so much fun! I just love this wittle guy!  


I have been pretty obsessive about my goals this year! Ever since I officially finished grad school, I've really been focusing on what I want my next step to be! And to know what your next step is, you obviously have to know where you're trying to go... you know?! 


No January in Memphis is complete without basketball.


And no week around our home is complete without me rearranging... well, something. Welcome to my "corner office with a view"! 


You know how exciting it is when someone that you love turns out to love something that you love?! Getting back into yoga was one of my goals for all of my newly-acquired post-grad free time! And the best thing of all best things happened! It turns out that my husband really enjoys yoga, too! #YAY



...elsewhere

Maybe it's because I grew up as a female athlete or because I was home schooled by my slightly-hippie-ish mom or because Ariel is the first Disney princess that I remember, but I have always been into anything and everything that revolves around "girl power". And it seems that especially over the past few months, the media has just been filled with articles and books and videos that focus on building a generation of girls that don't live up to typical "girl" stereotypes. 

And I JUST. LOVE. IT. Here are my favorites that I've seen lately:






You Are What You Wear: The Dangerous Lessons Kids Learn From Sexist T-Shirts (Huffington Post)


How was your first month of 2015? Was it the fresh start you needed it to be? Did you make and stick to any special resolutions? 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Start Your Own Blog in 4 Easy Steps


I get quite a few emails from month to month and I've decided to start building posts around them so that everyone can benefit from the questions and answers! This month, I received a few emails from readers asked for advice for starting a blog! 

It makes me laugh out loud that I would be thought of as the person to ask... BUT I do enjoy researching things and learning how to do everything in the best way possible! So, of course, I'm happy to do that! 



FIRST: DO SOME RESEARCH

This is one of the biggest, most ever-changing topics ever to research. And once you start, you will realize that there is SO MUCH information out there! SO MANY tiny little aspects go into blogging that there are several blogs out there that are literally just about blogging! 

Every time I find a great/helpful/interesting article or post, I pin it to my Blog. board on Pinterest. Scroll through that board, pin what you like... and go follow the original sources to make that kind of content come up on your own Pinterest homepage! 




SECOND: DECIDE ON YOUR CONTENT

Back in September, I did a post on 5 Blogging Basics, where I included some of the most primary-level blogging advice I could think of! That info really centered around what KIND of content to create when you start a blog. Which is, after all, the purpose of the whole thing. 

Your content needs to be original, interesting, helpful, and consistent. If you're writing about style, how are your outfits different from everyone else's? If you write about cooking, do you have a specific focus, such as desserts or vegan? What makes you original? 



THIRD: CREATE YOUR "BRAND"

I recently did an interview with Taylor from A Cup of Tay (along with a few lovely authors of other blogs), where we all gave all the best branding advice we could think of! Branding your blog is pretty much like giving it a personality. 

Do you want it to look elegant and sleek? Or whimsical and full of color? Your fonts fall into this category, too! And speaking of fonts, try to stick to 3. (I'm the worst at that because I love fonts and always want to use them all!) Also, decide on your color palette: 1 warm color, 1 cool color, 1 neutral color. 




FOURTH: FIND YOUR PLATFORM

Next, find a blogging platform that you really like. This was seriously the biggest struggle of the whole process for me because there were things that I liked/didn't like about all of them! I created little blogs on a few different sites and played around with them for a while before really committing to "the one". Here are the ones I tried out: 

Wordpress:
I liked how neat everything was. Wordpress blogs look super professional. I liked the fact that you can follow other bloggers and like their posts. However, I was not crazy about the interface of the actual website. It was a little too intense for me. If you are someone who is analytical, logical, or "techy", then it may work great for you! It just wasn't my favorite. 

BUT the thing that was the real deal breaker for me was when I heard that there was a limited amount of free space. After a while, users get a "bandwidth exceeded" message and they have to purchase more space or purchase their own domain. Again... that may not be a deal breaker for you! But personally, I wasn't into it. 

Weebly:
Weebly is a website maker that I was introduced to during my first grad school class. We had to make a "classroom website" and I absolutely fell in love with how easy it was to control the design of websites on this platform. You actually build your website to look and work exactly the way you want it to. 

The only things I didn't love about this platform were that it crashed pretty frequently while I was trying to do things. Also, it's really designed to be used for a website with a blog, rather than just a stand alone blog. I would recommend using this for a website, but as far as blogging goes, it just wasn't for me. 

Tumblr.
Ahh, yes. Tumblr. I love Tumblr. I love the pretty images. I love it that you can find blogs to follow for basically anything that you find interesting! Oh, and I also love it that you can add hashtags to your posts! And let's just talk about how easy it is to use. So easy. I love the simple way that everything is laid out, etc. etc. 

The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the fact that it's based more on images than written content. Which would work perfectly for a fashion blogger, or a photographer. Also, I wanted a little more control over the design of the website. One more thing: it's very easy to reblog other people's content rather than creating your own! I would suggest a 50/50 approach here!

Blogger:
So, in no way is Blogger the perfect blogging platform. There are tons of people who have chosen these other platforms over Blogger. The things that I love about Blogger are that it gives you a ton of control over the site design (without having to learn about coding). I also love the fact that it gives you so much space. As far as I know, Blogger never tells you that you've used too much. I mean, iHeartOrganizing is still hosted here and she literally has a BILLION posts. 

The only negative things that I can think of to say about Blogger are... I promise you, I am having a hard time thinking of any. It's just been such the perfect fit for me and Organized Charm that everything works pretty wonderfully! I know people out there say that the site is outdated (and the "gadgets" offered) but that's kind of all I can think of! 

Oh, and by the way, if you're planning to do a lot of "on-the-go" blogging, all of these platforms have apps designed to help you do just that! As of today, the Blogger app has 2 1/2 stars, the Tumblr and Weebly apps have 4 1/2 stars, and the Wordpress app has 3 stars. 



Every person and blog are different and you really just have to find what works best for you and your content! 

GOOD LUCK! :) 



Do you have suggestions for beginning bloggers? What about different blogging platforms that you've started? Or what about "vlogging" advice?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Room-By-Room Home Organization/Staging


In the grand scheme of Januarys, this one has actually been pretty pleasant. I actually have my windows open right now and there isn't a cloud in the sky! And even though I KNOW that it will inevitably get cold and gloomy and rainy again soon... I am choosing to completely ignore that reality and starting to focus on spring cleaning! There is just something about the spring... you know? It just makes me want to get rid of every ounce of junk that piled up over the winter and create the most zen-tastic living space ever! You, too? YAY! 

Last spring, we had our house for sale and it seemed like every weekend was a balancing act between completing schoolwork and prepping the house to be inspected ravaged viewed by potential buyers. Living in a house that's for sale is stressful. Like, super stressful. Like, stressful enough that I only want us to rent until we find the house that will be our "forever home". However, even though I love to be dramatic and talk about how annoying it is to have strangers in your house every weekend... there was also something pretty cool that I took away from the experience: Home Staging. 

I am all about it now! The declutterization. The warm and cozy feeling. The shiny counters and amazing-smelling kitchen! And just because we're renting a loft now, doesn't mean that we aren't still implementing all those super-cool tricks that we learned! As far as I'm concerned, staging is pretty much like creating the most ultimately-organized and welcoming home ever. My attention was recently drawn to this infographic (found on moshells.com) and it easily outlines the basics of staging and how to do it without spending a ton of money! 

If you have your windows open and are looking for something to organize today (like I am), then this is a pretty perfect guide to follow as well! 














So, let's go ahead and get a head start on spring organization this weekend! :) 

Do you get excited to clean out your home as soon as it gets warm outside? Could you use any of these rules for organizing? Or do you already? OR do you have any to add?! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

15 Quick Ways to Improve Your Morning Routine




So, school has pretty much started back everywhere at this point! 

Which means... mornings. And waking up early during mornings. 

And even worse, being expected to show up to places on time during those mornings. 

I'm pretty sure that getting the day started has always and will always be a difficult thing for people to deal with. 

First of all, 48% of Americans say they don't get enough sleep

And second of all (and my personal problem with waking up), this is winter.

And it's cold outside.



But I do have to say that the worst ever at waking up in the morning is my dear, sweet husband. Here is our interaction in the morning: I bring him coffee in bed and stay out of his way. 

All those typical morning words like "cranky" and "grumpy" and "moody" don't even begin to describe his level of disdain for waking up in the morning. But since I have to be up anyway, I did some research on how to create the best ever morning routine!

There are actually tons of articles (and opinions) out there about how to start your day off the best way possible. But you know, that's something that each person really has to decide for themselves. SO I gathered all of my 15 absolute faves and listed them below! 

Just scroll through the list and choose a few that would work well for you! Oh, and one thing that was pretty consistent throughout every article: 

NO PHONE for the first hour of your day! (you know why)

2 minutes of meditation. By now, we all know that meditation is beyond-beneficial for us. But we still picture it taking place in a dark and silent room... which probably seems a little unattainable for most of us! Just do your best to clear your mind for a couple of minutes each morning.



Clean 1 thing you don't want to. For me, it's the dishes in the sink that have to be washed by hand for some reason or another. BUT I've found that if I go ahead and knock that thing out before I even have time to dread it, the rest of my day seems to be just a little more productive. It's kind of like saying, "Hey, Procrastination! Don't mess with me today."

Drink green tea/juice/water. 8 hours is a long time to go without drinking anything... plus morning is a super easy time to remind yourself to drink more since you're probably already in the kitchen!

Eat breakfast. Of course, when we picture breakfast we picture all those sugar-filled and indulgent brunch foods (Belgian waffles? Yes, please!) but the best way to start the day is with something hydrating like fruit or something high in protein such as greek yogurt. Save the good sweet stuff for weekend brunch!


Listen to music. I am a huge, huge fan of starting mornings this way! And for mornings, I really love instrumental genre stations rather than anything with lyrics. It's just easier to keep a clear mind that way! This post from last year may have just the perfect station go get your morning started!

List 10 things you're thankful for. This is one thing that I definitely do pretty much every morning. I also do it if I get in a bad mood throughout the day. Aaaand I also make encourage people around me do it when they're stressed, too. It really is the easiest way to boost your happiness right away!

Make the bed. This is an easy option. It's quick. It's not time-consuming. And it makes a huge impact on your space immediately! Plus, it acts as a barrier to keep you from getting back into bed! 


Read. Now, I have to admit that (for me) writing "read" on my morning routine list would be straight-up dangerous because 98% of my reading is done on electronics. Electronics = internet connection. And internet connection = access to social media (as you know, it's always downhill from there). BUT if you are the kind of person who reads books the old-fashioned way, then this may be a good idea for you! Just try to make sure it's something encouraging and inspiring so that positivity can flow over into the rest of your day!

Repeat a personal mantra. I actually created one of these and said it to myself every morning last summer. Something about how I was the most productive person in the world and I moved quickly from task to task accomplishing things with confidence. Also, you could go the Blair Waldorf route: I am Grace Kelley; Grace Kelley is me. Either way, it's totally effective!

Review your goals for the day. One of the habits I'm trying to get back into (after Christmas break totally demolished ALL of my good habits) is planning each day the night before... what to do, what to wear, etc. That way, each morning all I have to do is review the goals I've already set for the day and get started!


Smile for 1 minute. Yes, like a crazy person. I do this all the time when I get stressed while driving. Smiling relaxes you and basically forces you into happiness. And hey, forced happiness is still happiness, right?

Turn on all of the lights. I can feel my husband cringing as he reads that. He (and all men, apparently) are allergic to "wasting" energy. But science says that lights = productivity... so turn 'em on!

Visualize your day. There are so many ways to do this, but one thing I've started doing is choosing 3 ways that I can simplify the tasks ahead of me. For example, "I will simplify my drive to work by leaving 30 minutes early", "I will simplify dinnertime by deciding now what I will make", and "I will simplify my lesson planning by organizing my classroom materials ahead of time". By the way, my husband would call this "doing less"... and he would wonder why anyone would have to remind themselves to do that.


Write in a journal. Nothing long or poetic or brilliant. 1 page. Or even just 1 sentence. Write about something that annoyed you yesterday and let it go. Or write about the awesome day ahead of you! Or all of the things you're grateful for. Or about the crazy dream you had. Literally, anything is on limits!

Yoga. This = my favorite thing of all time ever (mimosas and Target excluded). I have recently started doing 6:40 AM yoga and it's been a great way to start the day. For me, yoga is just so much easier in the morning before I check my e-mail or get stuck in traffic or do any of the other 34,000 things that try really hard to stress us out and ruin our days. Plus, when those things DO happen, I probably handle it a little better than I would have otherwise!



How we spend our morning is probably a good indication of how we'll spend our day... 
so let's make sure to start it out right! :) 

What are some of your favorite ways to greet the day? Do you have any additional tips for a better/ healthier/ more-centered morning routine? 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How to Create Long Term Goals

If you've been reading this blog for a few months, you know that when my life slows down, my writing slows down, too. Summer break and winter break are the hardest times for me to write... because I'm not busy enough, if that makes any sense. Around the beginning of the new year, I decided to dedicate the first 6 weeks of 2015 focusing on my career (aka finding a new teaching job in a new city). And I planned on writing about cover letters and resumes and what to wear to interviews, etc. I did a ton of research. I pinned a bunch of articles (you can find them all here).



I read them all. I took notes. And then I realized "there's no need for me to say any of this. I'd just be repeating everything that's already been said in these articles". So, I didn't write a post about the perfect interview or resume or whatever. HOWEVER, I did spend quite a lot of time doing something that wasn't in ANY of these posts! So, that's what I'm going to write about today:

TAKE SOME TIME TO THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU WANT YOUR CAREER TO GO.

I recently started this new "track" on Happify called Find Your Calling and the very first exercise in it was one where you write about your perfect daily routine. NOT your perfect job. But your perfect routine. Like, what do you see your days looking like in the future? The craziest thing about this activity was that it was SO easy! Even though you may not be completely sure about what you WANT to do... you probably have a pretty good idea of what you want your days to look like. Doing this activity motivated me to keep going on my quest of finding my perfect career!



1. Spend 20 minutes writing your 20-year goals

This past weekend, I set a timer for 20 minutes and wrote down what I want my career to look like 20 years from now. I just typed it into a Word documents. I wrote it quickly and messy. I didn't care about grammar or punctuation or even if I sounded like a normal person. So, if you're feeling stressed out and overwhelmed about the future, just take 20 minutes and write down anything and everything that you can. Once I finished writing what I wanted to be doing 20 years from now, I reset the timer for 10 minutes and wrote about what I want to be doing in 10 years. Go big here, btw!

"Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe." -Oprah Winfrey



2. Cut that time in half and do it again... and again... and again...

Because I am slightly more obsessive than most people, I continued this at every halfway mark (including 15 months and 7 1/2 months). You could just go with something traditional like "1 year" and "6 months". Another thing I did that was helpful was to begin every new time period by writing "In ___ years, it will be the year ___ and I will be ___ years old". Another thing I did that was super helpful was to find someone I admired who was already that age. Sometimes age seems pretty vague and it's difficult to know what to expect, so seeing it in someone else's life makes it easier.



3. Read through and pull out your concrete goals

Once I had all of my things written in a Word document, I went back and pulled out the phrases and keywords that I could actually turn into goals. For example, "involve parents in classroom activities through class website, newsletter, and volunteer opportunities". Those are all pretty concrete things that I can really make happen in my classroom. Or "certified professional organizer", well... that's pretty clear. I pulled out the things that were super specific like that and actually wrote them down on a piece of paper. I continued to do this at every checkpoint until I eventually got down to "today".



4. Do 4 things today that will move you towards your goals

At the "today" space, I just made a square space big enough for a Post-It. Each day, I write down 4 tasks that will help me reach the goals. NOT big tasks at all, either! Sending 1 e-mail to someone or printing off 1 document counts. Literally, 4 small and doable tasks every day. It doesn't feel or sounds like much which is why below it I wrote this quote:

"Great things are done by a series of small things coming together." -Vincent Van Gogh

The future is a scary and magnificent thing! It's easy to let it come and go and dream about the things that we could have done OR we can decide today to attack it head on and spend each day purposefully making it the best we can! Which brings me to another quote I love:

"Put on lipstick and attack!" -Coco Chanel 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

How to Actually Accomplish Your 2015 Goals

HAPPY 2015, everyone! I am so super excited about this year. I don't know what it is but for some reason, I just love odd-numbered years (weeeirdo). So, of course, I pretty much live for the beginning of January. It's the time of year when everyone gets really into setting new goals and organizing everything! The stores are absolutely FILLED with organizational bins and containers (and I break out into my Happy Feet dance whenever I reach the "seasonal" section of Target)!



This is also the time when EVERYONE is interested in setting goals and doing things better in the new year! Last January, I wrote a 31-day series (yes, I actually finished that one) about goal setting. I found a ton of great resources (they're listed at the bottom of each post). Today I'm just going to do an abridged, skimming-over version of that series. using some of America's most common resolutions.



According to us.gov, these are some of the most common New Year's resolutions that we make year after year:



Common Resolution: Lose Weight
Turn it into something like this: I will lose 10 pounds by December 2014 by working out 30 minutes each day and doubling the amount of vegetables that I eat each day. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Tone It Up)



Common Resolution: Volunteer
Turn it into something like this: I will volunteer 72 hours by December by spending 6 hours a month working in the kitchen at the Mission

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Volunteer Match)



Common Resolution: Better Education/Grades
Turn it into something like this: I will submit my grad school application by January 15 by working on it for 4 hours next weekend. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out this list of resources for college students... aaand while you're at it, you can just head over to the Organized Studying page!)



Common Resolution: Get a Better Job
Turn it into something like this: I will have a job (doing whatever you want to do) by August 1 by submitting a new resume packet to a different company every 2 weeks. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: The Daily Muse)



Common Resolution: Save Money/Manage Debt
Turn it into something like this: I will save $1800 by December by putting $150 into my savings account every month. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Mint)



Common Resolution: Manage Stress
Turn it into something like this: I will become more relaxed and mindful by December by writing down 10 things I'm thankful for every morning, taking a 30-minute walk outside every day after work, and staying off screens (phone, iPad, computer, TV) between 10PM-6AM. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Happify and Zen Habits)



Common Resolution: Take a Trip
Turn it into something like this: I will take a trip to the Dominican Republic in May by putting $500 into a "vacation fund" every month. 

(by the way, if this IS your goal, check out this list of helpful travel-planning sites)



Common Resolution: Reduce Clutter/Get Organized
Turn it into something like this: I will reduce the amount of items in each closet by 30% by December by going through 1 closet each Saturday and removing 1 of every 3 items every month. 

(by the way, if this IS your goal, check out: Project Organize Your Entire Life and Unclutterer)



See how goals just sound more achievable when we make them super specific? Like, it's no longer this broad ambiguous thing that you hope happens to you this year. Instead, it's something that you're taking control of and working for! When resolutions are super vague, they might as well be wishes. Accomplishing new goals takes a lot of planning (YAY!), discipline, sacrifice, effort, and doing a lot of things that look really boring when they're written on a daily to-do list (read chapter 5, for example).

Just keep your big goal in mind while you're working through those tedious to-do lists. And be prepared to work hard and to sacrifice things that would be fun right now and probably to be broke (if you're saving up for a vacation or paying grad school tuition). So, here is my last little bit of advice before you begin your fresh, new year! Choose to focus on 1 goal at a time and reeeally work to make it a habit before throwing another goal into the mix.

Once you're working out daily, or you're in the habit of cooking a healthy dinner every night, then you can start on the resume sending-out, you know? Don't try to start all of your goals at once or you'll just set yourself up for the F word (which is "Failure", obviously).

So, good luck and remember that it's 2015 and everything is awesome! :)



What are your goals for 2015? Did you accomplish the ones that you set for yourself last year? Also, can you think of any resources that I should add for the topics above? I know there have got to be a ton of great apps/websites that I don't know about! 
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