Organized Charm

Sunday, January 6, 2019

3 Productive Mini Habits to Start Today

"Keeping up is easier than catching up." -Gretchen Rubin

productivity tips, how to start good habits, organization blogs, time management


I love this quote. In her book, Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits-- to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life, Gretchen Rubin talks about habit formation. In this quote specifically, she discusses how it is easier to do small tasks each day to "keep up," rather than setting aside all of the tasks for the end of the week and then "catching up."

Here are some examples:



1. Cleaning out your Purse/Backpack/Car

This is sometimes one of the hardest things to do. Sometimes I let a little receipt or paper go here or there. Then another, and before I know it when I pull out my wallet at the grocery store, a dozen tiny papers come fluttering out all over the floor. This is called the Broken Windows Theory- when we start letting little things go, they lead to bigger things.


Each day or week, make it a point to not let anything that would be considered trash or clutter build up in these places! Remind yourself that it is easier to take a few seconds to throw that receipt in the trash, or bring that empty water bottle to the recycling now than it is to set aside time to clean out your purse, backpack, or car. 

(You might also like: What to Carry in Your Backback for College)

2. Clothes

A few weeks ago, I wrote about developing a system for keeping your closets organized long-term. Short-term organization requires a setting aside a day to make everything look neat and orderly, only to have it end up sloppy and cluttered again two months from now.


Long-term organization requires setting up a system and using self-control/habits to maintain it. People often get frustrated with short-term organization, because they can't maintain the beautiful environment they've created. I said all that to say this, put your clothes away (closet, dresser, or laundry) every time you change :) 

(Related: 7 Quick Ways to Declutter Your Life This Month)

3. Clear to Neutral

This is another topic I've written an entire post about. "Clear to Neutral" is one of my favorite systems. Basically, it means to leave each space the way that you want to find it next time. When you finish working on your laptop, make sure it's charged for the next time you use it, close any documents/websites you have open, and put it away (either on the charger or wherever it lives).

This way, the next time you need to work on it, you can get straight to work without needing to rummage around for the charger or getting distracted by the windows you left open on it last time. 


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Baby steps lead to progress. Just starting these three habits TODAY, you can make sure that your life is more orderly and organized. My favorite app for habit formation/tracking is called Productive. It allows you to create a habit, specifying how often and what time of day you want to do it. Then it gives you a recurring to-do list of your habits every day. It shows you data on each habit, and how many "perfect" days you have :) 

(You might also like: 3 Ways to Form Study Habits)
What are some baby step habits that make you feel more efficient and put-together? Share them in the comments below! Be sure to follow @organizedcharm on Instagram for more productivity tips!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

13 Surprising Statistics About Teaching

Hi Kirsten! I am a freshman in college and am an elementary education major. I am trying to decide which grade I want to teach, and I want to learn more about the whole process! 

- - -

What a great question and super exciting time of life!



I knew from the beginning that I wanted to teach Kindergarten. I had the advantage of working at a tutoring center during high school and getting to interact with elementary students of all grade levels. The Kindergarteners were always my favorite! They were sweet, funny, and happy to be there. I just always knew that, if I became a teacher, that would be my grade. 



But it's not always that easy for teachers. Many teachers take a job teaching a grade they don't necessarily want to teach, just to get their foot in the door with a school. Lots of teachers soon find out that they love that grade more than the one they thought they wanted to teach! And many other teachers shuffle around to different grades throughout their careers. You just never know how it will work out :) 

If you're someone who is interested in becoming a teacher, here are some "real talk" statistics that your professors may not mention.



1 | Teachers spend an average of $500 of their own money on classroom supplies
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

This is so true. When I worked in public school, we were given a stipend of $100 for our classrooms. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Some of the teachers at our school literally spent thousands of dollars over the course of the year. Why? You love your kids. You want them to have an inviting classroom to learn in, adequate supplies, and engaging learning activities. For most teachers, this money is spent with an attitude of love, not resentment. The good news? Almost anything you buy for school is tax deductible, so create a system to help you SAVE THOSE RECEIPTS! 



2 | Teachers work an average of 50 hours per week
Source: National Education Association

Teacher hours are usually coveted by people in the "regular" workforce. The breaks, holidays, and early dismissal. I've got to admit, especially now that I'm a mom, those breaks are invaluable! The lines between working and not working are usually pretty blurred for teachers. Even when you're not in the building, you're emailing parents, looking up ideas, prepping materials, lesson planning, etc. The great thing about this job is that it is SO personal and SO creative. Because no two teachers are the same, it is easy to feel passionate about what you're doing! For that reason, work doesn't always feel like work. It's always new and exciting and different! 



3 | About 30% of teachers have a second job
Source: Brookings

It's no secret that the pay for teachers is not great. Public school systems typically pay more than independent schools, so if money is a priority for you, you probably want to go public. Not all teachers who have second jobs do it just for the money, though. You have to take into account that selling on Teachers Pay Teachers or Etsy would be considered a "second job," too. Also, keep in mind that teachers sometimes get bored over summer or on breaks. It's nice to have a side hustle or something productive to do with your time! Personally, I tutor outside of school hours and host a couple of summer camps. The flexibility teaching provides is great! 



4 | More than 91% of teachers report purchasing basic necessities for students
Source: Huffington Post

Depending on where you teach, your students may need financial assistance from time to time. This is 100% NOT expected or obligatory. As you get to know your kids and their families, you may want to step in and cover a field trip admission or buy food for a student to take home over the weekend. Your students become YOUR kids and you never want to see them left out or in need. It's always a case-by-case basis when you decide to help out a student in need. This sounds so cheesy, but your heart will guide you if you run into this kind of situation. 



5 | 88% of people say a teacher had a positive impact on their lives
Source: ING Foundation Survey

Most people you know could easily tell you the name of their favorite teacher growing up. I can't even tell you how many "I love yous" and "You're the bests" I hear from my students throughout the day. Your kids will LOVE you and look up to you. They will draw you pictures and value your opinion and pretend to be you on the playground ( well, maybe not the teenagers ;) ). You'll talk about your students to anyone who will listen. Your spouse/roommate/mom will know your students by name, even if they've never met them! When you send your kids off to the next grade, you'll tell the new teacher "You better take care of ___, he/she's my baby!"



6 | Teachers work an average of 400+ hours of overtime each year
Source: EdTech

Every teacher has their own individual work style when it comes to this. Personally, I like to show up 45 minutes early each morning. That gives me time to set up my room, think about the flow of the day, prep, lesson plan, email, and just do anything that needs to be done. At the end of the day, I usually try not to stay any longer than 30 minutes. There's always more to do, but I set a timer and leave when it goes off. In addition to the school day, there are sometimes nighttime events, like open houses, parent-teacher conferences, and other special events. Weeks with these events can be exhausting, but they can also be fun because they bring you and your team a lot closer! 



7 | 75% of first-year teachers say they were well-prepared for their instructional duties
Source: National Institute of Educational Statistics

The Professional Developments can be SO overwhelming your first year! Your district will have you attending so many different seminars, workshops, lectures, orientations, in-services, and classes that you won't know what to do with yourself. And EVERYTHING has an acronym. I once attended an entire seminar on some new initiative called CLIP, and when I left, I still didn't even know what CLIP stood for! The good news is, the things that you learned will start to make sense once you have an opportunity to apply them. The bad news is, you will feel like you are drowning in PDs your first year. Just stick with it... it will get better! 


The average student-teacher ratio in America is 16:1


 8 | The average student-teacher ratio is 16:1
Public School Review

This is actually a great ratio! Where I live, in Tennessee, the maximum class size for Kindergarten is supposed to be 25. However, my roster hovered around 28-30. Be prepared, if you teach in a lower-income area, that several of your students may drop from your roster without warning. This is caused by unstable living environments, where families may move from one relative's house to another throughout the school year. The size of my class varied from week-to-week. Now that I'm teaching in an independent school, my school's student-teacher ratio is 9:1. This is one reason many parents choose independent schools when they can. 


56% of teachers have a Master's Degree or higher


9 | 56% of teachers have a Master's Degree or higher
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

I am represented by this statistic, as well as most of the teachers I know. In my job search process, it seemed like the #1 thing administrators cared about you having was a certification. Even with a Master's Degree, it was virtually impossible for me to get hired until they knew I had taken all of my certification exams. BUT if it comes down to two certified teachers, having a higher education degree will likely put you ahead. A lot of teachers choose to attend grad school WHILE they are teaching. It's important to remember that teachers are lifelong learners who are always looking to improve and grow! 


43% of teachers sleep less than six hours a night

10 | 43% of teachers sleep 6 or fewer hours per night
Source: Ball State University

If you follow a lot of teacher accounts on Instagram, you'll see that there is a LOT of talk about being tired and a lot of love for coffee! Why don't teachers get enough sleep? According to a recent Gallup poll, the average American gets 6.8 hours of sleep... so none of us are doing a great job of sleeping. For teachers, there is work that comes home with you. Factor in commutes to work, and the responsibilities of home and kids, and it's easy to see how it can be hard to get enough sleep. In fact, only 48% of moms sleep 7+ hours per night (regardless of their career). We've just all got to learn to prioritize our health, regardless of our circumstances. 


the average public school teacher salary is $58,000


11 | The average public school teacher salary is $58,353
Source: National Education Association

In Tennessee, it's about $10,000 less than that. But you can make more depending on your test scores, seniority, and observation scores. According to Chron.com, the average for private school teachers is $36,250. The decision between public and private is one of time vs. money. Private schools aren't held to the intense state-testing standards that public schools are. As a private school teacher, you can usually leave work earlier, have more control over your content, and there is far less paperwork. Personally, the work-life balance and positive relationships with admin that private school provides are worth the pay difference for me.


83% of teachers teach for 10 years or longer


12 | 83% of teachers stay in the profession for 10 years or longer
Source: Washington Post

It's very rare that you run across an educator who hates his/her job. If this job is not for you, will find out in the first five years. Teaching is too demanding for someone who is not passionate about it. Most teachers are happy to spend their own money, work the long hours, sit through the PDs, and all the other things that come along with teaching. It's hard to explain because it sounds crazy! But when you love your job, you love all the hard things that come along with it. You embrace it, make light of it, and find teammates to encourage and be encouraged by. It's kind of like how college life is exhausting but fun at the same time. There is so much joy in teaching. Just make sure to keep a positive attitude! 


98% of Americans believe a good teacher can change a student's life

13 | 98% of Americans believe that a good teacher can change a student's life
Source: ING Survey

This is something that keeps a lot of teachers running. There is so much appreciation felt by Americans toward teachers. When I tell people what I do, the first thing most of them say is, "It takes a special person to be a teacher. I could never do that!" Guess what? They are right! It is a difficult job that requires a lot of patience, perseverance, and passion. If you are called to be a teacher, YOU ARE A SPECIAL PERSON. You are willing to care for other people's children like they are your own. You think about them on the weekends, over breaks, and even years later. You will maintain relationships with some students and their families for a lifetime. 


75% of job success depends on your optimism levels and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat


As you think about your future career as a teacher, know that it is one that requires a lot of heart. BUT most teachers couldn't imagine doing anything else. It is not a career driven by money or status, but it is a career driven by passion. Most educators feel that teaching is truly a calling, and that is why it's so hard to "turn it off" at home. Teaching is personal. Your kids are YOURS for a whole year, and you do whatever it takes to help them succeed :) 

No matter what grade you end up teaching, you find the perfect grade, school, teaching team that works for you. And once you do, you will know why people say that teaching is the greatest job on the planet! 

What advice do you have for education majors/first-year teachers? Or, if you are an education major/first-year teacher, what questions/concerns/worries do you have?!

Follow Organized Charm on Facebook and Instagram for classroom inspiration! 

Monday, November 5, 2018

5 Steps to Keep Your Closets Organized

Everything in my house is organized. Totally and completely organized. The bookcase in the office? Organized. The shelves in the laundry room? Organized. The kitchen cabinets? Yep, you can look there. They're organized (for now). 

But then there are *dun dun dun* the closets. 

Closets are a blessing and a curse at the same time. On one hand, they give us a place to store our stuff. On the other hand, they give us a place to store tons of stuff that we don't need and a place to hide it away so we never have to deal with it. 

My house is about a century old, and it only has four closets. One in each bedroom, and one in the laundry room. Out of those four, I only feel like one of them is functional. The other three? Traps for junk, like things I'm planning to donate or things that just don't have another home. 

Is this a problem for you, too? 



This post can show you how to organize your closets and keep them organized over time! Say hello to the CHARM system! 


The CHARM System:



C- Start with a Clear Goal
H- Adjust your Habits to align with your goal
A- Take Action
R- String your habits together into Routines
M- Have a Positive Mindset




Step #1: Envision a Clear Goal for Each Closet


On a piece of paper, write a heading for each closet in your house, even if you feel like it's already being used efficiently. Next, set a timer for a minute and write down how you envision each closet being used. If you need some help, just close your eyes and visualize your perfect life, where everything is clean and everyone is happy. You are totally efficient, look completely fabulous, and everyone in your life is happy. 

In that scenario, how do you envision yourself coming into your home? Where do you put your things? What do you see when you open each of those closets? Include any containers, shelving systems, etc. that you envision. Remember to include how often you see yourself cleaning out each closet in your perfect world :) 


Here are my goals for each closet:

Master Closet: Categorized by clothing type and category. Organized with a chronologically rotating system. Aligns with Stylebook App. 

Laundry Closet: Holds all cleaning supplies. Also holds unusual items- Halloween costumes, etc. in neat containers. Bin for items to be donated quarterly. 

Office Closet: Holds outdoorsy stuff, like the stroller, workout equipment. Everything is organized and in its place. Cleaned out every 6 months. 

My Son's Closet: Out of season clothes kept on the top rack. Shoes on the top rack. Blankets and toys stored on side shelves. Large toys at the bottom. 

(Want to create a minimalist wardrobe that reflects your personal style? This post will help you!)


Step #2: Form Good Habits


Now that you have that down on paper, think about what daily habits you would need to create to keep your goal a reality. I'm not talking about "Go to Home Depot and buy a shelving system." I'm talking about consistent things like putting your clothes away at the same time of day. Here are the habits I'll need to get into to keep my closets looking the way I want them.

Set your timer for one minute and write down how you see yourself "interacting" with each closet (it sounds crazy, but I promise it works!). 

Here are the habits I need to form to achieve the goal:

Master Closet: 
-Document everything in Stylebook every day. 
-When I come home each day, put clothes away immediately- behind other clothes in that category. 
-Every 3 months, re-evaluate items not worn. 

Laundry Closet:
-Put items to donate in "Donate" Bin as notice them. 
-Donate to Junior League every three months. 

Office Closet:
-Keep free of office clutter. This is not a home for old notebooks. 
-Identify the things you want to keep and create a new home for them. 

Cash's Closet: 
-Put big toys (activity table/balance bike) in here nightly. 
-Organize his smaller toys by type and in bins on shelves. 
-Switch out bins weekly. 


Step #3: Take Action


Now that you've identified your Clear Goal and Target Habits, it's time to take action. This is where you get to run to Home Depot and buy that shelving system! Think about what kinds of containers you want. Don't settle for the first containers you find either, look around and find EXACTLY what you want! The size, the color. What you want exists somewhere, and you won't feel happy with your closet if you use ill-fitting containers. 

Once you have everything you need, it's time to actually organize the closet! I am a big fan of this and I kind of look forward to doing it. Turn on all the lights in the room where you are working, get some water, play some music, and take every. single. thing. out of your closet. Everything.

Also Read: 5 Rules for Simplified Style: Get Your Closet Under Control!

We dread cleaning out closets because it's work. However, once we've taken everything out, putting things back into the closet becomes the work. You are far less likely to expend energy putting things you don't love back into the closet. You may even find that you only loved about 20% of the things in your closet, and you were just keeping the rest because you didn't want to go through the work of cleaning it out! 



So start with the things you love the most. If you were packing to leave town for a hurricane, and you knew there was a chance you might never see some of these things again, what would you choose to take with you? Think with that mentality. No excess. 

(Related: Creative Storage Solutions for Closets)

Once you've gotten those things hung back up in your closet, set a limit of some sort. It could be 20 hangers or everything you can fit in one bin. Be ruthless as you slowly decide which things to add back in. And once you've hit your limit, donate the excess that was hiding in your closet! This works for clothes, toys, books, blankets, whatever you're storing in your closets. 

Most closet organization posts would stop there. You've done the hard work. You've got a nice, clean closet. You're done, right? 

Well... organizing your closet and keeping your closet organized is kind of like losing weight and keeping it off. It's great if you do it all at once and it looks great afterward. But if you don't change your daily routines, it won't last. This is where Step # 4 comes in...


Step #4 comes in: Develop Consistent Routines


Look back at your habits. This is the time that you need to use a little discipline and set those habit into motion. One of my habits was to hang up my clothes as soon as I get home. When I get home from work, it's so easy to leave clothes on the floor for "just a few minutes" while I get water, or pick up my son. But when I do that, I'm not respecting the goal that I set for myself. 

If you tell yourself that you're going to do something, do it. If you let yourself slack off a little here and there, eventually, you'll find yourself right back where you started, being stressed about all the excess junk lurking in your closets. Focus on creating one habit for a month, then another one. Eventually, you'll be able to string your habits together into routines. The routines will keep you from having to have a "closet cleaning" day every year. 

It may seem silly to consciously think about closets, and create habits and routines for them. BUT every little thing we do throughout the day is made up of habits and routines. When we don't put a lot of thought into them, we fall into bad habits or unproductive routines. However, if you DO put thought and purpose into them, you are one step closer to living the dream life that you envisioned! 

Related: Closet Cleanout Checklist


Step #5: Keep a Positive Mindset


Get into the mindset that you are an organized person, your closets are organized, and you don't bring in clutter. One of the biggest ways we sabotage ourselves is by saying "I'm the most disorganized person ever," or "my house is always a mess." DON'T SAY THAT! When you get down on yourself and your messy house, guess how your house will stay? Messy! Find a relevant quote or two that you really like and think it to yourself when you're looking through your closets. 


Here are a few of my favorites:

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." -William Morris


"The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past." -Marie Kondo


"Life is too complicated not to be orderly." -Martha Stewart


Take the time to put everything back where it's supposed to go. Do it for your future self. Think about how much easier it will be to get ready for work in the morning if you don't have to dig through a dresser drawer for something that wasn't hung up correctly! According to Gresham's Law of Planning, every minute spent planning saves you about 10 minutes in the future. 



So, even though it may be difficult for me to let my son cry for a minute while I hang up my clothes correctly, that helps me have a more efficient morning (which will lead to me having about 10 minutes to play with him before work)! 

Keep things like this in mind throughout your day! It may be a tiny decision now, but it will help you have a smooth getting ready time in the morning. And isn't that totally worth it?! 

What systems have you tried to keep your closets clean and organized? How did they work? Share your experiences below! 


PS- This post was requested by a reader! You can request your own post here! :) 
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