Organized Charm

Saturday, October 21, 2017

How I Keep My Email Inbox at 0

Today, I thought I would share my email system with you!

Let me start by saying… I am not the biggest fan of emails in general. If my inbox is not always at zero, I feel a tiny bit of stress. 

(I guess that’s better than letting it get to 2,000 and not caring, right?)

When I tell people this, they a) look at me like I’m nuts and b) ask me how I do it. 

So this is how I do it:

1. I Use Gmail

Or “Google Mail”, for those who may be technologically un-savvy (*ahem* my husband). This is one of my favorite apps out there! I keep it front and center on my phone where I can make sure there are no little red bubbles waiting for me! 

2. I Use the Gmail App

I love the app because I get notifications of new emails in real time. I used to use the 5S rule for answering emails (5 sentences or less) and it worked really well! However, at this new job, the emails that we all write are a little longer (and more polite), which is totally fine, too! I just block out a little time to sit down at a real computer if I need to write multiple paragraphs! 

3. I Keep Gmail Accounts Separate

I have been using gmail for my personal account for years. This past year, my school switched over all of our school emails to gmail (haaal-le-lu-jah) and it has made life SO much easier! All I have to do to flip between the two accounts is click on them in the top right corner- no signing in or out! :) 

4. I Keep Email Alerts On

I like my emails to be as “in my face” as possible when I look at my phone. I have them set to do the whole “pop up” thing with a snippet of the content. This way, I am forced to deal with it right away. 

(Related: Is Your Planner System Working Best for YOU?)

5. I Star Emails That Require Action

When I get an email that I can’t deal with right away, I star it. If it’s to me personally, I might write the person back and let them know I’ll work on it and when it will be ready. Then it drives me crazy until I can finally complete whatever task was needed. I use these as a working to-do list throughout the day/week and I can’t wait to get rid of them!

(Related: How to Prep Your Planner for Finals NOW!)

6. I Unsubscribe ALL the Time

It seems like overtime you order anything online these days, they somehow use that to wrangle you onto their email list. Every month, I make a point to unsubscribe from a certain number of email subscriptions. Save your favorites, of course! 

(Related: Monthly Decluttering Checklist)

7. I Archive Everything

I learned this when I used to work for attorneys. NEVER DELETE AN EMAIL. After you’ve dealt with it, archive it. Then you can always go back and search for it again in the archive search feature. Exception to this rule: advertisements (unsubscribe then delete)!

8. Inbox 0 is Always My Goal

Goals are everything. I am always working toward reaching Inbox 0 throughout the day. I've found that, if I have this expectation for myself, it's much easier to achieve it! If that's too stressful, start out with Inbox 10 or Inbox 5 and try to slowly make your goal lower and lower!

(Related: 5 Anti-Procrastination Tips to Improve Your Week!)

Also, if you don’t use gmail at your work or school, you can always use the POP feature (under gmail settings) to forward emails from your other email address to your gmail account. I’ve done that before, too, and it’s way easier than checking three different accounts every day! 

I’m sure there are some real rules out there for keeping up with emails, but these are just the things that have worked best for me! :) 

What tips/tricks do you have for staying on top of your emails? Share them below!! 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

How I Color Code My Notes

A few of you have requested a post about how I color code my notes! So I’m happy to share that today! 

One thing I will remind you of is please don’t try to do this IN class! You will get frustrated and you WILL mess up! 

Take sloppy notes in class and rewrite them into pretty, colorful notes later! 

Those pretty, colorful notes are the ones you will use to study before a test or reference while writing a paper! :) 

Ok, so here is the system I use. I’ve been using this same color-coding system since my  sophomore year of college and it has worked perfectly for me! In fact, I still use it today in my classroom to color code our subjects and schedule! But that’s a post for a different day :) 

Pink | Headers/Major Points
Because I’m drawn more to the colors at the end of the rainbow (Pink! Purple! Blue!), I do all my color-coding treating pink like it’s the top dog color (which it is, as far as I’m concerned). I actually remember the day I came up with this system. 

I made a mark on my paper with every color pen I had, then I checked to see which one grabbed my attention the most quickly. Pink was the winner (pink is always the winner, amiright?), so that’s why I use pink for headers! Use whatever catches your attention!

Purple | Sub Headers/Keywords
Any major information that you need to go under the header will go here. It can be the first thing your professor mentions about that particular topic, it can be keywords you make up to trigger your memory, or it can be a quick and broad sentence explaining the header. 

Basically, it’s just a little more explanation to assist you in making sense of the header. 

4 Tips for Taking Better Class Notes

Blue | Bullet Points
Pretty straight-forward. I always prefer bullet points to sentences. Even when I’m typing up information to give to my parents at school, I very rarely type information in paragraphs. Is it because I don’t think they’re smart? Nope! It's because I've researched how people read. 

And research shows that "a few tiny dots attract the eye and can make a complex concept understandable." In fact, only 57% of people read the content in paragraphs. Bottom Line: Don't write paragraphs in your notes... You'll probably never go back to read them!

Speaking of reading paragraphs, are you reading your textbooks correctly?

Green | Vocabulary 
Depending on your major, you may have some crazy-ridiculous vocabulary terms. I like to write my new vocabulary words in green and all the way to the left side of the paper (in the margin) to make them easier to find! 

Be sure to write a definition that makes sense to YOU, not just the definition from your textbook (because, if it’s a new concept, that can sound just as confusing as the word itself)! Make any sort of connection you can! Do you need help with that? 

Check out this post on putting notes in your own words! 

Orange | Examples
Finally, the examples. Good teachers and professors come up with memorable examples. In fact, I’ve had some professors who have told such funny stories that I started laughing when I saw the vocabulary word on the test! 

Examples of your topic in real life will make all the difference, so do whatever it takes to find good ones and remember them! I also like to draw little pictures to break up the text of my notes :) Want to know more about that? Check out this guide to taking visual notes!

Hopefully, that makes my color-coding system a little easier to understand! If you're interested in seeing a more in-depth explanation, check out my Note Formatting Resource, where I break it down even more! 

Now that you've got these beautiful notes, let's organize them so they're easier to study! :)

How do you color code your notes? Have you used the same system for a long time? Or are you just starting a new system? Share your process below!

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

How I Organize My Google Drive

Google Drive is probably one of my favorite modern-day inventions (aside from air-conditioning and hair straighteners). 

I first started using it when I worked in public school and my team shared a lot of files with one another. Since then, I have become one of those people who uses it for e v e r y t h I n g. And I love it! 

One of the challenging things about using a system like Google Docs or Photos is that they can be difficult to keep cleaned out and decluttered. Especially if you like to use them to backup/store everything. 

Since the point of using these systems is to find things easily, I like to keep them super organized and purge them regularly. They both were also really helpful when my poor hard drive bit the dust a few weeks ago. 

*moment of silence*

If you’ve been reading Organized Charm for a while, you’ll recognize that how I organize my Google Drive is similar to how I organize the files in my computer

That’s because it’s exactly the same system :) 

Color Coding

Either this is a new feature, or I’m just not very observant. Because I only recently discovered that I could color code my folders (YAY!). I LOVE this feature because it allows me to extend the way my computer files are organized

Folders & Subfolders

Since I clean them out regularly, some folders only have a couple of items in them, while others have multiple subfolders. Then I really just keep breaking things down by subcategories.

Active vs. Inactive

When they’re active (I’m using them), they’re a color. When they’re inactive (I finished the project but want to keep it for some reason), I remove the color and keep it gray. This makes it really easy for me to find what I’m looking for even faster! 

Rule of 10

I use the “Rule of 10” for my folders (don’t google that, I just made it up). I try not to ever have more than 10 loose documents in a folder. Why 10? Because that’s how many you can see before you have to scroll down. I just keep sorting them into subfolders to keep things neat. 

Purge Regularly

I only make a conscious effort to clean out my folders and sub folders maybe twice a year (like summer and winter breaks when I have extra time on my hands). I move unused/unneeded/duplicate documents to the trash and merge all the existing files I can. 

That’s how I keep my Google Drive organized!

I know that some of you probably have super efficient systems! If you do, I’d love to hear about them! Share them in the comments below :)

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