Organized Charm: June 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

How to Make a Daily Prioritized Study List

It’s almost time to start preparing for the fall semester! Who’s excited?!

Today, I am going to try to explain something that is super helpful to me. I’m not sure how effectively it will translate into a blog post but I sure am going to try! Let me know if y’all still find it difficult and I may end up making it into my first video ever! (eek) 

I recently received a request from one of my most charming readers asking how I utilize the Semester Spreadsheet. Which I have decided is an absolutely brilliant question. Immediately, I realized that I left out the step between How to Create a Semester Spreadsheet and Organized Study Time

And that step is this: How do you decide what to study and when?

Here is what works for me:

Create your Semester Assignment Spreadsheet. This is a single piece of paper that contains all of your assignments for all of your classes in chronological order. Kind of like a checklist for the entire semester. It keeps you on track with your next due date. Your next assignment. And it does it all without forcing you to check multiple syllabi on a daily basis. Once you have created this oh-so-helpful step, you will be ready for step 2! (or you could skip this altogether… toootally up to you). 

This is something that you’re (hopefully) already doing! Go through your planner and write down all of your due dates for all of your classes (I told you it was something you were already doing)! The only thing that’s special about this is to use the same color for all of your due dates (I use pink because it grabs my attention the most easily). I write my due dates into my monthly view in pink, then I move on to the daily view of my planner…

So, I’m just going to use this Content Exam as an example. I would go to the date that the Content Exam is due and write it in pink. Then I would go to the 1-2 days before it’s due and write it in purple. Then I would go to 3, 4, and 5 and write it in blue. Then I would go to 6, 7, 8, and 9 days before and write it in green. Once I see an assignment written in green, I usually know it’s time to start on it (think “green light”). The 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 days before something is due, I write it in orange. When I see something written in orange, it just reminds me that it’s in my queueon deck, or upcoming

Use different colors to prioritize upcoming assignments. This is the color-coding system that I use. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may recognize these colors because I also use them to organize my personal planner. That’s the main reason that I usually like to keep a separate calendar/planner somewhere for my schoolwork. Those little dated notepads from Target’s Dollar Spot are pretty ideal. Because, even though the big, important dates are in my personal planner, I don’t want to clutter it up with mundane things like “read chapter 3”. 

Is that too OCD-ish sounding? 
Let me draw you a little picture (literally)! 

Let’s just say that the picture below depicts the “life cycle” of an assignment on my calendar. It first shows up in my planner two weeks in advance, as a low-priority task (orange). If I get started on it then, I have a head start. If not, it’s still in my subconscious… beginning to create that nagging “I need to do this” feeling. By the time it “turns green”, work on the project definitely needs to be underway.

 Most (not all) assignments can be thoroughly completed in a week or two!

 Any Normal Person: “You seriously write each assignment into your school planner 15 times?” 

Me: "Yes. Yes, I do." 

Any Normal person:But why on earth would you waste your time doing that?!

Me: "Because I know it’s the beginning of the semester and there isn’t much else to do. I also know that there will soon be a time (mid-semester) when there will be everything to do. All at once. And on those days, it is so incredibly helpful to sit down, open my school planner, and know exactly where I should start!" 

Eventually, every day of your schoolwork planner should look something like the picture above. You will have every day’s study time planned out and will be ready to get started. You will open the planner and know exactly which assignments take top priority, what takes second priority, and what is in your “queue” for the next couple of weeks. There are no surprises this way. And you’ll totally forgive me for making you write it all out at the beginning of the semester (hopefully)! 

Now, don’t think that I haven’t noticed that this is completely obsessive and insane. Oh, I have noticed. But it is so incredibly helpful to me that I couldn’t imagine starting a new semester without it! :)

How do you keep up with what you need to study and when? 
Do you keep a separate planner for school assignments or just put everything into one? 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dorm Room Organization

{ So, let me first start out by saying I’M SORRY for how little I’ve been posting since the summer started. As a person who thrives on busy-ness and structure, I have just had the most difficult time ever making myself write regularly when I’m off all day, every day. To most, that would sound like a dream come true, but I know that some of you fellow OCD-y people know exactly what I’m talking about! So, thank you for your patience and just bear with me until I can get a full calendar (or several) again! :) }

Okay. A few weeks ago (I’m lying… it was a few months ago. shhh) a reader asked me to do a post on dorm solution ideas. “Great idea!”, I thought. Then summer happened. So, finally, here it is! AND I feel like the timing is a little perfect because: a. It’s better to get a head start on things like this, and b. The stores are in “summer mode” right now, so it’s a good time to be buying storage supplies for less!

One more thing: I do have to divulge that I’ve never actually lived in a dorm (aside from a week-long softball camp at Auburn), BUT I did live in a studio apartment in college, which is pretty similar! Okay, here we go!

Dorm Storage Solutions:

1: Make sure that you have the right layout.

If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have noticed that I pin a lot of Feng Shui things. Now, before you skip right over this because you don’t believe in “energy flow”, hear me out! So many Feng Shui rules are backed up by psychology, and there is a ton of information out there that discusses how important environmental factors are to learning (which is why most high schools have that medium blue color in the hallways). 

This Greatist Post by Jordan Shakeshaft explains how to arrange a dorm room perfectly! 

2: Banish all clutter.

As with any organization project, clutter is the #1 enemy. This is the rule I use: 
If it doesn’t have a home, find it a home; if you can’t find it a home, get rid of it. 
Tiny spaces are the ones that are the MOST important to keep clutter-free! You know that feeling you get when you walk into an old person’s home and it’s just full of every little figurine or paper they’ve ever received? That’s the feeling that others will get when they walk into your dorm that’s overflowing with textbooks, picture frames, makeup, and clothes that can’t fit into the closet. 

I like to try to get rid of 15 things every week! I promise, it’s easier than it sounds!

3: Find (or make!) a home for everything

The most important part of a "storage solution" is, of course, the storage! In our new loft, I don’t have an office like I did in my house, so I’ve had to hide my office supplies in plain sight (more on that coming soon!). First, make a list of everything you’ll need to store: textbooks, computer, chargers, notebooks, files, etc. Then, look for (or create) pretty storage solutions for each thing! 

I don’t mind displaying things that are uniformed, such as clothespins, paperclips, binder clips, matching pens, etc. However, find a “hidden" home for things that are mismatched, sloppy-looking, or just plain unsightly (used textbooks, for example. EW!). The Container Store, Etsy, Office Max, and Target are just filled with canvas bins, covered storage containers, and cute document boxes. OR, you could take to Pinterest and find ways to create your own pretty storage solutions out of paint cans, plastic cups, shoeboxes, etc!

4: Multi-Purpose items are lifesavers 

Functionality is essential in small spaces! The more purposes that a piece serves, the more valuable it is! Target’s furniture aisle is always filled with $40-ish ottomans that can be used as a table, extra seating for friends, and a place to discreetly store books, extra blankets, or even shoes! Always be on the lookout for things that can pull double duty such as bedside tables with lots of drawers, decorative vases that could store writing utensils, or jewelry organizer/mirror combos!

5: Clean Constantly 

When I was in undergrad, I made the mistake of having a “cleaning day” once a week… which would have been a great idea, if every week looked the same! However, things always came up for me to do on my cleaning day. Then I would get all stressed out over how messy everything was! Now that I’m older (and oh-so-much-wiser), I just do a little bit every day! There are literally hundreds of cleaning systems out there! I use this one from Apartment Therapy! But FlyLady and Modern Parents Messy Kids have some nice ones as well! And, of course, I have a Pinterest board just full of printable to-do lists to help you stay on track! 

It’s never too early to start organizing for the fall! :) 

When it comes to storage solutions for small spaces, the options are limitless! Feel free to add any advice, information, or links to your favorite dorm organization solutions below! 

Do you want to know about storing anything specifically?! 
(I would love to have something to research with all this free time! haha)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

15 Pieces of Fatherly Advice… from My Dad

Father’s Day is sometimes an emotional day. While Mother’s Day is a day that most people have no problem celebrating, fathers can be a little more challenging. I know so many people who either lost their dads at a young age, had uninvolved fathers, or just had a really bad relationship with them. 

I know that I am so, so blessed to have had such a great dad. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we have certainly had some arguments. We can both be a little bossy/ OCD/ particular (which is why we need the “Kikis" of the world to balance us out) but there is honestly no one else that I would rather call my dad!

I have learned a TON of things from him over the years, but if I had to make a list (and I do), I would say that these are the 15 biggest lessons that have helped me in life! 

1: Adapt, overcome, and improvise. 

My dad’s dad was a Marine, which is what inspired this saying. And this is what I heard constantly throughout my childhood. It is SO important (especially for people like me) to understand that everything isn’t going to work out as planned. In those situations, you can freak out… or you can adapt your plan, overcome the problem, and improvise your actions! This is one of the most important things he’s taught me! 

2: All pain goes away.

Whenever I would get hurt as a little child, my dad would just say “it goes a-way” (in the voice that he uses when talking to small children and animals) over and over again. And you know what? Whether it was a skinned knee or a burned hand, the pain did always go away. In my adult life, the pain has consisted of things like hurt feelings or regret. But the same advice rings true… eventually, it goes a-way

3: Don’t take a step in life unless you’ve prayed about it first. 

This is one that I’m definitely learning more and more everyday. You can plan and plan. You can be the best planner in the world. But if your plans don’t line up with God’s plans, you can basically kiss them goodbye. Pray about it BEFORE you jump into something. 

4: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

My husband disagrees with me that this is really “advice” so let me explain: What my dad means by this is to build relationships. The more people you know, the more opportunities you’ll have in life. 7 out of the 10 jobs I’ve had were because I knew someone who already worked for the company. Never shy away from social engagements because they might be “awkward”; just show up, be awesome, and make new friends! 

5: It’s ok to question authority. 

This doesn’t mean that you have to have a bad attitude or be super rebellious. However, it is always a good idea to know why certain laws, procedures, rules exist. Not only does this help you to learn something better but it also forces whoever is in charge to re-examine the way the they do things. Never be afraid to ask for the reasoning/validity of any rule! 

6: Know your roots.

This one is pretty important and is something that I wish we all did a little better. How far back can you trace your family? Maybe to your grandma’s mother? My dad has done an excellent job of tracing our family's history… including where everyone was born, what they did, and where they’re buried. The better you know your family’s past, the better your will understand your family’s present. 

7: Make friends wherever you go.

Half of "it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is, of course, "who you know". My dad is the friendliest, most approachable person in the world. He knows everybody. He’ll talk to anyone at any party, he stops to chat with homeless people on the street, he can literally tell you everyone who graduated in his high school class. Plus, this world needs more friendly people! 

8: Respect history. 

Kind of along the same lines as knowing your family's history, learn a little more about the history of everything in your life. Your school, community, region. What makes your hometown unique? Everyone loves to hear a cool story and history is just full of them! 

9: Spend a lot of time doing what you love.

Even if you don’t get paid for it. In fact, there is a good chance that you won’t get paid for it. The thing that my dad loved was coaching. He worked all day, came home, changed, and headed straight back out to coach me or my brother on whatever team we were playing for. He still has his Coach of the Year plaques up on his office wall! 

10: Stay close to your family.

And not necessarily in a geographical-proximity-way, but in a communicative way. Your family members are the ones who will be with you through your whole, entire life. Make sure that you take care of your relationships with them!

11: Stay organized. 

Well, it’s certainly true that if it wasn’t for my dad, there would be no Organized Charm. From the day I was born, I’ve been watching him make lists, charts, and organize his cassette tapes. He has a system for literally everything. He is a chronic calendar user. All of which he passed along to me! 

12: Stories are better when you were there.

Another great thing I learned from my dad was to be present more often than not. Yes, studying is important but it’s not all that there is. Your friends and the memories that you make with them are more important than your GPA! After all, they aren’t going to put your college transcript up at your funeral. Make sure you’re a part of your friends’ stories, not just the one who hears about them! 

13: Take pride in everything you have.

My dad is one of the proudest people I know. And not in an arrogant or annoying way, but in a way that’s really admirable. He is so proud of his family, his home, all of his pets, the blueberries that he grew. Everything. Always take pride in what you do and have… others will notice! 

14: The customer is always right. 

Especially if you’re the customer. I cannot tell you how many times my dad has gotten those crazy fees taken off of our phone bills or gotten us refunds on “no refund” policies. If you go high enough up the chain of command of any company, you will accomplish what you need to. On the other side, remember to always treat your customers like old friends. After a career in sales, my dad still keeps in contact with several of his old clients! 

15: Travel. 

This is one thing that I got from both of my parents. Travel. Travel, travel, travel. You will never regret the time or money that went into gaining a new life experience! 


Those are some of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned from my daddy! What are some important things that you’ve learned from your dad/grandfather/mom/uncle/brother? 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Crash Course on Exercise and Studying

We all know the health benefits of daily exercise. BUT did you know that its also beneficial to your grades?! Yep. It’s true. At least, according to a bunch of articles I’ve been reading lately. 

But do you know what? Whenever I’m feeling caught up in a big project, the first thing I cut out of my day is exercise! Usually because of the time commitment (you know, we have to get ready, go to the place where we’re exercising, actually exercise, go home, shower, and change}. That’s a lot of time away from whatever project needed our attention in the first place. But apparently, when we’re working on something really big, that’s when we need to workout the most! 

In a video I posted a few weeks ago, Marty Lobdell said that a girl he dated in college decided to study from 6PM-Midnight. Every night (I know, right?). Yet she actually failed a bunch of her classes! Why? Because her brain zoned out about 30 minutes (which means she was practically wasting 5 1/2 hours of her time)! Don’t let that happen to you! Put on your tennis shoes and step away from the computer. 

If you need a little more motivation to get moving, here are the whos, whats, wheres, whys, and hows of exercise’s positive impact on studying! 


ABC News, Deseret NewsHuffington PostNHS ChoicesNY TimesPoints Sports, US News, and WebMD have all recently published articles linking different cognitive functions with exercise! Follow any of the links in this post to see what they have to say about it! 


Any kind of cardio is awesome for boosting your brainpower (including the creativity you need for that big project)! Think biking, dancing, running, swimming, walking… or even yoga!


If possible, get your daily exercise in outdoors! Not only has being outdoors been linked to increased brain power, it is also good for mental health (aka less stress), physical health, and even social interaction! Combining the outdoors with exercise and it’s basically a recipe for success!


20 minutes a day seems to be the most agreed-upon amount of time (some people claim its 30, while others say 15). Can you step away from those flashcards for 20 minutes? Of course you can! But where in the day? Preferably in the morning or before your class/study session. Also, between 5-6 PM is a pique time for cardio because our "lungs are using oxygen more efficiently", according to Matthew Edlund, M.D


When we exercise, we take in more oxygen and our blood moves more quickly, which changes its chemistry in our bodies. This changed chemistry actually allows more nutrients to be available to our brains (which is why eating healthy is super important, too!). Having more oxygen and nutrients available to our brains boosts our ability to juggle mental tasks, enhances attention span, and improves memory! And those are some pretty necessary capabilities for writing papers, reading textbooks, and taking exams!


I’m certainly not the best worker-outer in the world. But I really have noticed an improvement since I started doing a little bit everyday. Of course, I had to create a crazy OCD-friendly system to go with it...

I run on dates that are multiples of 3 (3rd, 6th, 9th, etc.)
I do yoga on dates that are multiples of 4 (4th, 8th, 12th, etc.)
And I choose a quick little workout from my Pinterest Workouts. board on all of the other dates.

Of course, I’m sure most (normal) people don’t need a color-coded agenda for their workout routines  :) 

Do you make time for exercise every day? Have you noticed a link between your physical activity and your ability to accomplish tasks? What kind of workout system do you have? 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May Vignettes

Some months are happy and some months are sad. And then there are those months where the happiness and sadness are lined up right next to one another. And I guess those months are just called “life”. May was a big life month for me. It was full of beautiful “goodbyes" and wonderful “hellos”.

Here is what May looked like… 

{and as always, click the picture to follow the link!}

…on Organized Charm

So, with the end of the school year and the finals and the job searching and the moving, May was definitely not my most post-filled month. HOWEVER, I did manage to answer a few requested posts that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while (sorry, y’all!). 

Oh, and did I mention that OC reached 100 likes on Facebook?!
THANK Y’ALL SOOOO MUCH for all of your support! 

…in my “real life”

We said goodbye to my sweet grandmother (who lived to be 90!)

We said goodbye to the house where we have lived for our entire married life. 

And I said goodbye to the parents, school, and students that I have worked with for the past 3 years.

We moved into our new loft just in time for Memphis in May’s annual BBQ Fest (which is held one block away from our new home). 

We couldn’t be more in love with our new neighborhood! We are so happy to live somewhere where practically everything is within walking distance. 

Plus, we have had an awesome time decorating (and organizing!) our new space. Additionally, I have practically become an expert on indoor gardening! (and by that, I mean I have 3 indoor plants that haven’t died... yet)

…other places online

My absolute favorite thing that I’ve seen online this past month is this amazingly fun career personality test from Good.Co Blog. It is a personality test that determines your strengths, perfect job, etc. 

It takes less than 3 minutes and the whole time you’re just thinking these are the most random questions… this is so silly. Until, you get your results. 

And then you’re like, tell me more, oh wise personality test! 

So, you should definitely take it! Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself you didn’t know before! 

Cheers to a bright and cheery June! :) 

What were some of the highlights of your May?!

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