Forming Good Habits is Easier Than You Think. Start with These 3!

“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, Gretchen Rubin talks about habit formation. In this quote specifically, she discusses how it is easier to form good habits by doing 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.

To form the good habit of keeping your purse/backpack clean, designate a day week to clean it out. 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.

2. Clothes

A few weeks ago, I wrote about developing a system for keeping your closets organized long-term. It can be hard to form good habits when it comes to our closets! 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 🙂

3. Clear to Neutral

Form the good habit of Clear to Neutral and your life will be SO MUCH MORE ORGANIZED!! 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.

productivity tip, good habits, Gretchen Rubin, Gretchen Rubin quotes, productivity

Forming good habits can be hard and it takes time. People used to think it took 21-28 days to form a new habit, but recent research is showing it’s closer to 66!

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 🙂

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! And if you’re interested in reading Better Than Before, check it out below!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

How to Create a Flexible Color-Coded Planning System

I’m wondering how you handle changes within your color-coded system.  For example, if the professor pushed an assignment back or classes were canceled due to inclement weather. 
-Tiffany
 
Great question! I get so annoyed when dates change, but then I remember “oh yeah, this is why I have a planner in the first place”. 
 
If the thought of writing every assignment/appointment/engagement in boring pencil in your planner gives you the heebie-jeebies, don’t worry! There are other (prettier) options!
 
 
 
Welcome to the wonderful world of flexible planning!
 
So, “flexible planning” has kind of become my thing over the past few years. I LOVE planning ahead. LOVE. IT. I love color-coding and timelines. I love being prepared and not having things sneak up on me. But… life, y’all. 
 
Life is full of surprises and things are always changing. Events get postponed. New things pop up.
And since our planners are a reflection of our lives, shouldn’t they be able to mirror those changes?
Of course, they should!
So, what’s my #1 secret weapon for creating a flexible planning system?
Post-Its.
 
Post-It’s have come a long way since Michele first invented them. Check out the amount of space in your planner’s monthly and weekly boxes. Then take a stroll down the office supply aisle of any store (or Amazon) to find some colorful sticky notes that will fit! 
 
These are the Post-It Tabs I use for the outside of my Teacher Planner. They’re 3″ (75mm).
 
My favorites are the Post-It Tabs.
They were originally intended to keep on the edge of pages of books, but I have found that they’re the perfect way to keep my color-coded planning system neat and flexible (no more crossing things out)! I just flip them sideways and write on the colored and clear parts. 
Here are the different sizes I use in my Planner: 
 
 
I have found that these are the perfect size for the columns in the Plum Paper Planner! I have the ME Weekly Layout, and this kind of Post-It fills an entire section within a day. If you want multiple Post-It’s, try these:
 
These are a good alternative to the Tabs because they give you more room to write above/below or have multiple flags in a particular section of your planner.
In school, I might suggest using the Tabs for bigger assignments, and the flags for smaller assignments… but just find the system that works best for you!
 
 
 
Here is what I like best about these two types of Post-Its:
-They are durable, so they’re easy to write on
-You can remove/replace them over and over again, and they still stick
-They’re easy to write on
(I use a Black Tombow ABT N15, but Sharpie pens work well, too!)
Here are examples of how I use them:
 
In my teacher planner, I use Post-It Tabs for lesson ideas. Then I can easily move them if plans change.
(Side Note: First rule of teaching? Plans always change.)
In my personal planner, I use Sharpie Highlighters set-in-stone events and Post-It Tabs for things that can be flexible.
 
 
 
 
Other Options:
Another option that I’m not quite as crazy about (but is more cost effective) is the Post-It Page Markers. The colors are pretty and you get way more for your money… but they aren’t as durable and won’t re-stick as easily. If you move it more than once, you’ll probably have to rewrite it. So, I guess it’s good that you get more in a pack!
 
 
Using Post-Its has worked so well for me, that I haven’t really tried another system. Although, I have heard really great things about the Pilot Frixon Erasable Pens. If you’ve tried those, please chime in and let us know what you thought! 
(UPDATE: I have tried these and they are beyond incredible! They actually do erase really cleanly and the colors are fun. The only downside is that they dry out a little faster than other pens. But it may be worth it for the convenience!)
 


If you’ve tried another system for flexible planning and color coding, please share it below! 
 
We’d love to know some other options! 🙂 
 

Tips for Balancing Grad School and Real Life

“I’m Managing a full-time job, full-time grad school, and a social life…help!”

Sound familiar? 
Grad school is a pretty tough time in life because you typically have more responsibility than you did in undergrad. 
Maybe you’re paying your own tuition for the first time. Or your own rent. Or you now have a mortgage (or a marriage) or a baby. 
Maybe all of the above! And don’t forget about that full-time job you worked so hard to get straight out of college.
 
Going back to school with the responsibility of adult life can be super challenging! Whatever the reason, the blend of college life and adult life can be a struggle for all of us.

Here are some ways that I learned to deal with it:

Manage your time:

First of all, you are the manager of your time. Your boss probably won’t care about you being behind in schoolwork, and your professor probably won’t care that you’re overloaded at work. It’s up to you to find the balance of your responsibilities. Set limits and stick to them!
 

Read: 5 Time Management Tips for College

Start by prioritizing your time between the two… Yes, they may both be important, but which one is more important to your long term plan? Most likely, you’re in grad school to help further your career. If that’s the case, school is your top priority. 
Don’t be afraid to let your employer know which days you need to leave early for class. But also, don’t try to do schoolwork during work hours! Have the mindset that work time is for work and school time is for school. Don’t forget to leave time for working out and socializing! 
A good planner can really help in this area! Here are a few of my favorites!

Use effective studying skills:

Since you have a limited amount of time to study, you want to make sure your studying techniques are as effective as they can possibly be! Write down what you will work on ahead of time. This way, when you sit down to work, you can start working right away!
The Study Tips page of this website is full of my favorite study techniques I’ve collected over the years! Here is my overall study routine: Have a prioritized and detailed list before you ever sit down. 
-Set a timer for a certain amount of time. 
-Say NO to any and every distraction that comes your way during that time. 
-When your timer goes off, write down a detailed list of the next steps you need to take on this assignment. 
-That will be your prioritized and detailed list for the beginning of your next study session! 
Continue this cycle religiously, even using the same time and location! Consistency is key to creating new routines!

Find a great home organization system:

The final piece to balancing full-time work/school and normal life is to find a quick and efficient home organization system. I like FlyLady’s system because she just says to do a little bit every day. 
She has a free app that works as a recurring checklist you can use on your phone! Plus, you can edit it to fit whatever daily chores/routines you need in your own life (“feed the dog”, “file papers”, etc.). 
 
Also, this simple technique is my Holy Grail of home (and life) organization!
The key to balancing several different areas of life is to make sure you’re maximizing your productivity and not procrastinating
 

Read 8 Anti-Procrastination Strategies

By having these three things consistently in place, you’ll have more time to spend with friends and family (or secretly binging your favorite series on Netflix)! 🙂 

What tips do you have for balancing full-time work and school? Share them below! 

Follow Organized Charm on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more productivity tips!

Dot Journaling Planning System + a GIVEAWAY!

bullet journal


I’m a sucker for a book on organizing. Or planning. Or both. 


Have you ever tried to make a bullet journal? (Or, if you’re like me, you’ve just filled up an entire Pinterest board with bujo inspiration instead). 

I’m always attracted to the ongoing list/journaling of bullet journals and that everything is personalalized. Everything is YOURS. YOU make lists and layouts that YOU care about. 

But I have to admit, I’ve started a bullet journal a few times, and I’ve never been able to stick with it for more than a week or two. 

I recently read Dot Journaling, A Practical Guide: How to Start a Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together by Rachel Wilkerson Miller. 

This is kind of a step-by-step how-to for starting your now dot journal. 

Call me crazy, but having a sort-of instructional manual made the process a whole lot easier! 

Here were some of my favorite systems! 


The Basics of Dot Journaling
First of all, a Dot Journal has the same planning layouts as a traditional planner (that is, if you want it to!). Yearly spread, monthly, etc. But what I was really fascinated by, and wanted to know more about, were all the symbols! 

Of course, you can always make your own, but here is how Rachel suggests using them…

. to do
x done
> migrated
< scheduled
^ started
/ cancelled
– note

She also recommends using a blank square box for events and coloring them in with different colors, depending on what the event is. For example: 

Blue Square = work event
Green Square = school event
Pink Square = personal/home event

Most importantly, make it whatever YOU want it to look like! Otherwise, it will be harder to stick with it. 


Using Your Dot Journal as a Diary
This is something I like about the Passion Planner. It not only allows you to look forward and plan, but to look back and reflect. The chapter about diaries was very interesting because guess what diaries used to look like? LISTS! 

Until about 100 years ago when we started writing paragraph after paragraph of our daily dramas in them. I kind of love this way of thinking about diaries, because it forces you to think of/write a highlight or outstanding moment from each day. And when these lists are put together, they’ll still tell the beautiful story of your life! 


Making Your Dot Journal Your Own
You know how sometimes you get a planner, and you like the layout but you don’t love the color scheme? Or you think the colors are beautiful, but you wish there was more room to write on the weekends? (WHY do they always make Saturday and Sunday so small?!?!). 

Dot Journaling means you’ll never have to deal with that. Because YOU are using the exact layouts, colors, etc. that work for you. This is where you have the perfect to follow a million Instagram accounts with beautiful bujo (or dojo?) inspiration! 


Making a dot journal is an excuse to buy a new cute notebook and pens in every beautiful color you want a sure way to keep your to-do list relevant to your life.

But for real, get those beautiful pens and that notebook, too! 🙂 

Ok, are you ready for a giveaway?! Enter below to win a copy of Rachel’s book and get on your way to making your very own beautiful dot journal! Good luck!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Do you keep a bullet journal or dot journal? If so, what tips and tricks do you have for starting one and sticking with it?! 

Follow Organized Charm’s Planner Ideas board for bujo/dojo inspiration!