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.

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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!

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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!! 


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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