How to Create Your Perfect Vision Board

One of my favorite pieces in our whole house is a bulletin board/chalkboard from Pottery Barn (PB Outlet, to be exact). We saw it on clearance and thought, “hey, we’ll use it for something.”
Flash forward five years, and I have used it for everything. It has been such a great investment for our home and life. It has helped us with school assignments, scheduling, decorating, and just looking cool.
And if you don’t want the one from Pottery Barn, you can always find similar pieces on Amazon, IKEA, and Target’s websites!

Here’s how I’m currently using it:

The first week of Summer Break, I took the time to really sit down and evaluate my goals. We’ve met some big ones in the past couple of years (buying a new house, getting a new job, having a baby), which is super exciting! 

But reaching big goals can also make you feel like, OK. Now what?!
So, I made a really elaborate mind map that started in my Passion Planner and eventually took up NINE blank pieces of paper (I mean, it’s Summer Break).

Then I collected happy little pictures from my life:

– I printed pictures from my life that make me happy (friends, travelling, celebration).
– Lilly 5×5’s from Instagram to add some cheerful colors (with all the money I’ve spent on Lilly, I didn’t think they’d mind).
– Quotes I made on the Little Moments App by FatMumSlim (probably my favorite photo editing app ever).

– I also added notes and cards from people I care about. These are uplifting to read and a great way to start or end the day!
– I finished it off with clipping happy little phrases out of catalogs/magazines.

Each picture represents a specific goal: 

On the back of each one, I took a Sharpie and wrote the small goal that it represented. That way, when everyone else looks at my board, all they see are pretty images… but I secretly know that each one stands for a certain goal that I’m working towards!
As the year has gone on, I’ve added images and notes to the board. I don’t take anything off, I just tack, staple, or tape the new images right on top (I usually just try to cover up the darkest colors). Once I reach a goal, I add a photo of it, such as a photo of a travel destination, or my baby boy!
While the bulletin board is the “inspirational” part, the chalkboard part actual “productive” part! Over the years, I’ve used it for inspirational quotes, to do lists, Post-It calendars, weekly planning, etc. Here’s what it currently looks like (sorry, it’s a little smudged)!

The best office supplies to make it fit your needs!

-I love, love LOVE the Expo Neon chalk markers. They’re usually like $17, but I found a really great deal on them at Office Max last year. So I bought 4 packs, and I still haven’t used them all!
-I’ve also used them to write right on the front of our stainless steel fridge and to make a faux stained glass window in our guest bathroom.
-Sticky Notes are great for making your chalkboard into a calendar, too! I like the $1.99 pack from Target for this!
-I’ve also used Washi Tape to make a Priority Quadrant… which was really helpful in grad school!

No matter what stage of life I’ve been in, having a vision/inspiration board has made it feel less chaotic… hopefully, it will work for motherhood, too! J

Do you use a board like this to keep you on track? How do you use it? What are your favorite supplies?! Share them below! 

Study Strategy: Just Get Started


Sometimes, when you have a big paper or project due, it can be difficult to know where to even begin. 

In grad school, we often had pages that were 30+ pages. At the beginning, I remember thinking, “This is insane. How can I even find a starting place?”

So, when you’re faced with a project that’s huge and ominous, what can you do? 

My best answer is to just do something. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. It can be as simple as formatting the Word document or scribbling down a quick outline of your ideas. 

In fact, this first thing you do doesn’t even have to make it to the final product! The point is to just get started

Here are some reasons it’s important to get started:




By simply starting a task, you are more likely to complete it. 


I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate being interrupted when I’m trying to complete a task. Have you ever noticed that unfinished tasks kind of stick with you? It’s because of the Ziegarnik effect

You see, once you start a project (even a small one) your mind creates this nagging need to finish it. When things pull you away from your task, you just experience this great need in your mind to go back and accomplish it. 

So, by simply starting on your huge project, you’ll become invested in it and actually start to care about finishing it! 



Do a little bit each day, as early in the day as you can. 


Look at that overwhelming paper or project and break it down into sections. For example, I would break down a basic paper into Intro, Point 1, Point 2, Point 3, Conclusion. Then just focus on one section of the paper at a time. No need to overwhelm yourself for no reason!

Then, schedule in some time to just get started on one of the sections. Since I usually write my intro and conclusion last, I would focus on Point 1 first. Work on this for 20-30 minutes a day until it’s finished. Then move onto the next section. 

Try to schedule these 20-30 minute work times as early in the day as you can. There are less distractions in the morning. Also, the longer the day goes on, the more likely other people are going to give you stuff to do. Then you’ll really be feeling the Ziegarnik effect!




Objects in motion stay in motion. 


I don’t know a lot about physics, but this rule is pretty easy to understand. Just like objects that stay in motion, we also tend to keep going once we’ve started. It’s why we have terms like “on a roll”, “in the zone”, “hit my stride”, etc. Once we start, it’s easy to keep going. 

Something that is so cool about teaching is seeing how children (even 5-year-olds) can get “in the zone” and become super focused on what they’re doing. The other day, one of my Kindergarteners was at my teacher table and I planned to work with him for 10 minutes. 

Once he got started, he kept wanting to just keep going. He ended up working on math for 30 minutes straight because, once he got in motion, he stayed in motion. As long as you break your project down into manageable chunks, once you start, you’ll stay in motion, too! 


(If you want to read more about the Physics of Productivity, check out this post by James Clear)



Start your task in 2 minutes or less. 


“But that’s impossible!”, you might think. 


No. It’s not. You can do it! Think about the thing you’re dreading the most right now. What is one step you could take that could be done in 2 minutes? Could you open a Word document and create your cover sheet? Or type in your header? Bam. One step accomplished! 

Maybe you could just do a quick Google search of your topic and read about it for 2 minutes. I bet once you start, you would find something interesting that would make you want to keep going! If it’s math homework, just do the first problem! 

Once you start that task and feel that momentum, you’ll feel motivated to keep going! Keep working until you lose your momentum. Take a short break, then come back and do more! The nagging feeling of your unfinished product will keep pulling you back in once you start!



Focus on 1 thing at a time. 


Don’t try to do several parts of the project at once. Create a list and work through it. After you’ve completed the first section, move on to the next section and give it your undivided attention. 

If you have a lot of other things going on (like other classes, work, etc.) remember to focus on each on of them in their own time. Men tend to be better at “compartmentalizing” than women are. However, with practice, you can train your brain to stop trying to multi-task! 

I make a really big effort to only focus on one thing at a time. I would rather give 100% of my attention to one thing at a time, then set it aside and give 100% to something else. This is why I don’t answer personal texts at work and I don’t bring work projects home (anymore)! 

You don’t have to be able to complete it all at one time! You don’t even have to be able to complete one part of it at one time! You just need to break it down and start where you can! Perfectionism can hold you back, too. Remind yourself that “Done is better than perfect!”


What productivity tips do you have for tackling big projects? Have you tried any of these techniques? If so, how did they work for you? Share your experiences below! 


Follow Organized Charm on Tumblr for study and productivity inspiration! 

6-Minute Miracle Morning Routine


I’ve been working on a new morning routine lately. 

I recently went to a Junior League training event on the “6-Minute Miracle Morning”. 

This was based on the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, who has a really, really inspiring story! 

The event was super helpful as far as just knowing WHAT to do in the mornings to set yourself up for success! And while brushing your teeth and getting dressed will certainly set you up for success, the 6-minute morning really focused on preparing your mind for the day ahead. 

Hal used the acronym Life “SAVERS” to help us remember the categories. 

Here is what they stand for:

Silence (meditation)- 5-10 minutes of silent meditation each morning. There are plenty of meditation apps out there, if you need help getting through it. However, thanks to the fact that we’ve pretty much all been to yoga at some point in our lives, this shouldn’t seem to crazy. Simply focus on breathing in and out for 5-10 minutes and deflect any distractions!

Affirmations– 10 minutes of repeating affirmations to yourself. The example that the presenter gave was Muhammad Ali. He is almost as famous for his affirmations as he is for his boxing. He told himself that he was the greatest every day… and he became the greatest!

Visualization– 10 minutes of visualizing yourself achieving your goals. I actually just used this to visualize myself having a productive and organized day… but it can also be used for long term goals, too! 

Exercise– 10-20 minutes of exercise. Tone It Up has a morning “Booty Call” on their website and app. These are quick morning workouts that really do boost your energy throughout the entire day!

Reading– 10 minutes of reading. Probably not a Gone Girl-esque novel, but something a little more uplifting, like a book on positivity or a daily devotional. 

Scribing (journaling)- 10 minutes of writing. 

In order to turn this into a 6-minute morning routine, simply shorten the time of each activity to 1 minute! 

I started this routine this morning and, since it was my first day, I spent 5 minutes each instead of 1 or 10. I wanted to make sure I felt like I accomplished a lot, but also got through everything in time to still look decent for work 🙂

Do you have a morning routine? Or have you ever tried the Morning Miracle? If so, tell me about it in the comment section! 

How to Create Long Term Goals

If you’ve been reading this blog for a few months, you know that when my life slows down, my writing slows down, too. Summer break and winter break are the hardest times for me to write… because I’m not busy enough, if that makes any sense. Around the beginning of the new year, I decided to dedicate the first 6 weeks of 2015 focusing on my career (aka finding a new teaching job in a new city). And I planned on writing about cover letters and resumes and what to wear to interviews, etc. I did a ton of research. I pinned a bunch of articles (you can find them all here).

I read them all. I took notes. And then I realized “there’s no need for me to say any of this. I’d just be repeating everything that’s already been said in these articles”. So, I didn’t write a post about the perfect interview or resume or whatever. HOWEVER, I did spend quite a lot of time doing something that wasn’t in ANY of these posts! So, that’s what I’m going to write about today:

TAKE SOME TIME TO THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU WANT YOUR CAREER TO GO.

I recently started this new “track” on Happify called Find Your Calling and the very first exercise in it was one where you write about your perfect daily routine. NOT your perfect job. But your perfect routine. Like, what do you see your days looking like in the future? The craziest thing about this activity was that it was SO easy! Even though you may not be completely sure about what you WANT to do… you probably have a pretty good idea of what you want your days to look like. Doing this activity motivated me to keep going on my quest of finding my perfect career!

1. Spend 20 minutes writing your 20-year goals

This past weekend, I set a timer for 20 minutes and wrote down what I want my career to look like 20 years from now. I just typed it into a Word documents. I wrote it quickly and messy. I didn’t care about grammar or punctuation or even if I sounded like a normal person. So, if you’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed about the future, just take 20 minutes and write down anything and everything that you can. Once I finished writing what I wanted to be doing 20 years from now, I reset the timer for 10 minutes and wrote about what I want to be doing in 10 years. Go big here, btw!

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” -Oprah Winfrey



2. Cut that time in half and do it again… and again… and again…

Because I am slightly more obsessive than most people, I continued this at every halfway mark (including 15 months and 7 1/2 months). You could just go with something traditional like “1 year” and “6 months”. Another thing I did that was helpful was to begin every new time period by writing “In ___ years, it will be the year ___ and I will be ___ years old”. Another thing I did that was super helpful was to find someone I admired who was already that age. Sometimes age seems pretty vague and it’s difficult to know what to expect, so seeing it in someone else’s life makes it easier.

3. Read through and pull out your concrete goals

Once I had all of my things written in a Word document, I went back and pulled out the phrases and keywords that I could actually turn into goals. For example, “involve parents in classroom activities through class website, newsletter, and volunteer opportunities”. Those are all pretty concrete things that I can really make happen in my classroom. Or “certified professional organizer”, well… that’s pretty clear. I pulled out the things that were super specific like that and actually wrote them down on a piece of paper. I continued to do this at every checkpoint until I eventually got down to “today”.

4. Do 4 things today that will move you towards your goals

At the “today” space, I just made a square space big enough for a Post-It. Each day, I write down 4 tasks that will help me reach the goals. NOT big tasks at all, either! Sending 1 e-mail to someone or printing off 1 document counts. Literally, 4 small and doable tasks every day. It doesn’t feel or sounds like much which is why below it I wrote this quote:

“Great things are done by a series of small things coming together.” -Vincent Van Gogh

The future is a scary and magnificent thing! It’s easy to let it come and go and dream about the things that we could have done OR we can decide today to attack it head on and spend each day purposefully making it the best we can! Which brings me to another quote I love:

“Put on lipstick and attack!” -Coco Chanel 

How to Actually Accomplish Your 2015 Goals

HAPPY 2015, everyone! I am so super excited about this year. I don’t know what it is but for some reason, I just love odd-numbered years (weeeirdo). So, of course, I pretty much live for the beginning of January. It’s the time of year when everyone gets really into setting new goals and organizing everything! The stores are absolutely FILLED with organizational bins and containers (and I break out into my Happy Feet dance whenever I reach the “seasonal” section of Target)!


This is also the time when EVERYONE is interested in setting goals and doing things better in the new year! Last January, I wrote a 31-day series (yes, I actually finished that one) about goal setting. I found a ton of great resources (they’re listed at the bottom of each post). Today I’m just going to do an abridged, skimming-over version of that series. using some of America’s most common resolutions.

According to us.gov, these are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions that we make year after year:

Common Resolution: Lose Weight
Turn it into something like this: I will lose 10 pounds by December 2014 by working out 30 minutes each day and doubling the amount of vegetables that I eat each day. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Tone It Up)



Common Resolution: Volunteer
Turn it into something like this: I will volunteer 72 hours by December by spending 6 hours a month working in the kitchen at the Mission

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Volunteer Match)



Common Resolution: Better Education/Grades
Turn it into something like this: I will submit my grad school application by January 15 by working on it for 4 hours next weekend. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out this list of resources for college students… aaand while you’re at it, you can just head over to the Organized Studying page!)



Common Resolution: Get a Better Job
Turn it into something like this: I will have a job (doing whatever you want to do) by August 1 by submitting a new resume packet to a different company every 2 weeks. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: The Daily Muse)



Common Resolution: Save Money/Manage Debt
Turn it into something like this: I will save $1800 by December by putting $150 into my savings account every month. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Mint)



Common Resolution: Manage Stress
Turn it into something like this: I will become more relaxed and mindful by December by writing down 10 things I’m thankful for every morning, taking a 30-minute walk outside every day after work, and staying off screens (phone, iPad, computer, TV) between 10PM-6AM. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Happify and Zen Habits)



Common Resolution: Take a Trip
Turn it into something like this: I will take a trip to the Dominican Republic in May by putting $500 into a “vacation fund” every month. 

(by the way, if this IS your goal, check out this list of helpful travel-planning sites)



Common Resolution: Reduce Clutter/Get Organized
Turn it into something like this: I will reduce the amount of items in each closet by 30% by December by going through 1 closet each Saturday and removing 1 of every 3 items every month. 

(by the way, if this IS your goal, check out: Project Organize Your Entire Life and Unclutterer)



See how goals just sound more achievable when we make them super specific? Like, it’s no longer this broad ambiguous thing that you hope happens to you this year. Instead, it’s something that you’re taking control of and working for! When resolutions are super vague, they might as well be wishes. Accomplishing new goals takes a lot of planning (YAY!), discipline, sacrifice, effort, and doing a lot of things that look really boring when they’re written on a daily to-do list (read chapter 5, for example).

Just keep your big goal in mind while you’re working through those tedious to-do lists. And be prepared to work hard and to sacrifice things that would be fun right now and probably to be broke (if you’re saving up for a vacation or paying grad school tuition). So, here is my last little bit of advice before you begin your fresh, new year! Choose to focus on 1 goal at a time and reeeally work to make it a habit before throwing another goal into the mix.

Once you’re working out daily, or you’re in the habit of cooking a healthy dinner every night, then you can start on the resume sending-out, you know? Don’t try to start all of your goals at once or you’ll just set yourself up for the F word (which is “Failure“, obviously).

So, good luck and remember that it’s 2015 and everything is awesome! 🙂

What are your goals for 2015? Did you accomplish the ones that you set for yourself last year? Also, can you think of any resources that I should add for the topics above? I know there have got to be a ton of great apps/websites that I don’t know about! 

How to Get More Done Everyday

There are a lot of things to like about the month of December. Christmas, for example. And Christmas music. And Christmas lights… and stockings and… SANTA! But if I had to choose one December thing that I could do without, it would be the cold weather!

Cold weather and I do not get along. And neither do I and these ridiculously short days… I need sunlight! And warm weather! And to be able to walk outside without putting on every piece of clothing I own. *sigh*

Ever since the November weather took a turn for the freezing (literally, I’ve already seen ice), my productivity has taken a turn for the nonexistent. Well, that just isn’t going to work for me. I need a plan to get my life together, no matter what excuses I may make for myself (and believe me, I am never at a loss for a good excuse)! 

The Plan:

1. Write down everything that happens in your normal daily routine.

WHY: From the time you wake up, you have different little routines throughout the day. A morning routine, an after work routine, a dinner routine. And just because they are “routines” does not mean that they are GOOD ones! For example, I used to have a really *horrible* after work routine of putting my stuff down to “put away later” and spending about an hour on Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest. Once I wrote it down and realized how much time I was WASTING, I was able to clean that up real quick!

HOW: I don’t know anyone who feels like they “have enough time”… you know what I mean? Like, everyone feels overwhelmed by the amount of things to do in the amount of time they “have”. However, actually writing down your daily routines can really help you find out just why it is that you never have enough time. In this really amazing article by Personal Organizing Expert, Elizabeth Larkin, she discusses how she discovered imbalances in her own time management and the steps she took to fix them!

2. Highlight the unnecessary/useless activities. 


WHY: So, in the above example, my unnecessary activities were obviously all of the time I was spending on social media. And I love social media. But it is the ultimate time waster! Because I feel the need to schedule everything in my life, I created a sort of social media schedule for myself where I don’t get on it between certain hours. This has really been super helpful for breaking my bad routine! Set some rules for yourself to break your own bad habits. After all, no one knows you better than you do!

HOW: You know that saying that hindsight is 20/20 (or 50/50 in Cam Newton’s case)? Well, when you look back at how you spent your day, that hindsight really kicks in. “WHAT? How could I have possibly spent 30 minutes staring blankly into my closet before deciding to wear?” And don’t even get me started on Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/Tumblr./Twitter… holy cow! Mark up that paper where you wrote your daily routine as if you’re grading the worst paper ever written. Be harsh on yourself. This is how you’re gonna get some of your time back!

(here’s an awesome post on 15 sneaky time-wasters we all deal with!)

3. Create a list of things you would have liked to get done or would like to add. 

WHY: Oh, you’re not done with that hindsight yet! Now make a little list of things that you wish you had gotten done! By the way, this is a big part of procrastination, too! Yep, we put off things that would be pretty simple to complete just because we don’t want to. A perfect example from my life is calling the dentist. Y’all. I recently put off scheduling a dentist appoint for 2 months. I mean, I just put off making the call to schedule the appointment. Do you have something like that that just gets moved from list to list? Tell yourself tomorrow is the day you call the dentist (or whatever).

HOW: So, once you are aware of where your time is being wasted, go ahead and make a little list of PRODUCTIVE things that you would like to use that newly found time for! You could probably get 3 days’ worth of to-do’s done in 1 day, if you really tried! Think about your long-term to-do’s. Do you need to e-mail your advisor about something? Send a resume out somewhere? Sign up for yoga classes again? Or get your oil changed? …or call the dentist? Look at that list of tedious, totally procrastination-worthy tasks and get ready to kick its butt!

(you know I love tips on how to make a great to-do list and this post from LifeHacker is perrrrfect!)

4. Tomorrow, try to replace one useless activity with one useful one. 

WHY: Baby steps. I am a big, big fan of baby steps, aren’t you? Like, maybe if I just skip the 3 minutes that I would spend taking one of those ridiculous Facebook quizzes that I love so much (according to said Facebook quiz results: the city I “belong” in is San Francisco… the state I “belong” in is Virginia… the country I “belong” in is Italy, by the way. However, that geography has been a little hindering, so I’m still here in Memphis). Anyway, taking baby steps like replacing one activity with another is simple and it will help us slowly build better habits for the future!

HOW: Beginning tomorrow, just replace one of those ineffective activities with something useful and productive! This way it’s not completely impossible feeling… it’s just one little thing! Most people perform cognitive tasks best between the hours of 9 and 11 AM. That’s the optimal time for “working”, so tell yourself this: Absolutely NO social media (or whatever your vice is) between those hours. Use them solely for producing the thing that you are supposed to produce! Not even a little tweet. That newsfeed will be there after you complete your to-do list! <– my daily mantra.

(Tiny Buddah has a great post on taking baby steps to achieve your goals, here!)

5. Keep sneaking the productive activities in (one a day) until they become habits!

WHY: This is effective because it allows you to build your confidence in your productivity and keep setting goals to get better. We all fall into bad habits… even the most organized, productive person you can think of is at risk for a bad habit or two. So, we just have to keep working hard to get better and better each day!

HOW: As you move through the days, try to keep replacing that useless time with something productive! Not only will you accomplish more each day, but you’ll feel less rushed while doing it! It’s a total win-win! What if you just look at the weather and pick out an outfit the night before? Would that save some valuable time in the morning? Or even planning out meals so that you aren’t spending 30 minutes binge eating on everything in sight the moment you get home from work? (totally not an example from my real life at all…)



Hopefully, this will {at least} get us moving in the right direction for some MORE PRODUCTIVE HOLIDAYS!!! YAY! 🙂

What are some tips for productivity that you have? Or something that you would like to start doing? And how do you deal with the loss of our dear Daylight Savings Time? 

7 Tips for a Productive Finals Week

If there is one things I’ve noticed “trending” on all of my social media news feeds, it’s stress. Or a lack of productivity. Or procrastination. Or sleep deprivation. Or despair. If only I could combine all of those into one word… Oh, wait; I can: Finals.

Let me tell you how so many of my Finals weeks went during undergrad: I would set out all of my schoolwork and then procrastinate well into the night. Maybe I was sitting at my desk, but I was scrolling through Facebook or articles or I would suddenly decide that I needed to rearrange my office supply drawer. THEN around 11 PM, I would realize that I actually had no choice but to do my work. By then, my energy and focus were long gone and I was feeling resentful towards my work.

I would stay up way too late until I finally fell asleep surrounded by my books/notes/etc. I would wake up around 2AM with all of my lights on, read another paragraph or go over vocal words again and then fall back to sleep. THEN I would wake up around 6 and complete the entire paper/study for the test on the morning that it was due. What?! Who does that?! Oh, and then there was the crying. You can’t forget the crying during finals week. It’s an important part.

Finals in both semesters are challenging, but there is just something about the end of the fall semester that adds this extra layer of anxiety. Christmas, maybe? Or the cold weather? Or the shorter days? Or even, all of the football games. So, I thought this would be the perfect time to set out some helpful productivity tips! And most of all, just remember that you’re almost there!

1: Plan Each Day on the Night Before
I can tell you right now that I can tell a HUGE difference between days where I wake up with a plan and days when I try to make my plan in the morning. Like, it’s the difference between me getting 1 thing done and getting 39 things done. Really.

I love this whole article from Underground Success but my favorite tip is “set out your super 6 the night before”. So, tonight, look at your crazy finals week schedule and choose your 6 biggest things that need to be accomplished tomorrow! Write tomorrow’s to-do list tonight!

2: Set Aside Sleeping Hours (and Stick to Them!)
So, as time has gone on (and I’ve gotten older… shhh.) I have learned that there really is something to be said for good sleeping patterns. This is going to make me sound like the oldest person in America but I literally go to sleep every single night at 10pm. I know, right? 

We also wake up at our house at 5:30 every morning (and by “wake up”, I mean lay in bed and listen to the alarm). One can’t happen without the other. So, I told you that to tell you this: Set aside a specific time to go to sleep and follow that every night but especially during finals week! You need sleep! Your brain will be more focused, your memory will be better, and you will feel less stressed if you get enough sleep! As tempting as it is to skip sleeping during this time of year, don’t do it !

3: Hit the Ground Running
When you wake up, start working right away! Make the bed and have breakfast! Take a (quick) shower and get dressed! Then start on that to-do list that you made last night! Start working before you even have time to get distracted by anything or before you can even think about how much you don’t want to do!

Set a deadline for yourself and work like crazy to meet it! I always, always choose to work high-priority (things that are either due the soonest or worth the most points) to low priority. Life will happen, so keep in mind that you may not make it to that 6th thing!

4: Always Know What Your Next Step Is
I recently read this article on productivity and it said to make sure you finish every conversation (e-mail, text) by knowing what the next step is. For example, if you’re trying to make plans with someone, rather than just saying “let’s get together” say “let’s get together on Saturday”. Things are more likely to actually HAPPEN that way!

Well, I loved that advice so much, that I’ve started thinking of everything like that! So, when you shut down your computer after spending time working on a huge paper, stick a Post-It on it with where you need to begin next time!

For example, “3 more citations, 2 more examples, 2 more concluding paragraphs”.

That sounds more manageable and less vague than “finish paper,” right?

5: Block Out Social Media
I know I literally talk about this all fit time, but I just always, always read all these articles about how social media has a negative impact on productivity! I mean, really… you don’t even need me to say that because we all experience it every day! For finals week, try these tips:

—> Hide your social media apps on the second screen on your phone
—> Set aside a 20-mintute time limit for social media
—> Turn off your alerts/push notifications

Just use these tips until you’ve turned that final assignment… But who knows, you may feel so much less-stressed that you keep them that way!

6: Remember your “Big Picture”
So, it may be totally true that making a passing good grade on your Landforms final seems completely pointless when you’re studying English. Believe me, as a Legal Studies major I was always like, when am I ever going to need to know about the layers of dirt? And I was right. No one in my adult life has ever asked me about where the Humus layer is.

BUT think of it as a tiny little stair step that is leading you to your dream career! We must be required to take some of these silly classes for some reason. Just think of all of the people who have done this before you! And listen, if I can do well in pass classes like Finite Mathematics and Political Statistics, then you can, too!

7: Keep a “Distraction Notebook
Oh, hi. I just gave you a justification for heading down the notebook aisle at Target (at least, that’s how I would read that). But it’s really completely true! Nearly every time that I have some huge project due for someone else, I all of a sudden have a brilliant idea for something that I want to do! Um… that’s how this blog was even created in the first place (I was avoiding do an Educational Research project).

And guess what? You don’t want to forget those ideas because they may turn out to be amazing! Grab a cute little notebook and every time that you feel distracted by some big, great idea, write it down! When Finals are over, you can open it up and use your break to work on those amazing and creative projects you came up with!

If all else fails, just spend your 20 minutes of social media time scrolling through #finalsweek on Twitter.

I promise, it will make you laugh 🙂

What are you doing to get ready for Finals week? Are you super stressed or do you feel like you’ve got it under control? Any tips that we could all use to get more done?! 

Finals Cheat Sheet + Printable Study Checklist

24 short days until Christmas! The music, the decorations, the social events with friends and family, and all of those cheesy Hallmark christmas movies are just waiting for you…

…right on the other side of Finals (dun dun dunnnnnn).

And because I know you’re stressing (because it is literally the most stressful part of the semester), I’m compiling some of my favorite study tips into this one post! (complete with a free little checklist to hang up in your study space to remind you)! READY?!

Planner: SO IMPORTANT! Have a plan before you sit down to study! Otherwise, you’ll just spend a bunch of time trying to figure out what you already have done, what you need to do, and where you need to start! Keeping a planner that is up -to-date cuts down on prep time and boosts actual study time!

Study Materials: Where are your notes? Your textbook? Did you leave something in your car? Do you need to print some PowerPoints from your class website? GATHER everything BEFORE you sit down to study! Nothing is more frustrating than being ready to work and then realizing you don’t have everything you need to be able to work!

Clean Environment: Sometimes, if I’m having a hard time focusing, I look at my environment. Do I have papers scattered all over the place? Are there random things that are out of place that are subconsciously distracting me? Take a minute to organize things and get your study environment as clean and organized as possible!

Productive Time of the Day: What time of day do you work best? Research shows that 9am-12pm is typically the best time for completing cognitive tasks (which is why most businesses and schools are open during this time), but YOU know YOU better than anyone. Are all of your roommates out between 1 and 2 every day? Then maybe that’s your most optimal time!

Minimal Distractions: You love Instagram. I love Instagram. We all love Insta. And Twitter. And Pinterest. But they are a constantly alluring distraction from the task at hand (studying, duh). And guess what? That just makes you want to check your phone even more. Resist the urge! In fact, eliminate it altogether by putting your phone on silent and sticking it in a drawer or in a different room.

And no, sending Snapchats of yourself pretending to be asleep (or crying) while surrounded by your notes does not count as studying! Sorry.

Comfortable Clothes: If there were ever a perfect time for Victoria’s Secret’s entire PINK collection existing, it’s Finals week! This is literally (and by literally, I mean figuratively… obviously) your free pass to live in yoga pants and over-sized t-shirts for the next two weeks! TAKE ADVANTAGE!

Writing Utensils: This is so beyond obvious that I feel silly even mentioning it. BUT really think about what kind of writing utensils you need for studying! Highlighters for highlighting in your text book? Pencils for doing math? Colored pens for editing your paper? Put some thought into what would benefit you the most for studying each subject!

Paper: Same as above. Post-It’s that you can jot notes on and stick in your textbook? Notebook paper for outlining a paper? Index cards for memorizing definitions? Graph paper for practicing statistics problems? (by the way, if you are currently in Statistics, know that my prayers are with you)

Calming Music: A long time ago, we used to have to buy those relaxing CD’s from Target (you know, the one’s where you could select a preview to every single one first?). But these days, we are super blessed with things like iHeart Radio, iTunes Radio, and Pandora. Go to “Add New Station” and then select “Browse Genre Stations”… there are countless choices! And if you need some choices, check out this post!

Timer: I work faster with a time-limit! And I’m guessing you do, too. This really, REALLY helps to cut down on distractions because you know that, if you only have an hour, you better not waste any of that time by Facebook stalking.

There will be plenty of time for that when the timer goes off.

Start: If you’re a new reader to this blog, you should watch the video in this post. It’s less than 5 minutes and the information is INVALUABLE for productivity! One of the most important things that I learned from it is to JUST START! Once you’ve started a project, your brain gets this nagging feeling to go back and finish it!

And if you’re having a hard time starting, maybe check out this post to find out why!

Focus: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: One thing at a time. One day at a time. This is the motto that my super laid-back (no really, like Matthew McConaughey level of laid backness) husband tells me to repeat when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Some other of his favorites: do less and just get it done.

Track Your Progress: WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU DO! This allows you to (1) be proud of yourself and (2) keep up with where you need to begin next time!

Relax: Last spring, I posted a video from Dr. Marty Lobdell on studying. One of the first things he says is to work for less than one hour! In fact, most of our attention spans run out around 30 minutes. So even though pulling an “all nighter” may feel productive, it’s actually having the opposite effect! Your mind (and your body) need sleep, too! Study in smaller, super-intense bursts of time instead!


Update To-Do List: If you want, you can print out the free printable progress tracker in this post to keep you up-to-date with your progress on different assignments. OR, you can just use a regular old piece of paper to keep up with how far along you made it during your “bursts” of study time. When it’s time for you to stop working because your timer went off (or because you came a little too close to throwing your laptop across the room), write down the very next 3 things that you need to do for this project! This will allow you to get straight back to work as productively as possible the next time you work on this project!

Clear Computer Desktop to Neutral: Clear to Neutral is a beautiful concept. You can read all about it here, but the basic idea is this… Leave everything exactly the way you want to find it next time! Instead of leaving 14 windows open on your computer when you go do sleep, name every file! Close every browser window! And straighten up all those loose documents into neat and organized files. You can leave your most frequently used documents and folders on your desktop but that’s all!

Clear Actual Desktop to Neutral: So, no one looks at a super messy desk and says “ooh, I could get so much work done there!”. They just don’t. Keep your environment organized. Put papers away… even if it’s just into a drawer for now. Your study space should be a place where you actually enjoy being!

Reward: Um, hello? You just checked a few things off of your to-do list? GOOD JOB! It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to get it all done right now. There will always be more to do (believe me, always). Every time you work on schoolwork, you’re more prepared than you were before. So, celebrate that! Give yourself permission to mentally check out while mindlessly scrolling through Tumblr. or watching a silly YouTube video or having cookies or champagne (or all of the above).

Yes, Finals are coming. But you are ready! 🙂

Here is a printable version of the checklist (if it works)!

How are you preparing for finals? Are you feeling overwhelmed or do you feel like you’ve got it together? Can you think of anything to add to this checklist? If so, add it below! 

Holiday Planning Timeline

Y’all. It’s here. The holiday season! I am SO, SO excited! I am one of those really strict people who chooses to ignore the Christmas decorations/music/lights in Target or on the homes of my neighbors until I see Santa rolling down the streets of NYC at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade… like, he’s giving the green light to move forward with Christmas… and yesterday around noon, I saw what I had been waiting for!

And even though, I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with the Christmas season, I am ALSO one of those people who is always so caught up in whatever I’m doing at the beginning of December (aka panicking over finals), that the holiday season totally catches me off guard every. single. year. You would think I would be more prepared because, you know, it literally happens annually on the same day. But I always end up being one of those people out searching frantically for something on December 23rd.

You, too? Oh, of course not. You probably have your life together like a normal person. But just in case you don’t… and we’re in this crazy love/hate relationship with the Christmas season together, here is a little holiday timeline that can keep us on track this year (maybe)!

November 28-30: Decorate for Christmas

Get your decorations out of storage (or the holiday aisle at Target) and decide where you want everything to go! Last year, we literally had no good place to put our tree. For whatever reason, whoever designed our living room felt the need to put something on every single wall so we had no choice to put the tree in a high-traffic area. This year, however, we have the perfect corner in our living area and I am SO happy about that! It’s just easier to decorate anything if you go in with a plan!

December 1-4: Finalize Gift Ideas

So, because you are SUCH a good daughter/friend/girlfriend/mom/wife, you’ve probably been thinking about what to get for all of the sweet people in your life while pinning a few thousand gift hints for them, right? Take the first few days in December to go over your Christmas gift budget and to finalize all of those gift ideas! Some people make it really easy by asking for super specific things (like my husband), while other people (mostly girls) are just happy with anything pretty and/or thoughtful!

December 5-7: Order Gifts Online

Every year, I vow to only do my Christmas shopping online. And every year, I end up fighting a Christmas-crazed crowd at the mall because I waited too long to order online gifts. However, this is the year for me to accomplish my 100% online shopping goal! I just know it! I feel like 20 days out is sufficient time to order something and not be sweating two days before Christmas, hoping that it arrives on time! Plus, if we do enough planning ahead of time, we can probably catch some awesome deals, too!

Most places ship pretty quickly around the holidays. They know that you’re busy. And they know that they’re busy. And they know that everyone wants what they ordered as soon as possible! Plus, sometimes that 3-day shipping is just worth the extra few dollars! Also, if you have a significant other who loves to snoop live in a place that’s difficult to deliver packages to (like an apartment or a dorm), consider having your deliveries sent to a friend/parent’s address and just pick them up when you’ll have time to wrap them!

(And if you already have all of your Christmas shopping finished… I can’t hear about it. I just can’t.)

December 8-11: Pick Up Remaining Gifts

If you have to physically pick something up from a store, use these days to do it! They are weekdays but school isn’t out yet (here, anyway), so the holiday-retail-chaos should be at a minimum. Also, pick up all of those little stocking-stuffers now, too! One less thing to do closer to Christmas! 

December 12-14: Wrap Gifts

I don’t know how the gift-wrapping process will work for us this year. At our old house, my husband and I would lock ourselves into our spare bedroom armed with a wide variety of wrapping paper and Pandora Christmas stations when it was time to wrap each other’s gifts. This year… living in a loft with no walls (and no doors) will be a little more of a challenge. If you’ll have to secure a secret location ahead of time (like I may have to), then go ahead and set that up now! Or maybe a gift-wrapping party would be a fun excuse to drink wine get together with girlfriends and finally try out some of those cute gift wrapping ideas you’ve been seeing on Pinterest all year long! 

December 15-18: Prep for Holiday Parties

Because this is the week of the weekend before Christmas, it is prime-holiday-party-time! So, be prepared! Even if you aren’t planning on doing anything, put together a couple of perfect holiday party outfits and stock up on a hostess gift or two… just in case! Best Case Scenario: You won’t show up to any party empty handed. Worst Case Scenario: You end up with a new outfit and some extra cookies/ flowers/ wine the week before Christmas. Hmm… whatever to do with that? 


December 19-21: Be Ready to Party

Hello! This is the weekend before Christmas! You will have friends in town! Or YOU will be the friend that’s in town! You don’t want to spend that time trying to finish your last minute errands or wrapping presents. You’ll want to have all of your “work” done so that you can celebrate stress-free!

December 22-25: Savor the Season

If you’ve read more than 2 posts on this blog, I’m sure you’ve seen me mention Happify. One of their 5 components to happiness (and that’s according to science) is savoring the random, regular, imperfect moments throughout your days! So even if you didn’t get every perfect gift for every person, or things didn’t turn out quite like Pinterest said they would, or you didn’t have time to complete everything on your to-do list… IT’S OKAY. 
Things are things and one day they’ll probably end up in a yard sale anyway. Beatifully wrapped presents are nice to look at but all that paper will eventually end up in a trash can (or in my family’s case, in the fireplace as I stand a safe distance away, cell phone in hand, ready to call 911). No one will judge you 10 years from now if you showed up to their party without a hostess gift (or if you drank all the wine you brought as your hostess gift. Guilty.). But they will remember how you acted, what you did, and most importantly: How you made them feel! 
Holidays are about spending time with who you love! So, put your phone away for a few hours and just do that! 🙂 
SO, what about you? What kind of timeline do you follow for the holiday season? Are you one of those people who has all of your shopping done by early September or are you a last-minute shopper? Are you going home for the holidays? If not, what are you doing instead? 

A Look Inside Organized Charm’s New Etsy Shop!

Last week, I made a pretty big announcement. Who decides to throw an Etsy shop into the mix with finals rapidly approaching? And not just normal finals… but the culmination of one’s graduate school career? Oh, that would be me. No big deal.

And even though it has been a lot of work to get everything in the shop set up, I have to say that I am SO, SO happy that I decided to do this! I already have 10 (yes, 10!) printables available in the shop and I’m adding another one today! YAY!

Before I officially announced this shop via OC, I wanted to be sure that I could successfully create “mini” planner pages… and guess what? I can! And I, of all people, am totally thrilled about that!

So this post is dedicated to the shop! Kind of like a cheat sheet / tour / what to expect!

(And who among us doesn’t love to know what to expect, right?!)

Okay, so here is everything I can think of to tell you!

PICTURED: Daily Checklist with Timeline and 5 Categories
Who: The shop name on Etsy is “Organized Charm“! (obvious one, right?)
What: Mix & Match Planner Printables
(like, YOU choose what YOU want to have in YOUR planner)
*Items Available:

Full Size (8 1/2 x 11) 


Mini Size (5 1/2 x 8 1/2)


Mini Grid Weekly View

*Coming Soon: More mini printables! Including a Cleaning Schedule, Daily View, Finance Tracker, Month at a Glance, Year at a Glance, and more options for weekly views!


PICTURED: Horizontal Weekly View
Where: Etsy (AKA the website equally as addictive as Pinterest)

When: This shop technically opened on Monday… but it’s grand opening is TODAY! YAY! 🙂

PICTURED: Year at a Glance Printable 
Why: I created this shop because I wanted more options/control over what goes in my planner. And if I wanted that, I thought that other people might be looking for that, too!

PICTURED: Month at a Glance
How: These are instant downloads, which is super convenient! If you’ve ordered from Etsy before, then you are familiar with how it works. But for those of you who aren’t so familiar with it…

Here’s how it works!

1. Login/Visit Etsy
2. Choose the printables that you want/need/love the most!
3. Checkout
4. Download your new printables!

Easy peasy lemon squeezy! 🙂

Have you used Etsy in the past? Did you have a good experience? What kinds of printables would you like to see in the shop?