How to Prepare for a New Semester

How was last semester for you? 

Did you easily breeze through, flitting from class to class, turning in perfectly completed assignments that your professors praised profusely, all with perfect makeup and a manicure? 


Did you feel so overwhelmed that you rushed from class to class, looking like a drowned, harassed rat, somehow managing to type up and print out assignments just as they were due, all while driving around in a car that hasn’t had an oil change in 9 months with half of your closet in the backseat? #nojudgment

Oh, you want to know how my fall semester went? It would be that second one. 

Starting a new job at a new school in a new school system had me completely overwhelmed. So overwhelmed, in fact, that it reminded me of my first semester of college:

My first semester of college went a little like this: I was super excited about the first day of class, then the semester started and I don’t remember anything else until Christmas. 

My first semester of teaching in public school went a little like this: I was super excited about the first day of class, then the semester started and I don’t remember anything else until Christmas. 

(I told you they were similar).

So, THIS is the time to set ourselves up for success over the next semester! We know what to expect, we have a general idea of how long things take and the general expectations that we’re held to. It’s time to prepare for a kick-butt spring semester! Are you ready?! 
Let’s get started, shall we?

First, always, always, always start with a goal! 
Your goal will guide everything you do. Keep your focus on that goal and you will take intentional steps to achieve it! Organized Charm is literally filled with posts about goal-setting, from how to determine them, to how to write them, to how to follow through with them!

Second, as they say, a goal without a plan is just a wish. 
So get yourself a beautiful new planner! I just happen to know of a great one 😉 Everyone is different and different types of planners work for different people. Really do your research before committing to one and make sure it works best for YOU!

Third, what left you feeling overwhelmed last semester? 
For me, I kind of hated how messy I let my home get. I hated it that I sacrificed workout time for my work schedule (as in, I literally have not worked out since Daylight Savings Time ended). And I really hated it that I spent less time with my husband than I used to. So, for the new semester, I’m working on ways to not let those parts of my life get pushed aside. Remind yourself that school/work is only a PART of your life. It isn’t your life.

Fourth, take action now! 
If you know that something will be challenging to do once school has started, then get it done now! Once the new semester starts, I won’t have time to get my oil changed or go to the dentist, so those are tasks that I can cover over the break. Of course, enjoy your break, but also deal with stuff that will stress you out once you’re back in school!

Fifth, designate checkpoints! 
I don’t know how it’s possible but semesters seem to simultaneously fly by AND drag on at the same time. When you’re in the middle of it, it can feel really overwhelming, so set some checkpoints to keep you motivated! They can be short-term goals or little motivational reminders on your phone or in your planner! Anything to remind you that you’re on the right track, even when you feel like you aren’t making any progress.

The best way to prepare for the new semester is just to do as much planning as possible! For every minute you spend planning, you save yourself 11 minutes in the future! 

And in the midst of the chaos of a new semester, those 11 minutes will be gold! 🙂 

Follow Organized Charm on Pinterest for daily inspiration! 

How to Stay Organized in Online College Courses (tips from an expert)

Yesterday was Labor Day, which means that it’s officially BACK TO SCHOOL SEASON everywhere! 

And you know what that means! …school supplies, new class schedules, and for many of us, online classes! 

Online classes can be tricky because they’re sooo convenient. However, they’re also sooo easy to fall behind in! Enter: Our secret weapon, Professor Myers! 

That’s right, today’s guest post is actually from an ONLINE PROFESSOR! Who better to give advice on how to keep it together this semester, right? She has some amazing tips (and a book with even more amazing tips) to share with us! Ready?! 😀

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Even college students who live on campus take online courses because they are convenient. You know, like you don’t have to get up at 6 am to get to a 7:30 class. But what many students don’t understand is that online college courses are not an easy way to get through a class that they aren’t necessarily looking forward to. 

Yes, they are convenient because you can “attend class” anywhere, anytime, but that doesn’t mean they are easy. The professors who teach online courses must teach the same amount of material in the same amount of time, so even if you don’t have to physically show up (dressed) for class, you do have to show up and do the work. 

Students new to online college courses often buy into the common myths that:

1| They will save time
2| They are self-paced
3| They are a breeze

Every college student needs ways of staying organized and keeping their stuff together, but for the online student, this is paramount to success (or just passing by the skin of your teeth.

Here are some ways I recommend you do that:

There’s an app for that—Students love apps, and they are a great way to keep organized and keep on top of things. I’ve gathered a bunch of the best ones for online students, including scheduling and grade trackers, as well as distraction-free writing tools and motivational apps that help you keep on-task and get stuff done. You can find these must-have apps here.

Schedule time—To avoid forgetting about reading and assignments, schedule time into your week to “attend class.” Online courses require you to read/watch/listen to lectures, post in discussion boards, read the textbook and complete assignments. Set up several hours at the same times each week—a couple of times each week—just like you would if you had to get dressed and show up in a particular classroom. This will help you keep on top of assignments and ensure you don’t forget about the class.

Print the syllabus and calendar—I know you may be thinking that since this is an online course you shouldn’t have to print anything. But, if there is one thing you will learn in an online course, it is that technology isn’t foolproof. Servers go down and students can’t access their class. Does your professor have a policy for how to deal with that? What should you be reading in the textbook to make sure you don’t fall behind while the class is unavailable? See what I mean? Semester classes move at the speed of lightening, and just a day or two of lost time can mean a great deal of stress trying to get caught back up! Printing a few pages is worth it!

Log in often—Check your class, even when there isn’t something due. This is important because things change. For example, there have been times when I have pushed back an assignment due date or eliminated some required reading because of unforeseen events. Logging in several times a week, even when you don’t need to, will make life much easier in the long run.

Want to learn more strategies for being successful in your online college courses? Check out my new book, Your Online College Course Survival Guide

You can learn more about it at
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  Jacqueline Myers has been improving writing skills since the 1990’s and is still hard at work, struggling to put an end to comma splices and stamp out accidental plagiarism. 

She is an online college English professor and a freelance writer & editor, as well as the owner & writing expert at Nitty-Gritty English, a site dedicated to providing academic writing tips to the reluctant college writer. 

Have questions about college writing or online courses? She’s all about answering them. Send them to her at jsm@nittygrittyenglish or post them on the Nitty-Gritty English Facebook Page

5 Ways to Make Your Planner Pretty!

Planners. You love them. I love them. 

And seriously, what would we do without them? 

They keep us on track, on time (mostly), and productive!

But just because they’re a productivity tool, doesn’t mean they can’t also be pretty!

(You may also want to take a look at 23 Tips for Keeping an Academic Planner)

Making your planner happy and pretty will make you use it more, therefore, being productive! 

Organization + Prettiness + Productive? I call that a win-win-win! Plus, if you document all of your important things, your planner will double as a journal! Add one more “win” to that list! So, what tips do I have for decorating a planner to reflect your personality and life? Psh. Where do I even begin? Get those debit cards ready because I see an Etsy/Target shopping spree in your future! 

(Please. Like you needed me for that.) 

Since I know y’all are tired of seeing my same planner all the time, I decided to round up a few gorgeous examples that I found around the lovely Pinterest planner community! And guess what? That even includes some links to free printable downloads! YAY! 
(If you really love planners, here’s a peek Inside My Wedding Planner!)

Here are my absolute favorite examples + products that will make your planner pretty and organized!! 

Colorful Event Reminders | Elephantshoe

Oh, hey. Aren’t these the cutest little things ever? Breathe a little life into any planner with these happy little event reminders. This free download includes 2 sheets of reminders! You can print them onto regular cardstock and stick them into your planner with Washi tape OR print them onto adhesive paper and cut them out as stickers. I love these so much!

Color-Coded Pens | First Home Love Life

So, if you’ve read more than one post from this blog or seen more than one Instagram on its account, you definitely know that I’m a big (BIG) fan of the Papermate Flair pens. I love the colors, the way they write, everything. But there are other pens that work just as great for planners! 

Above you can see that Christine from First Home Love Life uses Sharpie Ultra Fine Points and they look fabulous! I’ve also heard wonderful things about Pilot Frixion (erasable!) pens! I usually try to limit my planner to about 5 different colors (because you know, I like to keep things simple.) But you can obviously go as wild with different colors as you want! 

Washi Tape | Take Two They’re Small

So, you know how I always use Washi tape to organize my planner? (That sounds like an exaggeration but it isn’t.) The example above from Take Two They’re Small is the first place I ever saw it! Man, did it really change my planning life. Perfect for showing “summer break” “vacation” or “exam week” in your planner! Plus I color code mine to match the pens that I use! Too perfect and such an easy way to add some extra prettiness to your productivity! 

Binder Clip | Luckeyfrog’s Lilypad

Binder clips are one of my favorite ways to decorate/organize my planner! I have mine set up with binder clips so that I can open straight to the current month or the current week! They make it super easy to open up quickly and start planning! (plus… they’re pretty). There are tons of pretty ones at Office Depot and Target. OR you can just make your own by using a plain black binder clip and your favorite Washi tape design! 

Planner Stickers | ScribblePrintsCo

Aren’t these weekend stickers adorable? I know they are. That’s why I’ll probably end up ordering before this weekend is over. ScribblePrintsCo is just one of the wonderful Etsy shops where you can find adorable planning stickers to help organize your life! I have the solid page flags (which I use to show my scheduled blog posts), the heart checklists (which I use for monthly goals), and the coffee cups (which I use for coffee dates. Clever, I know). 


Of course, you and I both know that there are a BILLION more ways to decorate your planner but these are some of my favorites! I would LOVE to see how you decorate your planner! 🙂 

Tell me all about your favorite products/ideas for decorating your planner. 

Or better yet, if you want to show me your adorable planner layout, just use #organizedcharm or tag me @organizedcharm on Instagram or Twitter

Do you need a new planner? Check out OC’s Etsy shop!