Organization, Productivity, Time Management

How to Survive a Busy Week

Can I tell you a secret? Recently over a 10-day period, I had 46 deadlines, assignments, and meetings. This included 3 papers (including 1 group paper), 37 job applications, checking and correcting over 200 legal citations, work deadlines, and school deadlines. On top of that, my car broke down.

While I’m normally pretty good at managing high levels of stress, I really struggled. I had to employ new stress-mitigation techniques just to survive. Along the way I realized that my productivity wasn’t at all optimized. I thought that today I could share with you some of the things I learned.

So, go ahead and take a breather. Give yourself 5 minutes out of your hectic day and ask yourself if you employ these techniques, and what about your productivity could be optimized.

The To-Do List and Calendar

These are non-negotiables to help manage your life efficiently. When you’ve got tasks in all different directions, you need to know exactly what’s on your plate and what’s coming next.

As for myself, I’m kind of the queen on the to-do list. I make lists everywhere. Sometimes it’s a sheet of paper, a notebook, in my phone, or on Trello. Since I make so many lists, a few may or may not get finished – but when you have a week of non-stop deadlines, that list becomes your best friend.

With every list, I recommend that you add the deadline of the task. This can help you prioritize your list and keep you moving on your next deadline.

Change Your Routine

This is going to sound a little crazy, but when you have a busy week, you’re not exactly yourself. When it gets so busy, you almost have to go on auto-pilot. Don’t be afraid to change your routine during this time to accommodate for everything you need to get done.

If you don’t work out, strongly consider adding a little bit of movement, like a morning walk. This can help clear your head and get you focused for the day.

I really warn against changing your sleep schedule. Late nights aren’t efficient and let’s be honest, they suck. For me, late nights are almost a guaranteed mental breakdown and I avoid them at all costs. If you really need more hours in your day, try waking up earlier. You’d be surprised at how efficient you can be before the rest of the world wakes up.

Breaking It Up Into Smaller Tasks

This is what helps me survive massive deadlines. Your focus during a busy week should be to keep your mental state pretty solid. Giving yourself mini-breaks is the most effective way, at least for me, to get things done.

For example, if I have a paper to write, I might tell myself that once I make it to the end of this page, I can check my phone or watch a YouTube video. Since I only have a small task, I’ll power through it knowing that I have a reward waiting for me.

You can take breaks as often as you need, but I don’t recommend taking many breaks longer than an hour. I get it, sometimes you need it, but really, only like one or two hour-long breaks a day. You need to stay productive during your busy week.

Good Takeout

I get it. During a busy week, you’re not really thinking about self-care. If you cook, you’re probably not cooking as much when you’re busy. That’s okay. This week you can get takeout.

I strongly recommend that your takeout be somewhat healthy. Eating something not so great for you can often leave you feeling sluggish and sleepy. You’re not going to get much work done after a meal that slows you down.

On the other hand, getting something that’s a little healthier keeps your body moving. My mother was such an angel this last week and made me some home-cooked frozen meals. To have a veggie soup in the midst of Hurricane Jacqueline was so comforting. It was quite literally a taste of home. It grounded me and kept me moving.

Turn Off Your Phone

If you can’t think of a good reason to have it on. Turn it off. Period.

One Hour of You Time

I know most of these tips have been focused on moving forward, but one thing I really suggest is taking one hour a day just for yourself. I like that time right before bed. If I want to lay down and stare at the TV, I can. If I want to go for walk, I go for one.

Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean that you have to give 100% at every moment of every day. Relax a little and your body and mind will thank you.

Follow the Momentum

At the tail-end of a busy week, I take the weekend off. However, this time when I took my weekend off, my body felt like it should be doing something. Harness this energy with smaller tasks like dishes or checking your email. Don’t go into anything crazy, but if Newton’s First Law applies to you, capitalize on it.

That’s all that I’ve got for you today! I’d love to hear how you survive busy weeks – I know I’m still learning when it comes to managing your time efficiently! Let me know down in the comments what I got right and what I still need to learn!

And, in the spirit of moving forward, stay productive!

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Organization, Project 2, Time Management

A Guide to Organizing Your Entire Life

So, I have a little confession: I’m actually really close to being finished with Project 2. I know that might come as a surprise, seeing as I never post about it… it’s just that I recognize that reading about me cleaning every day is boring.

That being said, it’s not like I haven’t learned anything. I’ve actually learned a lot – both about myself and about how to organize. Reorganizing and decluttering is a much more liberating experience than I ever could have imagined, I really do feel much better having everything in its place. Also, my list extends beyond physical decluttering to mental decluttering in tracking different aspects of my life.

Though I’m not finished with everything on my list, I have begun everything. And it turns out that I wasn’t really able to gauge the difficulty that’d be required for each task. I realized that two things go into cleaning: time and effort. Obviously, time relates to how long it took for me to get something done. Effort refers more to the amount of work required I’d have to put in to get it organized. For example, setting up my photo wall took a lot of time since each picture had to be put up separately, but once I had the measurements all done, it didn’t take much effort on my part. I did most of the project while watching Netflix.

It’s from this premise that I created a bit of a theory. Tasks can be sorted by these two variables, and each of these two variables can be divided further. From there, I propose that there are 9 kinds of tasks as indicated by this fancy graphic.

I thought today I could share with you guys the 9 different types of tasks as they appear on my personal cleaning list with a little insight on what was really required to get things done. That way if you’re looking to clean up something in your life, you can have a better idea of whether you’re in over your head or you can get it done in an afternoon.

The Easy Tasks: Little Time, Little Effort Tasks

These are the easy ones – they don’t really take any time at all. If any of these are on your personal list, start with them because they’re so simple.

  • Keeping Track of Your Passwords: Start a list right now of your computer passwords. Seriously, right now. Every time you go to log in to any website, add it to your list. In less than a month, you’ll have most of your passwords sorted out and you’ll be asking why you didn’t do this sooner.

The Hour Long Tasks: Average Time, Little Effort Tasks

These tasks are easy as pie. On a day off from work, they’ll make you feel like you’ve accomplished something with lots of time to spare.

  • Drawers: You can’t hide from the truth any longer – clean out that junk drawer.

The Quicker Tasks: Little Time, Average Effort Tasks

The tasks that’ll have you saying: “That wasn’t too bad!”

  • Organizing Your Computer Bookmarks: Honestly, this can be fun seeing what corners of the internet you discovered. But beware: distractions are bound to happen.
  • Setting Up Your Calendar: If you already have a calendar system in place, but it hasn’t been updated – this task just requires getting all your ducks in a row. If you don’t have a system that works for you to schedule everything, try looking around. Personally, I use Google calendar and whenever anything comes up it goes straight in. Very easy to maintain it that way.

The Full Day Tasks: Average Time, Average Effort Tasks

I’d recommend you do these on a Saturday so you can enjoy your Sunday and still feel like you had a productive weekend.

  • Organizing Groups of Objects: This is easily one of the most satisfying tasks on the entire list. Think about what you have a lot of. For me, that’s clothes/beauty products and old textbooks/notes. Organizing these individual groups of items by seriously cutting back makes you feel so good. Bonus points if you can make it look aesthetically pleasing!

The Watch-a-Movie Tasks: High Time, Little Effort Tasks

Since these tasks don’t really require you to have your brain present and active, go ahead and watch a movie while you’re doing them!

  • Any Sorting Task: Whenever you have a group of something that needs to be sorted out, you can do it while catching up on TV you’ve been missing. This can be anything from nail polish to fishing bait. Caution: Does not apply to going through photos.

The Thought Provoking Tasks: Little Time, High Effort Tasks

These might not require all that much time, but they requires you to be completely mentally present.

  • Creating a Food Diary: This really doesn’t take too much effort when you start, but it’s certainly high effort to keep it going. I mean logging every. single. time. you eat is definitely a lot to keep track of. But seriously, being able to track your vitamins and minerals is so worth it!
  • Setting Up a Workout Log: Same as above. It’s all in the upkeep.

The Tasks That Require Breaks: High Time, Average Effort Tasks

These aren’t tasks you can get done in one go, but they’re manageable enough to painlessly spread them out over a few days.

  • Cleaning Every Square Inch of Your House: You didn’t think I was going to forget this one, did you? It doesn’t really require all that much effort to get the ol’ spring cleaning done, but it does require that you’re actively thinking about what needs to be cleaned. Like honestly, when was the last time you moved the couch and vacuumed behind there?

The Tasks You’ve Been Putting Off: Average Time, High Effort Tasks

Okay, I’ll say it – these ones are the worst. These projects don’t quite require all day to do, and that’s too bad, because if they did you’d plan a whole weekend for them (see the Advanced, Expert Level tasks below!).

  • Planning a Budget/Checking Your Credit Score: This one is especially painful if it’s your first time since it requires you dissecting your spending habits. If you do have an old budget, it’s painful because you’ve got to look through your old budget to see how accurate it was. No matter what, we all hate looking at just how much money we spend and what our credit looks like.
  • Cleaning Out Social Media Accounts: I’ve found that cleaning out social media accounts requires high dedication to setting the image you want others to see. Those cringe-filled status updates that you posted when you were in high school probably need to be deleted.

The Advanced, Expert Level Tasks: High Time, High Effort Tasks

These are the tasks from your nightmares.

  • Cleaning Out Your E-mail: It’s easy to get rid of spam e-mails. It’s also easy to get rid of promotional e-mails. But oh man is it a lot of work to unsubscribe from e-mail lists. Then sorting which e-mails to trash and which to keep is brutal. Creating folders and reliving moments from the past digs up emotions. Seriously, this isn’t for the faint of heart.
  • Sorting Digital Files: It does not matter what sort of digital files you have, it’s a memory trap. If you stumble across an album of photos you haven’t seen in forever, you can accidentally lose an hour of your day. Plus, they’re everywhere: on your desktop, your google drive, your iCloud, your phone notes, old USBs and more. Hope you don’t find your old Sims CD. Good luck finding a single place to store it all.

What do you think of my list? What tasks are the easiest and most-satisfying for you to get done? Is my method the next KonMari method?

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Organization, Project 2

Cleaning Your Closet with Color Theory

Fashion is a huge part of my life – I know it’s not really something I’ve talked about here, but it might have been my very first project.

Over the past few years, I’ve really focused on developing my sense of fashion. I constantly purge my closet and buy new pieces. As I purge again for Project 2, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to talk about how I do it.

I’ve always been really conscious about silhouette, so everything you’ll see fits me well. When you dress to your body shape everything looks a little bit more expensive – you’re mocking the tailored look! My body happens to be bell shape, which is similar to a pear – large hips, small bust. The only real difference is the ratio between the bust and hips is smaller for a bell shape. Dressing to your silhouette is actually very easy once you know what your shape is, so if that’s something you’re interested in learning more about, I’d highly recommend checking out this blog for more on your body shape. Spoiler: there’s more than 3 body types!

Anyway, dressing based on the right color is a little harder. It’s something I really struggle with and it’s difficult to master. As frustrating as it is to learn as you go, it’s the only real way to do it.

But have no fear! One of my favorite fashion channels just released a video streamlining different basic color theories. I highly recommend all of her videos, but this one in particular was an aha moment. Also, while my silhouette information about was particularly for women’s bodies, color theory applies to everyone.

So in honor of this video, I decided to test out some of her theories firsthand with my closet. I’ve been purging for the past few weeks and I’ve found that these theories pretty much correlate to what items I feel comfortable in and which ones I didn’t.

Side note: None of the pictures below have my face in it. It was early in the morning so I wasn’t looking very fresh. Also, my boyfriend’s not the most cooperative photographer when I wake him up to take pictures of me (shocking, really), so most of these photos were of me while I was talking. If you’re particularly interested in what my face looks like, you can see me here or here.

Shade Theory

Do the shades in the outfit match the shades of color on your body?

My favorite way to look at colors is through shade theory. In it’s most simple form, it looks at how much white or black is added to a color. The idea is that the shade that matches your skin tone shade is what looks best on your body.

For instance, let’s look at this pink dress:

The color complements my skin tone pretty well because my skin and the dress are similar shades. To really examine it, we can put it in black and white to see the amount of brightness in both my skin and the dress.

Now it’s very clear. Though the dress is a lighter shade than my skin, it’s close so the color pops well on my body. But be careful that you’re using good lighting if you use the black and white photo trick – you can see the difference in my skin tone between my arms and my legs. This is due to the fact that my lighting came from a window. Because of this, the arms are a better point of comparison to the dress.

Comparison to skin tone isn’t the only match. You can apply the same test with hair color as well. Let’s take a darker dress:

This dress is almost an exact match in shade to my hair. Because of this, the dress color pairs with me very well.

Complexion Theory

Does the contrast in your hair and skin match with the color of the garment?

In the video, Alexandra describes two types of contrasts: soft and clear. She describes soft as a correlation in hair color and skin tone shades. On the other hand, she describes clear as hair colors that largely differ from skin tone. In general, I find that soft colors are less harsh and vibrant than clear colors.

In reality, there are more types of contrast. Idealist Style (same blog as the body shape link!) has a great chart to compare the different options:

Credit: Idealist Style. The left column represents cool undertones while the right column represents warm undertones. For more on undertones and determining where you fit on this chart, try this.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s continue with only soft and clear. I happen to be soft because my hair color and skin tone are relatively close to one another – there’s not too much contrast. If you’re looking at the chart, I’m a bit like Katie Holmes on the bottom right. What this means is I should steer away from clear colors because it will add a sharp contrast.

Here’s an example of me wearing a clear color:

This blue is so vibrant, it almost washes out my complexion. It’s funny because I’ve had the dress for a while and have always wondered why I don’t feel as confident in it. After all, it fits me well. This contrast is subtle and if you don’t see it, it’s okay. You’ve got to train yourself to see it and it’s not necessarily something that happens right away. It’s not that I look bad in the dress, it’s just that I look better in so many other dresses.

I know this is all a bit much to take in and it can be extraordinarily difficult to piece together what this means for colors on your body. I can’t recommend the links I’ve added enough because they do such a good job at really diving into these topics and breaking them down.

For me, these theories have been remarkably impactful. I’ve found it easier to process whether to keep certain pieces that I was on the fence about. I find that using a little science in everyday areas is a key to optimization. When I go through my beauty supplies soon, I’ll take this same approach.

If you’ve enjoyed this, don’t worry, I’ll be doing a fashion project or two down the line. But for now, I’ve got to get organized!

Organization, Project 2

From 18,132 to 0

Project 2: Get organized

I did it. I went from 18,132 emails to 0. I cleaned out my entire personal email.

It feels so good to have COMPLETELY cleaned it out. I’m pretty good at minor organization (well, except with my email inboxes apparently), but cleaning out something entirely is not a common feat for me.

I would say it probably took about 6 hours. With so many spam emails, there was plenty of bulk deleting. Once I had it down to roughly 5,000 emails, I sorted them. All of my emails now nicely belong in their folders and the inbox is completely clear.

Look at how beautiful!

While on my organizational kick, I’ve completely filtered through my shoes and my closet. I’ve got a couple of pieces I’m looking to alter a little bit before deciding to pitch them. A few dresses that would look better as skirts, jeans to be shorts, etc. etc. Stay in the loop for that.

Organization, Project 2

The Official Project 2 List

This holiday weekend has been all over the place. I met a psychic who told me to read more poetry, spent 5 hours broken down on the side of a snowy highway in the middle of the night, and recovered from a cold. Productivity hit a low.

Paired with finishing the first week of the semester, I might be even less organized than when I started Project 2. Oops.

Desperate to get something done, I’ve made a list of everything I want to organize as a part of this project. Here it is.

The official list for Project 2

It might not look like a lot but it’s going to take a while. Think of the list as a North Star – something that guides me to what needs to be done but certainly isn’t a direct map.

Anyway, some of these will be quicker than others. For example, organizing and donating books will be much quicker than cleaning out my email. Between my two emails, I currently have 20,114 unread emails and thousands more read – please help.

It’s not like I haven’t touched this list though. For example, with my emails I’ve probably cleaned out a good 10,000 already. Also, I’ve been chipping away at unpacking and making the house feel homey. I’ve even put up a photo wall!

A low-quality Snapchat of me in front of my magnum opus – the Photo Wall

So are things getting done? Yes. Slowly, but yes. With my list, I can hopefully declutter and make way for new adventures as quickly as possible.

Organization, Project 2

Tidying Up

Project 2: Get organized. Like, seriously organized.

Within the past few days I’ve been saying goodbye to friends and family, waking up from the coma of holiday feasts, and getting ready for my next semester. My boyfriend also returned from visiting his parents across the country. So needless to say these past few days haven’t exactly been filled with me-time.

But as I was getting ready to leave, one of the things on my to-do list was to find the title for my car which died a month ago – sad, but manageable when you live next to campus.

Let me tell you that this little thing caused a big waking nightmare.

Nowhere. This damn title was nowhere to be found.

It caused me to absolutely snap. I’ve been working on moving into a new place. Well, actually, it’s not new as it’s my old house, but I briefly moved out when my roommates moved away and realized that this place was right for me. Moving back into a place you lived at six months ago is a surreal experience because it’s like a tornado ran through it and put everything into boxes but took your roommates and all their stuff too.

So, seeing as necessity is the mother of invention, I found a perfect opportunity to introduce project number two.

When I say get organized though, I mean storage boxes, Marie Kondo, and a few trips to Home Depot kind of organizing.

Not just physical either. I want to organize my email which has accumulated into the thousands in the past four and a half years of my education and also all of my digital files. Every project I’ve ever done will find a way to resurface there in all formats and file types I’m sure.

But I know it can be boring to read about spring cleaning, so I’ll do my best to keep it interesting. Hopefully I can come up with some creative ideas to take this project from lame and domestic to fun, fresh, and affordable. Besides, how am I supposed to begin something new without old messes hanging over me?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: I had to buy a duplicate title.