Friday Favorites: Planning Tools

organizational-tools

Weekly Planner Pages | Color Pens | Notepad | Planner Notebook | Meal Plan Pad

My favorite thing to do at the end of each week is to plan for the week ahead. Since 2017 is just a few days away, and planning for a successful year is has been on my mind recently, I decided to take time to talk about some of my favorite planning tools!

To Do Lists!

To Do lists are my favorite! They help me clear my mind, plan out my day, and feel in control. I love this digital dowload from Thyme is Honey for planning out my tasks for the week. I also love her Daily Page, but have found that the new weekly planner pages fit my needs just a bit better. I also like to use this pretty notepad from Ashley Brooke Designs for random ideas while I’m planning.

Pens

Pens are so important. I love these colorful, thin-tipped pens for jazzing up my planner and lists. I also swear by these black pens for more regular use.

Meal Planning

I’ve definitely talked about my love of meal planning before. I like to use this notepad to keep track of everything. I recently started using a weekly calendar like this one (I can’t find the source for this, unfortunately) with 5 slots per day so I can delineate breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two daily snacks.  This helps Josh and I stay on target with our healthy eating goals. Once I plan our meals, I make a grocery list (and cross-match that with what I have in the fridge). This SERIOUSLY cuts down on food waste.

Planner

My planner is the single most important thing that I have for my personal organization. I will never go digital, although I do use my phone for certain reminders (like exercise classes, in particular). Whatever planner you choose, make sure it works for you. I have tried basically everything, and I like one with lots of space for lists and goals, but have found that a planner with an hourly layout is a waste for me and doesn’t fit my needs.

Without these organizational tools, I would be totally lost.

What do you use to stay organized?

Monday Motivation

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This past week, I’ve had a lot of difficulty getting back into the swing of things. As a friend of mine said, post-honeymoon depression is real. But for me, this is particularly difficult, as my internship applications are due in just two weeks. For the first few days, I just straight up panicked about losing days to poor motivation, fatigue, and distractibility. Certainly, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way, even though it felt (and feels) horrible because of the hugely important deadline I have looming over me. But then I remembered that even the smallest accomplishment would help me get something done. And then, I was able to be more productive. With little steps, I can still see myself moving toward the end-goal, even if I’m not making those big strides I’d been hoping for.

This week, I’m going to do my best to get myself out of this rut. But even if I can’t, I’ll know that the small steps I am making are doing something to get me where I need to be.

Happy Monday!

Monday Motivation

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With our wedding coming up in just under two weeks, and my dissertation, internship applications, and other deadlines looming large as well, I have been feeling incredibly swamped. But it’s not usually until I have some downtime (like, on the weekends) that I realize how overwhelmed I’m really feeling. This past weekend, I took some time to take stock of what is truly most important. And while I am so excited for my wedding, I know that I really need to focus on the other stuff. And so I flipped my focus, and immediately calmed down. It might not be expected, and it might meet with some disapproving glances, but my education and my career is number one. I think I can say that because my relationship with Josh is so solid.

This week, I’m going to try to temper my anxiety by remembering that as long as I keep my priorities in mind, everything will fall into place. And that’s definitely true regardless of what your priorities might be.

Happy Monday!

What are your priorities this week?

10 Steps to a Better Week

For the past few months, I have been using a big part of my Sunday for what I like to call “Weekly Prep.” I take a couple of hours and basically dedicate myself to making sure I have a better, more prepared week. Today, I decided that I should share this routine with you because I’m kind of obsessed with it.

I start most days with a To-Do list. Especially weekend days, when I have a lot to get done in only so many hours, and want to make sure that I don’t just fall victim to yet another Law and Order Binge-a-Thon. On Sundays, the list always includes these 10 tasks:

Plan Your Week

I like to start out by sitting down with my planner and going over what I have coming up over the next week. I can remind myself of deadlines and due dates, I lay out my schedule, and I create to-do lists for each day, to make sure that I’m getting things done in a timely fashion.

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Plan Your Meals

On Sundays, I sit down with my “What to Eat” pad and all of the blog recipes that I’ve bookmarked over the week, and I decide what Josh and I will be making for dinner for the next 7 days. There are some days when I get home too late to cook, and Josh is in charge. So our weekly “menu” is always a mix of quick, easy fixes and some more involved dishes. I like to also make sure I have a few options for breakfasts and lunches as well, and there is a little spot for that on my trusty pad.

Clean Your Fridge

I clean out my fridge every single week. No need to wait for something to get really moldy and gross. If you stay on top of it, it usually only takes a couple minutes, and then I have a better sense of what I need for my week of meals. This goes for shelves/pantry also – clean it out!!

Plan Your Groceries

Whether you shop for food on Sundays or not, making a grocery list once you’ve made your meal plan is absolutely key. This way you don’t buy anything you don’t have a plan for, and you waste less money on food that will go unused. Cleaning out the fridge first is important because you may think you have enough chicken stock for that soup recipe, but perhaps the container only has 1 cup left in it. Realizing I don’t have enough of something for a particular recipe while I’m in the middle of making it is literally my least favorite situation. Josh hates it too, as I’ve been known to send him out three separate times for one meal. (This only happened once, but we are both still scarred by the experience). We especially like creating a list in the “Reminders” app on the iPhone and sharing it. This way, if one of us has time to go to the grocery store, we always have access to the list.

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Meal Prep

I don’t do a ton of meal prep, but sometimes I will make brown rice or quinoa or chop up some veggies for the week on a Sunday. If you are short on time during the week, this can be a major help, and people really swear by it. If I am doing meal prep, I like to also prepare some breakfasts and lunches for me and Josh at the same time. Putting together all of the ingredients for a single smoothie (in the Magic Bullet cup), for example, can be a huge time saver. I also like to use the grains (rice, quinoa, bulgar, etc.) as a base for eggs in the morning.

Clean Your Space

Even if you don’t have time to do a full deep clean (I rarely do, and wouldn’t recommend this for a Sunday evening), taking out the trash and wiping down counters and mirrors can make a huge difference.

Change Your Sheets

Nothing says “fresh” like clean sheets!

Clean Your Clothes

Josh and I send our laundry out because we have negative time for such things. So I sort the laundry into delicates, whites, and colors for our service every other Sunday.

Plan Your Outfits

Whether or not your clothes are clean, the best, literally most useful thing I do on Sundays is select a variety of outfits for the week. I put everything together – including jewelry, tights, other accessories – so that it is a simple grab-and-go situation on any given morning. I pick out more than 5, just in case I’m not in the mood for something, and just roll over the unworn outfits to the next week. This helps me wear everything in my closet (or decide to get rid of things), and truly cuts down on a variety of issues on weekday mornings. I also plan gym outfits. I place them in my closet in a pile, but if you have a gym bag that can accommodate 3-5 outfits, placing them in there for the week is a great idea as well.

Prepare Your Bag

Nothing is worse than forgetting something super important on Monday because you were late running out the door. This happens to me every day a lot. I am notorious for forgetting things, from the mundane (my keys) to the semi-critical (laptop) to the absurd (my bag altogether – it’s happened, folks). So I like to put everything in my bag on Sunday night. If there is something I will need at the office later in the week, I just throw it in my bag on Sunday because chances are, I won’t remember it for that day anyway. Everything is so much easier on Monday morning when you can just pick up your bag and go, not worrying if you remembered to say, shove some extra tampons in there.

Once you’ve done all of these things, chances are you will have a much smoother week. Imagine all of the things you can get done when you don’t have to waste any brain power on deciding what to wear, what’s for dinner, and where you left that piece of paper with the notes from last Thursday’s meeting!!

Let me know how you prepare yourself for the week!

 

Monday Motivation

This past week was a difficult one for me. Not only am I still not feeling 100%, but this was the first full week of my fall schedule. Ugh. Between the late nights, early mornings, and completely packed days, it was  a complete joy to finally see the weekend.

Amid my crazy week, I started seriously freaking out about all of the things that I have to get done this year. Start my dissertation. Write up existing data for publishing. Plan a wedding. Somehow get fit and lose weight for said wedding. Luckily, on Friday, we had a really interesting forum discussion at work about writing. As a scientist (I use this word somewhat loosely here), writing is a constant struggle. I have to do it all the time, as is the publish-or-perish mentality of research. However, when you can’t find the motivation or the time to write, things start to feel pretty dire. But in our discussion, it was revealed that everything is about planning (duh) and practice. With continued practice, writing – just like running or cooking or anything else – becomes much, much easier.

So this weekend, I decided to plan out my time. My time feels so plotted out as it is, but I realized that I don’t ever plot it out with myself in mind. I don’t have “writing time” or “running time” in my schedule the way I have “class” or “meeting with mentor.” So that had to change. I realized that it eliminates the guilt. I rarely say to myself “oh, I should have made more time to speak with my mentor last week,” because our meeting is always on Monday morning – I have to do it whether I like it or not! So the next time you feel guilty about not writing more, or not reading more, or not working out more, remember this concept. In a society totally beholden to their calendars, scheduling in personal non-negotiables might be the only way.

Happy scheduling, and Happy Monday!

Friday Favorites

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my Friday Favorites, but this week I’m taking part in a link-up. Thanks to Heather at Housewife Glamour for hosting!

I wanted to focus on my morning routine this week, since it’s such an important part of my day. I like to make sure I have at least 30-45 minutes in the morning to myself, when I can read some blogs, drink my coffee, and plan my day. This week’s Friday Favorites is dedicated to the stuff that I use to make my morning routine as great (and seamless) as possible.

Coffee

The best part  of my day is usually my first cup of coffee. I love the smell, the ritual, the taste. But most of all, I love waking up to an already brewed pot that my wonderful and amazing boyfriend sets up for me the night before. The coffee that we use, though, is the most important part of the whole thing. And I like to use the most hard to locate, expensive to ship, and amazing tasting coffee brands in America. One of the consequences of having a partner from Michigan is that I have been exposed to many Mid-West oddities – and Zingerman’s is pretty high on that list. Zingerman’s has amazing, amazing coffee. It’s basically actually impossible to get in New York (I think it’s sold in some spots in Philly), but they sell it everywhere and anywhere in the Detroit area. Thank goodness I have to go there for Thanksgiving…. I always come home with at least 4 bags of it in my carry-on.

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News

I hate reading the news, but love being informed. Enter theSkimm, a daily email (Mon-Fri only) that quickly runs down all the important news you need to know about. It’s perfect. Sign up for it.

 

theSkimm

 

Weather and Getting Dressed

I am obsessed with the weather. I am also terrible at dressing for the weather. So even though I will know exactly when it’s going to rain and the temperature for the next two days by the hour, I can never figure out if I should be wearing boots or Toms, a jacket or a coat, a scarf or a necklace. I recently found this app called DressCast, and it tells you the weather right now, and a little later in the day, and gives you all kinds of outfit options that are weather appropriate. This thing is a lifesaver.

 

 

 

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Exercise

You all know about ClassPass by now, I’m sure. The website that costs $99/month and allows you to sign up for unlimited classes (only 3 per specific studio, per month). They have places like Uplift, FlyWheel, Exhale, ISHTA Yoga, and tons more. It’s like crack for people who can’t commit to an expensive gym or other membership cost, and enjoy seeing their cost per class decrease with every sweat session. I love, love, love it.

ClassPass

To Do Lists

Truth be told, this is the one item on this list that I don’t already use. But you all know that I am a diehard pencil and paper to-do list user. I can’t get enough list making, check-boxing, and organizing. It is a well-defined and not entirely maladaptive coping mechanism that I’ve developed for my overwhelming anxiety. I am so into these pads from ThymeIsHoney, and I am going to be ordering some right away. The perfect addition to my amazing and life-altering Erin Condren planner, to be sure.

Happy Friday!!

What kinds of things do you use in the morning to make your day run smoothly?

 

Back to School Supplies

Back to School Supplies

Part 2 of my back to school series is all about school supplies. Is there anything better? Last year, I gave you the run down on my favorite, can’t-live-without-them supplies. And these hold true. But with each new year comes new responsibilities, and we have to adapt to our environment. So this year, I am listing some new products that I’m positive I won’t be able to live without in the coming year.

In less than two weeks, I will be starting my new externship at a counseling center. I am so excited to finally work with the population I am interested in, and explore developing identities with my clients. But the only lunch places in my vicinity at this new placement are fast food establishments. Food I refuse to subject my body to, especially on a semi-weekly basis. Plus, I am going to be jetting from place to place all year, with very little time or money to buy myself food on the go. Enter the Collapsible Lunch Box and Dressing to Go containers. These are going to be total life savers. The lunch box has three sections for food, plus a spork in the top. Once you’re done, you can smush it down so it fits more easily into your bag! The dressing container allows you to pack a salad without it getting ruined before lunchtime. It reduces the chance of spills, and allows for easy application. I am so excited to try these!

Everyone needs the perfect scarf. This one from Anthropologie is great because it goes with everything while adding a little pop of yellow. Running from lab to class to hospital to tutoring, not to mention the ridiculously unpredictable subway temperatures, I always keep a scarf or light sweater in my bag, regardless of the season. I also really like the scarves from Forever 21, because they are fun, lightweight, and inexpensive.

I’m loving a nice, roomy pouch for my bag. I tend to forget my hospital IDs at home all the time, so having a place to keep them safe, along with my pens and pencils, chapstick, tampons, etc. is essential. I like this one from JCrew because it is colorful and has a handle, for easy spotting and retrieving from my bag. Plus, it’s very durable (it’s supposed to be a diaper pouch!).

This year, I’m breaking down and getting myself a BookBook case for my phone. It holds my school ID in the window pocket (so I never have to take it out), plus my debit card and some cash. This way, I’ll never forget the essentials, and I’ll always have everything right where I need it.

I don’t take too many notes anymore, but I always like to have a notebook on me just in case. These slim ones from Moleskine are my tried-and-true companion. They come in a variety of sizes, and never let you down.

The piece de resistance of my back to school haul this year is my Erin Condren planner. I don’t know how it took me so long to learn about these amazing things, but with my schedule running amok this year, I needed something intense. And this baby fits the bill. With space for everything you could possibly imagine, plus tools to stay organized, on budget, and eating healthy, I couldn’t resist. I can’t wait until this gets delivered to my door! (If you take a look at this and decide you’re interested, let me know! I can email you with a $10 coupon!)

I think with all of these pieces tucked neatly into my bag, I’m in for a well organized, fun semester!

What’s in your bag for back to school??