Category Archives: Office Organization

New Planner Day


Awhile back I wrote about my favorite planners. I’m still using the Russell + Hazel planner I bought earlier this year and I am just as obsessed with it…actually I’m more obsessed with it now that my 2013 – 2014 calendar pages arrived. I felt like a little kid on Christmas opening the package. I actually blocked time off on my calendar so I could load in the new pages and other goodies and write everything on them!

I’m a total sucker for organization and organizational products and I probably put more effort into making my to do lists and keeping my planner organized than I did for all of my grad school papers combined. I actually have had a few friends reach out to me and ask me to help them organize their lives…whether it’s a to do list, long term project, or create a study plan. I would LOVE to someday make organizing my job…but I don’t know…I feel like I’d be called out for being a fraud when the inside of my car and my kitchen look like they do.

Since the Russell + Hazel planners don’t have TOO much structure, people constantly ask me how I organize my planner. Below is a list of what I have and what I use it for.

Mini Binder

This is the binder that holds it all! I LOVE the bright lime color! This binder is about the size of the Lilly Pulitzer agendas that everybody and their mother uses these days. It’s the perfect size to fit into a purse if you’re the sort of person that brings your planner everywhere. I can just fit a year’s worth of stuff into it…but since it’s a binder I can always add and remove things.

Mini Paper Pockets

I actually just bought these the other day. The one thing I really missed from my other planners (my Quo Vadis and my Lilly Pulitzer) were the pockets! I ten to use them for stamps, stickers, and maybe an important piece of mail. I didn’t put all of them into my binder, as they are rather thick, but I am using them as section dividers.

Month Tabs

These month tabs make finding everything so easy! It’s a full on calendar but also provides you with a place for notes. Since I work at a college, I was eagerly awaiting the 2013 – 2014 tabs to be released so I could start writing down important dates for next year.

Weekly Planner Sheets

I put these behind each month tab. I actually only put them in for one or two months at a time…I don’t need to know what my week looks like for a week six months from now. That’s what my Google Calendar is for! My one gripe with the weekly pages is that they don’t have all of the hours and they don’t have the half hour marks. I believe the daily sheets have more, but I want to be able to look at my week at a glance. Once nice thing is that the reverse side is a page for notes. You can use this for a to do list for the following week or really anything…I tend to leave these blank. Oops.

Mini Filler Paper

This is your typical loose leaf binder paper, except it fits in the Mini Binder. I keep some in my binder for notes and I also use these sheets for making my epic to do lists. I will then put it with the current week page.

Even when I was younger, I was obsessed with going school supply shopping. I am completely okay that I have not grown out of that!!

Ackkkk…just saw that Carly from College Prepster just wrote about planners!! Yikes! I swear I didn’t copy her…I received my package at the beginning of this week and promptly wrote my post. I guess it’s true what they say…great minds think alike!

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A Review of Planners

For as long as I can remember, I have used a planner. I’ve had several types over the years and I’ve found that the amount I use the planner doesn’t relate to how much I have to do, but how much I like the planner. I could have tons and tons to do but if the planner doesn’t work well for me, I won’t write things in it. Below I’ve listed the three favorite planners I’ve had.

Quo Vadis

I used the daily planner back when I had tons to do and I was always on the go. It was small enough to shove in even a purse but had enough space to make to do lists. I also liked that you could buy refills so you could keep the same cover. I decorated my cover with stickers, so it was unique to me! The one thing I didn’t like was that it did not have a monthly calendar style page anywhere in it. That would have been helpful when planning future events, although with as much as I was doing, I don’t think I was planning very far into the future. Also, something that bothered me was that it went by calendar year, not academic year. I was a student when I used this planner and I still work in a school setting, so an academic year planner is more useful for me.

Lilly Pulitzer

Once I started working full time, I needed something that showed the months. Being in a sorority must have rubbed off on me because I bought a Lilly Pulitzer planner. I bought the large one which was slightly taller than my Quo Vadis planner. Just to put it in perspective, the jumbo is the size of a normal notebook. I loved how it was set up with the months breaking up the weekly pages. I also enjoyed all the fun, colorful stickers. I didn’t like that there wasn’t enough space for me to write down my appointments and a to do list. Also, there’s a lot of other stuff in the planner that I didn’t need, like an address book. It got to the point where I used the Lilly planner just to write down appointments and a separate notepad to keep a running to do list.

Russell + Hazel

While I was in undergrad, a friend introduced me to Russel + Hazel. She got all her binders from there and her stuff looked so organized. I had always looked at reviews of their Smartdate system, but it was so expensive. I finally decided to buy it as a reward for my first big girl job…also I already get confused for a student, I might has well have a more grown-up looking planner than them. The thing that drew me to this system was that you can customize it for whatever you need – the paper comes in little packs that you can put in a binder. I chose the mini binder and it’s about the same size as my Lilly planner was. I bought monthly tabs, weekly pages, and filler paper for to do lists. I can put it in whatever order I want!! There are some things I don’t like…the boxes on the monthly calendar aren’t as large as my old one and on the weekly pages, I thought the appointment slots would be by half hour for some reason, so I have to make some adjustments.


Honestly, I haven’t found any sort of online planner that I absolutely love. I enjoy being able to cross something off my to do list and to color code and stick funny stickers on things. For just a straight up calendar, I do enjoy Gmail, but as I use Outlook more and more for work, I am starting to like that as well. The other day, I whipped out my planner at the doctor’s office and got some funny looks…I just most people just input stuff into their phones these days.

What planners do you use? How do you organize your to do lists?

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The Best (and Worst) of the Desk

Well…this is ironic. I already had a College Prepster-inspired post planned for Monday, but today Carly said she wanted to see people’s desks. Unfortunately, since I want to remain anonymous for the sake of my job and the pictures of my dog and friends’ kids would give my identity away, there will be no pictures.

The Basics

Since my desk is in my office, I didn’t get to pick it out. It’s rather boring, but I’m very happy that it’s not a cubicle. It’s also rather large. Other things that I didn’t get to choose? My phone and my computer. My office phone barely serves a purpose. I was provided with a cell phone and that is the number I give everybody. As for my computer, at home I have an iMac, but sadly PDFM U gave me a Windows computer. It could be worse though. The computer they gave me is a laptop and it has a docking station so at my desk I can use a “regular” keyboard and mouse. I also have a monitor, so if I open my laptop while on the docking station, I basically have two monitors. I have a bad habit of keeping my email ALWAYS open on my laptop screen which is terrible for productivity. However, it has inspired me to keep my inbox relatively clean and organized.

Personal Touches

I mentioned earlier that I have lots of personal photos around. I have an old ribbon board that just did not match anything in my apartment. I brought it to my office and use it to display photos and cards. The sororities on campus always send me the cutest thank you cards! I seriously need to ask them where they order these cards from. I also bought some office supplies to help keep my desk organized. I have a magazine file to hold folders, mail, and papers that just don’t have a home yet. When I first started working, the Human Resources department gave me a school mug that I use to hold pens (Pentel RSVP, fine point, black ink), scissors, and highlighters.

Let There Be Light!

I hate the big fluorescent overhead light in my office, so I brought in a desk lamp. It can be a little dark, especially with the sun setting earlier, so I might raid my apartment to see what else I can bring in. Maybe a floor lamp in the corner?


One of the first things I ordered when I got settled in my new office was a four month dry erase calendar. I’ve color coded all the areas I oversee so I can see what’s going on at a glance. I also have an agenda I carry around EVERYWHERE with me. Seriously, there’s nights that I’ve been out on the town wondering just why my purse is so heavy only to see my agenda peeking out. I am a huge, huge fan of Google Calendar, but my school’s email system is Outlook-based…meaning that I use the Outlook calendar. For the first two months, I tried to use both, but I would forget to copy things over and it was a mess. I’ve since come to terms with using my Outlook calendar…now that I figured out how to color code it and how NOT to have my phone alarm go crazy at all hours of the day.

Stay Hydrated!

Other staples on my desk? A glass of water, hand lotion, and lip balm. We have a water cooler by our administrative assistant’s desk and I feel like I’m constantly going out there for more water. Oh well, I suppose there are worse problems to have in life. My other addictions are the lotion and lip balm. I currently have TWO  types of lotion on my desk…a pump bottle of St. Ives and one from Bath and Body Works. My lip balm of choice is Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick. There have been days where I have walked back to my apartment to get it.

Coming soon…?

I really need to come up with a better way to file papers and tidy my office. Because I’m constantly running around campus, there seems to always be a stack of papers somewhere. Maybe that is something I can tackle while students are on winter break. I have another spot on my wall with a sticky note that says “diplomas”. There was no way I could afford those schmancy diploma frames when I graduated, but someday I will frame those expensive pieces of paper with expensive frames and smile at them while feeling important AND broke.

So that, ladies and gentlemen, is where The Author gets her work done.

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So Call Me Maybe?

I like to consider myself ahead of the curve technologically-speaking. I was one of the first fifteen people in line for an iPhone at my local Apple store back on June 29, 2007. I willingly switched to timeline on Facebook. I have yet to embrace Google+, but my rationale for that is none of my friends use it either.

One of my friends was in my office earlier this summer when I got an email which caused seemingly three hundred different beeps around the office. She started laughing and asked how I kept up with everything. I’ll admit, the notifications can be annoying. Anybody remember the episode of The Office with WUPHF?

What devices did I have as a student?

Well, let’s see, when I started undergrad NOBODY my age had a smart phone. I went to school with a laptop and a cell phone that called people. That’s it. Also, there was no wireless in the residence halls and barely any in the classrooms. Those were some dark times. By the time I graduated, I had upgraded my laptop and had been through many, many phones. In grad school, I purchased an iPad that was to accompany me to conferences and on-campus interviews. I also wound up using it to take notes in class and staff meetings.

What devices do I use as a professional?

I personally own an iPhone, iPad, and desktop computer. My job provided a laptop with a docking station in my office and a cell phone for work-purposes. I use my iPad for work a lot…taking notes at staff meetings and training, emailing people when I’m on the go. I haven’t been undocking my laptop to haul it around too much.

One thing I worry about is my dependence on technology and how much I need to rely on it for work. Whenever I’m going to be somewhere for an extended amount of time that has iffy cell phone coverage, I worry about who might be trying to contact me. Usually nobody calls me, but I swear, whenever I am away from my phone for sometime, that’s when people call. We had two days with no internet here earlier this summer. Nothing got accomplished. So many of our systems are online that even a simple question from a phone call was difficult to answer.

For those of you iPad users out there, what are some apps you recommend? What are some devices you could not imagine life without?

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Office Organization

One of my closest friends from grad school is a P and I’m a J. No, those aren’t our initials and this isn’t one of those games where “I like apples and the color green, but not lemons or the color blue.” The letters are part of our MBTI code and don’t worry, this is not an entry about the MBTI. No matter how many MBTI activities I have to facilitate to RAs and student leaders, I do not feel qualified enough to write one of those.

I’m just writing to talk about how my J-self organized my office for the upcoming year. Sometimes, I contemplate starting a side career as a life planner/organizer/manager. Several of my friends have asked for my help and I’ve given it free of charge, now all I need is a testimonial from one of them and a wealthy but disorganized individual…

Back to the subject. See, I need to be organized because I clearly have the attention span of a golden retriever in a field of squirrels. I’m very much a list maker, a calendar lover, and a color coder. I love being able to take a glance over at my calendar and know exactly what is going on because of the colors. I love being able to cross off tasks after I’ve completed them – it makes me feel accomplished! So what sort of organization systems have I implemented here?


I use my Google calendar and my pen-and-paper planner constantly. The important part for this is choosing a system that works for you. I like Google because of the ability to share, the many choices of color coding, and the tasks option. I also have my planner that I can write important tasks that need to be done, like going to the store or sending a birthday card. Additionally, I recently ordered a four month dry erase board calendar. I plan on using this to map out the entire semester so I can make sure major projects aren’t running into each other and that I’m not try to schedule a major event during midterms or homecoming. I bought many colors of dry erase markers so I can bring some color coding to my walls!

Keep Everything Together

I made a list of all the function areas that I will be working in and made a binder for each of those. They all have a section for important dates as well as project sheets which basically details what I want to do and when I want it done by and provides a place for me to take notes. I also made an “About the Staff” section that includes little profile pages for each of my staff members, so I can access things like their major and birthday quickly. For the buildings I supervise, I made sure to include a section for facilities issues and the building’s roster. I’m sure as the year goes on, I will find more sections to create and will be designing more printables!


I make lists for everything. I’ve seen a picture going around that says “1. Make List 2. Cross Off #1”. I can totally relate to that. There were days in grad school where I’d do something, then add it to the list just to be able to cross it off. The other day, I found myself getting overwhelmed by the amount of project sheets in my binders. Every time I come up with a (brilliant) idea, I create a project sheet for it and assign it a “due date”. Some of these things aren’t “due” until the beginning of next semester, but others are things I have been working on since my first day here. I went through each binder and all the projects that were “due” before the school year started and basically made notes in one place saying what the project was, where I was on it, and what else needed to be done. For some of these, the “what next” was replaced by “next steps” just because of the amount of things that needed to be done and because certain aspects couldn’t even be started until I finished something else. Creating this list and breaking larger projects into smaller ones was a way of making my work manageable for me.

How have you implemented your organization skills in your office? Please let me know below, I’m always looking for better ideas!

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