5 Things That Will Help You Get Organized

advice, books, organizationVirginia HartComment

I was in Staples the other day and witnessed a flurry of back-to-school shopping that put the biggest smile on my face. I even helped a girl choose which pens to purchase during a moment of indecision. (If you follow me on Snapchat and witnessed my awkward spiel on the best pens, you know I'm a huge nerd on the topic.) Although I'm no longer in school, this time of year will always represent an opportunity for a fresh start. In order to take advantage of a new beginning, however, I believe we must set aside time to get things in order, adjust any habits that need adjusting, and actually press the reset button instead of waiting for it to reset automatically -- it won't. I derive a sense of contentment and peace from feeling organized, and I've learned that having and using the right tools to facilitate the process is very important.

Below are five organizational tools that I've either been using for a while or to which I've been recently introduced ↓


1. If there's one thing we learned from Carrie Bradshaw - ya know, aside from the importance of girlfriends and cute shoes - it's to back up our computers. I use this external hard-drive and try and back up once every two weeks, sometimes more. I keep all files for clients for one year (sometimes longer for friends and family) and then I get rid of anything that I don't think I'll use again. I've also started using Dropbox to save and share a lot of things. I really love that it syncs with Carousel which backs up the photos on my phone. When you know that important files are both saved and easily accessible, it makes life a lot easier. (image via)

2. Part of my crazy method in feeling organized is mapping out a plan, and getting things transferred from my head to paper. Jumbo post-its are my jam for this. I use them for to-do lists, scratch pads for calligraphy, to sketch out ideas, and to write / draw freely to clear my head. I'm all about the neon, too. (images via)

3. I know I've mentioned this before, but Meg Biram's GSD (get shit done) notepad collection is incredibly helpful to break down your list into actionable items, fill out a calendar the best way for you (so many options out there are cluttered with quotes and other nonsense) whether that's divvying up times of day, individual people in your fam, or even planning meals. And I use her focus post-its when I need to prioritize three main things I want to accomplish in a day which is helpful when I'm feeling particularly scattered. (image via)

4. I spent a few days with my cousins recently which was such a treat. One of them commutes from his fraternity house at Stanford to code at a tech company in San Francisco. (#smartcookie) Although I'm somewhat tech averse with my affinity for all things paper, I definitely still rely on my phone and online calendar for certain tasks and reminders. So when I asked him what apps I needed, he told me about Trello. I love that I can easily drag things from one column to another, based on their stage of completion (seeing things on the "done" list is so gratifying!), and that I can share the lists with others for easy project management. It's kind of similar to Wunderlist, which I've mentioned in the past, so I'm in the process of figuring out which one I like the most. (image via)

5. If you're going to take any of my advice, please let it be to READ THIS BOOK. I started implementing the KonMari method this past weekend and I know this is cheesy to say, given the title and all, but it's already changing my life. There's a reason millions of copies have sold! Although I was a little peeved that "stationery" was misspelled three times in the book (c'mon, editors!), this is my must-read suggestion for the remaining weeks of summer if you haven't already done so. Mom, I mailed you my copy this morning ;) (image via)

5 Ways to Organize Your New Year

organizationVirginia Hart2 Comments

IMG_2792 1. Unsubscribe. Perhaps one of your goals in 2015 is to declutter your life, and this is a great way to start. My main Gmail account was turning into a black hole, and there were so many promotional emails that I received (and wasn't reading!) that it was downright absurd. With email being such an important tool in both my personal and business life, I don't want it to feel stressful and cluttered, especially since I manage several accounts. They can distract, add unecessary shopping temptation, and add anxiety to responding to emails.  And don't get me wrong -- there are still certain companies, brands, and bloggers whose emails I really look forward to sitting down and reading, but there are also SO many I have no desire in even receiving. I finally sat down, figured out who I wanted to hear from and swept away the rest. How do you stop getting certain emails? Scroll to the very bottom of the email and click unsubscribe (usually in the fine print) and make sure you reach a confirmation page which might involve a couple clicks and steps. It actually took me quite a bit of time to tackle this, but it felt so good and it will save me so much time going forward. Are you getting too much real junk mail, like catalogs and things you simply take from the mailbox to the trashcan? Go to and simply sign up and enter the companies that are sending you stuff that you want to stop receiving and they'll take care of the rest. You can also unsubscribe in the form of social media which is something I still need to do. Are there certain people who only post negative, snarky posts? Block them. Are there people you follow that you scroll right by on Twitter or Instagram for whatever reason? This sounds bad, but really, why are you following them then? Get 'em out of your feed! By unsubscribing - in all ways - you open your time and attention to things that matter more.

2. Figure out the calendar and planning system that works for you. I think it's important to figure out if you respond best to having everything organized electronically or on paper -- or somewhere in between. While I'm obviously a total nut for paper goods and would freak if I were to ever lose my physical planner, I also rely on technology a lot these days and am discovering a happy medium. While I'm testing out a couple products and methods, and plan to do a future post on all the things I prefer to use to keep myself on track, I wanted to highlight my new obsession pictured above: Meg Biram's GSD pads. GSD stands for Get Shit Done. (Yep. I have it on a tshirt, too, and I wear it when I'm feeling particularly inspired to tackle the day.) While you can use the weekly notepad to split up your day in terms of time, I actually use it to split up different categories of my day. I use the Focus post-its for giving myself three main tasks to accomplish either in a day or in a certain amount of allotted time. And then I use the GSD Master List - my favorite - to make a giant list of all the things I need to do, listed under different categories or! ...I use it for a big project that needs to be broken down into smaller items and to-dos I can actually wrap my head around.

3. Get a filing system and make it so it's easy to access. After we moved into our apartment in the summer, I sort of just put things somewhere. I'm fortunate to have a giant wall of bookshelves (seriously, for NYC apartments, giant) and a beautiful built-in desk with tons of shelf space, but in order to keep on keepin' on, I just had to get things off the floor as quickly as possible. But did it have any rhyme or reason? Not really. And I've just sort of just kept that process as we continue to accumulate wedding photos! We bought a filing cabinet before Christmas and carried it home from Staples (life sans car), and I finally started a big ol' overhaul to rearrange things to make more sense  -- it's currently in that stage where it's looking worse before it looks better (my office is literally the nook right inside our apartment door so Patrick's been opening the door to me standing on a step-ladder a time or two!), but I'm getting there. As I go through boxes and files and folders and bins, I'm realizing what needs to be more visible and accessible. If you keep medical records or folders of bills, put it somewhere that you don't have to climb to, to add to it - otherwise a pile of "stuff to put away" builds and we all know how that goes. sidenote on medical records: We finally saw Gone Girl the other night (so good, but also so...frustrating) and the line where the detective asks if he knows his wife's blood type reminded me that I don't know my husband's nor does he - !!! - we need to fix that, stat, and I need to make him his very own medical record folder for which he'll thank me later.

4. Break down your chores into actionable, attainable goals. Rather than having "organize home" on your to-do list (I don't know about you, but that just gives me the sweats!), break it down to things that take between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Look around your home and pinpoint a corner, a piece of furniture, a drawer even! Organize your linen closet, clean your makeup brushes and makeup bag, go through your junk bin(s), scrub inside your fridge, find 5 things to donate from your closet, etc. Throw on some catchy music (don't judge, but I had One Direction's Steal My Girl on repeat yesterday as I did this) and attack one thing. Pretty soon that one will add up to a lot.

5. Delete your phone photos and apps you never-ever use. Ugh, I have a love/hate relationship with my phone. I don't have any sort of iPad or Kindle and am trying to have less of a relationship with my phone after reading articles about the percentage of waking time we spend staring at screens, but the truth of the matter is I rely a lot on that silly little device. It's my personal and business phone, it's my communication/text/email device, it's my thing to look at when I'm standing in the dreaded post office line that has been torturous as of late, it's my tiny Taylor Swift portable music, my navigational system, my weather woman, my capsule of visual inspiration, and my way to track various facets of my life.  I'm saving up for a new one - and am considering making an overdue switch to a New York number which will be weirrrd - and even though I'm already up for a renewal, I'm being strict with myself and making myself work for it...not only by enforcing a work/monetary goal so it'll be that much more rewarding, but also by first organizing the one I have. Phone companies are able to easily transfer everything from one device to a new one - which is great! - but do I need all the stuff on mine now? Um no. If you need me, I'll be deleting the 152 blurry pictures of a komodo dragon I took on our honeymoon.

How do you plan to organize this year? Will you be changing any of your systems and methods? Is there a planner or notepad or app you can't live without?