Stay organized & Study Right in College

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

When I started college my study space was a post-it note nightmare with disorganized due dates haphazardly stuck to my desk, mirrors and textbooks. My grades suffered. High school had been a easy breezy whirlwind of practicing clarinet, guitar, piano and dancing to Lady Gaga with my friends. This was different. After my first semester, my grades were not the beautiful sparkling A's I was used to seeing. At first, I panicked. Then I pulled it together and got organized.

Here's how I did it! You can do it too!

Write It Down

How you keep track of everything is up to you! You can use your phone, Google Calendars or a planner. Experiment and see what works best for you. Planners are my preferred way of keeping track because you don't have to keep them charged. If you choose to use a planner, invest in a quality one that will not fall apart before the year is through. My planner is from a small leather goods shop in my hometown. I've heard great things about Passion Planners and Erin Condren planners.

At the beginning of each semester I like to look through my syllabi and pencil in important test dates and quiz dates.

At the beginning of each week, usually on Monday afternoons, I sit down and schedule in everything important for the week including boring chores like laundry and grocery shopping. As the week progresses, if I didn't get to one of the tasks, I move it to the next day until I can cross it out.

Work Flow

Create a designated study space and keep it organized. It can be your desk at home, and a space in the library or any building on-campus. Do whatever it takes to make your study session successful: play music, stand up while you study, make that coffee! Also, never underestimate the power of your phones underappreciated do not disturb setting. Don't be afraid to turn on your phone's "Do Not Disturb" setting.


My university actually had a person who worked with students to make daily schedules. If you have a hard time staying realistic with your shcedule, see if there is someone like this at your university, or call upon a super organized friend to show you their secrets. A great schedule helps balance everything out when you have a part-time job, internship and full class load.

In Class

I didn't carry separate notebooks for each of my classes, instead I kept a five section notebook for my classes. I found this worked better because I wouldn't accidentally grab the wrong notebook when I was in a rush. Also if my professors posted lecture notes or PowerPoints ahead of time (rare!) I would print them out, take them to class and take my own notes on the printed copy. This really cut down on writing time and hand cramps.
For assigned reading, I would use sticky tabs to keep track of what I had and hadn't read. For example, if I had a history book section to read before class, but didn't get to it all the night before class, I would mark where I left off and where I needed to read to with sticky tabs. That way I wouldn't forget to finish my reading prior to the exam.
I never took my laptop to class. The temptation of Pinterest, Reddit, Twitter and blogging were too strong to resist.


Set goals and don't tell anyone about them until they are accomplished. This is the secret to life. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch this video.


Man down, man down! What do you do when you have too much to do? Know what is important to you. For this you can look to your planner for the week and create a list of priorities from there. This is what mine probably would have looked like on a Tuesday night.

  • Analysis due on Friday
  • Articles and media lists due on Wednesday
  • Paper due Thursday
  • Volunteer hours (at least 4)
  • Proofread Paper
  • Finish analysis
  • Submit articles and media lists
If possible
  • Blogging
  • Put in some extra time at work
  • Extra volunteer hours


There are several apps I used in college, and still use to stay organized.
Mindly- Mindly is a thought mapping app. I used it for research paper brainstorming session and for keeping idea lists for my blog.
Quizlet- Quizlet is a study tool. You can make your own flashcards and play games to memorize information. I used Quizlet to study vocabulary for four semesters of Spanish. It was also really helpful when I had memorize cases and laws for my media law and ethics courses.

How do you stay organized?

What I Learned in 2015

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Give Yourself Some Time
At the end of 2014, I was in a very stressed out place. Between my job and internship I hadn't taken any time to rest. So in 2015 I enrolled in a yoga class and practiced yoga three times a week. Later this year I spent more time doing DIY projects and painting. One blank canvas became a painting on our living room wall. My long neglected blog was revived. Taking a little time to do what you love is so important, but so easy to forget.

Less is More
You don't need a lot to be happy. This is something, I've always believed. This year I focused on not accumulating stuff just for the sake of it. I went through my closet and got rid of clothes that I'd held on to since middle school. I also cleaned out my desk. Experiences are so much more meaningful than things.

Life is Short
This year my grandmother passed away, shortly after my grandfather passed. My mom asked for my help in writing both of their obituaries.While writing the obituaries, I realized how colorful, meaningful and wonderful both of their lives had been. Both traveled very different paths, but accomplished so much. It was a beautiful reminder that life is short, so live it to the fullest and love everyone.

Year in Review

January marked the beginning of my last semester of college. Most of my degree hours were complete, so I had room in my schedule to take a lot of fun classes including yoga, soccer and gardening. I was elected social chair of my service sorority. So I spent a lot of my time planning fun events. My last semester of college was truly a great way to wrap up four amazing years.

In May I graduated with a degree in Journalism, Public Relations & New Media. It was an exciting time. For the majority of my undergraduate career I had been planning to attend grad school to study strategic communication after graduating, but had a change of heart during my last semester of university.

Soon, I was walking down the aisle to marry my best friend, Mason. When I was younger, I never imagined that I would be married at 22. If someone had asked me before college if marriage was my next move after graduation, I would have laughed in their face and told them about my cat lady plans.
 I had never even really given thought to my wedding until I was engaged.  Life is so weird sometimes.

After the wedding, Mason and I headed to New York City. We had a great time exploring! We stayed at the Algonquin hotel and became friends with the hotel's resident cat, Matilda. We also went on a fun dinner cruise and saw the Statue of Liberty. Mason had way too much fun taking pictures of museum artifacts with my camera.

Dinosaur photo courtesy of M. Waldon
Soon, we were back in Austin moving all of my belongings into Mason's place. It didn't feel like home for a few months, but I liked it anyway.

Then the job search began. At first, interviews were difficult. I couldn't make up my mind about what I wanted to do. When I finally I changed my name I was overwhelmed with job interviews, and I still wasn't sure about grad school, so I accepted a part time position doing something I love, and familiarized myself with the freelance writing world.
Everything was finally beginning to fall into place.

In early October, my beloved pet cockatiel of 15 years, Nicholas Cage, died.

October and November were not easy months. My grandmother passed away after a long fight with cancer and shortly thereafter, my grandfather also passed. During these months, I spent most of my weekends visiting home with my husband.

December arrived quickly. This Christmas was my first Christmas as a wife, which meant doing a lot of last minute Christmas shopping and celebrating four Christmases in a few short days. It was great to be surrounded by family.

Overall, 2015 was bittersweet.

Hello, 2016!
This year I hope to practice yoga more, meet new people and explore my city.

Last Minute Christmas Gift: DIY Instagram Photo Ornament

Friday, December 18, 2015

I would like to pride myself on my Christmas shopping expertise, but truth be told my fingers are crossed behind my back. I'm holding out the hope that my late night, last minute Amazon shopping spree gifts come through and arrive before Christmas this year.

It's not that I don't care to Christmas shop for others, I just always want the gift to be thoughtful and exactly what they wanted. So I agonize over gifts and overwhelm myself with options, then panic because I haven't finished my Christmas shopping.

Here's to everyone else out there like me.

This makes a great last minute Christmas gift. What's even better is, the Instagram photos give it a personal touch.

  • Scissors
  • Thin wire/clear string
  • Tape
  • Printer
  • Paper
  • Clear glass Christmas ornaments
Begin by printing a few photos from Instagram. My photos measure 1.5x1.5 inches, adjust yours based on the size of the ornaments you purchased.

Pick two photos and flip one over. Take a piece of tape and attach your string or wire, then set the other picture on top. Make sure your string is thick enough that it doesn't break on the sharp edge of the ornament.

Remove the top from the glass bulb.

Attach the wire by looping it through the top of the ornament.

Gently roll up the photo and press it inside the glass bulb. If your photo doesn't unroll all the way, use something long and thin, like a pen or small dowel to straighten the photo out.

Reattach the top of the ornament.

You can tell by this photo that my camera loves to pick up dust and reflections.

From Diamonds to Sand