How to Handle Stress and Get Organized

It's back to school season, which, for all the parents out there, means a trip to stock up on supplies.  Personally, I loved school supply shopping as a kid - there was something about picking out that year's notebook scheme (probably Lisa Frank) and finding the perfect pencil pouch that made school and fall so exciting (I was a bit of a bookworm if you can't tell from that statement).  During the days leading up to the start of classes, I'd carefully print my name on each of my folders and notebooks, vowing to write as perfectly as that for the rest of the year.  Then I'd meticulously arrange and then rearrange everything in my backpack until it fit just right.

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I'm now an adult, yet every time I take a trip to Target and pass the school aisles, I get that same glimmer of excitement.  Highlighters! Binders! Pens! Erasers! Colored Pencils!  While the exotic patterns and colors may have shifted towards the plain and black, the need for organization continues to be pretty high on my list. And really, it's no wonder considering the daily stress most Americans experience.

It can be tough sometimes trying to balance work, home, travel, and if you're like me, grad school on top of it all.  Sometimes the stress can get so high that it seems like nothing will ever get done.  When that happens to me though, I just try to take a deep breath, go back to basics, and get organized.

The truth is that no matter how much of a type A personality someone has, and no matter how many things are precisely penciled into a date book, we're all humans and life does throw us some unexpected obstacles now and then.  But I've found that organizing helps...a lot.  

My favorite tools for getting things back on track range from planners to notebooks, email categories to google calendar.  Below I've included my top organizing tools - and where to get them.

  1. Planner - This is where I always begin. I'm old school I suppose, in that I really like to have a physical copy of any itinerary with me at all times (as great as technology is, it does malfunction).  The trick for me with this one is buying a planner in a small to medium size (small enough to fit in a bag or purse easily, but large enough with space to write in).  You can get endless planner designs at any of these shops: Patina, Barnes & Noble, Magers & Quinn, and Paper Source
  2. Google Calendar - This one is my baby.  As often as I physically write things down, I make sure to double up and also input it into my virtual planner just in case.  Plus, the great part about the calendar is that you can access it from any device with the internet AND set up text and/or email notifications for events so you never forget an appointment.  Cha-ching!
  3. Email Organization - Easy, breezy, beautiful email labels have saved my life.  Seriously, if you're tired of searching in vain for that one email that that one person sent you that one time, follow these tips: http://email.about.com/od/gmailtips/qt/How_to_Organize_and_Categorize_Messages_with_Labels_in_Gmail.htm
  4. Post-Its - Ok, so this one is less of a nice, flashy tool, and more of a traditional means of reminding yourself to pick up milk after work, or to go to a meeting that you know you'll otherwise forget.  Obviously, you can find these at any Target, Walmart, etc. Huzzah!

So as we head into fall, and you're out there shopping for back to school goods with your kids, remember to stop and treat yourself to some much-needed supplies.  You just might find that stress isn't quite as big of a monster as it once seemed.

Guest post by Megan Warner