GradLife Chic


Organized Chic: Day Designer Review + Giveaway

Planners, OrganizationMaria S. Jones8 Comments

It's the most wonderful time of the yeeeaarrr! Back to school time has always been my favorite time of the year. New pens! New sticky notes! New planners, OH MY!

To me, the most exciting part about the back to school grind is getting organized for the new academic year. As a PhD student, it's a bit different since during the summer we are still actively engaged in our research projects presenting at conferences, and even teaching summer courses. But the year brings back journal club meetings, teaching assistantships, our own coursework,  research assistants to manage and mentor, and any extracurricular activities. With the new semester just starting, I want to share with you the way I keep on top of all these different tasks: My Planner. 

The Contract

If you follow me on Instagram, you can tell I am a full on planner addict. It got so bad that for the 2014-2015 year, my best friend had me sign a contract that I would only use one planner for the year and if I purchased another one I would owe her $20 and she would produce an "I Told You So" music video. We had to rewrite the original note (in purple) because it was full of nonsense terms that gave me an out at every turn. Like a true best friend, she changed the wording to ensure I was actually held accountable if I broke the contract. This was the HARDEST year not to buy planners because so many new gorgeous ones came out and older ones were redesigned so beautifully! 

Sample Day in my Day Designer

I knew I wanted a daily planner because I like to schedule my to do list instead of just writing out a long list. For me, it ends up becoming more of a wish list of things I hope to maybe accomplish sometime in the near future. The original planner I chose was Emily Ley's Simplified Planner because I wanted to try the day on one page style and LOVE her inspiring and colorful products full of ideas for simplifying. But then I discovered the Day Designer by Whitney English and it was a total game changer. They are very similar in their layouts but as a #GoalGetter, I was especially attracted to the goal setting and branding worksheets at the beginning of Whitney's planner. I thought it was such perfect timing since, if you recall from my first post I was about to take a medical leave and was revamping my short-and-long-term goals. This planner allowed me to structure my days while I was on leave so that I stayed pretty active in the academic community and was extremely helpful during my first semester back in action.

Color Coded Goal Categories

As tempting as it was to buy ALL THE PLANNERS last year, I was extremely satisfied with my choice. The hard cover and gold corners protected the planner very well over the course of the year. It is such an amazing tool with your top 3 must do's for the day, a schedule on one side, a to do list on the other, and boxes to track deadlines, budgets, reminders, and dinner. As a psychology student, it was perfect to fill in my schedule with classes, scheduled research  participants and committee meetings.  I love to use the long list to track new tasks that pop up that day and the top 3 to prioritize my life. I use a different category for each box: 1)Research 2)Teaching 3)Life so that I can accomplish one item from each category. If you're interested, Whitney English still has some styles of the Academic Year edition available in the Day Designer Shop


For the 2015-2016 Academic Year, I decided to use the Erin Condren Life Planner for my everything planner. In case you are wondering why I chose a different planner after loving the Day Designer, don't worry it's all part of my plan! As a psychologist and planner addict, I am doing a longitudinal planner experiment where I try different ones each year and determine which is the best to fit my needs. I purchased the vertical layout because I wanted to have a side bar to keep all my general errands and to dos together for that week. This way I can use the different boxes each day to do time blocking for when I want to accomplish specific tasks like my reading and writing schedule, advisor meetings, or personal appointments. Not to mention this planner has such bright and happy colors that keep me inspired! Let me know in the comments below if you are interested in a more detailed post about how I am using the multiple sections of this planner to stay organized. I feel optimistic this will keep me organized and productive!


For my first giveaway on the blog, I want to share the planner love with you! 


 Winners will be chosen to receive a Day Designer for Target Weekly/Monthly Planner! 

These beauties have a hard cover, goal planning worksheets, a lined monthly calendar, and a weekly layout that features a daily top 3, hourly breakdown, and notes sections. 


 To enter, follow me on Bloglovin',Instagram,Twitter, and Pinterest

Tag a friend on any social media outlet that would be interested in this giveaway. 

That's it!

**Optional Bonus Entry**

Leave a comment below on your favorite ways to get organized! 

This giveaway is open to all Domestic U.S. Residents.

This giveaway will run for one week and will end on September 7 at 11:59PM. 

The winner will be announced on September 9, 2015. 

Good luck to everyone!

Restez Chic Toujours!


*Post contains affiliate and referral links. All products pictured were purchased by me and all opinions are genuinely my own*

Conference Chic: What's In My Bag

Academia, Organization, ProductivityMaria S. JonesComment

Welcome back to the Conference Chic series! If you are just now joining me, be sure to check out my posts on the importance of attending scientific conferences here and how I prepare for conference travel with planning rituals and Evernote here.

As a recovering over packer, I challenged myself to just stick to the essentials and I think I did a pretty good job! Knowing that I would be doing a lot of walking, I wanted my conference bag to stay light and yet still have anything I might need for the day. One tip that helped me was the fact that I ALWAYS stay at the conference hotels. Usually the more expensive hotel option, the convenience is worth the expense since most of the events will be held there which reduces your commute. Therefore, I was able to keep my bag relatively light with only my Conference Essentials. My iPad Air, a Mophie extra battery case for my iPhone, my very necessary lipstick, a small plastic envelope to corral business cards I received, a business card holder for my own cards, a conference provided water bottle to stay hydrated, as well as tea and snacks to hold me over during back to back sessions.

What To Wear

Versatility is key here since there are several different situations to account for. Professional attire for presenting and general conference attendance, slightly more casual dinner attire, and much more casual sightseeing attire. Depending on the size of the conference and field of study, attire tends to range from casual to business professional. Personally, I prefer to stick with the classic business casual attire from the airport to the conference and back. I firmly believe one can never be over dressed! You never know who you will run into on the plane and I like the idea of being prepared in case a casual airport conversation turns into a job opportunity. In another effort not to overpack, I stayed with a classically chic black and white color palette and used interchangeable pieces that all worked together to form several different outfits and professional accessories.

I look forward to giving you more tips on how to stay conference chic!

Restez Chic Toujours!

Conference Chic: Preparation is Key

Academia, OrganizationMaria S. JonesComment

Thanks to my Pre-Conference Planning Rituals, the week before a conference is often the most fun time making preparations as opposed to a stressful rush trying to get things together. As you can see in this colorful image here, I am at my desk and browsing the conference website. Since these websites tend to get updated regularly with changes until the meeting, I usually wait until the week before to start planning my time at the meeting. I downloaded the conference app and started familiarizing myself with its interface so that once I arrived at SRCD I could use it to seamlessly navigate the different events.

My new business cards were also delivered this week and I was BEYOND excited to see Doctoral Candidate on them! I highly recommend that no mater what stage you are in of your career that you get some made. I have had a business card since my freshman year at Spelman College when all it had was my name, Spelman email address, and Agent of Change as my "position". I believe they make a lasting impact while networking and makes me feel a different level of prepared and professional. I usually get 250 made and there are a lot of resources for free ones online, your university may offer to pay, or you can get some business card paper from Staples and print them off yourself with Microsoft Word.

This is also when I download the final Program PDF onto my iPad in Evernote. Evernote is my go to app for corralling, tagging, and organizing all of the information that comes into my life because I love how easy it is to find so many different types of information. In order to best prepare for your conference maximizing Evernote's features I suggest that you...


Create a new notebook with the title and year of the conference

Use the Forward Email to Evernote feature for any conference related email updates you get and save them all to this notebook for easy offline access

Download a PDF version of the final conference program and also save it as a new note in this notebook

Use the annotation feature to mark which talks in the program you plan to attend

Take pictures of poster presentations, fliers, and business cards of those contacts you are interested in staying in contact with

Use well titled notes to take notes at the different talks you will be attending

I hope you found this helpful and I look forward to giving you more tips during this blog series!

Restez Chic Toujours!