Phew, it's been a crazy busy start to the summer—I can't believe it's already almost July! I have now officially come down from the exhaustion (and excitement!) of finishing my first dissertation chapter and am attempting to get back into a normal routine again. I have to say, it's hard. I am feeling the pull of all sorts of creative projects (sewing pillows, picking out artwork, developing new products for the new shop) even as I am trying to stay on track with my schoolwork. With that in mind, I thought it might be cool to share some of the things I use every day to keep myself productive and on track. Join me for a tour around my desk, will you?

one — Last year for about two weeks I tried to pretend that I didn't need a paper planner anymore. I figured, I take my cell phone everywhere and use iCal all the time, I wouldn't use it, right? Ha! the simple act of making to do lists and jotting down weekly appointments in this handsome book helps me feel prepared the face the world, even when everything else seems to be falling apart. moleskine weekly planner, $21.50

two — As a lettering nerd and someone who considers note taking a very serious activity, I am certifiably obsessive about the pens I use. These super thin retractable pens are the absolute best. pilot g-2 extra fine pens, pack of 12 for $17.49

three — Speaking of pens, I have recently discovered the secret to clear, dynamic notes: multiple writing implements! What does that mean, you ask? It means for headers or text I want to emphasize I use a bolder pen and with body text or random notes I use a fine-tipped pen. Since I am obsessed with Pilot Pens, these have become a go to favorite in the bolder variety. pilot vball extra fine point, pack of 12 for $15.99

four — This may be a no brainer, but as I continue researching and writing my dissertation I have found I need to cart documents everywhere. The easiest way to do that has been to use this jump drive, which conveniently and safely stores inside itself and has a ton of memory. sandisk usb drive, 64GB for $29.99

five — Sometimes you just need to work through a thought, jotting some rough ideas down while still leaving enough room on the page to go back and highlight the important parts later. I love this notebook because each sheet is divided into two sections: a main column for normal notes and a smaller side column to mark down key themes or big ideas. Plus the orange cover is cute too! rhodia meeting notebook, $12.23

six — Let's be honest: we all make mistakes. And, if you are like me, most of the time you want to meticulously purge them from your notes. Enter this magic clickable eraser that lasts forever and removes stray marks beautifully. pentel clic eraser, $2.25

seven —You know how, when you are working on a project, you seem to accumulate random information like crazy? At least I know that when I put together a blog post or a paper, I find myself gathering links, images, videos, etc. all in a mishmosh. This internet application helps me save, organize and share all that information and is, basically, a beautifully laid out lifesaver. dropmark, free

eight — Bright colors plus perfectly-sized sticky tabs equal organizational bliss (at least for me!). Since I run through a lot of library books and notations in my line of work, I rely on these pretty puppies to keep my place or my thought. Different colors can represent different ideas or can simply help inject some rainbow love into those boring brown library covers. post-it page flags, 500 for $7

nine — A zero email inbox is pretty much impossible in my life, but at least with this handy application I can boomerang some of the most important messages back to the top when I need them most. Set a coffee date with someone a month away? This service will let you send a reminder (either to yourself or to your friend) on a particular time or date or every week/month/day for those more regular meetings. followupthen, free

ten — We all know that Google has changed the way we use the internet and Gmail has changed the way we chat/email each other, but Google Drive is the real revolutionary force in my life. I use it to store all my dissertation notes, readings, and backup drafts, which I can access anyway online or off. It's awesome! google drive, free for entry level plan

That's it! Now you know all my secrets! What do you think? Any useful tools I missed?

p.s. Need to get organized? Check out my other tips (plus free downloads) here.

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