Alyssa J Freitas

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why I Have A Self Named Blog

Perhaps it can be viewed as egotistical, or uninspired, or even plain boring. I'm talking about my blog title, of course. There is a lot of advice out there about how to choose your blog name, complete with checklists and stories of changing domain names and the headaches which can accompany it. Luckily, I changed my blog name awhile back and have been exceedingly happy with the decision ever since. And here's why.

Why I Have A Self Named Blog |

When I first started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. Like 0, zilch, nada. It was pretty much a hap hazard mess of whatever background and font I thought was pretty that week, and forget having a posting schedule. What I always knew from the beginning, though, was that I wanted to create content which promoted simplicity and minimalism. I was seeking it in all facets of my own life and wanted to share the struggles and successes I encountered. The original name of this here blog was Keep It Simple.

As time went on, however, I realized that this title was highly unoriginal and not the best way to be recognized in an oversaturated blogging world. I brainstormed a ton of different titles (most including the word "navy" because that's my favorite color, but as you can now see is not part of my blog design at all. I really dodged a bullet on that one!) but finally decided to go with a self named blog.

The fact of the matter is that I was thinking further than just the next few years when I made that decision. I was anticipating what would happen to my site upon graduation, when I embarked on a career, and all that would follow. Maybe this will not always be a blog. Perhaps at some point it will be an online resume or a portfolio site, or who knows what else. I wanted a name which would always represent what I was creating and what better than my own name?

There is a certain simplicity which I associate with using my name and I think it gives me great freedom to allow my site to evolve with me. Plus, I really like my name. It also is always original so I don't have to worry about copy cats.

If you are contemplating a re-brand and are questioning what you want out of your site like I was, I highly recommend considering a self named blog; especially if the domain is available! It is so valuable to own your name in every sense (can we just take a moment to appreciate that I own alyssajfreitas everywhere?! Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Gmail, you name it, I most likely have it. I think that's pretty cool!) and if you let that opportunity slip by you may regret it.

What do you think about going self named? Would you ever do it?


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Digital Minimalism: Computer Files

If there is any area of my digital life that I absolutely, positively must have in perfect order it is my computer files. As a blogger and student my files can get crazy very fast which is why it is essential to take a minimalist approach with organization. As always, I'll share what I do and the underlying principles but you'll have to experiment and modify to find out what works best for you.

Digital Minimalism: Computer Files |

What to actually save.
Luckily, I don't feel inclined to save too much (throwing things away actually gives me a little thrill) which helps to sustain the minimalist efforts. Here is what I ask myself when I go through my files:

  1. Can this be accessed elsewhere? For example, did you at some point download an e-book that you haven't referenced in a while and which you can still get from the original site?
  2. Is it still relevant?

If you answer yes to the first or no to the second then go ahead and delete that file! If you're not going to miss it don't hesitate to make way for other files or even to leave some space so your computer can run that much better.

How to file it.
Now comes the organization time. I am a huge fan of creating folders for different categories (just like what we did with our calendar) and find that it is the best way to make navigating files a breeze. You'll have to tailor to your own needs, but here are the folders I create:
Blog- with subfolders of images (with subfolders by year), backups, elements (like my about images, header, etc), traffic information, guest posts, and stock photos.
Taxes- with subfolders by year.
Professional- with a subfolder for resumes.
Freshmen, Sophomore, and Junior Year- I further divide it by semester and then by class.
High School- with a folder for college applications.
Organizations- divided into folders for each organization I'm involved in.
Uncategorized- for any random files which don't neatly fit into a category.

This is the most important part by far. I use Google Drive for all of my files which makes life so easy! If you install Drive on your computer your files are automatically saved to your google account and you can access them from anywhere you have an internet connection. The peace of mind and convenience this provides really can't be overstated.

The most important lesson is to keep it simple and allow your organization to be intuitive!

How do you organize your files?


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Seriously, You Don't Need To Instagram It

As I am writing this, I am sitting at a small table next to a window with soft morning sunlight streaming in. My view is of lovely trees and patio furniture and I am listing to the soothing sounds of breakfast being made and small groups of people enjoying their coffee. When I ordered my breakfast I found out I could get a free pastry (!) and am savoring the delectable pecan sticky bun right now. This is quite literally the most opportune Instagram moment, yet I am choosing not to pull out my phone.

Seriously, You Don't Need To Instagram It |

I love Instagram just as much as the next girl. I get excited when I see people liked my photo or commented and it brings me happiness to see the perfect images others capture. However, when I witness people living their lives and stopping to rearrange the table for the perfect shot or trying to make their children stand in just the right way and laugh at just the right time, I can't help but wonder if we really need to Instagram it all.

We are a culture obsessed with self documentation. We have an endless stream of photos capturing various events, day to day happenings, and the like. We keep each other informed up to the minute of what we are doing and who we are with, all for some validation that our lives are worthy and important (we shouldn't need the regard of others to feel this, but that's a post for another day). Some might consider it vanity and, frankly, I tend to agree. There is something inherently self centered about the frequency with which we photograph our lives.

Now, I definitely love taking pictures and creating photo books and recording my life, however the difference lies in that I do my best not to allow this documentation to take away from my enjoyment of events and the attention I give to those I am with. This is something which was put into perspective for me by my father. I remember on family vacations my mother would like to stop us and get a picture of us when there was beautiful scenery or we were at a noteworthy site. My father would always say, "No one had a picture of themselves before the early 1800s, and they all got through life just fine."

How true! Not only did no one have pictures of themselves, but when photography did start to become popular you had to go and sit for a portrait; there were no handheld cameras that you could use to document everything. To me, this proves that it is quite unnecessary to interrupt our lives to document it, just so we can share or perhaps look back on it later.

I challenge you, the next time a perfect Instagram moment comes your way, to resist whipping out your phone to capture it and instead making note of it in your mind. A few days later, let's see if you think to yourself "I should have Instagrammed that" or if you can simply enjoy the memory of the moment in your mind.

What do you think of how often we Instagram? Are you a fan? Do you find it adds to your life or takes away from your enjoyment?


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Digital Minimalism: Email

I have seen countless posts about getting to "inbox zero." I can't help but stare in wonder and feel filled with awe as I look at the screen shots of the empty inboxes of these magical wizards who seem to deal with emails before they even arrive! I am not the type of person who can create an empty inbox, but I have found a method of organization which is simple and minimalistic which I'll share with you today. The goal is that when you open your email you feel ready and equipped to deal with it, rather than overwhelmed and ready to run away screaming.

Digital Minimalism: Email |

Note: No matter what email service you use, it has the capability of organization by folders or labels or what have you. Since I'm a gmail user I'm going to refer to labels, but you can replace it with whatever method your email has.

Step 1: Unsubscribe.
You know how you signed up for a newsletter from that random company that one time so you could get a coupon? Or how you are still getting emails from that store you haven't stepped foot in in years? It's time to get that under control! Luckily there is an amazing, FREE service which makes this process incredibly easy: Unroll.Me. All you have to do is enter your email and Unroll.Me collects all of your subscriptions, making it easy to unsubscribe. Then, you'll get a daily email of your "Rollup" with all of the subscriptions you decide to keep. How awesome is it to get all of those out of control subscriptions down to ONE email a day!?!? This is really exciting and truly makes a world of difference.

Step 2: Categorize.
After you've tackled all of those pesky subscriptions, it's time to deal with the emails that really matter. I categorize the emails I get a couple of ways: Blogging, School, Professional, Health, and Organizations. I have both a school and personal email so I'll deal with my school email first.

I enjoy having labels and sub labels, so I first create a label for the year of school (i.e. Junior Year) and then under that includes financial, whichever sales competitions I'm going to that year, and any organization I'm involved in that year. Organizations which I've been in for multiple years gets their own main label. Each label is also color coded and the color coordinates with my calendar. For example, on my calendar all of my classes are purple so Junior Year is purple in my email, just as sales stuff is yellow in my calendar as well as my email.

For my personal/professional email I have a Blogging label with sub labels of Guest Posting, Interviews, Networks, and Partnerships. It's important to keep a record of your communication with companies in case you ever need to revisit expectations so this makes it easy for me to access that sort of information quickly. I also have a Professional label and then have sub labels for each company. Lastly, I have a Health label for anything related to doctors visits and the like. You may (and probably should) decide on different labels but the key is to make it specific enough that you know instantaneously where to file something but also keep it to a minimum so you don't have a full sidebar.

Step 3: Process.
Some people purposely don't open their email until after a certain time while others look at it before even getting out of bed. I fall into latter category because I want to know if there is anything I need to attend to first thing and it energizes me rather than drains me. When I check my email if there is something I can respond to or take care of in less than 5 minutes I do it right away. This is a good rule to utilize when you want to stay on top of things and keep your inbox at a minimal number.

I only label emails after I've read them and taken the necessary action, so I treat my inbox as a sort of to-do list. This may or may not work for you; just experiment to see what's most effective. When looking at it through a minimalist's eyes the most important factor is to feel able to tackle your inbox at anytime because you stay on top of it. Remember that minimalism is all about having processes in place which allow you to live your life with the most joy and ease you can.

How do you organize your inbox? Do you have any advice?


Check out other posts in the digital minimalism series here.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

3 Essential Lessons From My First Job

"Tennis Attendant." That was my title at my first job (aside from babysitting). When I went in for the interview and got the position I was pretty proud of myself for having snagged such a glamorous title. I envisioned myself in cute little tennis skirts, showing people to their courts, collecting fees, and flirting with the hot tennis boys. Ummm, not so fast there honey.

Rather, the job entailed emptying the trash, chasing people to pay for court time, cold calling to sell lessons, and cleaning unspeakably dirty bathrooms. "Glamorous" was certainly not the appropriate word to use for this position. Despite the unpleasant tasks that made up the job, I learned some valuable lessons that are applicable in any personal or professional situation.

3 Essential Lessons From My First Job |

1. Always do the right thing, even when no one is watching.
I was the only person in the office at the courts most of the time so my boss was not there to see how I was performing. While this fact led my co-workers to skimp on the work they did and do a subpar job, I maintained my usual high standard simply because it is the right thing to do. Although I thought no one took notice, some customers commented to my boss and in return I got recognition from him. When you are working, or doing anything really, it is essential to always do your best so that you are doing right by your company, but most importantly by yourself.

2. You have to demand that people respect your time, because they won't automatically.
In an ideal world we would all respect each others' time, always be early, and generally get things accomplished a lot faster. As it turns out we don't live in a utopia so we must actively stand up for ourselves. Since each employee was normally alone at the courts we had to wait for the next person to arrive before we could leave. Once my co-workers got to know me and my good nature, they realized that I wouldn't say anything if they arrived late. Not only wasn't I paid for that time I was waiting and my after work plans were delayed, but it was also a demonstration of the lack of respect I was afforded due to my undervaluing of my own time.

I wish that I had learned and implemented this lesson sooner, but I suppose it's better late than never. I now respect my own time and guard it fiercely. I am vocal about my expectations and outline obligations so I am on the same page with those I work with. This can be applied in any aspect of life and makes a phenomenal difference when it comes to your productivity.

3. Talking on the phone really isn't that scary.
So, sort of like driving, I started out my job with a fear of talking on the phone with strangers. I'm not sure what exactly I expected to happen when I spoke with them or what they would do to me (they weren't actually in my presence after all...), but I had this feeling that something awful would happen. With being required to make countless calls a day I eventually got used to it purely by virtue of doing it so often. Now I'm pretty much a pro on the phone and have abolished that fear. There really wasn't anything to be worried about. If you have something that makes you apprehensive, just remember that experience will usually cure it.

No matter what your first job is, you are sure to learn something from the experience. Although it may not always be what you expect you can take pearls of wisdom from every position!

What did you learn from your first job?


If you are searching for a job try out TheLadders! Thank you to TheLadders for partnering on this post.